Local Heart, Global Soul

October 27, 2015

La Flamenca, An Especially Delicious Find…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A few months ago, after a break of several months due to kid events, hospital appointment interruptions and extra Oma care whilst oher family members took holidays, our date nights are back on.

Himself loves Spanish food and on his way to update my physiotherapist on my latest appointments, he spied a new Spanish restaurant in a spot that had been vacant for a while.

He mentioned at the time that he would love to go there for our next date night because it would be nice to discover early if this place could become a regular favourite or not.

The restaurant is called La Flamenca and is located on the Thomsonplein in the bomenbuurt, The Hague, on the corner of the Thomsonplein and then Thomsonlaan.

I had to cross the street and wiggle myself between parked cars to get a decent photograph of the front of the restaurant but it looks fresh and inviting, so we had high hopes for the inside. We were no sooner in the door when we were met with warm greetings and broad smiles, the staff were quick to suggest that we sit at a table for four rather than a table for two so that I could sit fractionally side ways and put my foot over the spare chair.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This suggestion was brilliant because sitting with my foot elevated is far less painful than having it down. They also offered assistance should I need it in any way during our meal, and added with a big smile “anything I needed, just ask”. I then asked if I might take photographs for my blog please and my request was enthusiastically received.

Himself and I are already impressed: usually Dutch service is of the deadpan “here is your food”, “here is the bill” variety with as little effort taken as possible to please the customer, so this is a lovely surprise. Himself told me that there has been a string of restaurants here in the past, all on the lower side of mediocre and once a location finds itself with a bad reputation it can be difficult to persuade locals that any new establishment isn’t more of the same.

We aim to keep and open mind and see if the food matches the quality of the service. Himself orders a cold cut platter and it arrives on a wooden board with olives and cheese.

There are several little balls on the plate which we discover are a sort of quince jelly, and a recommendation to try it with the meat and cheese. The jelly is divine and when paired with the meat and cheeses: inspired. Himself enjoys the fatty salami’s but I’m not a fan so ask if we could please have a little more of the freshly cut cured ham off the bone, it’s no problem and it’s delicious.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We decide on a tapa selection of dishes: garlic prawns, lamb chops, garlic chicken (both it and the sauce were heavenly) and a large salad to share. This salad came with the addition of melon balls, red currants, blueberries and orange segments to the usual “salad” ingredients, a combination that I adored and Himself was so-so about since he’s not a fan of mixing fruit and veggies in one dish.

He was however game to try when I found it on the menu just to try something new. The bread comes with homemade garlic aioli and Himself is sold on the place after one bite: “better aioli than the other place we like” was his verdict, but that’s personal preference because I prefer the other one.

We thought we might need to order more of the tapa dishes but found ourselves so full already that we skipped that and headed straight to desert. It was hardly a surprise by now that desert turned out to be as good as the previous courses, Himself went for a sort of pudding, I got a slice of heaven that took the form of chocolate cake and wow, it was amazing.

Himself usually prefers to give me his review of a new place after we have left but in this case he was raving about the food all through the meal so I didn’t need to wonder if he wanted to go back some time. In fact we tried a spur of the moment appointment here when friends visited this summer from New Zealand, turned away because the whole restaurant was privately booked for a wedding breakfast, which was our bad luck but brilliant news for them because clearly word is getting around that this is a place worth visiting.

We are planning to take friends there for their birthday, we are planning future date nights here, I can only hope that people will see that the long run of mediocre food here has ended, in fact been demolished by this wonderful new addition. The food, the service will leave you getting out the diary so that you can see how soon you can fit in a return visit… Delicioso or deliciosa, either way La Flamenca is delicious!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Restaurant La Flamenca

 

January 28, 2019

Deco Delicious, Am I Allowed To Have Favourites?

