1: ronda.

Oh, Ronda, you so hot. Like literally, 100 degreezes, no A/C. Below, a surprising emergency lunch downtown at Toro Tapas, a chain/project-seeming thing from Osborne, the sherry/port people. I had bacalao in tomato sauce and chorizo in red wine, and Nelson had a pretty great risotto de setas. All not really the right food for the inferno we were in but, you know, expectations, we had none.



Imagine a fairytale village in the remote Dutch countryside: lush and green, full of wildlife, it has footbridges and canals instead of streets, boats and bikes instead of cars, no Starbucks, no KFC, not even an Albert Heijn. This is Giethoorn, population 2,620.

Now imagine it packed to its lush, green gills with Asian tourists. Lots of them (200,000 Chinese tourists a year according to Wikipedia). You can't really see it from my pictures, but for the first few hours we were there, there was a constant, logic-defying stream of obviously foreign people clogging the tiny sidewalks and bike paths. Walking from the general parking area, the first restaurant menu you see is in Chinese. There are Chinese signs all over the place, half welcoming ("Daily specials! Cheap prices!") and half threatening ("Keep out", "Private property", "This is a mailbox not a garbage can, you ignorant slanty-eyed tourist scum").

Of course we don't really know what most of the Chinese signs say. The signs about the mailbox not being a garbage can is real (minus the racial slur), though, because it was written in like four languages on more than one mailbox.

When we first got there, the initial reaction to Giethoorn was puzzlement ("What are these throngs of badly-dressed, overweight people doing here, shuffling zombie-like from one end of the town to the other, or incessantly taking selfie after selfie") and sympathy ("My god, this would be a really beautiful place if it wasn't for all of these tourists, how could you possibly live here.").

And then around 18:00, we rented a boat from the one place that let you rent boats after 18:00. And you kind of got why people would have first started to come to Giethoorn. The buses of tourists had left by then, the canals were mostly empty, we saw four other boats the whole time I think, it had just started to drizzle, and everything was really quiet and tranquil. It was a bit like a fairytale village. Insert witty/pithy closing sentence here.


great moments in cultural interchange, part 48291.

Groningen, afternoon. NELSON and MORSE sit opposite each other on two different parts of the same vintage sectional couch. They are COMPUTING. NELSON receives an EMAIL.

NELSON: oh shit
MORSE: what
NELSON: well you know how you camp before school?
MORSE: what?
NELSON: how you camp before school
MORSE: what are you saying, it sounds like you're saying "how you camp before school"
NELSON: i am. you know how you go to camp before you start school?
MORSE: i have no idea what the fuck you're talking about
NELSON: you don't do this?
MORSE: do what, camp before school? that doesn't even make any sense
NELSON: ok, before you start the new school year you don't go camping with your new classmates?
NELSON: what
MORSE: the best part is that you think that's completely normal
NELSON: what?
MORSE: that is fucked up
NELSON: going camping with your classmates is fucked up?
MORSE: yes. so you're doing that?
NELSON: shit, yes, first week of september. ugggggghhhhhhh
MORSE: lol




Just putting this recipe here because this household frequently ends up with bananas that fall into the category of "no one but me would consider eating them anymore", also fkn known as "perfectly ripe".

What is it with ripe bananas? Or with people and ripe bananas, we can hardly blame the bananas. I know barely a single goddamn human who will tolerate a banana outside of this 24-48 hour window it takes to go from slightly green at the ends to having more than one brown spot, hashtag First World Problems ect ect ect.

Jesus Christ, anyway: optimism! And banana bread. I'm stealing a recipe from Oh She Glows b/c goddamnit I must be even more testosterone-deficient than I thought. I'm also probably going to fuck up what is probably a perfectly good recipe by substituting buckwheat flour for any or all of ohhh-I-can't say-it-again-so-we'll-acronymize-that-shit OSG's carefully-tested options.


banana bread. 

1 1/3 cups (320 g) mashed very ripe banana (about 4 medium)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/3 cup oat milk
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 g) "healthy" sugar (I accidentally used 1/3 cup this time)
1/2 cup (50 g) rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups (210 g) buckwheat flour (I used 1 cup buckwheat and 1/4 cup almond meal this time)

ALSO: I've just made a version that included 100g of toasted chopped pecans, in which case you can add another banana as well to keep it moist.


