Archive of ‘Travel’ category

DUBSTEP(H) – i.e. (for Ireland!) Steph goes to Dublin

In lots of ways, I see my sisters as built-in best friends, extensions of myself, and practice runs for when I have daughters of my own. Trust me, we have the love-hate relationship between mother and daughter down pat. (I love them, they hate me.) Jokes aside, visiting my sister in Dublin is something I always look forward to because, if it isn’t already amply clear by now, we are a family that just loves to eat. This is but a small compilation of our fatventures thus far – A LOT more to come!

 

San Lorenzo

I am big on brunch and I don’t think you can visit Dublin without stopping by San Lorenzo for their Brunch of Champions. It’s really popular, so even if you do have a reservation, do go early because the place was already buzzing and there were people queuing out the door when we bounced up. The place is styled to look like a trendy New York eatery with high ceilings and large windows, and they were blasting the most fascinating medley of tunes like Cry Me A River, Come on Eileen, Dance Wiv Me (yes, I did just spell it with a ‘V’), Arctic Monkeys… It was full of young’uns, as proof that there ARE young people in Dublin. The staff were extremely friendly as well, so in general, it had a pretty great atmosphere.

One glance at the menu will tell you that this is really not the place for clean-eating folk. I mean, this is a brunch created for champions, see, so if you are one of those who goes out to brunch and eats granola (which we all know is my pet peeve Numero Uno), then a champion you clearly are not. I myself was rather torn because I wanted to eat just about everything on the menu. In the end I went with the crab cakes, which seemed to be a very popular item with the other diners.

One thing I will say about this place is that the portions are anything but itty bitty. Even the chicken bruschetta, which I saw the girl at the next table ordering, came in a very sizeable portion.

 

Crab Cakes - crab cakes with char-grilled asparagus, home fries, 2 poached eggs, vine tomato, rocket and hollandaise (E13.95)

Crab Cakes – crab cakes with char-grilled asparagus, home fries, 2 poached eggs, vine tomato, rocket and hollandaise (€13.95)

IMG_1900 copy IMG_1901 copy

See, it actually took me an entire mini-series of photos just to show you everything in its full glory.

The crab cakes were hefty little things, plump and substantial, with a golden crust; well-seasoned and particularly good with a squirt of lemon. The home fries were very tasty as well, and the poached eggs with hollandaise, clumsy-looking as they were, were still wonderful in all their imperfection.

Now, this next dish is no longer on the menu but I still feel the need to tell you all about it because it was kind of awesome, and actually the whole reason I wanted to bring my sister here in the first place. Ladies and gents, I present to you the Duck Confit Hash.

IMG_1896 copy

I may have mentioned before how much my sister loves duck. She insists on going to Gold Mine (see post here) for Cantonese roast duck every time she’s in London, so this dish was right up her street, and oh my goodness was it delicious.

What stole the show was the hashed potatoes, because potatoes in duck fat are probably the best thing since before the internet, and these were no exception.

IMG_1903 copy IMG_1902 copy IMG_1904 copy

Even though you can no longer get this, I’ve just checked and they do have something similar in the form of a pulled pork belly hash, which I will definitely look into myself. After all, potatoes in pork fat are probably the best thing since before potatoes in duck fat.

The Brunch of Champions is available only on the weekend. The rest of the time they do an Italian menu, which looks rather delicious as well, but I can’t vouch for it personally as I haven’t tried it myself. I would highly recommend this place for a (very) hearty spot of brunch though!

 

SAN LORENZO

South Great George’s Street, Dublin, Ireland

The Winding Stair

Another place that has become an institution in Dubz is The Winding Stair. It’s apparently named after the Yeats poem, and yes, it does have a winding staircase (duh). It’s quite a small space, rustic and cosy. I’d called up in advance to book a table so we got a window-seat with a pretty gorgeous view of the river Liffey and Ha’penny bridge.

Sorry for the weird spots but I took this through the window!

IMG_1731 copy

The menu is compact yet sufficiently diverse, and they are very keen to emphasise their use of locally sourced, sustainably farmed, high-quality ingredients. Obviously the menu has changed since our last visit but these photos are just to give you an idea of the sort of food you can expect here.

Don’t know about you but I’m a big fan of Irish soda bread.

IMG_1736 copy

 

We got hot smoked salmon.

IMG_1732 copy

 

A hearty celeriac soup.

IMG_1735 copy IMG_1737 copy

 

For mains, a rib-eye steak topped with truffle butter.

IMG_1738 copy

 

And lamb shoulder steak with chickpea puree.

IMG_1739 copy

 

As well as roast duck breast with pak choi and mash.

IMG_1741 copy

Yum yum.

 

THE WINDING STAIR 

40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1, Ireland
Lunch: 12pm-5pm, Dinner: 5:30pm-10:30pm

 

Brasserie le Pont

Housed in the pretty Fitzwilliam Hall, this French place was admittedly a little fancier than the other places we usually ate at, with plush, heavy furniture and thick, soft carpeting. Nevertheless, the staff were all extremely down-to-earth, charming and attentive, and the food is really quite reasonably priced, particularly if you come for lunch, where you can have 2 courses for €23. Maybe it’s because of the time we were here – weekday lunch, I believe – but it seemed to be popular with the well-heeled oldies and the suited and booted working crowd.