Looking around the centre of Zierikzee I find many beautiful buildings. The very old ones have usually of course had a change of use, especially in the shopping streets. This building in the Art Deco style is now a music shop and the owners have taken inspiration from the building when it came to the signage to advertise their establishment. The music shops name in a typical Deco lettering style and they have been sympathetic to the style of the building when it comes to over all presentation. No gaudy neon signs or unnecessary embellishments. It’s perfect and I think makes the building stand out even more because the “whole” is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  Green is one of my favourite colours, as is blue so the tile work is a definite hit, and makes the gold signage pop. I took the photographs in 2017 when the family visited Zeeland for the school holiday Easter break. This building is one of my favourites of all that I have seen in Zierikzee, ….Beautiful!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 9, 2018

Finding My Way In The Transition Zone…

Visiting New Zealand at the end of 2017 after an almost five year hiatus, I was keen to photograph the central city and see how the rebuild after the City’s major earthquakes was going. Leaving our teenage kids to sleep in, Himself and I started out in Manchester Street and then drove randomly up and down as many streets as we could. At certain points we did “U” turns and went back on ourselves, partly because I forgot about the One Way Streets and partly because without the many landmark buildings to guide me, I lost my bearing a couple of times. I will detail as much information as I can because I am finding that as new buildings rise it become harder and harder to remember what was there before. (Below;) Manchester Street looking towards the Port Hills, corner St Asaph Street, the new buildings further along on the right hand side replace the set of old brick ones that included the famous Smiths Book shop.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Manchester Street turning right into Moorhouse Avenue. A little historical snippet for my non-New Zealand readers: The original Christchurch planners made four very wide Avenues to encompass the outer limits of the new city they were founding. These were: Moorhouse, Fitzgerald, Bealy Avenues and the fourth contentious one to the west: Rolleston, or if you count Hagley Park as part of the original plan, Deans Avenue. Rolleston Avenue certainly fits the “perfect square” model better but the Park was very much a planned part of the city so the opinions of the great and the good come down on both sides of the fence. The street plan of the city was made in London before the settlers left home and without any knowledge of the terrain. All of the streets were meant to be in a perfect grid pattern, but on arrival was annoyingly disrupted by the presence of the River Avon, which as rivers are want, did not flow in a straight line. In the rear of this photograph you can just make out the curved brown roof of the old Wool Stores buildings and in front of these the Moorhouse / Colombo Street overpass bridges.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Next) A “U” turn made, back up Manchester, this little triangular garden has been a well kept frontage to the Excelsior Hotel that stood behind it until the quakes damaged it beyond repair. Despite everything that’s being going on in the city it’s still beautifully kept. The front part of the space over the road behind it between here and the mural used to house the well known Majestic house, first a movie theatre but for more recent decades the site of very popular and thriving Church New Life Church, a Christian bookshop and a café downstairs. It was a massive four story building that took up a good part of the city block, not too much to look at from the outside but had some nice architectural features inside. It too was a landmark and I was a little confused about my whereabouts when I couldn’t find it. The entire block it stood on is now completely razed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The tram is standing on High Street, looking towards the Square. Majestic House (The New Life Church) faced this view before it was demolished due to earthquake damage.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I will have to see if I can find an archive Google street view to remember what used to be on this corner. I do know that the shipping containers 6 tiers high are holding up the façade of the Assembly of God (AoG) Church, it used to be a picture theatre and was a beautiful grand building, It was notable for having an illuminated white cross on the front before the quakes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I (think?) this used to be a small pub… now yet another historic building supported by shipping containers (also there to protect the public in case of further quakes)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It has character but needs some love…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Amazingly I never noticed this little gem before… or maybe I did, might it possibly have been a fabric shop before the quakes?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the back of the central city bus exchange, heading towards Colombo street…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

New build on Colombo street looking south towards the Port Hills, as we turn right (north) into Colombo heading towards the Square.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Work in progress…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Colombo street pedestrian over-bridge between what my mother used to call “D.I.C” (although I knew it as Arthus Barnett) on the right of this photograph and Ballantynes on the left. Both shops were Christchurch institutions but Ballantynes was where we always had to get school uniforms fitted. I adored their handcraft and embroidery section.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Robert Harris coffee / café used to be in the building in the background. They were amongst the first to serve “real” coffee in French presses from ground roasted beans instead of instant or the slow perk coffee pots.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking down Cashel mall as we go past, Ballantynes is on the left of the photograph below… I think the used to be a Hanafins Chemists on the right. I don’t think there was a tram on Cashel Street last time we visited New Zealand. This is a new edition since we were here Christmas 2013/2014.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Colombo street heading toward the Square, top of High Street to the right… there used to be a fountain there in shapes like dandelion tops, every now and again someone would put detergent in it and there would be soap suds foaming in an avalanche all over the pavement. They added dye too once…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

BNZ (Bank of New Zealand) have replaced their “high rise’ with a ‘low rise’ building.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This next photograph makes me sad… there was a photography shop around the corner here that I can’t place the name of but went to often to get my films developed (Hannifin’s? … or was that the one at the top of High street?) On this side, (on the left, about half way down) was a brilliant Greek kiosk selling delicious souvlakia. Since I walked to and from work, sometimes this was my takeaway dinner when I didn’t want to cook, especially on hot days during the summer. I’d sit on the steps in front of the Cathedral to eat it, watching the world go by. There was a jumble of small shops here… now everything is gone.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 14, 2010

Ginjinha or Ginja, Delicious by Any Name…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have discovered that the northern Portuguese town of  Vila Nova de Cerveira is having a medieval festival.