Preheat the Mister Stoves to 160°C. Wait, first buy an oven thermometer so you have some idea what temperature you end up with when you set Mister Stoves to 160°C. Then thoroughly oil a loaf pan with, duh, oil, I mean really get up in there, mash it into the little HEMA logo and everything....and then set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana until almost smooth, and make sure you have 1 and 1/3 cups. I ignored this last instruction. I know that I had at least 1 and 1/3 cups. OK. Stir the wet ingredients (ground flax, nut milk (snicker), melted oil, maple syrup, and vanilla) into the banana until combined. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients ONE AT A TIME IN THIS ORDER: sugar, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour. Control freak. Stop stirring when there are no flour patches at the bottom of the bowl. Spatula that shit into your HEMA loaf pan and spread out evenly.

Bake the loaf, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so, then check and see how it's going. My edges were getting a little too dark, so I dropped Mister Stoves by 10 more degrees and put foil over the top of the pan. You're trying to "bake until lightly golden and firm on top". The top of the loaf should slowly spring back when touched. This should take about 45 minutes in total. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Then, slide a knife around the loaf to loosen it and gently remove it from the pan, placing it directly onto the cooling rack until completely cooled (or to hasten, obviously not my verbiage, the cooling process, transfer to the fridge for 45 minutes). WTF.....I have never lived in an environment where any loaf of banana bread would survive this "cooling process" intact. You'd be lucky if there was half left by the time it was cool.



where to eat and drink in groningen.

This is the list we give our Airbnb guests, but maybe the rest of the world could use it too, I know I sure could have ect ect ect. The list of places not to eat in Groningen is wayyyyy bigger than this so, you know, ask if you have any questions.



Paviljoen Sterrenbos, Helperzoom 3b. A grown-up restaurant kitchen with adventurous, educated cooking in a large, modern yet weirdly informal space attached to a fitness center. I know. Obviously it can’t quite figure out what kind of restaurant it wants to be but the kitchen shows a great attention to detail. Vegetarian options are a little less satisfying but equally delicious if you don’t mind a little foam. “Moderate” prices but portions are small. They have a terrace which should be nice if it ever gets warm enough and/or stops raining.

Osteria Da Vinci, Turfsingel 33-1. A simple, affordable, unpretentious Italian restaurant with real Italian food. It's been around forever but somehow we've only just discovered it, so we've only tried their bruschetta and pasta (rotolo! you never see rotolo), no idea how their pizzas are. Only disappointment of the night was a too-heavy tiramisu.

Wadapartja, Gedempte Zuiderdiep 39-41. Informal, a bit loud, but the vibe is fun and the cooking was pretty well-executed when we were there. They do breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the biggest influence is New Hip American, “small bites”, waffles, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, fondue, none of which sounds exciting but they do try to put a fresh spin on things.

Houdt Van Eten, Herestraat 96. Another grown-up restaurant, this one with better decor and a bit over-ambitious fancy, professional chef food with eager and charmingly inept collegiate service. Expensive but not Michelin-level.

Satéhuis, Herestraat 111. If you’re not Dutch and you want to try Indonesian food (and you should definitely want to do this), maybe this is a good start. It's close to the house, a cheap Indonesian, no fanciness. It’s not mind-blowing or anything but TripAdvisor says it's only the 237th best restaurant in Groningen (out of 300), and that seems to be borderline delusional given the majority of the other meals we've had around town. Anyway, this is our Indonesian take-out/delivery of choice.

, Oosterweg 35a. If you’re Dutch and you want a non-standard Indonesian toko/takeout experience, you may want to try this. Super-friendly, zero atmosphere but no fluorescent lights either. Check the hours and opening times before you go.

Moro, Gedempte Kattendiep 21. Totally doable Spanish food at double Spanish prices. Everything is bit like a Disney version of Spanish food but the quality is pretty reliably good and the setting can be semi-romantic. If Moro is full, they have two other restaurants in the same neighborhood, Hemingway’s and Cervantes, that we haven’t eaten at but we hear are similar in every way, I know, not normally a reason to recommend something but trust us.