Again, the menu has changed since our last visit but you’ll notice that it’s a little bit more refined than what we were eating the rest of the time.

Yay bread! We were given a selection of white, walnut and raisin, and Guinness and walnut breads.

IMG_1913 copy

 

Now, I may have mentioned before that my sister loves foie gras almost as much as I do, and I do believe it was the whole reason we came here in the first place, as we both needed our dose of fatty liver.

IMG_1916 copy

IMG_1914 copy

This was perfectly done, meltingly tender and delicious with the crispy toasted brioche. They served it with wedges of sweet beetroot, crunchy salted almonds and, rather cruelly, thin slices of smoked duck.

Next up was one of the daily specials – grilled beef with couscous, yogurt and cucumber.

IMG_1918 copy IMG_1919 copy

I normally have reservations about eating meat any way other than piping hot, but the room-temperature beef, soaked in the cool and creamy yogurt, was actually delightful. The baby spinach was tossed in a honey mustard vinaigrette, but the couscous was forgettable.

For mains, my sister ordered the duck confit (surprise surprise). It was good. Our only gripe was that it could have been fattier. The mash and the accompanying veg were tasty as well.

IMG_1921 copy

 

I ordered the pan-fried hake with clams and cassoulet.

IMG_1924 copy

This was very good. The fish was crisp-skinned, perfectly cooked and flakey. The creamy bean cassoulet actually tasted very much like the sauce that comes with my favourite crab raviolo at Medlar (see post here).

For dessert, we got the chocolate fondant, because – ok fine I’ll stop going through the whole charade of how it’s not my favourite dessert – that is Sister’s favourite dessert. (You’re probably learning a lot about my sister from this post.)

IMG_1925 copy

It comes with cherry compote, which I asked to be served on the side because I hate cherry anything, and we switched out the pistachio ice-cream for vanilla because Sister doesn’t do pistache. The fondant itself was alright but the vanilla ice-cream tasted disappointingly shop-bought.


IMG_1927 copy

Would I come back here again? Yes, I would. It’s not an everyday kind of dining experience, but it’s well worth trying out if you’re after something a little fancier.

 

BRASSERIE LE PONT

26 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2

Tuesday – Friday serving lunch from 12 noon – 2.30pm

Tuesday – Saturday serving dinner from 6pm

Closed Sunday & Monday

 

Or fancier than pub grub at least. Of which we had A LOT. In fact, we even have a favourite pub…

 

Gleesons

It’s listed as one of the best gastro pubs and won the All Ireland Pub of the Year in 2012. Inside it’s big but almost always packed, the waitresses are a friendly bunch, and the food is good, as far as pub food goes anyway.

IMG_1712 copy IMG_1713 copy IMG_1714 copy IMG_1717 copy IMG_1718 copy

IMG_1742 copy

IMG_1720 copy

IMG_1722 copy

IMG_1710 copy

IMG_1745 copy

IMG_1744 copy

IMG_1723 copy

IMG_1725 copy

IMG_1726 copy

IMG_1746

 

I find that, wherever you go, it’s always great to have at least one pub with dependably good food in your arsenal of food places, and I’m glad my sister has this!

 

GLEESONS OF BOOTERSTOWN

44 Booterstown Ave
Blackrock, Co Dublin

Breakfast from 8am 6 days, 8.30am Sun
Food served til 9.30pm 6 days, 8.30pm Sun

 

The Counter

Anyone who knows me know that I’m almost evangelistic about my at-least-once-a-week burger ritual. The Counter, which is an American chain, came highly recommended, so we decided to check it out one afternoon. Even though we came here at an odd time, it was still crowded, so we had to wait a while for a table.

We decided to get the buffalo wings because they seemed really popular with all the other diners, and with good reason, as they were some rather tasty wings.

The Counter Chicken Wings - with blue cheese dip and celery (11.95)

The Counter Chicken Wings – with blue cheese dip and celery (€11.95)

I know €11.95 may seem like an exorbitant price to pay for chicken wings but trust me, I hadn’t seen a pile of chicken wings as large as this in a pretty long time. Definitely good for sharing between a few people.

You can build your own burger, and the options are pretty extensive so you can get any number of permutations and combinations you desire. I chose not to customise my burger this time, and instead, ordered their signature burger, figuring that, if it’s good enough for them to put their name on it, then it’s good enough for me.

And it certainly looked promising enough!

Counter Burger - 1/3lb beef, provolone, crispy onion strings, lettuce blend, sautéed mushrooms and tomato, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (10.95)

Counter Burger – 1/3lb beef, provolone, crispy onion strings, lettuce blend, sautéed mushrooms and tomato, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (€10.95)

Unfortunately, I was really quite disappointed. It sounded quite perfect and indeed, the various components by themselves were good, particularly the crispy onion strings, which you can order as a starter or side. However, the patty itself was overcooked and tough, and given that I like my beef quite, quite rare, this was quite the let-down. Such a shame.

