doctor love.

Hey remember back in January when I said I was going to the doctor for a checkup? I went this morning, six months later. Hey at least I went.

Once there, it became clear to me, as it always does, that I love my doctor. Her name is Renate Zwiers and she's awesome. It's worth selling your house or whatever and moving to my postcode so you can have her as your doctor too. That's all I wanted to say.


Quite a month of blogging around here, I posted every day, wtf. Here's another tuna recipe, though if I did this again I'd probably use a red apple instead.


tuna, pickled fennel, roasted almonds, green apple.

1 can tuna
1/2 cup pickled fennel, chopped (pickled fennel recipe to come but basically: fennel, turbinado sugar, apple vinegar, salt, water, marinated at least overnight)
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1/2 granny smith apple, chopped
1 or 2 tbsp mayonnaise, depending on your goals
1 or 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, to taste
salt to taste, I guess, but mine didn't need any



sambal tempeh.

From the department of Things People Searched For To Find My Blog: "fucking a nectarine". Mara and I proceeded to argue about which sex would be doing the nectarine fucking and who would end up in the emergency room first.


The toko across the street has been making this homemade thing lately that they call "sambal tempeh": small pieces of fried tempeh that are buried under an inch of fire-engine-red scotch bonnet oil, with pieces of onion and garlic floating around in there as well.

It's great. But it's very very hot, and also very very oily. So I was wondering if I could come up with a healthier version. I kind of failed, but I did come up with this, which is based on a recipe titled "sambal tempeh" but doesn't look or taste anything at all like our toko's version, but it does taste like standard "broodje tempeh" tempeh, so...yis. It was nice with a tamarind chutney that was kicking around in the fridge.

sambal tempeh.

400gr tempeh, diced
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 small red onion, chopped fine
1 red scotch bonnet, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp laos powder (galangal)
1 tsp trassi
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate

1/8 cup apple juice

Basically: combine everything except the apple juice in a small saucepan and heat until well combined, trassi is dissolved, etc. Then, in a roasting pan, lay the tempeh cubes flat in a single layer and pour the remaining liquid over top. Bake at 175C for 20 minutes, flipping everything around after 10 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, add the apple juice and stir things around again. Bake another 10-15 minutes, checking kind of often to make sure the sugar in the apple juice isn't burning.



high pressure system.

It doesn't happen so so often around here, but sometimes when you're complaining/obsessing about some debatably minor thing suddenly The Great Magnet takes notice and basically says "Oh realllllllly. I'll give you something to cry about, how's this?" and turns up the shiny black knob labeled General Suck.

In situations like these I find that it's best to make food that that removes your ability to focus on anything else. I made Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu yesterday and indeed this is the man for the job: 8 red chilies, 2 tbsp of black pepper.

Due to popular demand, I made it again tonight, and my new alterations revolve around turning this into something you can eat more than once a week, so: a lot less butter, and an affordable amount of coconut oil. This is now pretty solid, though I haven't cooked from my own recipe yet.


black pepper tofu.

400g firm tofu
fine cornmeal, to dust the tofu
peanut oil (or coconut oil if money is no object), for frying

75g coconut oil (roughly 4 tbsp, or more, or substitute with butter if you don't care about these things)
6 shallots or two small onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 to 8 fresh red Holland chillies, seeded, deveined, and thinly sliced
2 or 3 tbsp peeled, chopped fresh ginger, or 2 tbsp peeled, chopped fresh ginger and 1 tbsp peeled, chopped fresh turmeric
6 garlic cloves, crushed

anywhere from 2 tsp to 2 tbsp freshly crushed black peppercorns, I've done both versions, the 2 tsp version is edible by almost anyone, the 2 tbsp version requires a certain desire/tolerance for pain

2 tbsp ketjap manis
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp butter
4 scallions, cut in some decorative fashion

Roll tofu blocks in cornmeal and fry in peanut or coconut oil 3 minutes per side. Remove, set aside, and wipe skillet.

Melt coconut oil in skillet over low heat. Saute chiles, ginger and shallots for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, you want your ginger to not taste raw anymore, this could take up to 15 minutes. Add garlic, stir to combine, and turn off heat, let sit for 5 minutes. Add soy sauces, sugar, butter, and black pepper, stir to combine. Add fried tofu and gently reheat, melting the butter in the process. When hot, add scallions and serve.

Serves 3 or 4 with rice.



summary judgement.

It's good to remember that vacations are not real life. Or, maybe they're real life, but they're not daily life. It's easy to visit somewhere and have it seem comparatively wonderful and trouble-free because you don't read the local papers there or see the local news there or hear about any of the bullshit social dramas that may or may not be occurring in your whorl back home. And when you actually do encounter local people on vacation, you understand even less than usual of their conversations, so you don't overhear random asocial retardedness or general xenophobia.