Café De Sigaar, Hooge der A 2. In the summer the terrace is one of our favorites because it's big and on a canal and they have an above-average tosti (grilled cheese sandwich), but I don’t think we’ve eaten anything else on the menu. Maybe goat cheese croquettes, which have a "fine" next to them in my mind. It looks like a nice cafe inside.

Grandtaria Friet van Piet, Meeuwerderweg 112. Not exactly a recommendation, but if you're going to eat at a snackbar in Groningen, this is the the most outlandish/ambitious/potentially healthy, and it's right around the corner. Extra pro: they have vegan and vegetarian options, and apparently everything is really homemade, a true rarity among Dutch snackbars. Con: it's only open til 21:30, which is not the time of day you're most likely to need a vegan kapsalon or a pile of frites with horsemeat stew ladled on top.

De Stadstuin, Hereweg 42. What to say about this. People often ask us “What’s the closest restaurant,” and this is the answer to that question. It’s not really like anything you’ve ever seen before in terms of decor, it’s like a cross between an airport business-class lounge and an expensive hair salon. The food? “They try.” Sometimes too hard, and for vegetarians the options are sometimes way more "interesting" than "good". They do have a nice terrace in the back if the weather’s nice. Anyway, if you’re starving? This is the closest restaurant.


In de Molen
, Uiterdijk 4, 9959 PK Onderdendam. Probably the best restaurant meal I've had in the entire province. Maybe 15km from the city? A half hour drive at most. Anyway, it's a windmill, you eat in the base and you can spend the night upstairs, I highly recommend doing both. Also: maybe the most interesting and affordable wine pairing I've ever had, which isn't saying a whole hell of a lot but there I said it anyway.

Hotel/Restaurant De Oude Smidse, Dirk Wierengastraat 36, 9969 PD Westernieland. No idea how good the whole menu really is, but last week we found ourselves hungry and in the middle of nowhere and we knew there was "a restaurant" in Westernieland, population 175. So we said ha ha ok, we'll bite so to speak. And the cooking was, either due to our sub-zero expectations or the chef's own actual merits, totally professional and delicious. All we had were mushrooms on toast, a slice of quiche, fries and a salad, but everything was perfectly cooked and the whole affair seemed to promise good things. Maybe worth a stop if you're up north and hungry...you could do a lot worse.


Waterloo Bar, Verlengde Oosterweg 51. If people ask us, “where’s the nearest bar,” this is the answer. It always seems slightly “off”, you feel somehow like the people there are making bad decisions they would not normally make, or maybe it’s just habitual bad-decision-makers sucking innocent victims into their web of intrigue and regret. Anyway, juuust something not right. But if that’s your thing, this is the place. FYI: we have not worked up the nerve to eat here, please let us know if you do.

Merleyn, Meeuwerderweg 121. CASH ONLY. A old bar with a snooker table (note to self: learn to play snooker) and a good beer selection and really unpredictable music selection, for better and for worse. A favorite. No food to speak of except some nuts and nachos, maybe cheese and sausage plates. Possibly a Pringles machine.

Café Mulder, Grote Kromme Elleboog 22. An extremely cosy brown cafe option on a little street full of cosy brown cafe options. Sorry that's all the information I have, I was too warm and sleepy last time I was there but Nelson likes it a lot. It's quiet and they have simple bar snacks so I hear.

Café De Klikspaan, Rabenhauptstraat 78. More on the cheesy and sleazy side, or maybe just always playing crap music and always full of students and almost always featuring at least one really really drunk person, for some unknown reason this happens to be our default setting for “getting a beer.” If you want to eat here you can (we think) still order a pizza from the place next door via the bartender and they’ll deliver it here.

Café De Drie Uiltjes, Oude Ebbingestraat 47. A good downtown bar, a nice mix of classy and lowbrow, usually blues, jazz or classic rock deep cuts on the stereo. No food that we’ve noticed. Nice back terrace too.

Café Der Witz, Grote Markt 47. The only good bar on the Grote Markt in our humble opinion, very friendly, great service, and random plates of free hors d’oeuvres that show up from time to time. Used to be a bit of a hangout for us. Small food menu: tostis, cheese, sausage, nuts, etc.