My sister got one of the specials, which was something like a breakfast burger, complete with fried egg and bacon.

IMG_1908 copy

Again, I think her burger patty was quite overdone, not to mention that fried egg! Nothing as disappointing as a rubbery sunny side-up ugh.

I think I was disappointed because I wanted so much to like the burgers, which had all the makings to be quite awesome but were just let down by poor execution. To their credit though, their starters and sides almost made up for it. Almost. Besides the wings and fried onion strings, the sweet potato fries were good as well.

IMG_1911 copy

 

If I come back in the future I will definitely be asking them not to overcook my burger, and I’ll definitely get the wings, fried onion strings and sweet potato fries to go with! I do also want to check out Bunsen, Bobo’s and Jo Burger though!

 

THE COUNTER

20 Suffolk Street Dublin
Dublin City Center 2
Ireland

Opening times:

Mon to Thurs: 12-10PM

Fri and Sat: 12-11PM

Sun: 12-9PM

 

But that’ll do it from us today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it for you! Sorry it’s been such a long time coming, and even then I’m still saving the rest – there’s a lot more goodness to come – hang tight for another post!

OXFORD

A couple of months ago, I made the trip to Oxford to see J and, while many of you may (falsely) believe that there is a dearth of nice food in Oxford, I had the BEST TIME EVER.

Of course, I have to give credit where it’s due, and having friends who love food as much as you do is always such an advantage. I suggest you try it sometime, and stop making friends with thin and attractive people because you don’t stand to gain anything. (Except the remnants of their food after they’ve done Instagramming it, maybe. Sorry. My pet peeve lol.)

But how much can 2 Asian girls eat in 2 days, you ask? The answer is: A LOT. We will make you sorry you asked. Oh yes we will.

Our first stop on our walk back from the train station was Fudge Kitchen. I had spied it from afar and had to drag J in because! free! samples! I hate that we don’t have Fudge Kitchen in London because it is actually the best thing ever ever everrrr, and I’ve been in love with it since W first took me there in York. We ended up trying about a cumulative entire block’s worth of fudge. The best flavour was probably the Snickers, which the manager, who was the friendliest, most charming thing, was so very proud of. And for good reason! With 2 entire pots of peanut butter in it, it could only be awesome. I got a box of 4 slabs to go – Snicker’s, mocha, dark chocolate with seasalt, and my favourite, maple walnut! My record is 6 slabs on the trot. What’s yours?

IMG_8777 IMG_8778 photo 1

 

FUDGE KITCHEN

5 Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AJ

 

First things first, J took me to the Old Parsonage Hotel for a celebratory champagne afternoon tea.

You know how quite often we go for high tea, and the multi-tiered cake stand is nothing but an awe-inspiring, show-stopping centrepiece laden with things that look a lot better than they actually taste? It wasn’t the case at all here. Everything tasted and felt fresh, and while it wasn’t necessarily perfect by any means, it was certainly very good!

IMG_2049 copy

IMG_2050 copy IMG_2053 copy

And being reunited with J was the sticky chocolate icing on this slice of chocolate-orange cake.

IMG_7747

… Since J puts the friend in blueberry friand. (So ok, this looks like a financier but I swear it tasted more like a friand. And I promise I actually know how to pronounce ‘friand’. LEAVE ME BE.)

IMG_2060 copy

… And would never break my heart, though we’ll happily split an orange tart.

IMG_2062 copy

(It’s hard to be poetic about finger sandwiches, since I think, when you cut off the crusts, you rob the bread of its poetry.) J is the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life.

IMG_2055 copy

And instead of treating my food puns with scorn, I suggest you treat yoself and have a scone (er, you’ll only get this one if you pronounce ‘scone’ in that way).

IMG_2056 copy
IMG_2057 copy

Smothered with clotted cream, the original dream team.

IMG_2059 copy

/end

In all seriousness, this was a very good afternoon tea experience. At £27/person for the champagne afternoon tea (and £20 without the champagne!!!!), less pricey compared to London, but, dare I say it, not lacking or perhaps even surpassing the standard of quite a few expensive places that shall go unnamed. The service was impeccable as well – or maybe I am just saying that because our waiter said I was ADORABLE (HAHAHA), plus I made friends with the cleaner in the loos.

 

OLD PARSONAGE HOTEL

1 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN

 

At some point while visiting the loos, I decided to seize the opportunity and make my own multi-tiered beauty simply because I could. Hehe.

IMG_7750

 

Just a few hours after that, we went for tapas at Al-Andalus! We got albondigas (meatballs in rich tomato sauce), pulpo a la Gallega (chopped octopus legs served with boiled potatoes, topped with olive oil, paprika and sea salt), guiso de pescado (seafood cooked in a tomato sauce), esparragos a la plancha (grilled asparagus wrapped with serrano ham), and patatas bravas for less than £15/person.

