Local Heart, Global Soul

September 17, 2014

Relaxed Travelling With A Little Insider Knowledge Goes A Long Long Way…

Filed under: GREECE,Greek Cuisine,PHOTOGRAPHY,PLATANIA,Volos — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This post follows my post of yesterday, where even though it was early autumn the temperature were more than warm enough for a refreshing swim in the sea for my brother in law, his son and our kids.

The place in question was the Greek city of Volos and the date was the last week of October in 2012 so it was rather a surprise that the squeals from the swimmers were of delight rather than of a cold water shock.

Large natural bodies of water heat up very slowly, but they also cool as slowly so there is still the heat of summer “in storage” long after the temperatures have dipped from the sweltering forty degree heat of the hight of summer to the mid twenties centigrade of this time of year.

After those taking a dip are out of the water and changed, they are all ravenous and well and truly ready for an early evening dinner.

Luckily there are a series of restaurants just a few meters away on the beach front, and since the weather is mild we opt  for one where we can sit outside under a canopy close to the sand.

Once again I try the fried little fish, once again it’s tasty but nothing like the divine morsels I found on Palio Tikeri Island.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Everyone else finds their own favourite on the menu, well almost everyone: Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter find that there are no toasted sandwiches on the menu so after a little grumble that there’s nothing else on offer that they fancy, polish off bread, fries and cucumber instead.

I’m not too concerned, they  don’t know it at the time but they would hit with a mountain of veggies as soon as we are back to make up with the deficiency.

The meal is nice enough and no one had any complaints at all but at the same time  no one rated it outstanding either, it certainly filled the right gaps before our flight home.

(Ryan air have little snacks available to buy on the flight but no warm meal) and it would be around 10:30 or 11:00 pm before we landed at Charleroi in Belgium, and well after midnight before we were home in the Netherlands so this was an excellent time and place to have our evening meal. It’s brilliant that our in laws have done this trip so many times before in the last twenty years, they know all about the airport food, the quality or the lack of it, they know how to plan going to the airport so that the day still feels like a holiday day with relaxed local eating and a swim instead of just packing, driving and flying. They also know the best places to go, has we been on our own we would have driven past the side street to get here without even realising that this place was here. Relaxed travelling with a little insider knowledge goes a long long way…

(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)

July 30, 2013

Setting The Menu For Future Days…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Folkestone,Kids and Family,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Turning the page of my diary of a trip we made last summer with a visiting friend from Singapore.

We did so much and visited so many places that it’s taken me a year to sort the photographs and go though my notes to put everything into legible order.

I’ve done research where needed (and where possible) so that you too can experience a whistle-stop tour of parts of Europe that the tour busses may not take you (but also a few places where they do).

We are about to leave our friends in Folkestone, but before we do, I oogle our friends massive oven, generously sized kitchen, large selection of catering sized cooking pots and as a result we go shopping and make a big dinner for our hosts.

Our hosts and the rest of our party nip out to their “local” …a pub just down the road for a pre-dinner “pint”… and the return for a slap up meal.

I did attempt to make my New Zealand “Corned beef” recipe both for tonight and to take to the group buffet meeting we will be attending, but I had a misunderstanding at the butcher I went to, I asked for corned beef and they gave me beef that needed to be corned rather than pieces of corned beef that needed to be cooked. (Yes, they did explain that this was all they had at the moment, and they did ask several questions which seemed to me like they were asking did I know how to make corned beef ?… since my recipe was for corned beef I then misunderstood and said “yes” so mea culpa the fault was all mine).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Only after I’d cooked it did I realise that they were really asking if I knew how to “corn” the beef first. The resulting meat was edible enough, but not a patch on how the real recipe would have tasted had the meat already been corned.

I was suspicious because meat that’s been corned has a characteristic red colour which I did notice was missing here, but dismissed because I thought the process might result in the different amount of colour from one country to the next depending on the local recipe.

Since I had been dreaming about making this recipe ever since our last New Zealand trip (corned beef not being a particular cut of meat the Dutch butchers know of or cut) I was actually the one most annoyed and disappointed that the recipe did not turn out to plan.

Everyone else, including the group we joined and added the rest of this to the buffet table to, cleaned it out in record time.

The photographic steps to make the recipe were made with glee by Velvetinenut because she was amazed that I could cook so many huge pieces of meat at once and was intrigued by the steps.

We rounded out the meal with an ice cream taart and retired to bed far later than planned because of many hours of good conversation, and in the case of Himself and our hosts a good raid on some excellent European wines. Tomorr0w brings an early start because we need to hit the road… new adventures are just around the corner…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) posted with permission

Our friend’s big kitchen with lovely big oven and cooktop…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

They have a big house and are amazing hosts…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And a big garden…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 5, 2012

Season’s ….Greetings

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When New Zealand’s Pākehā (pronounced ‘par key har” = New Zealanders of European descent) settled in New Zealand they bought with them and adhered to the traditions they had been familiar with “back home”.

