"Anonymous dance music (loud enough to make conversation an effort) pounds away, leaving you to gaze listlessly at the teenagers circling the pool table. A novel and bizarre element of the pub's atmosphere on our visit was a simultaneous (silent) screening of Hollyoaks along with a documentary on lung surgery. This led us to wonder whether the Ship might actually be some kind of art installation. There are no real ales on tap."
"There's a club in Nottingham called Ocean. It smells of feet and sick. This smells worse."
"It's not all bad, even though we entered to hear the landlady tell one of the drinkers to fuck off in a rather jocular fashion, and despite our discovery of two different versions of Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell' CD on the jukebox. There is, it must be said, an almost remarkably manky beer garden out the back which may just be the location of choice in London to sit and listen to the crackle of overhead power lines."
Hmm, yeah. A bit of a crimp in the old pantleg of our plans, the bank holiday weekend. No matter! We soldiered on valiantly and managed to have a pretty good day nonetheless.
We awoke at 06:30 to find two foxes either playing or having sex or both on the roof of the neighbors' toolshed. Here is one of them:
Fuelled by a few cups of niiiiice coffee, we managed to get out of the house before 09:00, and upon boarding the tube we saw some nice folks heading to the Euro cosplay championships.
Then we went to Borough Market and, after assessing the possibilities and our immediate needs, we decided to investigate a wild boar sausage with cranberry sauce from Baxter's.
And then we took the tube up to Old Street and trudged around Hackney and Shoreditch for a drizzly hour or two with increasing hopelessness, finding almost every potential destination closed (see Bank Holiday Weekend). We did like these DIY No Parking signs:
Eventually, instead of continuing to trudge in the rain, we decided to cut our losses and head homeward, where we popped into a local Crouch End pub, the King's Head. Ingested: London Pride, Cox's cider, Innis & Gunn's oak-aged Scottish beer, a surprisingly and perfectly delicious crispy hoisin duck salad, and an accidentally decadent order of potato wedges (unexpectedly and lavishly adorned with cheddar, bacon, and sour cream). No dinner tonight.
Pimm's No. 1 Cup. Serving suggestion: 3 parts lemonade. 1 part Pimm's. And then cucumber, apple, mint, and strawberry. Bizarre and refreshing. We're also just marinating some of the fruit/veg mix in Pimm's by itself because, well, it will probably be pretty good on vanilla ice cream.
Not remotely local, sustainable, etc, but also not remotely pass-up-able: Spanish blueberries on sale at the Dirk for €1.49 per 225 gram carton (about half the normal price). We're eating them by the handful.
Not on sale, but I finally bought some of this yesterday after having my eye on it for months.
What finally motivated me was thispost from Mr. Lebovitz. It's very disorienting, though: basically a soft, spreadble speculaas, which sounds quite gross but in fact they've done a very good job of capturing what for me is the textbook speculaas taste, very natural, not too sweet, etc. Would be interested to know what any lifelong speculaas eaters thought of it. Apparently there's a crunchy version which is far superior, which I totally believe b/c I'm generally not a smooth 'n' creamy fan. But for now? Smooth 'n' creamy be just fine.
I made this a couple times last month and never posted about it b/c I never repeated the recipe the same way, and now here I am making it a 4th time with yet another slightly different recipe.
I don't think this one's the final version either: this one is a bit too cheesy, and I'd like to try it with ground almonds in place of the bread crumbs that most of these recipes use. But here it is.
2 biggish zucchini, sliced lengthwise
as thinly as time and patience allow
250 gr mozzarella 250 gr ricotta 1 cup finely grated pecorino, parmesan,
or if you're desperate, oude kaas
3 cups red sauce
3 small onions, chopped 1 or 2 cans cheap mushrooms, drained and chopped
or fresh ones but canned fit my schedule better
freshly grated nutmeg
possibly basil salt pepper
future possible additions: ground almonds, mint
I brown my zucchini first, but you don't have to. Assemble in layers as you would imagine: sauce on the bottom, then zucchini, onion/mushroom mixture, sauce, cheeses, repeat. Bake in 175C oven for 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serves 3 or maybe 4 with a side dish.