IMG_8769 IMG_8772 IMG_8773

IMG_8771 IMG_8770

 

AL-ANDALUS TAPAS BAR

10 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HP

 

Then we went to Freud for drinks. They have a massive cocktail selection, and I can’t remember what we had exactly, but I think we had the Gina, Moscow Mule, and Raspburi Russian (among others). It was in a cool space, like an old church, complete with very high ceilings and stained glass windows. And in terms of crowds, it was NOT AT ALL like London, meaning there was actually space to stand around or even sit, if you were so inclined. And you can dress like a SCHLOB, which is my specialty. Although there were some Oxford peeps in funky jumpers who were almost giving me a run for my money.

IMG_8774 IMG_8775 IMG_8776

Oh wow, I just realised it’s related to the Freud’s in London! Cool beanz.

 

FREUD

119 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AH

 

The next morning we went to Rick’s for breakfast because there’s nothing like some grease to soak up the night’s excesses.

We got the full English and the French toast, plus 2 pots of tea, for about £10 ALTOGETHER, and if you look at the portion-sizes they were definitely not lacking.

photo 2

Granted, it’s nothing uber fancy. They don’t use happy eggs, locally sourced sausages or organically and sustainably farmed tomatoes. But I don’t care because I am an irresponsible consumer. And I make no apologies for it.

But I think any time my toast arrives at my table ALREADY BUTTERED, I am sold.

photo 3

photo 4 photo 5

Our only gripe would be that the French toast was also made with the flaccid cheap bread that comprised our toast, but I emphasise that it’s only because we have been completely and utterly spoilt by our own French toast experiences (an example par excellence being Lantana’s/Foxcroft’s French toast oh my), which usually involve thick-cut brioche, generously laden with expensive choice fruits and some form of whipped ricotta/mascarpone goodness. For a fraction of the cost, this is as good as you can hope to get.

 

RICKS CAFE

88-90 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JB

 

Then we went to roam around and ended up at Turl Street Cafe, where I was extremely taken by this talking shell thingy.

photo 37

I really think more places should have this! (But then I just like to talk to strangers hehe.)

We didn’t eat anything there but we had some lovely flat whites.

photo 38

It’s a gorgeous space, really, not just for meals or coffee, but also for solitary reading/studying and group discussions. Or just for sitting around on your lardy ass while you wait for your next meal…

 

TURL STREET KITCHEN

16-17 Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DH

 

Speaking of which, YAY LUNCH TIME!!!!!

For lunch, J took me to Pierre Victoire, which I stress is different from the Pierre Victoire in London. It is a cosy little French restaurant housed in a narrow, 3-storey building. Their set menu is very good value for money: 3 courses off their prix fixe menu for £23.50!  We paid just over £30 for 3 courses/person PLUS WINE – a nice Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for under £5/glass.

IMG_2063 copy IMG_2066 copy

Obviously the items on their prix fixe menu always change, so don’t expect to have what we had when you go.

For starters, we had salmon rillette with garlic bread.

IMG_2067 copy

As well as some sort of duck with something like a French caponata of sorts.

IMG_2070 copy

For mains, we had duck confit with potato gratin.

IMG_2073 copy IMG_2076 copy

As well as pan-fried salmon with a creamy leek sauce.

IMG_2075 copy

For desserts – they are very keen to emphasise that all desserts are made from-scratch, in-house – we had banoffee pie.

IMG_2079 copy

And also panna cotta drizzled extremely generously with caramel sauce.

IMG_2078 copy

For what we paid, I really do think everything was very good. The portion-sizes were not astronomically large, but they were definitely more than decent. Everything felt freshly prepared, and neither the salmon nor duck was overcooked (both these proteins being highly vulnerable to over-cooking usually), and everything had the right amount of seasoning on it. I had not thought of having panna cotta with caramel but that was unexpectedly delicious – though I don’t know why it should be unexpected, since they are 2 of my great loves in life. And I’ve been to so many nice places where I’ve absolutely hated the panna cotta, but this actually had a good texture to it.

 

PIERRE VICTOIRE BISTROT

9 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HP

 

Later on, J took me to one of her favourite coffee places, The Missing Bean. And it’s not hard to see why she loves it so! It’s a tiny place, super popular with the locals, and they play some good tunes too. And the coffee? The coffee is magical.

I had a fantastic cortado there – cortados being one of my favourite ways to have coffee – and it was so good we had another to share. As well as a slice of pecan pie. Mm yum.

It was a bit of a scramble for seats though. We had to wait around for a bit, and our coffees and pie were already served before we had even found a table.

 

photo 27photo 26photo 28 photo 6

 

THE MISSING BEAN

14 Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DQ

 

For dinner that night, we met J’s friends at Kazbar – for more Spanish food!

Kazbar has a really great atmosphere. It was packed and we waited quite a while for a table, but then it was Saturday night, and it didn’t really matter since we got to sit at the bar and get stuck into our drinks! They have a pretty extensive selection as well and I think I managed to try quite a few.