We stumbled on it quite by chance last evening after returning  from a day out in Porto.

Today is Saturday and we are keen to find out more and explore all the bits that we missed because last night it got too dark, was past the kids bedtime and because we were focused on the music and entertainment going on right next to our outdoor restaurant table.

It’s definitely worth a return visit, in daylight we start to see just how much we missed… we hardly know where to look first.  It was Little Mr who dragged us to this stall… he spied that a drink was being served in a chocolate cup and wanted one.

Bad Luck for Little Mr. that the drink was alcoholic, he is severely underage and has no money so the answer therefore  on all fronts was a resounding “No”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since I wasn’t driving our temperamental rental car, am of a legal age to consume alcohol, and had funds to pay for a taster, no such restriction applied to me and I was very pleasantly surprised by what I tasted.

So what was this drink? It’s called Ginjinha (or Ginja) and it’s a Portuguese specialty liqueur.

I liked it so much that we bought a bottle to take back to The Netherlands to open on a special occasion at soonest opportunity.

Naturally you would not have a chocolate cup on hand at home… so there were also tiny little earthenware cups in a “shot” size  for sale on the stall as well. They were beautiful and they called me, but I already had other Portuguese Food goodies on my shopping list for every tiny spare space in our bags, so we bought not.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In total ignorance I knew nothing previously about this drink, and himself only knew that it was a popular in Portugal, and was a cherry liqueur that he’d tried before and liked.

I looked up Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginjinha to expand my crumb of information and found this:

Ginjinha or simply Ginja, is a liqueur made byinfusing ginja berries, (sour cherry) (Prunus cerasus austera, the Morello cherry) in alcohol (aguardente is used) and adding sugar together with other ingredients. Ginjinha is served in a shot form with a piece of the fruit in the bottom of the cup.

It is a favourite liqueur of many Portuguese and a typical drink in Lisbon, Alcobaça and Óbidos. Other regions produce ginja with protected designation origin, for example the Ginja Serra da Estrela.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Ginjinha of the Praça de São Domingos in Lisbon was the first establishment in that city to commercialize the drink that gives its name to it.

A Galician friar of the Church of Santo Antonio, Francisco Espinheira, had the experience of leaving ginja berries in aguardente (the Portuguese brandy), adding sugar, water and cinnamon.

The success was immediate and Ginginha became the typical drink of Lisbon. In the 2000s, the business was in the hands of the fifth generation. Currently, “the Ginjinha” is an exporter for the market in the United States. The production of Ginjinha reached over 150 thousand litres per year.

In many places of Portugal, especially in the Lisbon and Oeste regions, there are several producers of this traditional liqueur. In Óbidos, Ginjinha is commonly served in a small edible chocolate cup.

… So Thank you Wiki for enlightening me, here are some photos of the rest of the stall…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 30, 2018

Drooling Cheese And Fabulous Views…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Visiting the Gondola in Christchurch was family outing that was a complete success.

There was something for everyone and we were all taking in the exhibitions and sights.

Soon though, stomachs rumbled and hopeful noises were made from our offspring with reference to the Café.

“Lolly cake” New Zealand Lolly Cake, the favourite of generations of Kiwi’s… was especially a target on their radar, a particular bakery speciality of New Zealand.

When Little Mr found out that they also made toasted sandwiches, he was set. The Café was our next stop.

The cheese in the toasted sandwich turned out to be both a source of frustration and amusement, being so soft and melted that it drooled out of the toasted sandwich in every direction.  Little Mr managed to enjoy it regardless, and later devoured the Lolly Cake that he had been looking forward to.

I delighted in a brownie and Kiwi Daughter found not only some Lolly cake but also some delicious peach iced tea. Delicious all round! The tables in some of my shots look empty, but that’s mostly because they had been filled with people who had young children.