I say all of this to explain to myself why returning to Amsterdam seems like re-entering a pressurized space, and to remind myself to rise above it.


Final capsule review of Ooooostende: I/we had a very good time, and just about the perfect amount of good time. It's hard to imagine having stayed any longer: we'd exhausted the promises of our research, and random flailing around was proving fruitless. Though I didn't sleep awesomely, our hotel itself was pretty awesome. The beach at night was excellent. We found a lovely local, met a nice girl there. My favorite edible thing may have been the baked goods: in my limited experience, your average Belgian bakery is a solid step above your average Dutch bakery. Also had some good mussels and frites. Though I think I prefer Dutch mayonnaise. And the mussels themselves were Dutch.

Summary judgement: there are few better palate cleansers than a quick vacation in a foreign country, even if it's just the country next door.


As always, the downside of travel would be forced proximity to people whose language I actually do speak, because I'm a fucking elitist. Though I think just now my IQ dropped something like 25 or 30 points so I'm probably feeling slightly less elite.

In front of us on the train from Antwerp to Amsterdam were a gaggle of English teens (based on appearance I would've guessed they were 20 or so, but they referred to themselves as "teenagers" at some point). The things coming out of their mouths were so unbelievably vapid and unavoidably audible that over the course of our 2 hour trip I found myself slowly being overcome by despair for the future of humanity.

They talked CONSTANTLY. For two hours. At a certain point they couldn't multiply 6 by 8. No one had any idea how much a gram was (a cup?). Actual Serious Question: "What's a marsupial?" And they were saying not just dumb things, but morally and socially clueless and completely un-self-aware things as well. "I really like well-written books, I mean, like those are pretty much the only kind I read, ones that have got a bit of effort put into them, know what I mean? Yeah...I feel a bit bad lately for downloading them, I don't really know why." (friend asks unintelligible question) "Oh, yeah, illegally. Yeah, I don't have any money at all. (she says whilst juggling her three portable electronic devices, iPhone, iPad, iMafuckingidiot, etc.)

I swear I'm not usually this much of a curmudgeon, but their voices were simply unignorable, and apparently having my undivided attention for two hours is not always a good thing.




I'd felt a bit strange Tuesday night in Bruges, a bit more confused than usual and my legs were just keeeeelling me. I woke up Wednesday feeling the same but worse. I tried to shake it off and hit the beach, but ended up spending a few hours in bed instead.

But you can't keep a good duck down: VDuck put on his man suit and made it to a mussels and frites and green peppercorn steak dinner at Kombuis. My powers were so diminished that we ended up giving half of our frites to the Belgian couple next to us (which they accepted happily and without hesitation) nor could we quite finish our massive bowl of pretty excellent bivalves.

The manliness continued a tiny bit: one game of Scrabble at De Zeegeuzen. Then VDuck wussily limped home and fell into bed for a night of sweaty tossing and turning. And silent whining.

man down.

Stomach flu. Comparatively mild, but unpleasant enough.



take the long way home.

The walk home in Oostende after Brugge. It was 10pm or so, we just missed sunset. We did not stop at the Lusitania.

in bruges.

We had to go to Bruges while we were here. It was probably the first European city I ever wanted to visit, back a long time ago before we lived in Siena or Amsterdam. I kind of wish that yesterday I could have seen it as my 14-years-ago naive self would have seen it.

Today's me encountered a combination of features I'm pretty familiar with by now (cobblestones and canals, beautiful, but yis) slathered with a thick veneer of tourist-friendly cleanliness and accessibility.

In other words, as Ray would've said, Bruges was kind of a shithole. Well not really: it seemed to be a beautiful, calculated, useless capitalist museum of a city. And at first it seemed that there was NO ONE there outside of the horrendously tourist-dense center. We headed north and east in an attempt to see "the real city", and from the pics you can see that we're the only people having this idea. Fortunately this quest eventually led us to 't Poatersgat and L'Estaminet, which I'll write about more soon.

In sum: we eventually had fun! But it took some quick readjusting of plans and expectations.


On my way to the bakery (Aelter Patisserie) this morning at 11am or so, I passed terraces full of people drinking potent Belgian ales. Average age? 65. 11am. If I do this, I'm asleep by 2pm.



Above: Nothammer indeed. Below: The Room. Our first beer, at 't Botteltje (don't think we'll be back: flat beer, flat vibe). Our second through eighth beers, at De Zeegeuzen, (a perfect bar with excellent music, lighting, and an unreasonably cute and gracious Belgian girl named Veerle behind the bar). Steak and sole meunière at Stad Kortrijk, simple and just what we needed. Back to Zeegeuze for a nightcap, then a walk home down the bustling Monday night promenade plus fireworks for no apparent reason. We did well.