They also had a fantastic variety of tapas. We ordered a whole lot, but I was really hungry so, er, no proper pictures. But I remember the one that stood out for me was the sobrasada. And of course we ended the meal with churros.

photo 7 photo 8 photo 9 photo 10

Even though we had a lot to eat and drink, I think I ended up paying only about £30 or so?!

 

KAZBAR

25-27 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1HP

 

We decided to move on to several bars. We attempted to go to the Mad Hatter, where we had to answer a riddle before we could be buzzed in.

“What is orange and sounds like a parrot?” I started shouting “CARROT CARROT CARROT!!!!!!” See, I’m not from Oxford but even I knew the answer to that, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.

photo 29

 

Unfortunately, we got bored, so we left.

Then we went to Joe Perks’, which does coffee in the day and drinks at night. I got the awesomely named Planet of the Grapes, because it had elderflower and white grape in it.

photo 30 photo 31

Really nice night.

 

JOSEPH PERKS & CO

76, St. Clements Street, Oxford OX4 1AH

 

The next morning, I was all ready for BREAKFAST!!!!!! I don’t know about you guys, but when I’ve had a lot to drink, for some reason I’m extra energetic and extra hungry the next day – which, given that I am already a Morning Person, always energetic and always hungry, is quite scary I suppose.

J took me to Cafe Coco, where I met the most adorable waitress everrrrrrr who started telling me about how she is saving up to go to India this summer.

Again, a full English was in order because that’s just how we roll. (I love black pudding btw.)

photo 15

photo 33

As well as  waffle loaded up with fresh fruit (ugh).

photo 14

But I’m more a syrup kind of girl.


photo 16

Again, generous portion-sizes, and even with 2 teas, it only came up to about £18.

 

CAFE COCO

23 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1HP

 

Immediately after breakfast, J took me to Jericho for coffee.

photo 23

They serve their coffees with adorable jelly babies. (They should be called Jellycho. Though I’m not sure if that’s blasphemous. But whaddya gonna do. I speaker no Engrish ah, so I pronounce my R’s as L’s and vice versa.)

And J also got me this magnificent brick of a salted caramel brownie.

photo 22

I am very rarely impressed by brownies I eat outside but this was very, very good.

If you look closely it has a squidgy layer of salted caramel in the middle, which adds to the great, dense, fudgy texture of the brownie, and at the same time injects a different layer of flavour to the deep, intense chocolatey goodness.

photo 12 photo 11

Yum yum yum.

 

JERICHO COFFEE TRADERS

3 King Edward Street, Oxford OX1 4HS

 

Then we decided to revisit the Missing Bean for a final cortado before I left half of my heart in Oxford. (But then I literally just saw J again recently hehehe.)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

And that concludes my fatventures in Oxford! See, I told you you’ll be sorry you ever underestimated how much 2 Asian girls can eat in 2 days in Oxford…

Oh wow, ok, even I am mildly disgusted, since that is how I roll on a daily basis. Hope those of you in London are enjoying the heat wave! I’m off to the Canary Islands for a wholly undeserved break!

AMSTERDAM

I’ll have you know that I debated long and hard with myself about whether or not I should bother doing this one – I mean, how much can one possibly eat in Amsterdam in approximately 32hours?? But I’ve learnt not to underestimate my own appetite, so here you go – a non-exhaustive list of what H, K and I ate on our weekend getaway a few weeks back.

H had been going on (and on and on) about wanting a bagel for the loooongest time, so we complied. Besides, who can say no to a bagel, with its delightfully dense and chewy texture, toasted and topped with just about anything your heart desires? Bagels & Beans is a very big chain in Amsterdam but you could also check out Village Bagels and Tony’s, both of which I remember I liked as well the last time I was in Amsterdam. On a side note, why are the Dutch so fond of bagels? I just read on Urbandictionary.com that “dutch bagel” is a polite way to call someone a douche bag in public. Interesting.

DSC02218 copy

H and K were super obsessed with these complimentary chocolate coffee beans which they provide in these little dishes on the table, so much so that K had to buy a container of them home.

You’ll notice as well that the crockery here is super cute.

Matcha soy latte (€2.95)

Matcha soy latte (€2.95)

Orange, carrot and ginger juice with a royal jelly shot (€3.95)

Orange, carrot and ginger juice with a royal jelly shot (€3.95)

 

You get to choose from a selection of hot, cold, savoury and sweet bagels. Additionally, you get to choose the type of bagel and even type of cream cheese you prefer.

Tuna salad with melted cheddar cheese (€6.35)

Tuna salad with melted cheddar cheese (€6.35)

DSC02225 copy

H, whom, if you remember, was the whole reason we were having bagels in the first place, was very pleased with this. They were very generous with the ingredients and it arrived hot and toasty.

Mushroom burger with truffle mayo (€4.95)

Mushroom burger with truffle mayo (€4.95)

K ordered this, excited as she was by the truffle mayo. It was essentially a vegetarian burger patty, topped with cheese and truffle mayo. Interesting but really just okay. Having said that, I ate the remaining half.

Bagel with butter and strawberry jam (€2.95)

Bagel with butter and strawberry jam (€2.95)

I didn’t try this but I’m assuming it’s quite nondescript.