Wow, a long and unexpectedly great day today. We went to the 11th Wijsjes Uit Het Oosten, not really knowing anything about it at all: the objective was to catch a Future Good Collaborator doing her thing onstage, and we knew there were going to be other bands, but that was it.
We should've suspected that something unusual was afoot when our request for tickets (€10, including food and drink) was answered with instructions to meet at a specific address at 1:3oPM.
The specific address in question turned out to be someone's apartment, as well as the site of the first performance, which was totally sweet and appealing.
Then, after some refreshments and snacks, they lead everyone out into the sunny afternoon and you follow the crowd in the direction of some next undisclosed location.
Which turns out to be someone's living space/atelier, and in the backyard there is jenever, rosé, music, pickles, Kat Ex, and "dead fish" sandwiches.
After the music and chow and hanging out, you go out into the street again and meander as a crowd through tranquil greenery to the next secret location. It's a good thing you didn't have anything else planned today, because it's 5:30 or so, you've been at this for four hours (thankfully you're not drinking...it'll be two weeks tomorrow).
The next location turns out to be the street itself: a poet raving eloquently and entertainingly from a balcony (if you squint into the upper left of this photo you can see him).
Wandering further down that same street, a darn good American banjo player wearing a Bugs Bunny hat busts out 3 old-timey songs from another balcony.
A few doors down, a mini-choir on a balcony lets you know you're at the next spot, so you go inside and up lots of stairs, and it turns out you're in another living room, this one featuring an 11-piece choir.
After some more refreshments, you end up at the venue itself, where you get to see your Future Good Collaborator do her thing, following which you indulge in more food, drink, and socializing.
And then you ride home, tired, and thinking hey that was really €10 well spent, and being kind of sorry you missed the first ten iterations of this event. A very pleasant surprise.
Righto. Weather holding steady at Beautiful. We're having dinner with the Andy tonight, jerk salmon and other stuff.
Our jerk is coming out of a bottle tonight, Walkerswood picked up during my Brixton visit last month. I used to make my own jerk seasoning, but then we received an industrial-sized canister of it from somewhere (possibly my dad's company) and it lasted for like five years.
So this is how we end up using bottled jerk. I make a couple notes here for future iterations. Also? Inadvertent canned mango taste test revealed that Dole is far superior to Del Monte. Just so you know.
Lastly, these exciting-looking tomatoes were purchased from the Dirk yesterday. I made a kind of salsa/relish/pickle out of them, kind of the typical Surinamese pickle I do.
minimal-effort jerked anything.
2 tbsp ginger syrup from the bakgember jar
4 tbsp Walkerswood jerk seasoning
2 scallions, chopped fine
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp peanut oil
500-750gr protein of some sort
flesh of one mango
1 tsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp good habanero sauce
1 tsp mustard
juice of 3 limes
salt and black pepper to taste
Saute onion until soft, add garlic for a minute or so, don't burn it. Add everything else except the lime juice and mustard and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Flawless weather here, and so we find ourselves: eating pom and bakkeljauw broodjes from the Tokoman; dropping into Toko Dun Yong for one necessary item and eight impulse purchases; going to the 53rd World Press Photo exhibition at the Oude Kerk; returning home to Jo3n kitty.
This is not really a post, and eventually it will disappear, but for now it's the best way for us to work on our London entertainment schedule. These are only possibilities: we don't really have 12 pub quizzes planned. I like to have two or three options for each day so that we can kind of decide what to do based on how we feel. Crazy, I know.
Above: batter for our second failed European Red Velvet Cake.
sat 29 may: Borough Market, then tube up to Old Street, left on Coronet St. right on Hoxton Square, and mooch around heading east to Brick Lane. Maybe dinner at Banner's when we poop out.
sun 30 may: Unclear. I think we're aiming pretty low, since we don't really understand the intricacies of the bank holiday weekend. Billiards at the Hope and Anchor? Pho somewhere (looks like Song Que or Viet Grill are best bets, too far away for today)?
Four Lionsis probably too expensive (although if we don't see it here, I imagine we never will), as is Chris Watson's installation at Kew.Bill Fontanais free, but probably better done on a day when we're already in the city. I'd really kind of like to see this show at The Luminaire, but transport seems complicated and I worry a bit about the timetable, it being Sunday.
