inner city pressure.

Life in Phoenix, 6am. Backyard lighting and gun trouble.


twas the night before christmas.

And you know what that means....the Old Photos box.


kiss me, kate.

Hm. I really know absolutely zero about Hollywood musicals. Gun to my head, I would never have had any idea what Kiss Me, Kate was about. And it's about something I knew or used to know quite a bit about (not shrewishness, although that's totally true, but The Taming of the Shrew, Billy Shakes, etc, you know..."literary things").

That Is Super Fucking Interesting, Mark. Here's Hilly's version of Dorie Greenspan's version of Katharine Hepburn's brownie recipe as triumphantly executed by the VDuck Kitchen and Training Facility last week. These are the best brownies ever conceived, but they are not terribly sweet brownies, that's what the salted caramel is for. Well and also for making the nuts stick if you don't want to put them in the brownies themselves. Adding them afterwards was a technical consideration b/c I don't trust our oven and, well, nobody wants burned nuts etc etc etc.

Also, remember that your nuts are probably salty (how many more times can I say nuts, nuts nuts nuts), so don't overdo the salt in the caramel.


firestone/greenspan/hepburn brownies with salted caramel.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch ground cardamom

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp finely ground instant coffee (I used decaf without incident)
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

1 cup raw sugar, ground fine
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

120g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used a 50/50 mix of 70% and 85% cacao b/c neither bar I had was perfect)

1 cup toasted, salted nuts of your choice, the choice this time was 1/2 macadamia and 1/2 pistachio


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 150C/325 degrees F (I realize those aren't the same thing).

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Put the butter in a medium saucepan and place the pan over low heat. When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it. Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time. Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla (don't beat anything too vigorously — you don't want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board. At this point caramel was drizzled and nuts were attached.

Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.

Serve with salted caramel for drizzling and nut adhesion/cohesion/etc. Uncaramelized, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept for 3 days or so, but they'll never last. 


salted caramel. 

1 cup light-brown sugar (or dark-brown sugar, depends on what color you're going for)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk or koffiemelk, some sort of unsweetened, reduced milk product
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt, to taste

Combine in a saucepan over low heat and reduce, stirring pretty constantly, until you gets to the desired consistency.



timing is everything.

Had I been able to recognize that the surest way to pretty randomly attract violent spiritual resuscitation would be to christen 2014 The Year I Got Old just so the Fucking Universe could rear up and attempt to Prove Me Wrong, well...I would've done it Way Fucking Sooner. Either way: thanks, Fucking Universe, you win, pleeeeeeease just keep on doing what you're doing.

All of which puts VDuck in a bit of a Transitional Phase, content-wise...issues of jurisdiction. I go to America in ten days for a month, I'm sure I'll have things we can document and discuss in the traditional VDuck stylee.



sausage rub.

I said it. This is a rub designed to emulate Italian-American pepperoni, it's good on just about everything so far.


pepperoni rub.

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp sweet (non-hot) paprika
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 or 2 tsp smoked salt, to taste
1 or 2 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
1 or 2 tsp garlic powder, to taste
1 or 2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste

Grind. Rub.




Above: De Ceuvel. Below: America, O'Neill's basement last night.

The recipe: good the first night, wayyyy better the second day, this would fit right in with any kind of Caribbean menu. Super good if one is a fan of the habanero and the mustard being together what language is this.


yassa (senegalese chicken in lemon, mustard, and scotch bonnet). 

3 boneless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
2 red scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and veined
juice of a lemon
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp smoked salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper or black peppercorns
2 tbsp olive oil

1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup coarse-grained mustard
1/4 olive oil
juice of a lemon
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
handful of cilantro, chopped


you for my mom.

If you don't like smoked fish, you're going to say eww gross, but two things: 1) grow up and 2) you might like smoked herring. I probably need to make a distinction between canned smoked herring, which I've never tried, and what I'm using, which I just spent an awful lot of time describing and then just realized that I should take a picture tomorrow when it's light out. Basically it's not canned, it's dry and sealed in plastic.

Anyway, it's less fishy than smoked mackerel, and just kind of "different" than smoked salmon, milder. I was happy to see it at the Dirk the other day since they haven't had it in forever (is it seasonal maybe? that would make sense), and it's cheap, I think I paid €2.50 for 3 fillets. But then you get it home and if the weather outside is frightful, like winter tornado weather, and you're not in the mood for a cold preparation, well what's a brother to do. 

So I set to Googlin, and turned up this from the NY Times. I was not super enthusiastic about the idea, but I did have most of the ingredients, and then I imagined a runny egg on top and that sounded good, so I did it, and really thought it was great. I would never have guessed what the slight difference in the dressing was, sorry this is such shitty writing, my blood sugar is still low, but I'm jotting this down before I forget the details.


smoked herring caesar salad.

3 tablespoons smoked herring, finely chopped
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated (plus more for finishing)
1 tsp good Dijon mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
some amount of extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup of toasted almonds, possibly halved
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 or 2 eggs, ready to be prepared in a way of your choosing, I chose over easy.

1 head romaine lettuce, roughly cut, well rinsed and dried.

This is really the only important instruction: in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine smoked herring with just enough red-wine vinegar to cover it barely; heat until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat immediately, scrape into a small bowl and allow to cool.

In a food processor, combine the herring and vinegar, the garlic, cheese, mustard, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Process. Once it's fine-ish, add olive oil and process til you git to yr desired consistency.  

Melt the butter in a little saucepan, add the almonds and thyme, toss to coat, and set aside. 

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and the almonds with enough dressing to cover the romaine as a sauce would pasta. Quickly cook your egg and throw on top. Place salad in serving bowl, top with an egg, and (according to the original recipe) "grate so much Parmesan over the top that the salad looks like a heavily snowcapped mountain." Serves 2 or more. Adapted from Hugue Dufour, M. Wells, Queens.



first obpressions.

So, still trying to read the three "morbid self-attention" books I got from the library a couple weeks ago: Didion, Barnes, and the DFW biography. Didion's "Blue Lights" and the DFW bio are....maybe "light" isn't the right word, but they're easy to both start and stop reading. Didion: although she's said a few things that have really resonated so far, page 16 for example:

Time passes.
Yes, agreed, a banality, of course time passes.
Then why do I say it, why have I already said it more than once?
Have I been saying it the same way I say I have lived most of my life in California?
Have I been saying it without hearing what I say?
Could it be that I heard it more this way: Time passes, but not so aggressively that anyone notices? Or even: Time passes, but not for me? Could it be that I did not figure in either the general nature or the permanence of the slowing, the irreversible changes in mind and body, the way in which you wake one summer morning less resilient than you were and by Christmas find your ability to mobilize gone, atrophied, no longer extant?
Could it be that I never believed it?
Did I believe that the blue nights could last forever?


