Local Heart, Global Soul

July 21, 2014

By Chance And Good Luck, We Order The Best Fish I Have Ever Eaten…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself, Little Mr and I are exploring Palio Trikeri Island at the end of the Pelion Peninsula in Greece.

The boat trip was only about ten minutes long and we find ourselves in the heart of the village and since it’s now lunch time, getting very hungry.

This is a retrospective post, we were there at the end of October 2012 and it was the very end of the tourist season, we see a couple leaving one of the outside restaurant tables who look like they are on some sort of walking tour, but for the rest we appear to be the only “non-locals” in sight.

Just before  reached the island we thought we might walk a little bit and then sit and get a bite to eat but the sight of food makes our tummies rumble and the plan quickly changes to eating first and walking later.

There are several restaurants open but on a whim we choose the one that the previous couple just left. It’s been trying to rain off and on, but the weather is easing considerably as we enquire about a meal and by the time we have finished it”s completely dry. The temperature even in the last week of October is still  a respectably warm 26 C (78.8 F)  and the outside seating area is covered, so even if it would have been drizzling a tiny bit it still would have been comfortable outside.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We order the Greek equivalent of “fish and chips” for little Mr., the fish comes whole and un-filleted, so I had to pick as much of the fish off the bones for him, which kind of worked, in reality he mostly ended up eating a lot of French fries.

Himself’s dish came with deep fried squid and mine was a different fish on the menu to Little Mr., also deep fried.

We shared a large salad together and Himself had a yearning for some beans and tzatziki and got an extra hummus dish on the side as bonus .

(he’s not sure if it came with the larger dish he ordered, if it was an entrée or if whatever the lady said in broken English he just randomly agreed to) but however we got it, it was delicious.

I have to say now that my fish, although it had bones in it too, is definitely best fish dish I have ever eaten in my life. The fish “batter” was of a thin-ish consistency, it’s super crunchy and the flavour was drool-worthy.  This is the kind of meal that you find yourself wishing you’d eaten  two portions of, even if you were not actually hungry after the first one was finished.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the kind of meal you want to eat more of  in gluttonous fashion simply because you don’t want the magic to end.

After initial dissections with the knife and fork I quickly abandoned the knife and resorted to using the fork and my fingers, not wanting to waste even a single morsel.

I find myself wishing we had planned to spend the night here, just so we could come back to this restaurant and I could have this again, even all the twists and turns in the road were worth it.

Of course the fish is mega fresh, it was certain to have been caught the same morning, and this is the kind of dish that the local eat, so probably it’s a local family recipe made with years or decades of experience.

It’s simple but done to absolute perfection.

The owner was delighted with my gushing compliments and obvious pleasure, and bought out a little square of something that was kind of nutty and cake-like free of charge for dessert. Himself finished it because like many Greek desserts  it was too sweet for my liking. I dreamed about this meal for the rest of our holiday and semi-regularly since. I tried to make it at home, and failed… one day, somehow some time, clearly, I will have to come back…

(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)

April 23, 2013

Messing With Kids Minds: Sometimes …It’s just Too Easy.

As compensation for all those hours of lost sleep,  stinky nappies, sick  blurked up on your shoulders and embarrassing public tantrums, parents sometimes get payback in the form of their kids getting completely sucked in to becoming the butt of  our practical jokes. (We have kids for their entertainment value, right?)

Last weekend we headed out to my best friend’s house for dinner and sat enjoying a fabulous dinner, great company and more sunshine than has been around for a while.

Kiwi Daughter and I are allergic to animal fur so can’t have pets at home, but short stints with other people’s pets are mostly ok(-ish) so are a nice treat, especially for the kids, so they were busy playing with the three cats and two dogs, and admiring the guinea-pigs and the fish. Very relaxed.

The temperature wasn’t exceedingly warm and it was a fraction chilly in the wind, but the sun was shining brightly and sitting indoors in the sun was actually very pleasant. My friend also has a garden, which we lack, so the kids also took the opportunity to play in the garden and generally burn off a bit of energy.  She has a swing seat that backs onto the main living room window and a large awning above it that is operated with a remote control.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Forget thinking of a remote the size of the one your TV uses, this remote control is tiny and fits into the palm of your hand.  Therein lays the seed of our evil deed. It started whilst Little Mr. was playing outside. The sun had dipped low enough to be in our eyes and our friend went to lower the awning blind to make sitting more comfortable.