Parmabella (€6.95)

Parmabella (€6.95)

This is essentially my dream sandwich in a bagel. Pesto, parma ham, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes,  and toasted pine nuts. Can’t possibly go wrong with that.

For a quick bite, Bagels & Beans is always a safe bet. The ingredients are fresh and serving size is quite generous. Most branches are usually pretty crowded but they move quite quickly as well.

BAGELS & BEANS

*they have a lot of branches so click on the above link if you want more information!

After breakfast, we decided to traipse around and poke into some stores. We were intrigued by the Vanilia store, which had by far the most gorgeous display, so while the two of them got busy in the changing rooms, I hung out with the super-friendly staff. Now, I promise there’s a reason I’m bothering to tell you about this, and here it is:

IMG_9313

They have this gorgeous coffee machine in the shop, so customers can have whatever coffee they please, as well as help themselves to cookies. Now, I know it’s probably the “done” thing in super high-end stores, but for a high street store, this was such a nice touch. They apparently also offer wine in the afternoons. Don’t mind if I do! I had 1 espresso, 1 macchiato and about 8 cookies. And I did not buy a thing. Such a cheapskate. Oh well, I like to think that I offered some brilliant conversation by way of a fair exchange hahahaha.

IMG_9312

 

Anyway.

When you are in Amsterdam, you will have Dutch pancakes at some point. It’s just the natural order of things.

DSC02226 copy

Poffertjes, these fluffy, sweet little coin-shaped morsels are the best. But would you look at the amount of powdered sugar on these! And as if they aren’t already sweet enough, you must must MUST have them with lashings of Dutch maple syrup.

DSC02228 copy

And also a massive nutella crepe because nutella crepe. And again, look at that powdered sugar…

DSC02232 copy

These are some of the maaaany pancake houses you could try out.

PANCAKES!
Open daily 10am-7pm
Berenstraat 38, Jordaan

THE PANCAKE BAKERY
Prinsengracht 191, Amsterdam

PANCAKES & WAFFLES
Oudebrugsteeg 29, Amsterdam

 

Of course, in Amsterdam you will also have some frites at some point. I tend to have a dichotomous view of the world, exemplified most obviously by my view on fries – there are people who LOVE fries, and there are liars.

And my childhood moral education (meaning Enid Blyton books) has taught me that people who tell the truth get rewards!!!!!

DSC02234 copy

Hot fries topped with mayo, that is. But as I always say, a fry is a fry is a fry is a fry. To be completely honest, even the frites shops that are heralded as the “best” in Amsterdam are nothing special but if you are interested, then the VERY awesomely named Vlaams/Vleminckx Sausmeesters is one of them!

 

VLAAMS/VLEMINCKX SAUSMEESTERS

Voetboogstraat 31, Amsterdam

 

I really wanted to visit the Ice Bakery by Nutella because, I mean, NUTELLA right? There were a lot of things on display but I was very taken by this dark beauty of an Oreo profiterole, so I absolutely had to get it. It was just alright. A good concept, I think – choux pastry, chocolate creme patissiere, crushed Oreo cookies – and executed properly would have been all kinds of amazing. I may try my hand at it sometime myself.

DSC02238 copy DSC02239 copy

 

ICE BAKERY BY NUTELLA

Leidsestraat 102

10AM-10PM

We went to check out some cheese shops, and as if it isn’t amply clear what cheapskates we are by now, we unashamedly had our fill of free cheese samples, including truffled cheese, pesto cheese… But I think my favourite would actually be the lavender cheese, even though some might find it too floral and perfumed and soapy.

DSC02240 copy


IMG_9318

Love is having someone else spread truffle mayo on a breadstick for you.

IMG_9316

 

And before we knew it, it was dinner time!!!!!!! I had been looking forward to dinner that night for AGES. Bloesem came highly recommended and was apparently the inspiration behind the fictional ‘Oranjee’ restaurant in the Fault in Our Stars.

Now, don’t be expecting it to look anything like the setting in the movie, which, to my knowledge, was purposely constructed and shot in Pittsburgh. Anyway. It was very quiet when we went, which I liked, with only a few tables occupied. Dim lighting, very cosy. They offer a set menu of 3 courses at €32.50, 4 courses at €36.50, and 5 courses at €42.50. We all decided to go for 5 courses because it really seemed to be good value for money, and with a bottle of wine, it came up to about €50++ per person. Unfortunately, they only accepted cash so we ran out, hearts pumping, hoping to find a working ATM so that H could withdraw some money for our communal fund. (We did.)

I was extremely eggcited when we were told that there was no menu because I LOVE SURPRISE MENUS. That way you can be sure that whatever you’re eating is fresh and seasonal, and also it dispenses with the pressure of choice.

 

DSC02241 copy The bread was ordinary but the olive oil that came with it was delicious. Super fruity and flavoursome.

DSC02244 copy

Then it was time to amuse ourselves with our amuse-bouche, crispy crostini topped with tomato jam and homemade feta. This was thoroughly amusing for the 5secs it lasted, although it was nothing spectacular.