Trying as much as possible to take photographs to exclude the faces of young children on my blog, I waited to take photographs until they left. I’m finding one unexpected problem that appears to be the result of today’s “camera age” where every little move is documented (yep, of course that’s me guilty too of course! but I don’t document my children relentlessly like some parents do), that some children are now conditioned to constantly posing for photographs.

On occasion I am trying hard to exclude a small child and the same kid thinks that since someone is pointing a camera even slightly in their direction, this is their cue to take part in a photo-shoot. Some even run into the shot when I move to one side, clearly thinking that if there is a photo, then surely they should be in it. It’s a startling by-product of multiple devices we carry these days that all contain cameras. I was rather surprised to see that a couple of the people taking photos further along the balcony appeared only interested in taking Selfies with the view in the background, rather than any photographs with just the view.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 12, 2015

Stroopwafel Taart… A Step By Step Tutorial

Filed under: Dutch Cuisine,FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY,Recipes,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nothing is more typically Dutch than Stroopwafels.  They can be found in every Dutch supermarket,

there are mini versions, the double biscuit (cookie) version, cheap ones and expensive ones.
If you are really lucky though, you might be on the street and find a vendor making and selling fresh Stroopwafels, these are in an entirely different league, soft, chewy, warm sticky caramel dripping delicacies of deliciousness.

My personal favourite is the double biscuit version because I find the other types overly sweet, my children, given half the chance (increased if visitors have come to stay) inhale as many of any sort as they could get their hands on and Himself likes all varieties but does moderation far better than the children do.

A few years ago I was musing about other ways to enjoy these biscuit treats, and wanting a really different dessert, decided to try a sort of ice-cream cake using these as the main ingredient. Not having a recipe I just eyeballed the ingredients and made it up as I went along.

This is a recipe where no stove-top or oven cooking is necessary but it would be handy to have a really large bowl or even a large saucepan to mix things with. You will also need some thick rubber gloves because you need to use your hands and things get very cold and messy.

I have a Tupperware container in my cupboard that contains rubber gloves of the washing-up variety which I only ever use for food. They come out if I am cooking and prepping beetroot (beets) for bottling (canning), and whenever I have to mix a lot of ingredients by hand.

Before I start with the ingredients, I first need to line a low sided pie dish with cling film, so that I can get the taart back out of it later.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Open several packets of Stroopwafels, using the thicker double-sided biscuit ones as well as the normal ones, added to a food processor and reduce to crumbs. Split this crumb mixture into two parts, reserving one half for use later in the recipe.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Put half of the crumbs into a large mixing bowl, add half a cup of white caster sugar, a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and enough margarine, approx 2 heaped Tablespoons to form the mix into a dough that holds together. (I took these photographs on an occasion when I made two of these at once and didn’t have quite enough stroopwafels, so added come plain biscuit (cookie) crumbs… Maria’s, Graham crackers, Vanilla or Round Wine biscuits would all do).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Next, press your cookie dough mixture into your low sided pie dish, covering the base and curving the mix up the sides to reach to top of the dish. If the weather is warm, refriderate to firm up the mix until the next step is completed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is where the largest bowl you pocess and an extra pair of hands will come in handy. Either way you will have to work very fast and have everything you need to hand. I usually rope in Himself or Kiwi Daughter to help with this stage.

Take two 1 liter containers of icecream, (in our case we also have Stroopwafel Icecream in the Netherlands, but vanilla would be just as good) (Ideally the first person gets the ice-cream out of the tubs whilst the second person mixes like crazy) get all of the ice-cream out and into your large bowl. Add ¾ of the remaining Stroopwafel crumbs and (the person wearing the rubber gloves) mix into the ice-cream as quickly as you can.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The mixture will become mushy very quickly so work at speed, you don’t  want all of the ice-cream to melt, in fact it’s even nice to leave whole sections of the ice-cream as-is so that you get variation in your cut slices at the end. Get your now rapidly becoming soft mixture into the pie dish as quickly as possible. (if the base was in the fridge your helper can get it out at the last minute for you). Push the mix onto the crust and smooth over the top…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then quickly add the remaining crumbs over the top of the taart and cover with plastic cling film (your helper is useful here too) and get it all into the freezer as quickly as possible. The entire time for mixing and getting everything back into the freezer should be only a few minutes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cover with foil as well if you would like to freeze this for a month or more… and freeze for at least 24 hours before cutting.  To cut, you will find that cutting the entire taart in half will release the rest from the sides more easily, in fact this is usually so successful that I can lift half of it our in one piece, which when transferred to a cutting board, can be then easier cut into small pieces with a large knife. Do work fast when cutting the pieces, and keep them small, a piece of this is very  filling. Be warned the pieces will be really solid and you will have to work hard to cut it, for this reason I now cut it into pieces in the kitchen well before needed, then return it to the freezer so that it’s already in pieces when you bring it out to serve.  I’ve managed to get as many as 18-20 slices out of each taart, especially when serving in partnership with other desserts or after a large buffet meal.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 31, 2015