She was sitting at a 90 degree to the window and had the awning remote in the palm of her hand, when she pushed the button it wasn’t at all obvious she was doing anything so Kiwi Daughter startled at the sudden movement of the large blind, apparently moving on it’s own.

Laughter followed as Kiwi Daughter took a minute  to work out how the awning was moving… and just as she had worked it out, Little Mr. came charging in from outside, pointing to the moving awning and saying in Dutch “hey look at that, how does that move?!!!”

My friend was wearing a hoodie type sweatshirt that had two joining front pockets and her hands were now in these pockets, with said remote control  in the hand facing the window. With a straight face she looked at him and said “Well, I concentrate very hard and when I blink, I can make it go up, and if I nod my head it stops and if I blink both eyes it does down“.  As she spoke and completed these actions, she used the hidden remote control to make the awning blind do the appreciate action.

Little Mr. looked at her in disbelief but with no other visible action coming from her,  he couldn’t work out how she was really doing it. The next five minutes were spent with her making the blind raise, stop or lower “with her special concentration skills”. Try as he might, poor Little Mr. could not find any other explanation.   Kiwi Daughter, Himself and I were almost rolling around in tears by now, and Little Mr. was seriously suspicious (but not at all sure of what) so we switched attention to Kiwi Daughter by telling him that this special concentration skill could most certainly be learned, in fact Kiwi Daughter had mastered it just before he walked in.

Staying as composed as she possibly could, Kiwi Daughter then proceeded to “raise, stop and lower” the awning blind with her “new found concentration skills” (with my friend naturally doing the necessary with the remote control). Little Mr. appeared to suspend belief… he could sort of smell a rat with the adults …but his sister…? No, this had to surely be for real.

Then the ultimate test… we asked it he  could concentrate hard enough to make the awning blind move too… he looked doubtful. We said “Well your sister learned how…”  He screwed up his face in deep concentration and then blinked one eye so hard that his head nodded sharply. The blind moved and he looked completely  and utterly shocked.

Therein began a pantomime of exaggerated actions: head nodding, blinking and winking, coupled with a look of sheer wonder and amazement as the awning blind moved accordingly.  I got a photograph (for the family album) and the look on his face is priceless. He even dashed outside to try out his “skills” from outside as well as inside. Lo and behold the awning retracted as wished.

Whilst he was outside my friend, Kiwi Daughter, Himself and I exploded into mirth.  We made preparations to come home since it was getting late.  Little Mr. is still none the wiser … Kiwi Daughter is delighted to be “in” on the secret.  This prank is good for at least a few more goes methinks. Aww the innocence, trust and gullibility of the young. I should feel guilty but it’s way too funny… and seriously, all too easy!

March 15, 2012

When a Piece of Plastic Stopping You From Going Green… Is a GOOD Thing!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since this a car journey that features mostly winding roads, hills, trees and both inland and coastal views, landmarks that are a bit different are welcomed by kids looking out the windows.

But one of the most noticable differences between the generations sitting in our vehicle is that our kids have Nintendo games to play on long car journeys and prefer this to looking out of the window.

(the fact that our Nintendo’s are exclusively reserved for long car and plane journeys and are not out at other times is definitely part of the attraction)

As kids, Himself and I had no choice but to look out of windows : that and the “I Spy” game were our only entertainment.

Since I have always turned green in cars, I regularly offered my parents the alternative entertainment game of “get the car stopped quick enough to get kid about to throw up out of the back seat and onto the grass to get the inevidable over with” with extra challenges of steep gradients, narrow roads, lack of grass verges, passing traffic and possibly bad weather thrown in.

Ah, “anti-car-sickness pills” I hear you say…

…hmmm that was the other game of “how far can you spit the pill?” since I wasn’t great with pills either.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nature posted revenge by giving Kiwi Daughter the “motion sickness gene” so I’ve “been there, done that” with the pill swallowing drama and tears from the parental side too and from whoever’s side you look at it, it wasn’t fun.

Fortunately help is at hand from a very unlikely source.

I was allerted to a gadget by a French friend who has the same problem with two of her four children but a more difficult situation because pulling over suddenly in French motorway traffic really is taking your life in your hands.