DSC02247 copy

This was the gambas with cauliflower couscous, sweet-sour beetroot, curry mayo and gremolata. The prawns were perfectly cooked, glassy and crunchy. The cauliflower couscous really did have the texture of couscous but without the grainy aroma. The curry mayo in particular was some tasty stuff.

DSC02250 copy

Next was the cod with potato and black garlic veloute, topped with smoked celeriac and pumpkin oil. This was delicious. A generous slab of cod, firm but flakey, with a great caramelised outside. The veloute itself was as velvety-smooth as it was meant to be, creamy and very tasty.

DSC02253 copy

 

So there was this one line in the movie said by Augustus Waters, “I want this dragon carrot risotto to become a person so I can take it to Las Vegas and marry it.”

DSC02255 copy

This wasn’t a dragon carrot risotto but it sure was delicious. A barley risotto with carrot, balsamico and tarragon foam. I tend to prefer barley risotto to normal risotto because of the texture, and the carrot made this nice and sweet as well.

DSC02256 copy

 

The next dish was probably my least favourite.

DSC02258 copy

Lean beef cooked sous vide for 5.5hours with chicory, polenta and anchovy sauce. The beef wasn’t tough at all, but I guess, because it was so lean, it really wasn’t all that juicy. It’s a shame. Can you imagine how fricking delicious it would’ve been if they had used a fatty cut of meat and cooked it for 5.5hours in a vacuum?!?!

Finally, it was dessert time!!!!

DSC02261 copy

This was SO GOOD. Probably our favourite course. Financier, pear, coffee mousse, red wine, mascarpone and hazelnut. The financier was freshly baked, still warm, with a slightly sticky, damp top, and a coarse, sandy texture. I generally love anything with ground nuts in it. The coffee mousse was nice and airy with a great coffee flavour but I think it was the creamy, slightly tangy mascarpone that made this dessert as good as it was.

Overall,  I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who wants a more special dining experience in Amsterdam. It’s nothing incredibly posh or fancy, with literally 2 people running the show (chef and maitre d’), but the food was tasty, beautifully presented, and for what it was, not expensive at all.

 

RESTAURANT BLOESEM

Binnen Dommersstraat 13-15

1013 HK Amsterdam

 

The next morning, we went in search of breakfast. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been to Amsterdam that hasn’t eaten at Greenwoods. It’s an English place that does all-day breakfasts. Always really crowded. If the weather is nice you can sit outside by the canal. Otherwise, there are quite a few tables inside though it’s a pretty small place.

H got the Eggs Greenwoods which is 2 poached eggs, cottage cheese, avocado, organic chicken on homemade soda bread and garnished with fresh herbs.

Eggs Greenwoods (€8.25)

Eggs Greenwoods (€8.25)

DSC02271 copy

This was a nice switch-up from a regular Eggs Ben. A lot fresher and clean-tasting, but still substantial because it came in quite a big portion.

 

Veggie Breakfast (€7.95)

Veggie Breakfast (€7.95)

K got the Veggie Breakfast, which is 2 scrambled eggs with grilled season vegetables, sundried tomatoes and spinach, served with toast. You get to choose the type of toast you want – homemade white corn bread, brown bread or soda bread, so K got corn bread.

I didn’t try this but um, it’s a LOT of veggies and no meat.

I got the Full English, which is 2 scrambled eggs with bacon, Cumberland sausage, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans, served with toast. Again, I chose corn bread because you don’t say no to cornbread! I think overall it was decent.

Full English (€9.25)

Full English (€9.25)

DSC02267 copy

I’ve never tried anything here other than their breakfast menu, so I may have to do that in the future! As we were seated upstairs right by the kitchen, we were able to see all the food leaving, and it all looked good, plus I think they are quite generous in serving size overall.

GREENWOODS

Singel 103

1012 VG Amsterdam

 

We went for a walk after breakfast and happened to stumble upon this place called the Chocolate Bakery. I was intrigued by their chocolate kebab (no joke – you need that in your life) so we went in. They also serve bubble tea, fresh crepes, AND AND AND they have this fun rotating macaron display hehehe.

IMG_9331

I’ve always said that, as a rule, macarons aren’t my thing (although I’m severely craving the Pierre Hermes olive oil ones now MMMMMM) but like chocolate fondants, I kind of still eat them anyway. Because I am a rule-breaker! (Even if I do institute the rules myself.)

IMG_9334

This was the lychee macaron and and and… the kueh lapis (thousand layer cake) macaron! Now, I don’t remember how it was spelt the Dutch way so I’m just spelling it the local way. And since the Dutch have co-opted the cuisine of their ex-colony as part of their own… I guess it can be considered a local flavour?  Anyways. The macarons were ok! The lychee one was nice, as lychee macarons usually are, but as for the kueh lapis macaron, I can’t say I could really taste any kueh lapis flavour when I was eating it. Having said that, I’ve never had such a flavour before so I’m not sure what I should have been expecting. (But NOW I’m craving proper, buttery, sweet, soft, spongy kueh lapis…)

But here is a shot of my lychee macaron, featuring a few strands of H‘s hair hahaha!