El Barrio, Sadly A Posthumous Post…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yesterday I heard from our date-night baby-sitting buddies that one of our favourite restaurants has closed.

I’ve been in and out of hospital having pain treatments recently, kids have had various school events, Oma has needed extra attention and life in general has been busy so our date-night schedule got more than a little behind over the last three months.

This had been a restaurant recommended by our friends so of course they are as disappointed as we are that it’s gone out of business.

My first reaction to the news was one of stunned shock: Himself have rocked up without reservations on more than one occasion for a last minute meal appointment and been turned away because the place has been packed out all night, so I thought it had been doing well.

This is the place where the garlic aioli was to die for (even better than La Flamenca in my humble opinion) and we had started to become “regulars”. El Barrio 1b (Small)

Mostly we would eat early, but even though the place was empty when we arrived it would be full by the time we left… We never bothered with the larger meals, the delight of Tappa  is that you get to try and share lots of little dishes and find new favourites.

Obviously this isn’t a post where I can recommend locals to come here, but rather an archive one for my own album so that Himself and I can reminisce on lovely meals we have enjoyed here.

I suppose that the economic crisis, even what’s left of it is really difficult on the hospitality and catering trades: eating out is a luxury rather than a necessity.

Add to that seasonal trends, getting and retaining good staff, food costs, the beaucracy of calculating taxes, ingredients, staff wages and holidays etc, not to mention the long hours, this isn’t a vocation that I’d be jumping to take up, even as much as I love cooking and food.

The establishment used to be called El Barrio, and was located at Laan van Meedervoort 543 (on the corner of Valkenboskade on the Scheveningen side of the road).

The food was good although I do have to add a caveat: we usually went on weekends and then the food was brilliantly excellent, once we went during the week and the food was not up to the standard we expected at all, so probably it was a different chef on duty.

I do have to say that garlic was very much in evidence: Himself and I both adore garlic so this was right up our street but I you liked it less then you’d have to adjust your order a little bit.

I have photographs from multiple visits: here is a selection of the things we tried. Both of us are disappointed that this place has closed, it’s such a shame when the food was good and the place was apparently popular. R.I.P. El Barrio of the Laan van Meerdervoort… we will miss you!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The main part of the restaurant literally minutes before a party of more than twenty people walked in (and the rest of the tables filled up fast too)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 9, 2014

Ouch ! Only A Day Old And Here Comes The Knife!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s where back in October of 2012 I was busy taking photographs of the soap making process as practices by Nikos of  Hotel Des Roses in Platania, on the Pelion peninsular in Greece.

Nikos uses olive oil as the base of his soaps and infuses organically grown herbs and flowers to perfume them.

Following on from the last photographs in yesterday’s post we find Nikos pouring the fresh, liquid soap into the prepared trays which will later be cut into bars of soap.

Once all of the  (in this case lavender)  infused mixture has been poured into the tray, Nikos  runs around the edges of the tray to release any bubbles that might be trapped down the sides.

He then sprinkles dry lavender flowers over the top. The smell during the entire process is wonderful.

It takes roughly twenty-four hours for the soup to turn solid, the process takes a little longer in the hotter Greek summer months and just a day in winter.

I’m lucky to be able to see the process with a tray of  Rose infused soap that had been made the day before, Nikos takes a long guillotine blade that has a handle at each end and slots it into grooves in the tray so that when he makes the cuts, each bar of soap is of a uniform size.

He wears gloves to protect his hands at this stage of the process  because until the soap “cures”  fully the mixture would burn your skin.