Not surprisingly also she tried everything and had already been down the unsuccessful pill-with-tears route too, then she found it…

…a piece of plastic that changed their travelling lives.
Like her, I was totally sceptical… come on, a tiny bobble of plastic stuck to a wrist strap…    …that’s IT ???

I stopped laughing when she told me that her boys now had hassle-free car journeys all the way from the Netherlands to the South of France.

Let’s take a closer look at this seemingly silly piece of plastic. It’s a little bobble of plastic, solid, smooth and attached to a one-size-fits-all wrist strap that does up with valcro.

To wear it you place the plastic bobble on the the centre of the inside of your wrist and do it up as tight as is comfortable. This forces the plastic bobble down to press on the pressure point in your wrist and takes care of your motion sickness.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Easy as that, there’s one for each wrist and if for example you are bobbing up and down in a boat feeling bad, then an additional press on the plastic bobble is also said to increase the fight against nausea.

Before we left for New Zealand I dispatched Himself to the ANWB (Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijders Bond = Dutch Automobile Association) to procure us a few pairs. If any piece of plastic against car-sickness needed to be put through it’s paces, then the winding roads and hills of New Zealand would be the perfect place to do it.

In addition to the car journeys there was the added bonus of the Cook Straight ferry crossing since Cook Straight has been deemed one of the roughest pieces of water in the world (after Fouvoux Straight further south and the Drake Passage off South America).

These places can all be found within the infamous “rouring forties” and are the product of routine high winds that circle the globle at this latitude and either a meeting of two vast oceans (Drake Passage) or in New Zealand’s case, the funneling of big winds and vast seas through narrow landmass gaps.

I’ve had experience of Cook Straight in both it’s extremes: from as calm as a millpond and in the most awful storm in the 1980’s (awful as in: I was clinging to a table that was bolted to the floor but the chairs were sliding past back and forth in alternate directions as the boat rolled from one side to the other… needless to say the rest of the ferry crossings that day were cancelled and the ships stock of “amenity bags for the stomachily unsteady” started to run in short supply.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If any stout test is needed to see if these wrist-bands are up to the task, then the comination of road and sea routes that New Zealand has to offer will be sure to show up any strengths and weaknesses.

I’m delighted to report that much to my amazment, these bands really do work!

Ok, we did take rest stops to get some fresh air but we managed shorter and fewer stops than previous trips doing the same route, so much so that we arrived in Picton with just over an hour ahead of our estimated arrival time…

….and  there were no “Mama, I don’t feel good, I think I’m going to be sick” pleas constantly from the back seat, and I personally have never had a less green road journey as this one.

Granted it didn’t cure our motion-sickness 100% but it did help take away maybe 80-90% of the misery and that  for both Kiwi Daughter and I, means that these wrist bands are nothing short of miraculous and we will be packing them on every long car journey from now on.

There is no gurantee that these will work… apparently they help roughly 80% of motion sickness sufferers, to a greater or lesser degree: but if you have suffered car-sickness or sea-sickness, or have kids that do, you will know that a “no-pill” solution that offers any improvement at all is only a win, win, win, win, win solution.

I’m so delighted with these that I want to share my exciting discovery: If you suffer from car-sickness or sea-sickness or know someone who does, then comment on this post before midnight on March 22nd,  2012 and be in to win one of these for yourself!

I have two to give away, so you have two possibilities to win… so drop me a line and be in to win!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 21, 2010

Landmarks in Den Haag (The Hague)… ‘t Kleinste Winkeltje

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are many small shops in the Netherlands,  and The Hague is no exception.

In such a small country with such a large population it should come as no surprise that land is expensive, and that real estate  in the center of any major city is especially expensive.

This post is about the smallest shop in Den Haag (The Hague).

The smallest shop is a tiny Patat Winkel … Patat means “Fries”, and Winkel means “shop”.

It’s located in the very heart of the Hague in a small side street called Papestraat, just a few meters off  the larger shopping street:  Hoogstraat, a larger shopping street.

This small shop simply called: ” ‘t Kleinste Winkeltje”  (“The Smallest Shop”) but  apparently some also know it as:  “Patat / Frites ‘t Kleinste Winkeltje in Den Haag”

For both locals and visitors to the city one thing has been long agreed, this little shop turns out wonderful fries… some would say the very best in the city.