IMG_9336

 

CHOCOLATE BAKERY

Kalverstraat 210 1012 XH Amsterdam

 

We went in search of some coffee after that, and stumbled upon this gorgeous place called Cafe de Jaren. It’s really big, with a canal-side terrace and balcony, 2 floors, a big bar area, and very high ceilings.

They have food as well but we just stopped for a quick coffee break because our fat little legs could not bear our weight anymore. It is a really nice place in which to chill, though, so definitely check it out if you can.

IMG_9343

 

CAFE DE JAREN

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20 – 22
1012 CP Amsterdam

 

Later on we walked past Puccini and I remembered their chocolates to be quite excellent, so we stopped to buy some presents!

IMG_9345

Well, H got a present anyway, I just got a present for myself.

IMG_9348

But these chocolate-coated almonds were the bomb diggity, so I have no regrets.

IMG_9353

 

PUCCINI BOMBONI

Staalstraat 17

1011 JK Amsterdam

Singel 184

1016 AA Amsterdam

 

I really wanted to eat something proper by then so we went to Momo! My friends have all told me about Momo but I’d never been myself. Anyway, it’s this (sort of) swanky Japanese place on the ground floor of Park Hotel. It’s quite casual in the day time though, so don’t be ascared! Plus the hostess was really nice and friendly.

I wanted a cocktail even though it was only lunch-time, so I tried the Tokyo Rose (€13.95) cocktail, which had gin, elderflower, rose syrup, apple juice and fresh raspberries, thinking it would be like my FAVORITE cocktail at Eight over Eight (see post here). But sadly it wasn’t. It was rather tart and tasted more like raspberries than rose.

(Unfortch I’ve accidentally deleted the photo of it, which is sad because it was a very pretty long drink.)

Their regular menu features all sorts of pan-Asian food, with small plates, ceviche, salads, tacos, sushi and sashimi, and bigger seafood and meat plates.

They offer bento set lunches as well so I got the Spicy Bento, which came with a Thai beef salad, crispy duck roll, spicy squid salad and jasmine rice.

Spicy Bento

Spicy Bento (€19.95)

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

IMG_0090

 

K got the Sushi Bento, which was 3 types of fresh fish nigiri, spicy tuna roll, salmon avocado chirashi, and wakame seaweed salad.

Sushi Bento (

Sushi Bento (€21.95)

 

H got the Soba Hiyasi Chuka, which was a cold soba noodle salad with crunchy vegetables, chicken and quail egg, served with a nutty dressing.

Shi

Soba Hiyashi Chuka (€17.95)

 

I think everything was decent. Nothing extraordinary but we did order bento boxes after all. I think I’ll quite like to try the food on their regular menu though!

Whatever it is, make sure you save room for dessert!

Chocolate Hot Pot

Manjari – Matcha – Sesame – chocolate hot pot with matcha ice-cream and sesame crunch

See, I told you I was a rule-breaker, hence the chocolate hot pot even though I “don’t” eat/like molten chocolate cakes. My excuse is that I really like the combination of chocolate cake with matcha ice-cream!!! This was nice, although the chocolate hot pot was almost a bit too sweet. It would’ve been better if it had a deeper, darker chocolate flavour to match the bitterness of the matcha ice-cream. The sesame crunch was really nice though!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

IMG_0097

 

This next dessert was kind of perfect.

Jivara- Salted Caramel - Peanut Butter - milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse, with peanut butter sorbet and cocoa tuile

Jivara- Salted Caramel – Peanut Butter – milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse, with peanut butter sorbet and cocoa tuile (13)

IMG_0095

H and I loved this! The milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse had a really nice texture, and the peanut butter sorbet was very tasty and peanutty, especially when eaten with the crunchy crumble of peanut brittle (I assume) it was served on.

Overall, I can see what my friends mean when they say it’s a nice place to bring a date, but it depends as well on the sort of person you are trying to impress. If he/she likes dressing up and going to stylish, trendier places, this place is great. But for a more relaxed, cosy setting, where you can impress him/her without having ANY food knowledge whatsoever (given their surprise menu concept), Bloesem is a better choice.

And me? I just eat. Hahaha. Wherever you take me, I think I’ll be impressed most if you have a massive appetite.

 

MOMO

Stadhouderskade 25
1071 ZD Amsterdam
The Netherlands

 

Then it was a race to pick-up a final bagel to go before our 32hours in Amsterdam came to a close and we had to say goodbye to Amsterdam! This was my avocado, smoked chicken and pesto bagel. Unphotogenic, but good stuff.

DSC02279 copy

 

This was such a good trip, even though, I did not have the time to make it down to Lanksroon for their stroopwafels or to Winkel for the apple pie, nor did I get to try the chocolate cookie stuffed with gooey white chocolate (?!?!) at Van Stapele Koekmakerji. But I’m sure I’ll go back again soon!

Thanks again guys for reading and I hope that this dispells the doom and gloom of your post-Easter-weekend blues just a little bit!

1 2