The curing process involves the bars being carefully spaced apart and being air-dried for a month, after that the soap can be used and will not burn in any way at all. In fact it will be so soft and neutral that this sort of soap is ideal for people with eczema and sensitive skin.

I can vouch for this because Nikos insisted on gifting me some soap for my photography efforts. I have asthma and sensitive skin and soaps with perfume or colour are guaranteed to leave me with a patchy sunburn-like rash. Since we visited Greece in 2012 I have now had the opportunity to have tried all of Nikos’s soaps,  without the slightest problem of skin irritation and thanks to a constant supply via my in-laws it is the only soap I have used since our visit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I also gave some of these as a “Thank-you” gift to a colleague because she looked after the plants in my office whilst I was on holiday.

She has serious problems with eczema, but also has no problems with any of these soaps.

Nikos also makes soaps using donkey and goat’s  milk and both are wonderful on your skin, which feels smooth and moisturised afterwards.

She has in turn converted several of her friends to the quality of Nikos’s soap and I enjoy helping a little family business by ordering soap regularly from Nicos via my in-laws to pass on to them.

I love knowing all about the “process” of how things are made,  I especially love that everything in these is organic and natural, there are no weird chemicals, preservatives or colourants, and I love to support a small family business who care about the environment and how their product is made instead of a large multi-national who are generally only concerned with the fee being paid to their shareholders or the amount of profit they can make. After taking these photographs Nikos has another photographic project for me, but first some tea is provided with a smile, using their own organic camomile  flowers, refreshing and delicious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 9, 2013

Café Leopold Delivers Food, But We Get More Waffle Over Wafels…

Filed under: Belgian Cuisine,BELGIUM,Bruges,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After our first failed attempt at ordering Belgium Waffles back in Lochristi, https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/category/belgium/lochristi/  and in an effort to find something that our fussy children will eat, we make our way down the row of Cafés lining the side of the large square called ‘t Zand in Bruges checking out all of the  menu boards on display.

Finally at the fountain end of the square we found one called Café Leopold that looked like it fitted the bill. Velveteen is especially delighted to see several of the cafés advertising boards with the word “wafel” on them and since it’s now so late that many other establishments are closing for the day, we hurry in before this one too announces that the kitchen is closing.

There are some other customers in the place when we arrive, but they are finishing their meals and once they depart we have the place to ourselves.

The waiter arrives at the table where we place  our dinner orders in Dutch and Velvetine excitedly places her dinner order in English, enthusiastically adding  with a large smile “and I already know I’ll be having wafels for dessert please!” The waiter gave her a deadpan look back and flatly replied back in English: ” That’s not possible, there are no wafels after six o’clock”.

We are all stunned into a temporary silence… What?!!! First there are no waffles before two in the afternoon and now there are none after six in the evening.

Ok.. if we had been in a small Belgium village I’d understand, but this is “tourist-trap-Bruges”and surely what the tourist-who-brings-their-money-wants, the tourist-who-brings-their-money-should-get, especially if it’s advertised on no less than three menu boards outside and is a food item that Belgium is famous for… no???

Himself and I ask in Dutch if it’s really not possible for our visitor all the way from Singapore please and are met with the same flat unyielding response “no waffles after six in the evening”.

It’s the topic of conversation at out table after the waiter left as we ponder the seemingly unbreakable Belgium policy of waffles only being available between two in the afternoon and six in the evening. Since we are here in Bruges all day tomorrow, we decide that we will have to make it a priority to order a waffle during the “permitted” hours.

Our dinner duly arrives and is actually delicious, I have a salad with endive, Little Mr. has a croque-monsieur (toasted sandwich), Velveteen and Kiwi Daughter opt for lasagne, and Himself for a board with bread, salad and ham. I am so intrigued by the Framboise (raspberry) beer on the menu, that I decide to forgo my Tramadol medication in order to try it.  Because of this medication I have not dunk any alcohol since my accident, so this is the first (and only) exception even until the present day. The beer was certainly delicious, but I did regret it later since the pain of walking around didn’t make for a good night’s sleep later on.

Himself went for a Kriek beer, and the kids for hot chocolates and ice cream deserts. Despite missing out on our wafels, we enjoyed our meal very much, and with full stomachs we took our tired selves back to the hotel for the night.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 14, 2013

Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson: Onion Bhaji

Filed under: FOOD,INDIA,Indian Cusine,PHOTOGRAPHY,Recipes — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Onion Bhaji

3 medium sized onions
1 Cup Gram flour (chick pea flour)
1 teaspoon black onion seeds
½ Cup chopped coriander
1 chopped chili (optional)
water
salt
vegetable oil

One thing I have heard about in Indian cuisine and wanted to try but never have gotten around to is the Onion Bhaji.