These were not just things like the fashion of the day, religious traditions, methods of farming, ways of speaking and social structure, but also their traditions concerning food.

Many things were “transferable” and in fact improved because New Zealand had better weather than northern Europe, thus longer growing seasons and a variety in the climate that allowed for many different crops in various parts of the country.

That’s why still today, Otago in the south of the South Island is as famous for it’s apricots (and other stone fruits), Blenheim for grapes and wine, as Te Puke is for Kiwifruit, Kerikeri for oranges/grapefruit, Dargaville for kumara and Katikati for avocados are in the North.

Local Maori introduced  Pākehā to vegetables like kumara (a very specific tasting variery sweet potato)  and thus began the fusion of cooking style that’s popular in New Zealand today and which is still evolving.

Back in my Grandparent’s day it was totally unthinkable for anything else to be on your Christmas Day menu than a full roast with all the trimmings. It was just what everyone “did”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The big problem was that the New Zealand Christmas falls not at the start of winter per the Northeren Hemisphere, but at the start of a Southern Hemisphere summer.

December in New Zealand can be roughly compared to May in northern europe…

…weatherwise it’s an unpredicable month and there’s a fairly equal chance that it’s a temporate 17 C where a jersey (pull-over) is needed or a sweltering 28 C were everyone is happiest in tee-shirts and shorts and kids are running around with home-made water pistols made out of old, cleaned detergent bottles on the front lawn.

If it was the latter, then Kiwi families up and down the country literally sweated over a hot stove to get the roast onto the Christmas table and then found themselves sitting in front of a heavy meal of  roast meat, or turkey, potatoes, parsnip, carrots, pumpkin, onions, peas and gravy, and often followed by a dessert of trifle, custard etc.

Such fare is of course true winter food and delicious as such, but it’s rather heavy going if the temperature you are eating it in is closer to 30 degrees.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During my lifetime I have seen a noticable shift in the New Zealand Christmas menu…

…mostly gone are the roast parsnips, carrots and pumpkin, there may or may not be a leg of lamb or a turkey etc but more often (at least in our circle of accquaintences) it’s being replaced by ham, regular or smoked chicken served cold, salads of many various sorts and lighter desserts like the famous New Zealand Pavlova.

New potatoes are boiled with sprigs of mint and not roasted, our freshly shelled peas picked just two days ago have been boiled and are on the table and there’s not a tankard of mulled wine in sight.

For many families, enjoying the long summer break at Christmas also means that they may or may not be at home.

They might possibly be camping, or at a “batch” (holiday home) (a.k.a. A “crib” if you hail from Otago) where stove facilites could be limited.

Wither that was the origin of the Christmas Day BBQ or not will probably never really be substantiated but more and more Kiwi’s are enjoying a Christmas Day BBQ even if they are at home to celebrate these days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christmas in New Zealand has definitely bcome a less formal affair. Of course there are still some people who still do the roast bird and all the trimmings but as far as I know from my own experience, most people will do something that’s a meeting in the middle, like roast meat (served hot or cold) and roast potatoes with salad.

Kiwi’s like to relax and enjoy the friends and family that have joined them and make the most of the weather.

Family Kiwidutch have been lucky enough to receive two invitations for Christmas 2011.

The first is from Rae and Pete at the B&B to join them for lunch and the second is with my Aunt and Uncle around the road for dinner as they already have a lunch engagement to attend.

We contribute to desserts and drinks and are treated to a wonderful time full of good company and food.

It’s a very different style Christmas Day than those we have in The Netherlands, but long hours of daylight and summer weather have quite rightly meant that Kiwi’s have adapted to celebrating the season according to the season…

One Christmas problem however appears to be the same no matter if you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, …the food was so delicious that despite our best intentions we all still ate too much. Look at this stuff…do you blame us? It was Christmas after all !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 13, 2011

La Stancia …means You Don’t have to Go All the Way to Argentina to Get a Great Steak!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We head back to the camp site because the kids are bursting to explore the grounds and I’m tired and need a rest after my  quota of walking today. Whilst I take a nap, Himself takes the kids for a local walk where they discover the ruined site of a local castle close by.

There are only ditches and mounds to mark the foundations these days because apparently the owner of the castle was a spectacularly nasty man and was intensely disliked by the locals.

Whatever the truth is as to the goings on inside it, the castle gained such a reputation for being haunted that at later time when that owner was out of the picture, the locals tore the entire structure down so not a stone remains.

Later in the afternoon we head back into Leerdam to look for a place to have dinner, and since walking is an issue we find ourselves in the same car park that we used when we went to the Glass Studio, because Himself had noticed that there is an Argentinian restaurant right next door. It’s still a bit early for dinner but the whole family are hungry, and so why not?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Restaurant is called “La Stancia” and the  menu looks wonderful.

