the finer points.

Tostiproeftest still underway. The local critical favorite is De Caulils Tosti, and if there are no limits on how you trick your sandwich out, then yes, strong contender. It's like a fondue sandwich. I would've added a pinch of salt, but that's me.

In the "non-gourmet" class, my Amsterdam favorite is Gambrinus (below). Note the Heinz ketchup, the only appropriate ketchup to serve with a tosti. And notice that there's enough cheese so that it can't quite contain itself once bitten into. This is what you're looking for.



From a lunch @ Ron Gastrobar with ze Poes back in March. For me it's still the least disappointing restaurant in town: the food looks a little pretentious but the service and atmosphere are anything but; and I've never really had any food here that was less than really good, although I must say I am an expert orderer, I've tasted things from other people's dishes that were less exciting. Also as you may know I don't get out much, so I'm probably easily pleased.

Above: butter and pickles. Below: bread bag; smoked eel + leeks with apple and parsnip, maybe a parsley creme?; gnocchi with Jerusalem artichokes and beurre blanc?; cauliflower with brown butter crumble; tempura mista, the only dish that didn't totally work.





Slowly, very slowly, I've been eating my way through the sandwich menu at Perry's. I started about a year ago, and by now I think I've tried about 8 of the 19 options. Favorites so far: tempeh (€2.50, not pictured) lamb meatballs (€2.50, not pictured) and shrimp with long beans (€4, pictured at bottom). Their pom is good, their bakkeljauw is good....it's all been at least good, most of it is great. This one right here is the artificially red fa chong, Chinese chicken sausage (€3).


Hypothetical planning map for possibly upcoming westbound road trip from Phoenix to the North Coast of California. Las Vegas is there only as an overnight stop, ok? Nothing to worry about. Death Valley: hopefully not an overnight stop. The idea was to end up in Mendocino because I have very fond memories of a long weekend I spent there by myself in the mid-90s, but some research has made it sound like it's not the same place anymore: hit hard by economic turmoil, many businesses have closed, etc. Most importantly there's nowhere good to eat anymore. So Thelma I just don't know, we'll just end up somewhere over that way, maybe Albion. All of this is up in the air anyway, except for the Tioga Mobil Gas Mart (Wikipedia entry), I'm seeing that. And there'll be a visit to a Waffle House, also non-negotiable.




As part of my wonderful new inburgeringscursus, I've been eating a lot of tostis. After years of no tostis. That is not a euphemism. Regardless: a mind like mine tends to compare things.

There seems to be some kind of direct correlation between the inclusion of a pointless and inedible garnish (unappetizing slices of unseasoned cucumber and tomato) and the badness of the tosti. Without exception the best tostis so far have come on a plate by themselves with regular tomato ketchup as their only companion.

OK, here they are, ranked:

Caulils, Amsterdam
Cafe Atlantis, Groningen
Gambrinus, Amsterdam
Cafe Thijssen, Amsterdam (pictured above)

Cafe De Sigaar, Groningen. A perfectly good tosti demoted/ruined by using a weird ketchup.
Pilsvogel, Amsterdam
Kafé België, Utrecht

Moeke Vaatstra, Zuidwolde: giant and styrofoamy, like a stage prop served with curry ketchup, the whole thing was a conceptual mistake (pictured below)
Cafe De Oude Wacht, Groningen: zero effort except for the tasteless garnish of two-day-old cucumber slices
Huis De Beurs, Groningen: less than zero effort, also featuring a tasteless garnish. Ultimately worse due to its lack of, well, cheese, and its ridiculous €4.00 price tag (pictured above)

Cafe De Spuyt, Amsterdam: insultingly shoddy, not even in a funny way: less than zero effort but also stale, barely warm and completely tasteless, the ketchup was way better than the sandwich (pictured below).

Caulils, Amsterdam (more info, pictured below)
De Kat in de Wijngaert, Amsterdam (I've had it before, but that was a while ago)



Current uptick in legume consumption combined with general unmotivation prompted a quick re-examining of this normally labor-intensive recipe from the archives. In the format to be eventually outlined below, it's simple (really!) and delicious but missing one or more crunchy textural element(s) that would stop you from wishing you'd maybe gone ahead and made the hard version. The lazy fucker in me wonders if Chang's togarashi-tossed rice krispies would do the trick. The authenticity-be-damned free associator in me wonders how toasted pine nuts would be in there (pine nuts kind of look like rice krispies, Japanese food provides a precedent for using pine and soy together). The cat-despiser in me wonders why my idiot calico absolutely has to decide that the 06:00-09:00 timeslot is the perfect time to try and execute semi-acrobatic explorations of the overcrowded and obstacle-laden kitchen, explorations for which she is completely unqualified and profoundly ill-equipped, and which frequently result in one or more exciting-sounding crashes/collisions, ultimately fueling further cat-despisement.

Above: the attentive reader might notice that there's shramp in thar. I also think that fried tofu or tempeh would probably work out.


yellow mung beans with caramelized onions, scallion oil, sweet soy sauce. 

yis, detail eventually.




Since I'm writing out here again....I realized I never brought this thread to a close.


After finally getting off Mirtazapine this summer, which involved six weeks of SUCK, the one true benefit of it unsurprisingly went away, the Holy Grail of my adult life: instant, predictable sleep.

Which at the time seemed kind of dealable, because I was so happy to be unzombified, and because the occasional Ambien I'd taken now and then throughout 2013-2014 seemed to really work like a champ in terms of predictable unconsciousness. The one downside was the occasional mystery kitchen landscapes that would greet me in the morning, or missing leftovers that were supposed to be "for something". But really, all of this was a small price to pay for "predictable unconsciousness".

Welllllllll.....if I started taking Ambien regularly in September, let's say that by October my memory was starting to act a little weird. Like not just not remembering things that happened after I took my Ambien in the evenings, but not remembering things from the entire evening, especially if there'd been even one beer involved (which, OK, there never was, this mythical "one beer"...more like the normal VDuck two-drink minimum).

And then by November, this memory weirdness became very consistent. Not forgetting everything, but definitely regularly saying things to people and getting responses like "Really? You don't remember us talking about that?". Especially if there'd been "even one beer" involved.

Which was especially disturbing because I really don't like it when people do this to me, tell me the same shit they've already told me. Also my middle of the night behavior was becoming a bit stranger, not just food but remnants of other things laying around that didn't make any sense and that I had no recollection of doing.

And then....in December and January I had a few pretty mortifying, borderline horrifying middle-of-the-night experiences which made it really clear that a) my odd Ambien behavior was continuing to escalate and b) it could very easily have life-threatening consequences, because I was making some realllllly bad decisions without having any idea I was doing it.

So I stopped Ambien completely in January. Which means that I'm now kind of back to 2012-era sleeping, maybe a little better because I have very very few morning obligations. But yes, going to bed after midnight, waking up at 4 or 5, staying up for a bit, sleeping again til 10 or 11. I still do weird things in the middle of the night but I generally remember them in the morning.

There's one other difference: I'm still taking 14 Oxazepam per month, and they work very nicely. But I'm only allowing myself this many per month because apparently benzo addiction ain't nuthin ta fuck wit, and experience has shown that I can't be trusted to do the right thing in the middle of the night when it comes to making medication decisions. So I try to save these Oxazepams for strategically wise sleeping nights: before gigs, dates, meetings, etc. The rest of the time it's melatonin, 5-HTP, and the occasional 1/2 Unisom, which is just a shitty drug but tends to put me to sleep.