The "blue nights", they're not what you think they are, they're this.

Anyway, though I'm mostly "with her", there's a little something about her tone (and all these one-sentence paragraphs) that's rubbing me really wrong. I know it seems churlish and insubordinate to complain about someone's technique when they're writing a book about their prematurely dead daughter and that death's effect on one's own view of mortality....but this is why I don't finish many books. I can't just "read past" someone's delivery or vocabulary or any of the things that go into writing. This is also why I don't seriously "write": I'd have to get past myself as a reader first.

The DFW bio is, well, something that I imagine would have driven him to suicide were he not already dead, and I say this knowing him just as well as his biographer knew him, that is to say not at all. I would love to see Mr. Wallace's annotations/footnotes on this book. It's, yes, stuff that rings 7,000 bells for me (auto)biographically: problems being comfortable socially; a brain whose unstoppableness becomes more and more of a liability whenever it's not channeled towards creating something; etc etc etc. I'll quote some of that here as well when I have it in front of me....

The Barnes book is a horse of a different etc: very dense and descriptive, and very British, not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just not something I'm able to dabble in yet. REMIND ME TO RENEW THESE. I'm leaving that sentence there until I do it.

to be continued....



in medias res .

OK, everything is pointed in the right direction, motor is running, gentlemen start your etc, "it's 8:05 it's time to rock," said one of the stupidest songs ever.

First, some shots from around town: I see the below store every time I go to my job in the Pijp, and finally I had to take a picture of it. This is from a couple of weeks ago.

Then yesterday I happened to be walking down that side of the street and they had this heartwarming sign in their window:

Apropos, or not.

Last night I took poor Jo3n kitty to the vet because we've been playing an awful lot of "Poop or Hairball" lately. Always an adventure to try and get a deadly, deadly fanged and clawed creature into a small box where it does not want to go. On the way to the vet I had to put her down (not "put her down", but, you know, stop carrying her) for a moment and take this picture of "normal" urban Amsterdam wildlife:

This was 8 herons (couldn't fit all of them in the shot) waiting outside of the Westerpark frites/shoarma stand for what must have become an expected nightly snack, you never seem to see more than one or two herons together unless people are feeding them. Those beaks must be perfect for stabbing fries.


The last few days have been full of, what? Work, exercise, kitty maintenance, mostly good things. I binge-watched/listened to two amazing stories of possibly wrongly-imprisoned men, one influenced by the other (the stories/serieseses, not the men): first I listened to Serial while working, which I can only recommend doing if you have time to listen to all four episodes in a row, cause you'll want to desperately; and then I watched/listened to the thing that the people who recommended Serial mentioned during their recommendation, The Staircase.

This does all tie into The Year I Got Old and the very recent preoccupation with memoirs, at least for sure in The Staircase (we still don't know how Serial "ends"): talk about having your life turn out differently than you hoped or expected. The main character is not especially likable at all in the beginning, or indeed through much of The Staircase, but in Episode 10 he says something surprisingly quotable about time and acceptance and regret that I'll mention eventually out of context because if I were to mention it now you'd know too much about what happens, and what ultimately happens (ultimately meaning episodes 9 and 10) is, well, [redacted].



hat trick.

And you may ask yourself, "My God: what have I done?" I went to the library last night on my way to the Bimhuis. Remember that not-so-positive Paul Auster review from the New York Times? Well, therein the reviewer happened to offhandedly mention three or four recent examples of successfully-written aging-related memoirs, and so I picked up two of them: Joan Didion's "Blue Nights" and Julian Barnes' "Nothing To Be Frightened Of", the titles of which make me think that maybe one of them's figured it out and the other one hasn't, but maybe one shouldn't "read" too much into a title so to speak etc etc etc...

But seriously, I've been meaning to read Didion for a long time, so I'm "looking forward" to this. And then while I was in the small English-language biography section I happened to see the David Foster Wallace biography "Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story" and thought why the fuck not, go for the Existential Gloom Jackpot.

After the library, on the way to the BIM, I saw two unexpected things. This, as I went underneath the bridge leading to Piet Heinkade:

Which I still don't really understand what it was, hopefully a piece of art and not the new HQ of Satan's army. Wait, no, that would be totally fine.

And then this disorienting sight:

Which is the pretty darn sizable building I was headed to (slightly in the foreground), dwarfed by an enormous cruise ship parked right up next to it. That hotel with the red neon sign next to it is, I dunno, 20 stories high. It didn't make any visual sense at all. Nor logical: why would you put two mammoth billion-dollar structures next to each other in the water if you didn't have to?



breaking the chains.

Cleaning up my phone I found this mysterious picture: I know what it is but not why there would be a picture of it.

As a break from the wattle-gazing that's going on around here, it's convenient that this is also a food blog. It's no secret that I/we seem to be growing ever more in love with pickled things over the years, probably because our tastebuds are getting old and saggy, but whatever the cause, I found another new pickle that, while it's a lot of chopping, and a little frying, and kind of feels like a bit of work while you're doing it, and boy are these a lot of commas, etc: then it sits in the fridge for 24 hours and your aged-ass moth-eaten brain has almost entirely forgotten about the prep work by then. Suddenly you're all, "Crikey, who left this bright yellow incredibly healthy-looking Nyonya/Malaysian fish pickle in my icebox? I shall bite into it right now", etc.

It's really, realllly good. One of the more obviously restaurant-quality Asian things I can make, which is interesting (to me) because there are so few ingredients. It really is the Nyonya/Malaysian version of this, so if you do it right it's another perfect treatment for oilier fishies. The post-cooking marination does something extremely complementary (and complimentary, but more the former) to the texture of this particular fish.

Which is not the fish that the original recipe calls for, which I got from here, obviously my version is totally inauthentic, I'm using dirt-cheap (but sustainably fished!) Alaskan salmon, and I didn't technically "deep-fry" anything. And some more different colors would be a good idea (adding the green chiles for example), and then check out their sprinkle of sesame seeds, which every recipe I saw included. Tragically I didn't have any so I can't comment. I left the chile peppers cut big so I could choose spicy or non-spicy bites. And I added black pepper b/c turmeric needs it in order to be bioavailable or something scientific like that.


nyonya fish pickle. 