Cafe De Sleutel, Noorderhaven 72. This is the only place on the list we haven't officially been to, well Nelske probably has but isn't sure. Anyway, it has a great reputation and looks nice.


Vera. The place to see an indie-rock show, way bigger than it looks.

De Oosterpoort. The place to see a high quality alt-country or jazz-pop show, this is where “national acts” perform.

Simplon. Kind of hard-to-define venue, handles a lot of in-between stuff like hip-hop and Latin that’s not always right for Vera and not always right for De Oosterpoort.

: The place to see an unknown rockabilly/biker/stoner band from Amsterdam. Not open every night. In fact, rarely open it seems...check their Facebook page.

De Smederij
. The place to see a regular “jazz jam” on Tuesday nights at around 22:00, though it’s usually not a “jam”, and sometimes it’s not quite jazz. Let's leave it at “YMMV.”

. A real pool hall, with, I don’t know, 12 or 14 nice big tables, a rarity in Holland.

Cafe De Kar.
Only been once but really liked it. Big yet divey in an old Vegas kind of way. Well never mind that, they closed on July 1. Suck.

Cafe De Crown. Hmm. An entertaining mix of college bar, jazz jam session with kids from the conservatory, and seemingly randomly-chosen music acts that go on upstairs. This is not generally a place where one ever starts the evening but you could very well end up here if you're not careful. 



burger test #3.

I believe we have a winner, or at least an extremely solid Plan B. Zero complaints about the look/taste/feel of these, the only downsides would be: 1) they're the teeniest bit crumbly, more mayo might solve this, or maybe a couple more pulses with the food processor, or possibly a moister or more meltable cheese; 2) they're not vegan. Which......was kind of the point of everything.

But, they're great. So I can't say the search is over, nor was it right between?/before?/beside? my eyes, but this little dude met enough of the requirements for me to scribble down what it cost to make 8 of them: roughly 6 bucks.

Now we need a bun. And condiments. I'm thinking a swath of chipotle mayo; a dab of piccalilli; mashed, salted avocado; and some kind of tomato, fresh if it's summertime, oven-roasted if it's not. Maybe an optional spicy something. Or, do you go the inherently more juicy route of caramelized onions and Thousand Island with a pickle? As soon as I can stand to see another veggie burger we'll try and answer these questions.


serious eats' black bean burgers, adapted.

530g cooked black beans
2 green Holland chiles
1 red Holland chile
3 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
1 chipotle chile in adobo
3/4 cup (115g?) cashews, roasted
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup GF cracker crumbs (3 Wasa crackers' worth)
1 tsp salt
12 grinds from the black pepper grinder
1/2 cup feta, or technically, wittekaas, crumbled fine (maybe worth seeing how different feta works in terms of crumbliness)
2 tbsp mayo (this is the other thing I would experiment with, could maybe be 3 tbsp)

The directions for this burger are pretty critical to its success and worth sticking to, since they came out of The Food Lab and are are pretty carefully considered. Directly from the fridge, already cooked, these took 3.5 to 4 minutes to reheat in a covered skillet, flipping halfway through.

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 160°C (talking about my own oven, Mr. Stoves, which runs a little hot). Spread black beans in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and roast until beans are mostly split open and outer skins are beginning to get crunchy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

2. While beans roast, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and chiles and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chipotle chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

3. Place cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped into pieces no larger than 0.5 cm, about 12 short pulses. Add to bowl with onions and peppers.

4. When beans are slightly cooled, transfer to food processor. Add cheese. Pulse until beans are roughly chopped (the largest pieces should be about 1/3 of a full bean in size). Transfer to bowl with onion/pepper mixture. Add mayonnaise, egg, and cracker crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Fold together gently but thoroughly with hands. Patty mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days at this stage.

5. Form bean mixture into 8 patties as wide as your burger buns. Set burgers on a rimmed baking sheet in a 170°C oven for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

6. Spread top and bottom buns with chipotle mayonnaise and piccalilli. Add tomato slice to top, mashed avocado to bottom? Onion? Place patties on bottom buns, close burgers, and serve immediately.