Amsterdam's Underground Farmer's Market today. A mysterious-looking bag of homemade kimchi from Kattebelletje, pictured in front of Klary's corn muffins with bacon jam (the result of Friday's test kitchen tasting). Bacalhau fritters and piri-piri sauce from Sterk in Eten. Toulouse sausages from lovefood.nl's Jason Hartley. Not pictured: coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Haven't had time to read any more about this, but if it's true it would be really really disappointing. Prepare to mobilize.
For non-Dutch readers, it's about the proposed carving up of our fantastic and beloved Westerpark into something that allows for "more pedestrian and automobile traffic". This glorious vision of a more car-friendly future is some years off (2040), but no less mind-boggling for that.
Above & below: Micachu & the Shapes, stuck in heavy rotation at VDuck Central.
I'm going back to London. And I'm bringing my mooper. It might seem funny, but I liked the city a lot when I was there, and our free lodging just became even more practical since its owners are leaving for five weeks. So we're off again in about two weeks.
And you know what that means: some more travel planning.
I didn't have any fish and chips last time I was there, and barely any other seafood at all.
The Fish Bar, 90 Stoke Newington High Street. Dalston tube. Cheap with great reviews.
Yes, there will be more Morse Family Tree entries soon, fret not. I'm meeting up with (follow me here) Ed's wife's (Antoinette) sister's (Ade) son (Joe) in Rotterdam today, and apparently he has been researching his dad's side of my mom's side of the family.
Joe(y) is quite important to my personal history, because he and his brother Chris are responsible for my Introduction to Rock Guitar. I'm guessing it was 1979. I can't quite figure out why this is my earliest memory of Joey and Chris, because certainly I'd seen them before this. Maybe it's because they'd started lifting weights around this time and suddenly out of nowhere they grew into the biggest humans I'd ever encountered, like superheroes.
I always liked going to visit Ade anyway because she had four feisty kids in total (two boys, two girls) who were all older and bigger than me and just constantly giving each other (and me) massive amounts of hilarious shit. This may have been my Introduction to Comedy as well. The anticipation of an Ade visit was great because I knew that my stomach would end up hurting from laughter.
On this one day somewhere around 1979, I vaguely remember being in their kitchen, the scene of many a penny-ante poker game, and Ade saying something like, "Hey boys, why don't you take Markie upstairs and show him your music stuff." I wish you could hear Ade's amazing voice, it's like a Northern drawl. And everyone being like, "Aw, Mom/Aunt Ade, come on," probably followed by ten minutes of everyone giving everyone else shit hilariously.
And then I vaguely remember following them up curving stairs into their attic, possibly ducking under spiderwebs and/or blacklight posters and who knows what else, or maybe that's an embellishment, but then seeing the guitars and thinking the 1979 equivalent of "cool". And it got even better when they turned on the amps.
They played four or five songs, but the only one that is burned into my brain is "Gimme Three Steps." It's such a weirdly repetitive song, with lots of fun little turnarounds, plus four (!) almost identical guitar solos. And I just sat there kind of goggle-brained until they finished, then I think I asked them to do it again, and probably again after that.
I think I even left there with a tiny 8-watt Vox amp (sadly, gone now) and a primitive electric guitar that day, the guitar was some truly crappy Sears catalog thing that had probably been Chris's first guitar, with "action you could drive a truck under" as we used to say (meaning that there was way too much space between the strings and the neck, making it very difficult to play); the kind of painful torture device that, just by virtue of the fact that you keep playing it, proves to parents that you must really be interested in guitar.
Of course I didn't think it was crappy at the time, I was amazed by it.
Chris died of leukemia in 1995. And though I did see him play guitar again in his attic, this time it was after his treatment had started and it was not an entirely happy experience for me. I seem to remember whiskey being involved.
In the tradition of all great parents, mine eventually gave in to my complaints about the Litmus Test Torture Device and proceeded to semi-secretly buy one of Chris's real guitars off of him, a red Fender Mustang which I loved at first and then hated for a long time but which I'm sure in reality was a great guitar. My real problem, which I didn't realize for a few years, was that the Mustang just wasn't made for the kind of music I wanted to play, which was pretty much whatever albums I "earned" as a result of my newspaper delivery route.