500g wild salmon or mackerel
olive or coconut oil for frying

5 tbsp olive or coconut oil
20g fresh turmeric (three pinky-sized pieces), peeled and julienned
50g fresh ginger (the standard "2-inch long piece"), peeled and julienned
30g garlic (ended up being about 5 cloves), peeled and etc
2 green Holland chiles
2 red Holland chiles
5 tbsp (or slightly less) raw sugar (I used one disk of palm sugar b/c that's all I had, HOW FUCKING GOURMET AM I BITCHESSSS)
1 tsp salt
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
200ml white vinegar
1 tsp white sesame seed or even a drizzle of tahini, I know it sounds weird but it worked for me


Fry the fish in as little oil as you can to be able to call it frying. I cooked my filets 3 minutes per side and, while that doesn't sound like much, and it's true they were "just cooked" when I took them off, they kept cooking while they rested, and then the very vinegar-centric soaking finished whatever needed finishing. They were pretty perfect 24 hours later.

I can't remember if I wiped the pan out here, it could've gone either way. Let's say I did. Then you add the 5 tbsp of oil and fry the turmeric until it's lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove it and then do the ginger and garlic together, which I normally wouldn't do b/c ginger always seems to take a little longer, but again it worked perfectly, about 5 minutes, don't burn your garlic. Remove the ginger and garlic and then do the chiles.

And then put the oil and whatever's in the pan into a pickling jar or sealable glass bowl and let it cool. Then add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and combine with the fish pieces and rhizomes and chiles and whatnot. Something like that, I did whatever the original recipe told me to do. Cover/seal and put in the fridge for 24 hours.



signs, signs, everywhere signs.

This should save me a lot of time and effort: I think Paul Auster already wrote this book, about getting old. I just thought of that today. But I haven't read it, because I was still young when it came out, yes, all the way back in last year or something.

Put another way, or possibly just the same way again less effectively: besides me just generally being an illiterate punk who doesn't turn to non-fiction books for answers, me not having read Auster's book is the reason why it didn't occur to me sooner that I should read it.

Which is also pretty elliptical, as Vatcher would say, but what I am holy living shit trying and failing to eventually get at is: at the time Winter Whatever came out, I didn't really care at all about Paul Auster getting older, literally couldn't give a fuck (ok probably not literally but you know, discursive writing breaks rules), even though I like one of his books enough to have read it very carefully with undiminished appreciation three or four times, or more, and two others I find OK (and a few others I didn't finish. And quite a few I didn't even start, etc).

But OK, so even when I first heard about this author whose one book I really really like's new book about his own aging process, I was just still an asshole young person yawning a droll and mostly-uncaring "hmm, yes, that's not terribly exciting, is it...too bad"....I didn't even think to think "Poor Paul", which was nine-tenths (I'm counting the space but not the apostrophe, discursive writing breaks etc) of the name of a bar I used to go to in Tallahassee quite often. It might've even been spelled "Pour Paul's", in fact, which is simply unforgivable.

Anyway then I first noticed my old-person neck about three months ago, and now I can barely stop looking at it. And then today I thought of Paul Auster's book about getting old. I realize that this particular kind of bodily obsessing is what women do starting at age 21 or something, with any random part of their body, and yes ageism is a shitty thing to perpetuate even if I'm talking about my own saggy neck, but the problem with it is: it's no longer my neck there in the mirror.

What I mean is, the NYT review quotes Auster as saying, "Some memories are so strange to you, so unlikely, so outside the realm of the plausible, that you find it difficult to reconcile them with the fact that you are the person who experienced the events you are remembering.”

That's just it: fucking all of my memories are completely plausible to me right now. In my mind I'm still the same stupid kid who did every bit of it: it's my present reality that's becoming increasingly difficult to believe. What with the neck and everything.


And then, because writing about aging is still turning out to be so fucking boring (reallly need to check out that Auster book for some tips, although that NYT review isn't so so favorable is it, maybe there's hope), here's a slightly less boring herring recipe. Actually it's pretty completely boring too, on paper. But when I first tasted it in Sweden oh so long ago, it seemed pretty genius and I just assumed it was their Abba-brand herring or Nordic light or general Swedish quietness or whatever that made it great. Something unexportable. But it's not that at all: it's simply the globally-available genius of butter and hot potatoes that make it great. See? "You're never too old to etc".

Here's where I got the instructions from.



the year i got old.

The Year I Got Old, it was 2014. That number still sounds to me like it's light years into the future, but in fact it’s somehow the year that is going to be over in three months.

I have a feeling I'm going to use the word "obviously" a lot here, because, well, I'm pretty embarrassed about how obvious it all is, and how I didn't see it or believe it was really going to happen. When I say I Got Old, obviously I don’t mean my physical age…as Aaliyah knew, this is nothing but a number, and as someone else not Aaliyah knows/says…the numbers don’t lie.

Except that this is one number that always did seem to lie. These horrible clichés that some obviously old people came up with like “youth is wasted on the young” (of course an old person came up with this, b/c young people generally don’t think about old people except when their grandparents visit or die, or to exasperatedly sigh at them in traffic or in the grocery store), or “hindsight is 20/20” (same as above: it’s only old people that really understand that twist on regret. I don’t mean regret like not studying for a math test hard enough or not swinging at the right pitch during the big game or having a couple of beers too many before that concert; I mean regret like continuing to make the same mistakes for years and years and years. There’s no other way to really “get” that than to do it.

And to finish this unpunctuatably parenthetical mess: old people also know that eventually your vision literally does become a medically detectable failure, and that often this is one of the first and most banal of many unavoidable confrontations with the failing body, there, OK, close parenthesis)…

Finally picking up the beginning of this sentence again: these horrible clichés about aging are so old and boring and so true that even their explanations are clichés. The very act of suddenly being old enough to believe these clichés to be true is itself a cliché, as is the act of trying to explain that. I just never, ever thought any of it would happen to me. Which is a cliché, I know.

I’ve been feeling like this for well, at least a couple of months and trying to think about how to write about it without being totally hopeless AND boring, which is possibly the worst combo there is, and then I realized that the only way I’d know if there was a way to write about it was to start writing and to think of the whole business as "resetting my perspective". Hopefully this entry is as cliché as it gets.




