Local Heart, Global Soul

July 19, 2018

Showing Local Businesses Some Love…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I neglected to mention that before Family Kiwidutch visited the main shopping area in Kaikoura, New Zealand, we had already had lunch on the main road a bit further out.

Kiwi Daughter had given us one wish (read ultimatum): to go back to “Beach House Café”… “Kiwi Daughter Finds Food Heavenhttps://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/new-2830/… so that she could get another one of their amazing Caesar salads that she had discovered and loved so much.

We made a short stop before that though so that I could get a pie from the Kaikoura Bakery.

I know that the town has had a rough time, the road to the north has been closed for more than a year, the one south was only recently cleared, so access to the town has been via two smaller inland roads, the second of which was a gravel road until about a decade ago.

I also know that it wasn’t only our family who expressed a wish to specifically stop in Kaikoura in order to spend some money whilst having a rest stop from our journey, and at the same time do our bit to help a struggling community and many businesses on the financial brink.

I don’t know if it was this kind of wish that brought so many people to the bakery, or if it was just extra busy with the New Year’s public holiday imminent, but the bakery was almost beyond packed.

The shop is decently large and people patiently waiting were packed in right to the doors. Inside was what might be called “organized chaos”: staff rattling off orders, filling bags and ringing up final figures for purchases at the cash register, then calling “Next please!” for the next customer.

With at least half a dozen people working behind the counter, it was noisy and the closer I got to the counter the more people came in behind me. This was the New Year rush; it was people showing some love for a local business too. I had no hope at all to take photographs inside, but can attest that my meat pie was delicious and I think that the lolly cake and sandwich I got for Little Mr. passed his fussy inspection.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

New Zealand’s native “Pohutakawa” tree flowers with distinctive blossoms in December, earning it the nickname: “New Zealand’s Christmas Tree”, it’s included in the painted festive decorations for the bakery window…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 29, 2018

Sweet Or Sour?

New Zealand has it’s fair share of delicious bakery treasures. Some have their origins in our British heritage like Lemon pie (think Lemon meringue sans the meringue), others have been adapted and updated to become  more recent favourites, like caramel slice (bar). Travelling on the Interisland ferry between Wellington and Picton at the very end of 2017 we had the chance to try for ourselves. Himself’s caramel slice came this time a little modified in pie form, the filling still the sweet favourite that he loves. Given the choice between these two I will always choose the lemon, and was not disappointed: just the right amount of tartness, …Perfect!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 14, 2018

Kiwi Daughter Finds Food Heaven…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch visited New Zealand recently.

Heading to friends in Wellington for Christmas, we take the State Highway 1 route to Picton.

Blocked by twenty-one land slips in the November 2016 earthquake, this road has been closed for slightly more than one year.

Although it’s clear that a massive amount of work has been done, it’s also clear that this road is going to be “under construction” for a long, long time still in the future.

Of course there have been delays, sections of the road are still one lane only, there are reduced speed limits for very large stretches and more kilometres of road works and works machinery than we’ve ever seen in a single day before.

A stop for lunch in Kaikoura was most welcome, and we chose the “Beach House Café” on the main road. Kiwi daughter has just “discovered” Caesar Salad, and not only has added it to her new culinary experiences, but putting it quickly into her favourites list. Finding Caesar Salad on the menu made her very happy, but also nervous since she didn’t know if it would measure up to the taste of the first one that rocketed it to the top of her “this is gooooooood!” list. The food arrived. I have to say that Little Mr, our mega fussy eater was less than impressed that his toasted sandwich arrived with brown bread (but that’s his fault, and problem to deal with, not in any way that of the café).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Luckily the “eat it or starve” motto worked on this occasion and after a lot of complaining his hunger got the better of him.

It was of course helped by the fact that Himself and I quietly insisted that he at least give it a decent go, otherwise his Lolly cake would not be available for “dessert”.

Suddenly he had the motivation he needed. Not without a lot of grumbling mind you.

Kiwi Daughter tasted the first bite of her salad apprehensively, Would it measure up? Then her face lit up and it was clear that she had hit the jackpot on this one.

In fact as soon as her mouth was empty she started raving about how good this was, the Paparazzi were not welcome, go away Mama with the camera, she wanted to tuck in.

A short time later she declared that this Caesar Salad was the BEST one she has had so far.

We now have strict orders to come back to this café on the return journey. Himself had coffee, I wanted something a little sweet so had a hot chocolate.

