Finally went to see Inception yesterday at Studio K in the Oost, and I must recommend the entire experience. I think it was the loudest yet best-sounding movie I've ever seen, and looked amazing too. Go to Studio K.

But don't order any food before the movie unless you're there really really really early. We ordered a piece of cheese with a red onion compote, and within a half hour it still hadn't shown up so we left without it.

After the movie instead of not eating a piece of cheese with red onion compote, we went to Langendijk for a hamburger that our own Klary Koopmans had recommended as being "not bad at all".

We had some beers and split the burger: totally delicious, we wished we'd each had our own instead of splitting one. As a caveat, they were not exactly like your standard American cheeseburger: bun was crusty instead of soft, meat was highly seasoned, there was a garlic mayo on the side, mature Gouda under the patty, no ketchup bottle on the table, etc. But very good nonetheless. Next time we should really combine it with a trip to their next door neighbor:


My last post was cryptic to the point where I got a couple of emails about shit not making sense, so I shall elaborate:

1) Gig recordings: I had a gig Monday, a pretty good one we all agreed, considering we'd never played together or talked much about what we were going to do. I think what cursed us was when O.J. came up to me after and said "sounds like you guys got a nice demo now". Mere hours later, the guy who did the recording had his bag stolen on the train to Den Haag, recorder inside, recordings still on it.

2) Sgrafitto Putti and Spider Ptomaine were aliases that Mara and I used for a few years after the Stein Club Orthographic Meet (spelling bee) in 1996 or 1997.

3) Mara is also The Brown One (although sometimes I am referred to as The Brown Man). She is most probably going on tour with The Ex as their Merch Monkey for a few weeks in England, Scotland, Wales, and France. Aside from the wonderful bonding experiences that can develop on long van rides through Europe, this also means cash flow, and...we poor, so fingers crossed.



I just found out that the recordings of last night's gig were stolen. WTF.


Above: the view from our window.  I wish this picture had sound so you could hear the drumming and ululating that was going on

Still not blogging, obvs. Still in the grip of unusual angstlessness. Maybe it's this new hash I'm smoking. But maybe it's other stuff!

There is a whirlwind of activity ahead for Sgraffito + Ptomaine (our buddy-cop movie aliases) : I'm working on preparing for these gigs and other stuff, and it looks like the brown one is heading on the road for fun and adventure (and, crucially, cold hard cash) with Ze Ex.


i and i heart silsi.

Not much blogging going on, it's true. Usually that means something not so good, but it's not like that this time. Not sure what it is, maybe the actual vacations we had this summer? Spending money we didn't have? Or maybe it's an unusual amount of upcoming gigs? I don't know, but whatever: my mood is proving uncharacteristically resilient and chilled out.

Below: I meant to include this with the tej post but I was too hungover to think straight. This is Emma's silsi recipe, transcribed by her in Ethiopia and translated and healthified a tiny bit by me (oil reduction). Even though we haven't officially tested this recipe, Emma has made a couple of mindblowing versions of it when we've been over there for parties, so yeah. It should work.

And here's Emma:



1.5 kg onions
a bunch of garlic, at least 1 head

sunflower oil (this is the way they do it in Ethiopia, but olive oil is also fine)
small can tomato puree
1 to 2 healthy tbsp berbere, maybe more
1/2 tsp rosemary, minced
a pan with a thick bottom
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Peel the onions and process them to a fine dice in a food processor. Peel garlic and add to onions, giving them a couple of pulses in the processor.
Caramelize the onion garlic mixture in a good bit of oil, for at least an hour. When onion mixture is soft and golden-brown, add the berbere, tomato puree, and a bit of minced rosemary. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, making sure it doesn't burn. When it's done, stir in a tbsp of lemon juice. Serve with injera.



this is heartily an innovation.

Above: somewhere high above sea level in Sardinia.


Made something out of leftovers tonight that unexpectedly smelled and tasted exactly like pepperoni pizza, and well...I'm pretty sure that's enough reason for me to want to make it again. I think I'd totally even serve this to a guest, probably over a short pasta like penne, and I'd betcha they'd be scratching their heads while they finished their plates. Hilly and/or Noodle, you should make this.

UPDATE: I just finished another batch, and its pepperoni pizzaness is still strange and wonderful, and completely the result of the green olives as far as I can determine. I can already tell I'm going to keep making this until I'm sick of it. At least as long as the Dirk has 75-cent fennel.


roasted fennel gratin with tomato, almonds, green olives, smoked cheese.


2 bulbs fennel, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
olive oil
a little salt

1 cup all-purpose homemade tomato sauce aka red sauce
1/2 cup smoked goat cheese, diced small
1 cup mozzarella, torn to fucking shreds
1/2 cup or more almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped (I do almost a cup)
1/2 cup or more green olives, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest, minced

pecorino or manchego, grated
black pepper, ground
salt, shaken

Combine fennel, garlic, and oil and roast uncovered in a 190C oven for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. You're looking for soft and caramelized.