It was September. It is September. There's a temptation to think, after a spell of not writing, that you just "don't feel like writing anymore". That's a rather grand reduction, and not totally true, in reality I'm totally distracted by many things, at this moment by the current Britishness of my vocabulary, "spell", and "grand", for example, maybe it's to do (another one) with watching the rather desperately uninspiring fourth season of Downton Abbey last week. I don't know much about the mechanics of the new binge-watchable Netflixing, but it seems in this case that killing off your most relatable male character in Season 3 (spoiler alert!) has some significant dramaturgical consequences. Thus we get 4 episodes of third-tier character Moseley looking for work and Alfred trying to get into cooking school. D+.

Otherwise, the not writing bit: I just got tired of writing about medication, being on it, coming off it, living without it, etc. It's not a super rewarding subject to talk about in public b/c if you haven't suffered from any of these problems (insomnia, depression, addiction) you just don't/can't care, or you might care but you'll never really understand ("just go to sleep, you wanker", "just quit moaning and go to the gym you wanker", just have two beers then stop, you wanker"), and if you have had them you already know pretty much everything I'm saying. For me reporting obvious and well-(mis)understood facts has never really been a good enough reason to start typing.

Considering "really writing" here, but as always, that's a fleeting inspiration that almost never lasts past a first draft. Instead, I post pictures of what I've been doing: visiting Mara at work; eating extremely penile organic hotdogs from Hema (if you ever need to buy "a real American hot dog", this is what you should buy, don't bother with the bullshit at the grocery stores); reading Karl-Ove Knausgaard.



fried green tomatoes.

This phrase means something to Southerners I think. It's a promise of a regional dish that is rarely done exceptionally well, mostly one of those things that sounds better on paper than it ends up being in the flesh.

I have had exactly one good version of fried green tomatoes, or rather I had the same good version three or four times. South City Kitchen in Atlanta really knew what they were doing with these, serving them crisped up with a layer of soft goat cheese and a spicy.sweet red pepper coulis.

Since we're watching our upstairs' neighbor's cats, we have access to the dying embers of their rooftop summer garden, and one of the only edible things left (besides the peas) is green tomatoes. Add to that fact that catfish was on sale for €1,99 a bag and ripe avocados were 3 for €1, diner seemed preordained. I made guacamole, I fried catfish, and then I made this pretty awesome thing to go with it (well actually I made the relish first, but).



where it's at.

This is where Mara works.



what to do.

Yeah, update in progress.

UPDATED AUGUST 2013:  Just found these Toko Tests, and Mara really didn't like Tales and Spirits ("up their own ass" was her capsule review), which made me want to update this here post. Since it looks like maybe this is being consistently updated again I thought I'd have the post date reflect this.


ORIGINAL POST, FROM 2011 OR SOMETHING: There's a nice new beermaker in town, de 7 deugden, and wanting to tell the hypothetical you about that fact reminded me that I have a friend coming to visit soon, which reminded me again that I should re-start paying attention to what the good things to do in town are, etc etc etc.

Back when we first moved here and all of our friends were still childless so they had time/money/irresponsiblity enough to come and visit us (seriously), we used to have this document we would give them called "shit close to the shop". It was a semi-comprehensive list of every good address in town we knew, organized by whether or not it was close to our record shop or close to our apartment.

Since my tour guide instinct has/had been reawakened, I'd been thinking about this document and lamenting its loss, when plotseling I just accidentally found it like 8 minutes ago while I was doing something totally unrelated.

So here it is, even though there's no record shop anymore. It's always in the process of being revamped, since it's mostly several years old, but my continuing goal is to have it full of "only places I would happily go right now, today".





vlaming, lindengracht 95. this is mara's new favorite casual place to eat. it's simple cooking, but executed very well and the owner is remarkably friendly and (get this) concerned about your dining experience (!!!). the above address is for the eetcafe, there's also a slightly more formal brasserie on the prinsengracht.
bar boca's, westerstraat 30. small plates, big crowds, great reviews, havent been there yet.
de kat in de wijngaert, lindengracht 160. this is kind of one of our go-to local options, though a bit more for mara than for me: good bar, very good breakfast via uitsmijters (sort of dutch omelettes kinda), above-average tosti (het parool called it the best tosti in town a couple years ago) sum is greater than the parts, a fave.
de oranjerie binnen oranjestraat 15hs. evening bar, decent dutch-style steaks, not really sure why we like it but we seem to.
small world catering binnen oranjestraat 14. tiny Australian-owned lunch counter with hefty, homey sandwiches and fresh juices, open til 6pm. i would avoid on weekends, things slow down to a crawl, and the last thing i ate there really needed salt and pepper. but: it's an ok option for picnic food during the week.
two for joy, good coffee, nice long room that doesn't feel like your typical coffee bar hangout, tasty baked goods
le sud haarlemmerdijk 118. middle eastern vegetarian lunch counter, everything looks fantastic there, but sadly tastes not quite as good as it looks. still, good.
ibericus, haarlemmerstraat 93. temple to Spanish pig, bring your wallet.
hollandaluz haarlemmerstraat 71. good (if slightly less good and slightly more expensive than it used to be) spanish lunch counter, fresh chorizo, good bread, good aioli, good albondigas.
cafe de klepel, prinsenstraat 22, prix fixe menus with wine, good for special occasions
gebroeders niemeijer nieuwendijk 35. real-ish french bakery: decent macarons, good canelés, tarte tatin, etc. a little pricey.
't arendsnest, herengracht 90. great and interesting local beers, mostly dutch not belgian, a rarity.
singel 404 singel 404. "cute" and crowded lunch cafe, kind of mommyish, nearly legendary sandwiches.
de doffer runstraat 12. open very late for drinking.
het kalfje prinsenstraat 5. also open late for drinking plus i've heard they serve food til midnight.
de pels huidenstraat 25. smart little brown bar that seems like someplace newspaper journalists from the 1950s should hang out and chomp on cigars. supposedly pleasant minimalist sunday breakfast, haven't tried it.
sound garden marnixstraat 164-166. punkish but friendly bar with good beer, ancient pinball and/or arcade machines, crappy pool table, and a nice terras in back, probably my favorite bar in town currently (2014).
burgermeester elandsgracht 130. good if completely non-american-style burgers.
patisserie mercan rozengracht 140. definitely worth a detour, a bakery that serves my quintessential turkish pizza, order "a turkish pizza with everything". the difference here? lightness and crispness of the bread. only open during the day.
mesut 2 rozengracht 164, post-drinking shawarma, open late.
akitsu rozengracht 228. supposedly good standard sushi, japanese chef, not fancy at all.
cafe de tuin tweede tuindwarsstraat 13. pleasant dark bar, a regular destination, a bit too crowded on weekends.
la perla, tweede tuindwarsstraat 14. real italian wood-fired pizza, it's the shit. they only open at 5pm, but their other restaurant across the street serves nice homemade pasta and sandwiches all day, plus: really drinkable house red. I think I've eaten here more than any place in town except for the shoarma place next door to us.
la oliva, egelantiersstraat 122-124. this is a questionable recommendation: supposedly interesting and expensive spanish tapas, but i've heard the service is "below average", which for amsterdam is scary as hell.
headfirst coffee roasters, westerstraat 150, top-notch coffee, two for joy's only serious competition in our hood
fraiche, westerstraat 264. good, subtle, sophisticated, affordable, pretty relaxed American prix fixe menus. just don't ask for salt. we also (uncharacteristically) found their wine list a trifle disappointing compared to the food. but it's fun, go.
som tam, 2e goudsbloemdwarsstraat 24. excellent thai takeaway, best we've had in town. great duck, green papaya salad, spicy basil anything...this is our address for when we want foolproof takeout.
terang boelan, 2e lindendwarsstraat 3. above-average takeaway indonesian, best in the hood at least.
yam yam, frederik hendrikstraat 88-90. pretty good pizza, haven't been in a loooooong time.
maloe melo, lijnbaansgracht 163. funny blues/rockabilly dive bar with live music almost every night, perfectly entertaining in the right context.
tripel, lijnbaansgracht 161, the best fake old pub in town, kind of expensive but good music, lots to look at, and you can order standalone frites