If you eat some then be sure to eat them the traditional Dutch way… with Mayonaise !

Ketchup will be available but “friet sauce”( a type of mayonnaise made especially for on fries) or Mayo are the true Dutch preference and well worth a try.

I have to admit that although I work outside the city center and don’t frequent the center too much, it’s always been the case that when I pass by this little shop, there is invariably a queue of customers on the street  (Duh, OK, that’s kind of logical given that the place is so small that there is no other place to queue), but I mean it’s always busy…

…And that’s a  good sign if you fancy some tasty French Fries.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The sign over the entrance and on the wall, notice that the Lion is also eating Friet and that the pigeon is waiting for an opportunistic moment should someone drop one…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A look further down the street…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A better look at the shop, notice that they have some plastic chairs on the street for people to sit on whilst they wait…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

” ‘t Kleinste Winkeltje”
Papestraat 1a
2513 AV
Den Haag

January 9, 2010

Traditional Dutch Winter Erwtensoup = the Best Pea Soup Ever!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When the temperatures fall to freezing and comfort food is warm and welcoming, the Dutch turn to a traditional favourite: Pea Soup! In the Netherlands we call this ” Erwtensoup”  and we make it with celeriac.

If the winter is cold enough and the ice on the Dutch canals is solid enough to skate on then, you can bet your skating boots that many dutch adults and children will be out on the ice enjoying some skating close to home. Often there will be a basket that contains a thermos flask or two close by on the bank, one thermos with coffee and the other with soup… Erwtensoup of course!

In a few parks in the Hague they will make temporary ice-rinks where many people can come and skate and often there will be a little wagon there with someone selling piping hot soup to wrap your chilly hand around. ..  .. which soup? …Erwtensoup of course!

On the morning of the 1st day of January each year  it’s traditional to hold the “polar bear dip” where people run into the North Sea (  for fun, buy many do it to raise money for charity) The event is sponsored by a major Dutch food company… and amongst their products they make soups.

Three guesses: Cans of which soup are handed out to swimmers to take home after the event? Erwtensoup of course!

Celeriac looks a little but like a turnip with a knobbly root at the bottom, and has a taste all of it’s own… and believe me, celeriac gives this soup an extra dimension! it increases the flavour and makes it wonderful.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yes, I do have my own Dutch family recipe for Erwtensoup, but I tried a fellow Recipezaar member’s recipe ( she is also Dutch) and have to admit: Pets’R’us… your recipe is better than mine!

Here is her recipe for you to also enjoy, I have added some step-by-step photos to show you just how easy this is.
SERVES 4 -8

Write a Review! if you like this recipe as much as I do, please write Pet’s a review, you will find her page here:

http://www.recipezaar.com/Erwtensoep-Dutch-Pea-Soup-44497

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups dried split green peas
3 liters water
1 lb spareribs
1/2 lb bacon, one thick slice, cubed
2 leeks, washed and chopped, also use the green part
1 medium celeriac, diced (celery root or bulb) or 3 cups of chopped celery (but the flavor will be weaker)
1 smoked dutch sausage, left whole or cut up in slices or 3-4 thick frankfurters, left whole or cut up in slices
salt and pepper
bouillon cube (optional)
chopped celery or fresh parsley leaves

Directions

Wash the peas and soak them overnight in the amount of water given. Next day bring them to the boil together with the spareribs and the bacon; simmer on very low heat for approx 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the leeks and the celeriac; cook for another hour or until the soup becomes thick. Lift out the spareribs, remove the meat from the bones, and return the meat to the pan.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the sausage, let it warm through and season the soup to taste and maybe add bouillion cube(s) , add the chopped celery leaves and parsley just before serving.

As you can see, I make mine both on the stove top and in the crockpot… both are good!

Pet’s Mama  must have been speaking to my Oma… both  correctly say that if this  soup is made right, then when cold you can cut it into slabs or slices.. and Oh…yes you can!

My Oma would have added that you can also stand your spoon straight up in it and that it ” fills every gap on a winter’s day”. So very true. I like mine with extra Rookworst ( Dutch smoked sausage), slice it thinly and mix it in for a very hearty meal in a bowl.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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