Combine roasted fennel mixture with next 5 ingredients, stir to incorporate thoroughly. Taste for salt and pepper. Then, yeah, put this mixture back in the roasting pan, add a dusting or more of grated pecorino or manchego on top and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Like I said, this would be great with penne or another short pasta, but we just ate it out of the pan.

UPDATE: This is totally great with penne or another short pasta.



all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

This is tej. Emma made it for the CD release party at Fenan this week. She made a lot of it. After a lot of tej, a bara and a Coke is the breakfast you want the next day.

After that, you're better, but still all you're really equipped to do is take pictures of your cat looking at baby pictures of herself.


super duper weenie.

This is not a weenie at all, it's lamb kefta. Made by me, and very delicious, I would like to do this again.




Back on MFSDxiv. Which was actually THE most successful diet I've ever undertaken. I lost more than a few kilos. Didn't look totally gross and blobby at the beach. Felt good. Now wearing clothes that haven't fit for years, thus validating my having kept them around. Learned how to use some new ingredients, made some pretty tasty food. So I'm back on for a couple months. Exceptions would be upcoming dinners at Fenan Klein Afrika and Marius.

Critical Success Factors: 0) no alcohol 1) no sugar 2) no grains 3) no eating after 9pm 4) daily exercise. Go me.


Another Critical Success Factor would be 5) developing a homemade jerk seasoning recipe that didn't have any sugar in it. Tonight, just getting back into MFSDxiv, I marinated some Cheap Dirk Fish in Walkerswood jerk (2 tbsp Walkerswood to 2 tbsp olive oil to 600gr Alaskan wild salmon, do NOT add any additional salt) and broiled for 20 minutes. A little too long, but this fish isn't good enough to eat underdone.

I ended up with a completely doable Jerk Product that was enjoyable as it was, but would've been way more enjoyable if I knew that it was completely in line with MFSDxiv.

So I try to recreate from scratch.




This is a lament.

It's awkward and more than a little depressing when what seems like a very natural friendship goes badly awry.

Let's say you get to know someone over the course of a few years: you're good buddies, maybe not hanging out constantly but seeing each other at least a few times a month, and when you do you're always honestly happy to see each other, and you have fun very easily...it's obvious that you really like each other, and this in itself feels like a rare and real thing.

Then, something unexpectedly important comes between the two of you, and everything changes quickly, maybe even violently. Unpleasant things are said, in public. To the extent where you can't (or at least shouldn't) be in the same room with each other, and you quickly enter a mode where you decide which social outings to attend based on whether or not this person will be around.

WTF happened? This being uncharted territory, many, many hours are spent at home analyzing the situation without any kind of peaceful state being reached. After several months, it's at least finally possible to attend the same event as long as you don't really acknowledge each other's presence. This stupidly goes on for months.

Time heals all wounds, they say. After a couple of years, the monumental issue that divided you has become a completely boring and accepted fact of life. At some point someone apologizes sincerely for the strife, and a deluge of reciprocal apologies follows. You even begin to tentatively experiment with social interaction.

And yet...you never really recover. It's never like it was. It's OK, you can talk, maybe even laugh a little together, but it's all way too careful, tragically superficial. You never even come close to re-establishing that unguarded, playful thing you had together.

Probably the least satisfying resolution to this situation would be that the person in question dies without the two of you ever even almost getting there. Which, yeah, just happened. There are many sides to her story that are immeasurably more tragic than this one, but this is really the only side of it that I myself can tell anymore, and I wish it weren't like that but it is.



linger on.

Must. Get. On. With. Life. Summer. Over.


It's just that I have these 4.5 million photos we took in Sardinia. I'm guessing I need to wrap up this portion of the blog, but...there are so many things we haven't discussed yet!!!

Daily espresso overdoses (above).

Remo's car-battery-powered spit (that's a leg of lamb being roasted over charcoal):

Crodino and coffee at the Hotel Belvedere in Lanusei:

Pane guttiau demonstrating how the simple addition of olive oil and sea salt makes it way better than the frankly disappointing regular ol' pane carasau:

Impossibly treacherous uphill driving; hazelnut and pistachio gelato; not seeing the supposedly breathtaking Grotte di su Marmuri in Ulassai.

The hike down from Altopiano del Golgo to Cala Goloritze:


fighting back.

Well, we had a few beautiful sunny days here but now everything is back to normal. To combat the Amsterdam autumn template weather we are posting some more Sardinia pictures.

This was on Sunday after our Gairo Vecchio visit, and before heading home for a meat-grilling adventure. We just headed a bit south towards the water and semi-randomly looked for a beach.