The Beach House Café has been a complete winner for one member of the family, the drinks were fine so no problems from Himself and I, Little Mr. had a more critical review, but that must be taken with a sack full of salt considering just how fussy this kid is and how he fights any attempts to stretch away from his limited array of menu favourites. The positive reviews far, far outweighed the grumpy and hard to please Little Mr. and I think that if Kiwi Daughter lived in Kaikoura, half her wages would go to eating Caesar Salad here at the “Beach House” every day!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 13, 2018

Beach House Café: A Villa Remodeled

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch made the drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura in December 2017 on the very newly opened State Highway 1.

Closed for repairs for just over a year after a massive earthquake, some of the damage we saw left us in awe of just how much of hillside can be shifted by Mother Nature during a 2 minute shake.

In fact, it was not only clear why the road had to close for so long, but also a wonder that it’s open this quickly considering the size and number of land slips that need clearing, hillsides to be stabilized, bridges checked and repaired, road edges repaired etc.

Despite a number of places where we needed to wait for oncoming traffic to take their turn getting though sections of road that were still one lane only, and the naturally slow speed limit through areas still not fully repaired, we made fairly good time to Kaikoura, where a break for lunch was in order.

Deciding to avoid the central area of town, we kept to the main road and picked this place for no other reason than there was a parking place on the main road close by and after perusal of the menu it got a thumbs up for serving toasted sandwiches and Caesar Salad for Little Mr. and Kiwi Daughter respectively.

Called the “Beach House Café” this is housed in a traditional old style New Zealand villa and has been open plan renovated to suit a café style. It means that the various rooms of the house open to the public flow from one to another but still retain their own character.

(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)

December 24, 2017

An Angel of A Dinner At Den Engel…

After a busy day where Himself and I had walked (or in my case, rolled) through the streets of Baarle Nassau / Baarle-Hertog followed by a small car tour of the immediate area, dinner was the next order of the day. We were both tired and since the previous evening’s dinner was excellent, we thought we would stay with a good thing and have dinner at the Den Engel Hotel this evening too. We were not disappointed, Himself choose steak and I had fish, and another amazing meal was enjoyed by us both. It was an excellent end to a wonderful day.
(still with previously “windows” resized photos)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 19, 2017

Delighting In The “Every Day”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Arriving for breakfast in Baarle Nassau’s “Den Engel” (The Angel) Hotel is a tricky ordeal for us arty folks.

On one hand you are hungry but on the other you can not bear to tear yourself away from the delicious stained glass windows that illustrate the long and colourful history of this southern Dutch town.

Eventually my hunger won,  with more than a little help from Himself  who eventually said he would rather not dine alone so please come to the table please.

Breakfast was well worth stopping for: we were up early so had the serre to ourselves right until the very last part of our meal.

We were treated to a continental breakfast, tea / coffee,  choice of breads and toast, cold meats, sweet spreads and cheeses, eggs prepared to our preference and juices. We had already decided to build in several breaks into the day, an early start would allow us to do this and still have time for a leisurely dinner in the evening. Pattern, texture and form delight me, so after breakfast I got photographs of the seats by the bar area, and a massive pile of cloth serviette. The latter was not anything special as in rare antique or specialist work of art, I was just drawn to how the stack looked, it’s folds, shadows and composition. I suppose that’s me in a nutshell: I can find equal beauty in an old Master and a stack of serviette, it’s the delight in the “every day”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.hoteldenengel.nl/
Hotel Den Engel / Baarle Nassau / (Baarle-Nassau/Hertog) The Netherlands

November 16, 2017

The Ultimate Compliment To Give To A Good Meal…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Before I get to the beautiful interior of the “Den Engel Hotel” (the Angel Hotel) in Baarle Nassau, I will first give you a glimpse of the delicious cuisine.

After a busy day and journey here, Himself and I were ravenous.

We had booked a table in the hotel restaurant when we checked in, and were among a group of late diners.

A large group had a long table close by, judging by the banter we heard and the ages of those at the tables, someone there was having a special birthday and the entire close family were present.

We were tucked away by the window in relative quietness, and with the main rush of the evening already over, and other staff assigned to the birthday group, our waiter had time to give recommendations, and explain the menu in detail.