I was more than delighted to find that it was on our Indian cooking class menu, and I wasn’t disappointed by the results.

These are easy, and delicious.

Our teacher tells us that when she’s cooking these for a crowd, she makes them one day before the party so the house doesn’t smell of cooking oil and deep frying when the guests arrive. More notes on that at the end of the photographs. Wikipedia tells me: “Bhaji is a spicy Indian snack that consists of a core food (like soaked potato or fried onions), similar to potato fritters, with several variants. It is usually used as a topping on various Indian meals but has become popular to eat alone as a snack. 

It is a popular street food in Maharashtra, India and you can find it on many stalls around the streets, especially in dhabas on highways. It is generally served with Bread (Pav) and called Bhajjipav.

Apart from being a must in the traditional Maharashtrian Hindu meal on festivals and alike, bhajjis top the comfort food list when it comes to monsoons and rains. They are generally served with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea.

The basic recipes consist of chopped onions incorporated into a dough made from rice and gram flour, spices, and sometimes herbs, then fried until golden. Variations like chilli bhajji are more popular in South India. Red chili powder, Turmeric powder and rice powder are used for coating chili bhajjis.

Onion Bhajjis are often eaten as starters to main Indian cuisine courses, along with Poppadoms and other Indian snacks. They may be served with a side of salad and slice of lemon, or with mango chutney and are traditionally made to a mild taste.”

Method:

Cut the onions in half and slice into long strips.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a bowl mix the gram flour with water and beat into a smooth batter. (Gram flour is made from chick peas)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi’s note: I’ve given you quite a few photos of the gram flour batter mix because getting the consistency of this right is probably the hardest step of the recipe. There wasn’t really a specific amount of water to be added, our teacher added more until she got it to the correct consistency.  I thought more photos here would help you get it right too. (I think after a while, experience will help know if  the batter is too thick or too thin).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add chilies (optional)….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the fresh coriander (cilantro) …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the onion seeds…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mix well…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add salt…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then add the sliced onions into the mixture and stir well.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a deep frying pan heat the (sunflower) oil (don’t use olive oil because it has a strong taste of it’s own that doesn’t go with Indian food)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Gently pour a large tablespoon of the batter coated onions into the oil.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a pan of oil this size we made four Bhajis at the time, Don’t overcrowd the pan.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Deep fry until crisp and golden, on both sides.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Once each batch has been cooked and removed from the oil, scoop out any excess scraps and floating bits that are left over with your sieve before adding a new set of bhajis.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We made ours in batches (this mix made approximately fifteen) and transferred the cooked ones to a dish in the oven to keep warm. The first set of four bhajis took the longest, after that the oil  really got up to temperature properly and the rest took half as long to cook.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Drain the excess oil and serve immediately for best results.

Serving tip: Excellent as Hors D’oeuvres with drinks and chutney (eg coriander), or with raita or with rice and lentils or with hot chili dip.

Teacher’s Note: Bhaijs can also be made of fresh spinach, very thinly sliced pumpkin, courgettes or aubergine.
All Bhaji can be make one day ahead and reheated in an oven, but do not store them in the fridge overnight or they will go soft and soggy and reheating them in the oven will not save them.

Wrap them in tin foil for the overnight storage and they will be fine reheated in the oven.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhajji

Kiwi’s Note.  I made these for a family party (and therefore left out the chili on this occasion) and tried out Onion Bhaji and Spinach Bhaji’s. The constancy of  my Gram flour batter was far from perfect on this first attempt but the recipe seems to be very forgiving. My Bhaji’s are a bit more spiky in shape but wow they taste good!

I have a deep fryer and the only difference between the deep fried ones and the pan fried is that I can get more Bhaji into the fryer at once. (Our teacher used roughly 2 litres of oil in her pan and I needed 4 in my fryer so that’s logical, my fryer has a bigger capacity than the pan). Otherwise they both taste great! … and they are really easy  to make!

My Bhaji’s ready for the party: (the round ones are potato balls… recipe will be posted soonest)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Onion…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Spinach… (fresh spinach put into the gram flour batter)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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