nassau, de wittenkade 105a. our default bar/meeting place in good weather, nice terrace, mostly edible food it seems, monthly pubquiz, weekly burger night which we haven't tried. Plus, you can order standalone frites
piet de gruyter, van limburg stirumplein 4-6. the other default bar/meeting place, but only if it's warm out, the inside kind of sucks. they have a new menu we haven't tried yet, but it has some nice simple twists.
westergasterras, klönneplein 4-6. calm terrace in the park, i seem to like it more than most people but i'm usually drunk when i'm there. the service can be....forgetful.
pont 13. haparandadam 50. boat eating off in nowhereland, great atmosphere, good small menu with seasonal and local emphasis, a new fave in nice weather.
marius. barentszstraat 243. my favorite "nice" restaurant in amsterdam, u gots to reserve, and i would plan to spend the evening there. some vegetarian friends have had disappointing experiences here, but if you eats meats you should be happy.
worst. barentszstraat 171. next door to marius, a great little wine/sausage bar; sunday brunch from 10 to 2.
gouden reael, zandhoek 14. atmospheric little bar near marius, don't know about the food these days, but it's a french bistro menu, from 6pm every day, looks good, we'll check it out soon.
buurtboerderij, spaarndammerdijk 319. squat farm in the park, fixed up now and with beers from de prael, a nice place to sit outside and drink, the food i've tasted there has been unusually bad: do NOT order the guacamole.


l'affiche, jacob van lennepstraat 39hs. sweet little bar with nice terras, open pretty late.
fenan klein afrika jan pieter heijestraat 147. best eritrean/ethiopian in town.
abyssinia jan pieter heijestraat 190. 2nd best eritrean/ethiopian in town.
kashmir lounge, jan pieter heijestraat 85-87. dark and entertaining coffeeshop.
tomatillo, overtoom 261. edible american-style burritos, not cheap.
kismet. kinkerstraat 350. good turkish lunch place, no atmosphere but cheap
bax ten katestraat 119, slowly becoming my favorite bar in this hood, nice beer selection, very good-looking burger, nice terrace
lab 111, arie biemondstraat 111, lounge-ish bar, but still ok; i spend a lot of time here b/c of work, stick with apps and salads
gollem's proeflokaal huge beer list, good wine/food, plus pubquiz
riaz, bilderdijkstraat 193, ab0ve-average sit-down surinamese, decent ambiance, sl0w but friendly service; this is where i send out of towners for sit-down surinamese
orontes west, hugo de grootplein 8, friendly, fresh turkish, my go-to restaurant recommendation in the neighborhood
mano a mano, hugo de grootplein 6, another lazy option in summer; outdoor eating, decent tapas
mesut, de clerqstraat 59, cabbies tell me it's the best shoarma in town, and open late
cafe zurich, mercatorplein 2B, never been, but i've heard good things; open all day; interesting, affordable menu
fa. speijkervet, admiraal de ruyterweg 79, palace of meat with good and adventurous vegetarian options, open all day, one of the better restaurants in town in my regard
bar baarsch, jan evertsenstraat 91, perky, over-branded bar/cafe with a great beer selection
gent aan de schinkel, theophile de bockstraat 1, nice terrace near vondelpark, good-looking (and smelling) food, a bit cramped inside
OT301, overtoom 301, one of my go-to non-corporate music venues in town
occii, amstelveenseweg 134, the other of my go-to non-corporate music venues in town
butcher's tears, karpersweg 45, the most idiosyncratic microbrewery in town: great beers, great general taste in most things they do (plus they're releasing our record). a little hard to find.


't blauwe theehuis, vondelpark 5, freaky blue spaceship terrace in the park, good in nice weather
soup en zo, nieuwe spiegelstraat 54 not somewhere I'd seek out, but handy if you're there: tasty soups, salads to go, a bit $$ for what you get but i find myself eating here once or twice a year regardless
maoz falafel, leidsestraat 85 worth fitting into your schedule, cheap and wondrous and as spicy as you can take it
cafe de spuyt, korte leidsedwarsstraat 86 very nice nighttime exotic beer place, small, cozy and dark
a taste of culture, korte ledsedwarsstraat 139, terrible name but supposed to be great chinese food according to actual chinese people, open til 1am, 3am weekends
sie joe, gravenstraat 24a, indonesian I keep hearing good things about, closes early
saigon cafe leidsestraat 95, new vietnamese place, lots of pho options, supposedly serving til 11pm daily
eijlders, korte leidsedwarsstraat 47 supergreat old-school bruin cafe, pretty much the only sane option if you're at leidseplein during the day and thirsty, don't know what the food options are. my favorite bar in this hood.
de balie situated next to paradiso, this is the other sane leidseplein drinking option during the day, IJ beer on tap, but this is more of a well-lit media lounge/cafe than a dingy bar
de zotte, ramstraat 29 worth planning to visit: great music, better belgian beer selection and good steaks and frites, been a bit too crowded lately but hey, price you pay and all that.
de klos, kerkstraat 41 this is barely remaining on the list, bar/cafe with supposedly good steaks, a perennial rec not yet explored.
sampurna, singel 498, sit-down indonesian, expensive but friendly, knowledgeable service and carefully spiced dishes...i'd go back.
sumo korte leidsedwarsstraat 51, yes it's all you can eat japanese, with lots of complex rules, but, supposedly done well. hard to imagine under what circumstances i would eat here, but...wait
cafe alto korte leidsedwarsstraat 115, yeah, kind of a fake jazz cafe that can nonetheless be a hoot if your expectations are low and you're already drunk....and hold on:
whiskycafe l & b korte leidsedwarsstraat 82-84. providing serious trouble every day from 8pm-3am. yes, ok, probably a pretty fun night to combine this with the fake jazz and all-you-can-eat japanese listed above.