Himself chose steak and I chose prawns: we shared a side salad for two plus fries. An appetizer arrived soon after we sat down, we were both so hungry that my plate was empty and Himself was on his last bite when I grabbed the camera and remembered to snap a photo. Everything in the main course was delicious and things got even better when dessert arrived. I’d ordered a waffle (not my usual sort of dessert, especially because it came with loads of whipped cream which I usually avoid because it’s bad for my asthma). On this occasion the dietary restrictions went out of the window and I indulged, an experience made doubly delicious by the addition of lashings of warm chocolate sauce.

Himself usually helps me out with desserts but not on this occasion because he said that eating anything sweet would ruin the taste of his cheeseboard. So I was (sigh) “forced” to finish this myself. If that’s not taking one for the team I don’t know what is. The small detour outside to get to our room gave us both a much needed breath of fresh air after we had stuffed ourselves. It was a classic case of “I’m full, but this is so good I’m finishing it anyway“. Himself had the same with his cheeseboard. I suppose that’s the ultimate compliment to give to a good meal.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.hoteldenengel.nl/
Hotel Den Engel / Baarle Nassau / (Baarle-Nassau/Hertog) The Netherlands

November 8, 2017

Step-By-Step: Wok Are Your Tips And Tricks?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterdays post I covered our discovery of “Eazie” in Scheveningen, one of a chain of restaurants in the Netherlands.

The principle behind the cuisine is that diners select fresh ingredients which are then wok fried in front of them, the prepared food can be eaten in the restaurant or taken away.  As usual I asked permission to take photographs of the restaurant interior and once given, added that I would love to also take photographs of the cooking process.

Permission was given for that too and soon I was clicking away. During this observation I also picked up some wok cooking tips and tricks. The first tip for doing this at home is probably the most basic: all meat, fish and veggies have to be cut in sizes suitable to them all cooking evenly together.

The thickness of all the carrot pieces, for instance should be as uniform as possible. I have the luxury of having an electric slicer, and during the summer tried an experiment that turned out to be a huge success. I got Himself to bring home a huge bag of veggies from the Haagse markt where  the prices are less than half the price of the supermarkets.

That said, you will need to do a fraction more work with your bargains: (a) often you have to check veggies for bad spots or the odd bit that’s well on the way to going rotten,(b) veggies are often waaay cheaper because they are misshapen, so be prepared to spend more time peeling around knobbly bits of carrots etc. (c) veggies are usually more on the “ripe” end of the scale than the “under ripe” end of the scale, so be careful buying in bulk if you can’t use it all before it’s past being edible.

Since sitting is something I do rather well these days, I sat on a stool and washed, peeled, topped, tailed, stripped off nasty outside bits of carrots, onions, beans, chinese cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum peppers, broccoli, and other seasonal veggies so that I had a massive pile of whole, but prepared veggies for slicing. Then the slicer came out and on a thin setting I started slicing it all.

Soon I was surrounded by mounds of white, green, orange and yellow veggies, which I then mixed up together. The last step was easy: fill up freezer bags and stack them all in the freezer. Whenever we fancied a stir-fry at a later date, all we had to do was grab a bag of pre-cut veggies from the freezer and head towards the stove. The thinness of the veggies means they separate, thaw and cook easily. The biggest surprise is that the onions and Chinese cabbage stayed white and mostly kept their shape, I had imagined I’d get a soggy brown mess once it thawed so this was a wonderful surprise.

Here at “Eazie” the veggies are fresh of course and not frozen; and have already been cut to appropriate thicknesses and even sizes.  An excellent tip I learned from these professionals is that they put your meat/fish/veg into a sieve and plunge it into a pot of boiling water to blanch them for a couple of minutes, then drain/ shake the water off and transfer everything to the waiting hot wok.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This not only partly cooks harder things like carrots, broccoli and cauli stems and the like, it also keeps the colours bright so the end result doesn’t look like a dull coloured mess. (I’ve been there with my stir-frys, I’ll bet you have on occasion too).

Then the hardest bit of all: a serious heat and a decent wok pan. Stupidly when I bought my new stove I was delighted that it had a special Wok burner that goes far harder than the other gas flames.

Less intelligent of me was that on this model stove this element is near the wall and not in the middle row (I have six burners), so I can only use a very small pan to use it with. I have been making do with a regular fry pan but think that I should think about getting a proper wok for the job because then the heat is in the right place at the right time.

The problem with a fry pan is that you have a lot of heat but the flames get too big around the pan so I keep turning it down, and needing longer cooking time and my stir-frys have been a little more wilted than I’d like.