That's right, I was a paper boy. Or more accurately, the combination of me and my dad added up to approximately one paper boy. Apparently I had some attendance issues on this job, at which times my already-otherwise-employed dad had to go out before his paying job and deliver newspapers for free. Kind of like a warm-up job. Oh, he must've hated me.
As part of the compensation/incentive scheme for this paper route, there was an arrangement where, based on the number of new subscribers you (or your dad) signed up, you received a proportional number of free or reduced-price LPs (chosen from a catalog).
I distinctly remember Genesis's Duke being my first pick (not because I knew anything about it, I just liked the name), and spending hours in front of the stereo mesmerized by the font they'd used for the lyrics, a seminal typographical experience for me. The music wasn't bad either, although it seemed like I was always waiting for a guitar solo that never came.
And then, I don't remember what I'd intended to choose from the list, but what they sent me instead was Van Halen's Women and Children First. Upon opening the album and seeing the poster of David Lee Roth chained to a fence, my instincts told me that this was going to be quite different from Genesis.
For non-Americans reading this, to say that this album changed my life is going to sound silly. But I was only eleven years old, quite possibly the perfect age at which to appreciate Van Halen (musically, at least...lyrically, it's more like 15 or 16). When the comparatively meaner and more complicated Fair Warning came out the next year, my fate was sealed: I would spend the next three years or so in my bedroom trying to figure out (among other things) what the fuck EvH was doing to his guitar. Around 1984, I finally did, just about the time EvH's own creative spark died out.
I have an unusual relationship with Rotterdam. I've been there 20 times or so, but always for gigs and never to just explore or hang out. I associate it with fun and/or adventure, but I've always been led around by other people so I have no idea where I've been.
Which also means I have no idea where to eat when I'm there. I'm open to suggestions.
UPDATE: After some research, a good bit of research, here's what I've come up with. My requirements were very specific and not very fun: close to Central Station, not-too-expensive, not touristy, not too quiet, and pretty manly. These are all located on or around the Westersingel heading south to Witte de Withstraat.
Belgian pub and restaurant. This is where we ended up eating. Interesting and ample beer selection. Disappointingly slim and safe menu, but the food is well-executed in a home-cooking kind of way. I liked my duck breast with cranberry compote and mashed potatoes, but who wouldn't? It was very Thanksgivingy, and reasonable at something like 16 euros. Seems like this place would be 100% better during mussel season. Good frites.
Over the last X number of years, I've been forced to slowly come to grips with the fact that Amsterdam is not one of the culinary epicenters of Europe. Even London, a city not historically known for being a food town, seems leagues ahead in terms of gastronomic availability, sophistication, interest, etc.
But. One thing I cannot get used to here, one thing I will not get used to...
...is the crappy garlic. It's never been good, but mainstream garlic in Amsterdam actually seems to be getting worse. Based on what's available in Albert Heijn and Dirk van den Broek, the only explanation is that most local people here just don't have any idea what garlic is supposed to taste like.
Most of the time, what I've ended up buying is not even close to being fresh, by the time you take it out of the shopping bag, it's already smelling like something long-lost you've accidentally discovered at the bottom of your vegetable drawer/cupboard/etc.
Two slightly more reliable options are 1) to buy from a toko or a Turkish market, but this quality seems to go up and down as well. Or 2) if you buy bio/eko, you usually get something a little better than the standard but still not awesome. And still it's not always better.
Thus, a bit of good news: some kind of relief seems to have arrived, however temporarily, in the form of what I believe are maybe young garlic bulbs?
It's true, I know nothing about garlic other than what it's supposed to taste and smell like, so I could be totally wrong about what this is. But Dirk van den Broek has them these days, and once you get them home and into your Whodge, you can smell the difference immediately. There's no whiff of musty, moldy, shriveled, boring age when you crack these things open.
The bulbs aren't split into individual cloves, so you just cut the bulb into clove-sized pieces and get on down the road.
This is an often-NSFW, mostly gluten-free kitchen notebook that also occasionally threatens to turn into something else and fails, thus remaining its same old cryptic and superficial self. These posts begin to fail to explain (start at the bottom).