mata hari, oudezijds achterburgwal 22, huge atmospheric living room with a good dare I say romantic vibe, useful terrace, just generally a nice place for a conversation and a drink, quickly becoming a default/favorite.
yokiyo, oudezijds voorburgwal 65, amsterdam's first korean bbq place, friendly people, pretty good food, plus they serve resonably-priced pitchers of beer, which no one else does
china si-chuan kitchen, warmoesstraat 17, my new favorite chinese and one of the only sichuans in town
lastage very well-reviewed french, haven't been yet, expensive, one michelin star. none of this excuses the awful music that starts playing when you go to their website, which makes me not want to visit the restaurant at all, probably not what they intended. but exactly who is excited when a restaurant website starts playing music automatically?
greetje, peperstraat 23-25, one of the few midrange places in town that focuses on the modernization of traditional dutch dishes. haven't been in a while, heard it's still good. service can still be a bit scattered according to IENS, and apparently they're light on vegetarian stuff
de engelbewaarder kloveniersburgwaal 59, the real jazz bar (music on sundays), i've heard the food has gone downhill to the point of being inedible (the newspaper's fondue taste test called theirs "somewhere between burning gasoline and melting plastic"), but still a good place to hang out in general, nice terras.
brouwerij de prael oudezijds voorburgwal 30, newish microbrewery with weird but good ambience, slightly unusual Dutch bar menu.
cafe de kletskop, zeedijk 10. good dive bar, opens at 4pm.
in het aepjen, zeedijk 1. one of the oldest bars in the city but a new fave of Mara, incomparable decor, good music, friendly staff
a fusion zeedijk 130, mixed asian small plates, dim sum and sushi, friendly service
sluyswacht old-ass cafe/bar, nothing special except for building itself, mostly useful for terrace
new king zeedijk 115-117, good but comparatively expensive chinese, homemade dumplings, try the oysters
lokaal ‘t loosje cafe/bar on nieuwmarkt, good peoplewatching
little saigon, zeedijk 88-90, our first real vietnamese pho restaurant
bird zeedijk 72-74, above-average thai for the area
vijaya good indian for this area
latei zeedijk 143, a unique kind of thrift shop vibe for breafst and lunch, heard the food is up and down, but there's something i like about it
nyonya malaysia express, kloveniersburgwal 38, zero atmosphere, very good malaysian.
de tokoman waterlooplein 327, my favorite broodje pom
homegrown fantasy, nieuwezijds voorburgwal 87, one of the better coffeeshops in the center for quality indie weed
greenhouse coffeeshop, overpriced but pretty classic, perennial cc winner


goudvis, spuistraat 4, little place focusing on asian apps, not perfect but pleasant enough, open late
het schuim spuistraat 189, art bar, definitely an odd vibe but i like very much
ashoka, spuistraat 54, well-reviewed Indian, not your standard taste-alike menu
cafe gollem raamsteeg 4, they have every beer
in de wildeman kolksteeg 3, quiet old great bar with interesting beer, a favorite
il pacioconne, sint jacobsstraat 8. variably good pizza and other very Italian things from these Italiani veri
belgique, gravenstraat 2, more great beer, tiny place but usually fun
de buurvrouw, sint pieterspoortsteeg 29-I, late, usually fun bar
the minds, spuistraat 245, another late bar that ron usually drags us to
nes-cafe, nes 33, seedy as fuck but good beer and weed-friendly, til 03:00am wkends
vleminckx, voetboogstraat 33 best frites in town sold through a hole in the wall
lanskroon, singel 385, real stroopwafels and other good homemade desserts (vs. factory-made), daytime only


bar moustache, utrechtsestraat 141, italian with great-looking menu, plus brunch, haven't been
de nachtwacht thorbeckplein 2, there's no way this can be any good, right? steakhouse on the rembrandtplein serving til midnight every night. gets very good reviews, though...you can eat at the bar, etc. maybe we try it.
salsa shop, amstelstraat 32-A, reportedly the only "real tacos" in town at the moment, haven't been there yet


brouwerij 't IJ funenkade 7, great local beer and terras, limited but good sausage and cheese.
burgermeester plantage kerklaan 37, good if non-american-style burgers.
tolhuistuin tolhuisweg 5, historic terrace just across the IJ
noorderlicht, NDSM-plein 102. summertime hang amongst the warehouses. the food is extremely hit-or-miss
restaurant stork, gedempte hamerkanaal t.o. 96, across the IJ via the ferry + 10 minute walk. not worth a special trip, but if you're over there, it's a very nice waterside seafood restaurant, food is above average but a bit bland...unbeatable view though.
hotel de goudfazant aambeeldstraat 10h haven't been, great reviews by friends
cafe modern, meidoornweg 2, trustable friends say it rocks, haven't been
rijsel marcusstraat52B, owned by the goudfazant people, haven't been yet
wilhelmina-dok, noordwal 1, also across the IJ, a lovely view, haven't eaten there but good for drinks and the food looks great
cafe kadijk indonesian eetcafe, small, expensive menu but supposedly great
frank's smoke house, wittenburgergracht 303, great little takeaway smokehouse with one table, a neighborhood fave. a little bit expensive. ok, a lot expensive, but really good.
snackbar sphinx 2, oostenburgergracht 71. i thought it was easily the best broodje doner i've had in amsterdam, and the cheapest, but maybe more research is necessary
maxwell cafe, beukenplein 27, all around nice pub, w/quiz on mondays, strangely good bitterballen, supposedly good burgers and fondue
wilde zwijnen, javaplein 23, good basic homey cooking, haven't been, friends with taste all say good things, but, yes....still haven't been.
roest, czaar peterstraat 213, difficult to find (ignore the address, look at their map) but very relaxed industrial/outdoor space with faux beach terrace and good beer choices, a little hipstery but friendly nonetheless.