I’ve heard raves about Ken Hom stainless woks so maybe I need to have a word with Santa about that one. The next thing I learn from watching the Eazie chefs is that they keep the heat high and the pan moving more than I imagined they would. They use the long handled spoon/ ladle thingy to work the sauce around the meat and veggies as the meal cooks. I am going to try this technique, especially the quick blanching first and see if I can improve not only the appearance but also the taste of my wok meals from now on.(Please note that my photos are a compilation of several different meals since I was tired and not all of my pics were sharp).

(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)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

November 7, 2017

Wok Kind Of Place Is “Eazie?”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter was responsible for the next stage of our family outing. Actually there was no saying “No” to this one, she was insistent that “Eazie” was the only place we would be going to eat.

The restaurant in question is located on the front side of the Kurhaus almost right on the junction of the Gevers Deynootweg and the Badhuisweg.

Set back just a fraction from the road, this is a place I remember vaguely from the past as a restaurant, but just not as this particular one.

The idea behind the menu is simple: These are custom-made wok meals. First as a customer you  choose from an array of fresh meat, fish and vegetables; these are put into bowl by staff,  you then choose a sauce and the chef cooks your selected wok meal for you in front of your eyes (should you wish to watch, rather than go take a seat).

Kiwi Daughter is sixteen and she and her friends have a series of favourite restaurants that they like to go to eat and hang out in, this is one of them. The food is fresh and tasty, it’s easy to cater to various dietary needs and specific cultural requirements, the prices are very reasonable and the seating areas are relaxed and comfortable for large or small groups. Since these kids are too young for bars, (Dutch law is strict about underage drinking) and they still have a decent amount of study to get done for school, these places are ideal meeting places, especially during weekends and school holidays.

Himself and I had never been here before so she was keen to show us around, point out how it worked and see if we agreed with her about how it tasted. We checked out the menu options: there are various sizes of meals, double portions of meat or fish have a small additional cost and some sauces are very spicy, some sweet. My one and only complaint is that there was no Soya sauce on the sauce menu since I prefer my wok veggies served with just a hint of salty flavour and nothing else. No double portions were needed on this occasion, we just started picking out vegetables with gusto.

Little Mr had been promised chicken nuggets as a treat but was prepared to wait for us to eat here first, so the rest of us got our bowls picked out and into their separate woks. Afterwards the food is transferred into cardboard boxes and served at the table from those into small bowls. Yum! This was excellent! Vegetables were cooked but still with crunch, we each had our favourite ingredients and this was relaxed, healthy and quick. I’d come here again no problem. Even better it’s possible to get food home delivered and there are more branches in the Hague and other Dutch cities.

(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)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

August 16, 2017

“La Place” Takes It’s Place As A Dutch Favourite…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The weather in the Netherlands can be fickle, and one of my trips to Gouda was no different.

Having looked around the Waag and whilst inside at the “VVV” (Visitor information office) the heavens opened and it poured torrents.

After waiting a few minutes and seeing that the showers were not going to let up quickly, I decided that it would be a good moment to stop for lunch.

A phone call to Himself  let me know that Little Mr was far from finished at the Lego shop so I should get something for myself and we would join up later.

Feeling tired, I literally wheeled myself into the nearest place available: “la Place” located next door.

La Place” (pronounced: la plass)  is well known to Dutch locals,  since it was the long time restaurant / café section of the more than one hundred year old “V&D” (Vroom & Dreesmann) department store chain. Sadly the rise of internet shopping and cheaper (especially clothing) shops meant that the main V&D business went bankrupt in 2016. The restaurant /café section however had always been popular and profitable so was sold off as and continues as a separate entity.

I therefore knew the “brand” well, and an early lunch there was most welcome. Having omitted to have breakfast I opted for a meatball sandwich and a small portion of fries, neither of which I had had in mind when I went in, and can’t quite explain why I ordered. (I went in for a “brodje gezond and a fresh orange juice”, so go figure). It didn’t matter because both were excellent and the staff were brilliant, carrying everything to my table and checking if everything was ok, rather than let me balance a tray on my lap in the wheelchair. Since the main lunchtime rush had not begun and my table was close to the cashier, I could even get my money out at the table and they bought my change back to me there. I did stand to take most of the photographs, since my seated level didn’t give me as nearly a good view. I would go back any time, both food and service were brilliant. This chain is still in business all around the Netherlands and with a very decent range of very reasonably priced food it deserves it’s reputation as a perennial dutch favourite.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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