Where we ended up is called Spiaggia di Su Sirboni, in Cardedu. Here's a nice panoramic view (there are lots of other Sardinia panoramas on this page, also worth looking at). It thoroughly reminded me of a successful Disneyland in its perfectly sculpted harmless wilderness. I mean all of that in a good way.


top 7 sardinian edible things.

My personal Sardinian food highlights:

1) ricotta caprina. As we were sitting down to dinner on our first night in Sardinia, Andy was telling us about this amazing cheese they'd had the night before in Lecce called ricotta forte. He described it as fermented ricotta that tasted almost like gorgonzola, powerful stuff. Moments later our waiter appeared with a basket of breads and a shallow dish of what looked like a spreadable goat cheese. Andy tasted some and said that it was the same thing they'd had last night.

Was it? We don't know. Was it great? Yes. None of us could remember what our waiter called it, but I heroically bought this jar of caprita pictured above at the grocery store the next morning, and it turned out to be a very very similar substance. Just great.

2) Sardinian prosciutto. Thicker-cut, by hand, and not too salty. Best prosciutto I've ever had.

3) Really fresh clams and mussels. Cozze. Vongole. Arselle. Cheap and perfectly oceanic.

4) pecorino sardo. More on this soon.

5) Ichnusa. Delicious Sardinian beer. Always served icy icy cold, this was a surprise treat, as if it were brewed specifically for hot summer nights. And days. I drank a lot of it. Afterwards I learned they're owned by Heineken, but I'll try not to hold it against them.

6) The coffee. I drank too much of it, but the ubiquity of a superlative espresso was a little irresistible.

7) pesche marmellata. Two crunchy cookies with jam between them, rolled in sugar. Sounds boring, wasn't.




This is photobombing.

As is this.

sardinian recipe: shrimp, peas, saffron.

Plus garlic, parsley, scallions, olive oil, tomatoes. It was good. And Mara made chestnut flour fritters. Both recipes from Giuliano Bugialli's book.



home cooking.

Some of our best eating in Sardinia was at home. This makes a certain bit of sense: four accomplished cooks living on a farm surrounded by the best raw materials imaginable, and you can hardly go wrong can you.

Unfortunately for you all, our home-cooked meals were documented by some of the most stomach-wrenchingly ugly food photography I have ever seen. I seem to remember someone emitting a blood-curdling scream of horror when this picture of Valentina's beautiful and delicious spaghetti alla vongole e cozze flashed on the screen:


It all boils down to lighting. It was hot there, so the windows were open. There were huge flying insects and rodents outside, so the kitchen lights were off. Most nights we ate dinner at around 10pm, out on the patio with very little light.

The best we could hope for in terms of picture quality seemed to be "moderately appealing but uninformative", as in the top photo above. It doesn't look revolting, but you'd have no idea that you were looking at two roasted chickens with rosemary and myrtle; roasted red and yellow bell peppers in agrodolce; a nectarine and basil salad with basil from Remo's garden, and a cold pasta salad of trofie with oil-packed tuna, salt-preserved capers, and wind-dried tomatoes.

When we tried turning the kitchen light on, things were not any better:

This toxic-looking sludge is actually my extremely good version of mussels in an orange-chile broth. Imagine it with blood oranges and myrtle-smoked pancetta affumicata. Now look at the picture. Not good.



lido delle rose.

Our first morning in Lotzorai, I woke up at 03:30. The bedroom was hot and full of crowing roosters and baying hounds. Whenever it seemed like they might be getting tired, another group of hounds and roosters would start up from one of the other neighboring fields and the room would fill again.

I got up and went into the kitchen but there was nothing in the refrigerator because we hadn't gone shopping yet. I tried sitting on the couch and reading for a while but there were ants everywhere and it was hard to concentrate.

So by 04:59 I'd decided to go to the beach. There was zero light outside. Immediately I almost got hit in the face with a bat. A real bat, an animal. I saw its outline against the moon.

I didn't know where I was going, I just took a right out of the driveway because I knew the beach was that way. So I walked, in total darkness, my feet crunching through the sandy shoulder of the road. There were crowing roosters and baying sheepdogs all around.

After five eggplant black minutes, a puzzlingly narrow horizontal strip of faint orange came into view, and as I got closer I managed to understand that it was the sunrise coming through a dense row of pines at the edge of the beach.

I realized that everything I could see beyond the pines was either water or sky. I walked forward though the pines and then went out on to the beach. Standing there, I looked first right, then left, and at first I couldn't see any birds or animals or people anywhere, just empty boats bobbing on the waves.


and then he said when I cut this string
I want you to go into the other room

conceive there a child whose child
will be eggplant black hairless and high off the ground

when the string groaned and he cut it
when he cut it the string groaned and
he groaned when he cut it the string

everything was real

--Terrill Shepard Soules, from "After Watching The Kremlin Letter"