ron gastrobar, sophialaan 55hs, ron blauw's new gastropub, really good, affordable Michelin food plus excellent gin & tonics
vamos a ver, govert flinckstraat 308, tapas place that was the winner of my pijp tapas serch, but I never actually went.
kaiko, jekerstraat 114, supposedly great sushi and supposedly always full, reserve
issa, stadionweg 249, very authentic and low-key japanese, we've been a few times, they have takoyaki!!!
restaurant khan, nederhoven 9 (buitenveldert) purportedly best korean in town
korean garden, europaplein 21, new korean, haven't been
burgermeester albert cuypstraat 38, good if non-american-style burgers
bar boca's, sarphatipark 4. small plates, big crowds, great reviews, havent been there yet.
dopey's elixer. 2e v/d helststraat 52A. classic bruin bar with modern beers and a small terrace.
spaghetteria, van woustraat 123 homemade pasta, great reviews
fa pekelharing, van woustraat 127-129 italian, open all day, mixed reviews but intriguing
the taco shop, tolstraat 200, american people making edible if slightly idiosyncratic tex-mex burritos, very good pork
ijsbreker, weesperzijde 23, nice terrace, above average bar food
little collins eerste sweelinckstraat 19-F australian brunch place, pretty OK on our one visit a year ago, hipster quotient a trifle worrisome (pictures of people in fedoras, indoor sunglasses, and DJ headphones on a restaurant's website are nearly as offputting as tourist menus for me)
pink flamingo pizza, gerard douplein 8, thoroughly unlikely pizza combinations that had us wrinkling our noses skeptically at the first bite and then happily finishing the things 8 minutes later
perry's exotische food, cornelis troostplein 7, takeout suriname/indian food, great broodjes and roti
moksi, ferdinand bolstraat 21, historically great surinamese food, plan on takeout b/c it's small in there
cafe gollem, daniel stalpertstraat 74, yes, the belgian beer bar, this is our favorite branch
troost, cornelis troostplein 23, oddly designed brewery with an unfortunate PIN/credit card only policy and surprisingly delicious flammenküche.
zaza's, daniël stalpertstraat 103, TripAdvisor's #1 Amsterdam restaurant last year...for better or for worse. Never eaten there, but have heard good things from everyone.


de jufferen lunsingh, westervelde
de kop van 't land, dordrecht



come on people.

Not to be alarmist or anything, but this would be a new fun development: something that feels/sounds like benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the net result of which is very much like you drank wayyyy too much booze without any of the remotely pleasurable aspects of that (or the terribly unpleasant ones either, come to think of it). You know that business where the room won't stop spinning and your eyes won't focus? It's like that any time I sit down, stand up, lay down, roll over...essentially when I move my head. No idea if this is mirtzapine-withdrawal-related or just that I suddenly turned 84 years old Wednesday at about 5:30pm.

Or maybe it's just some kind of ear infection that doesn't hurt. I'm going to the doctor today to see what she thinks. The glass half full perspective would be I guess that I don't feel bad otherwise, other than a new sort of weird headache, and at moments the dizziness is a truly unique human sensation, almost fun at times if I'm not trying to accomplish something, like I've been Novocained somewhere in my body that I can't identify. It's exactly like the Mushroom Mode cheat code in Rise Of The Triad. And it feels a little less unpleasant right now than it did 8 hours ago. But jeez, come on people, I've got shit to do.



in dreams, part xi.

Still writing abut this so that other non-sleepers can have some Google results about combining Ambien/zolpidem with oxazepam during mirtazapine withdrawals.


So, as much as I would love for medication talking time to be over, my shit still isn't settled down. I've been trying to sleep without Ambien or Oxazepam just because I'm not sure if either one of those has been contributing to recent stomach distress.

The most obvious result of this has been a general lack of sleep over the past week or so, culminating in a 2.5-hour night's sleep last night, and resulting in that oh-so-familiar Fight Club feeling of being "never really awake....a copy of a copy of a copy".

On the less boring side, my brain has been so desperate to catch up on REM sleep that it has manufactured some crazily busy and vivid dreams the past three nights. Said brain also seems intent on incorporating whatever music I'm falling asleep to into these dreams, not in a totally positive way.

1) Tonight's: J-Kim and I are part of the Lee Konitz Quintet while he's in Amsterdam, along with Johnny D and a drummer who is a cross between our actual Norwegian drummer friend Tollef and Samantha's beauhunk Smith from Sex and the City.

This dream starts out as a typical "bringing wrong equipment to a gig" dream: I bring my Guild, which is unplayably strung with one bass string and four high E strings (iow, not a normal or useful tuning), and, since I'm two hours late to soundcheck, I hook my expression pedal up incorrectly so that instead of controlling my volume, it alters my pitch. So as the band starts playing (and as I am plugging in my guitar for the first time), I try to fade in with some subtle chords and instead of course sound like an air-raid siren or space laser beam.

After several disastrous attempts to contribute to the music, I stop playing and watch, mildly interested in why the music seems to repeat itself exactly every 8 minutes or so, and then after 48 minutes or so, the five of us start playing soccer/football, while wearing our instruments (this was planned...the concert is in a park at dusk).

This is only the first part of the dream, the rest involves me being drunk and caught in flagrante delicto by a baby wearing a gorilla costume bursting into my room, who I then bit on the nose repeatedly, and then some time later waking up with several people's wallets and phones in my pockets, who were pissed at me b/c I was supposed to be "holding on to them" (including my newest IRL employer), but I disappeared into the night. I'd also gone to sleep or "passed out" without acknowledging F.E. de Lange's whatsapp messages inviting me to play darts (?), and Mara's whatsapp requests to know how the gig had gone.

I woke up quite distressed by all of this because in one night I'd: ruined my musical reputation; pissed off Lee Konitz; disgruntled my new employer; gone off the wagon, and gone AWOL. The irony of all this is that I wasn't even listening to Lee Konitz IRL during the dream: I'd initially thought it was, during our "concert", but I think even in the dream after a few minutes of "Lee"'s solo I was thinking, "Mmm...I'm pretty sure this is Greg Osby". But my brain was not having any of that, so I got to watch "Lee Konitz" play the same Greg Osby solo over and over again for 45 minutes.

2) Last night: I was working at the smallest, busiest department store imaginable. It was my first day on the job, and I couldn't understand anything that was happening. Various supervisors kept trying to show me how to do various things, like ring customers up, calculate taxes, clean the washing machines, give refunds from the video games....etc.

But I couldn't hear anybody because of this enormous drone in my ears. I knew what it was, it was Éliane Radigue's Kyema from Trilogie de la Mort, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, until I reached up to touch my ears and realized I was wearing my raggedy white headphones/earbuds. Which, as soon as I noticed, I was a bit horrified by b/c this is my first day at work and my manager is trying to teach me something that I'm not understanding at all, and it's because I'm wearing headphones.

So I take the headphones out, but the sound is still there. Weird. I reach up to touch my ears and there's another set of headphones there, a black pair this time, which I remove, but the sound is still there. This goes on for a while.

Ultimately, I'm exhausted by trying to turn off this sound in my dream that I am listening to in real life. In reality, I'm asleep with my white headphones on, listening to Radigue; in my dream, I hear the sound and know what it is, but can't figure out where it's coming from. This is a new one for me.

3) Two nights ago: had a violent and protracted dream altercation with this literally schizophrenic guy who used to stalk me a bit back in Atlanta in the 1990s. IRL, he answered an ad of mine looking for musicians (NEVER put an ad in the paper looking for musicians), and we played together and the music was actually OK, but he was quite obviously dangerously unstable: he'd been arrested a couple of times for assault and was constantly getting worked up into a state about very irrational things.

Anyway, in the dream, we were in Seattle, in a giant downtown park, and it was dusk for like 6 hours of dream chase/fight. The weirdest part of this one was that at a certain point I was trying to throw an enormous and fully-packed/loaded suitcase of music gear at him, but I couldn't get it to move. It was one of those dream moments where you're trying to make something physically happen and it just won't, and you can't understand why not. I tried and tried to move this suitcase, but nothing.

When I woke up, I felt like I'd worked out the day before and done a couple too many dumbbell curls with my right arm: my bicep was throbbing. So....I injured my IRL self in a dream fight? Another exciting new twist.



speechless access.

Foreign Correspondent The Mara has been touring the coast of Northern France this week, fromoutwhence (should be a word) these photos of giant yet affordable crustaceans and pretty humorous Frenglish come.

From top to bottom: on the steps of the Royal Albion Hotel in Criel-sur-Mer; moules-frites and crevettes at Les Mouettes in Mers Les-Bains/Tréport; just outside the city walls of Saint Malo (you can reminisce about my previous adventures there here); €1 oysters in Cancale; cans and cans of Pure Terror; un-color-correctable Platter O'Death ("Everybody Dies") in Cancale; whatever the fuck Jammy Gaby is back in Criel-sur-Mer; nonsense phrases in everything but French (why bother making a sign?). Photos by MT and F.E. de Lange.



This doesn't look like much, but the first version went by so fast I'm thinking about making it again tonight. It's from the rich tradition of Spanish escabeches and salpicóns and all other manner of marinated and pickled fish, served cold or at room temperature. Obvs wild salmon is not a requirement here, just any slightly oily fish that really tastes like something on its own. If you are using wild salmon, Kalamatas were key, I wouldn't substitute another olive.


wild salmon in olive escabeche.

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-wide, 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
4 to 8 bay leaves (8 if they're good ones)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 wild salmon filets (about 500g total)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped very fine

This is kind of how you do it, not my instructions yet, they're still the original Food & Wine instructions. You'll be able to tell when they're mine because the words "shimmering" and "dollop" will be gone. Probably also "spooning".

Using a mandoline, cut the carrots into thin strips. In a small skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the carrots, shallots, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and garlic and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Season the mackerel fillets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet skin-side down. Cook over high heat until the skin is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook the fillets for 1 minute longer, until almost cooked through. Transfer the fillets to a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish, skin side up. Top with the vegetables and their marinade. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours, occasionally spooning the marinade over.

Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Arrange the mackerel on plates and spoon the vegetables and their marinade on top. Dollop with the tapenade and serve.



medication corner.

So, hopefully to bring this saga to a temporary close: let's call mirtazapine withdrawals a 2 to 3 4 to 6 week process. One thing to be careful about: if you're paranoid about not sleeping (which is probably why you were taking mirtazapine in the first place), try to resist the temptation to replace the missing mirtazapine with a little extra zolpidem or oxazepam. It became really difficult to tell what was fucking my shit up, the sudden absence of longer-term meds or slightly increased reliance on shorter-term sleep aids.

I stopped everything but melatonin a couple of days ago and now feel pretty OK, except that of course I haven't been sleeping. As always, it's hard to assess what helped fix things b/c I tend to change 12 variables at once whenever I feel like serious ass, b/c if you could potentially shorten your period of serious assiness well then why wouldn't you.




Above: my only picture of my visit to Gaasperplas, which was a lovely place to be, but the bike ride there was quite something.

Then last night we had our new version of Jamaican comfort food again: jerk steak, coconut chicken curry based on this, black beans, rice. And homemade cronuts for dessert, don't ask.

Below that, the prototype packaging for Daddy's Balls, a special ghost pepper edition of our BBQ sauce.


de echte echte bakker.

Went down to the corner bakery today, which has previously always been a branch of this shitty prefab industrial bakery chain, not worth the empty carbs at all. A few weeks back this branch changed their name to Bakkerij Westerpark, or maybe it was months ago, I stopped looking at that corner of the street years ago.

I don't know if this is a crafty corporate rebranding thingie, you know, where someone who cranks out huge volumes of uninspired, soul-free characterless pap suddenly figures out they need to tap into the "artisanal" craze so they change everything about their presentation and marketing but still crank out the same shitty food....

....or if this is an actually new bakery. I'm skeptical b/c 1) i'm a skeptic and 2) they're using the same bags as the last place. And 3) this kind of shit is happening constantly. I hate that my first reaction to what could totally be a sweet, honest family business is to suspect the worst, but this is the climate we live in today people ect ect ect. 

IN ANY EVENT, today I went in there b/c  this morning the mooperbird mumbled something about a croissant as she tossed and turned in an attempt to crank out 30 minutes' more sleep, and this place is really the only remotely promising option on our street. 

And lo, what did I find there:

A cronut. My first cronut.

And? Braincrushingly sweet, the kind of sweet that I haven't experienced in many months. And: delicious with a cup of strong coffee. They also have pretty healthy-seeming-yet-tasty spelt croissants if you're not totally burned out on spelt by this point. I'll probably go back.