Of course  the cuisine is heavily meat orientated, but if anyone can cook a steak well I hope an Argentinian can. I don’t often order steak here in The Netherlands because they always seem to mess up cooking it, I don’t want my meat so rare that it’s  “walking” , I do want to see that it’s cooked, but I don’t want it tough as old boots either.

Here I took a gamble and ordered steak, and darn it if it wasn’t drop dead done to total perfection. If only we lived closer!!!!

We get a substantial meal that was excellent, and Little Mr. and Kiwi Daughter were bribed with dessert for finishing salad and sweetcorn on the cob… they shared some of our meat but were more interested in the French fries and bread.

Entertainment was also provided in the shape of a passing hot air balloon, which had the kids craning their necks to see for as long as they could.

The dessert turned out to be wonderful as well and we went away a well fed and very happy family. We didn’t mind going at the beginning of the evening when it was quiet and so we could take our now rather tired kids home for a half-decent bedtime.

Himself and I would love to come back here for a meal again some time… that might take some planning but in the meantime we’ve had an excellent evening.

(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)

June 6, 2011

The Art of Dining: French Style…

Filed under: FOOD,FRANCE,LIFE,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When in rural France you can forget about the big evening meal that is the Anglo-Saxon culture norm.

The biggest meal of the day here,  is a full and leisurely hot meal in the middle of the day and many businesses close to accommodate this tradition.

When visiting friends in in France an invitation to a midday meal is often an affair that can catch newcomers unawares.

Its not unusual to sit down to a table laden with food and for the uninitiated to assume that this is the main course.

Its delicious and you will be offered seconds. Depending on the state of your appetite this may or may not be a mistake on the part of the newbie to the French way of dining.

In the past Himself and I have both been so besotted with the food on offer that we took seconds.

Suddenly the table is cleared and the main course arrives… no one has told you that what was on the table previously was only the entreé, or worse that on Sundays and special occasions that there may well be as many five courses of success dishes, each one looking like they must surely be the main course.

This will be followed by cheeses and then dessert, so it pays to start conservatively.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Are any of the photographs so far the Main course? No, this is the main course…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Followed by:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and then:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

But even then,  just when you thought you had finished….

May 6, 2011

Crossing the Water to New York… err no, not THAT New York…

Filed under: Restaurant and Cafe,Reviews,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you look carefully at the very base of the tall buildings in the first photo, you will see a far smaller brown, older style building. It’s the Hotel New York   and it’s one of the Netherlands best known landmark buildings.

After leaving the Euromast, we all pile onto the bus and make our way across the water to the Hotel. The people who have arranged everything so brilliantly today lead us in for our meal… but at the Reception desk there seems to be a problem. We end up waiting over half an hour whilst they try and sort things out.

Amazingly even though our reservation was made six weeks ago (it’s a group of 50 persons after all)  and everything confirmed soon after that, it turns out now that somehow our booking got somehow mistakenly canceled by staff here and another large group is sitting in the  fabulous upstairs area with the great views by the windows over the river junctions that our organisers  thought we had reserved for our group.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After a discussion within the group as to the possibilities of finding another restaurant that could take such a big group at zero notice right at peak dining time, we eventually get a place in one of the back-rooms of the hotel.

Not only is there no view, there are in fact no windows, so the doors leading outside to the backstairs are opened since it’s a very warm evening. (door by the letter “R” of York in the second photo).

There is plenty of street noise because the door opens out to the carpark, and there is what looks like an after-conference party going on next door, but we make the best of it.

Our meal was passable… there was a selection of  two main course items and a dessert, and I had the distinct impression from the meal that the Chefs had been busy doing their best to put something together in a hurry since all the finer details were missing. It certainly didn’t appear to be their fault that they were told of a new large dinner booking with no notice.

It was a shame because this place has a reputation, and the cafe area is well known and patronized for lunches and grand afternoon teas that I have heard are worth making the trip to Rotterdam for.

By the time things are sorted out, and after quite a long wait for our food, it was already dark, so my photos are not great.

Oh well, it was better than spoiling a brilliant day out by going home hungry.

The Hotel New York is an iconic building, it started life as the Head Office of the “de Holland Amerika Lijn” (Holland America Line) and it’s local nickname is the “Grand Old Lady“.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was built in1883 in the Jugendstil  style (Art Nouveau) ad designed by architect  J. Muller.

In 1977 the head office of the Holland America Line relocated to Seattle (USA), in 1984 the building was put up for sale, and years later it was purchaed (or re-purched?)  in order to turn it into a grand café-restaurant  and hotel.

It opened it’s doors as such on May 5th 1993.

(I do think there was a café of some sort in it between the time of the Holland America Line move and 1993 though because I vaguely remember going past it whilst I was in the city on a visit to the Netherlands in 1988… but my recollection is hazy so I could be mistaken on that bit)

After dinner, we head back to the bus for the drive back to our meeting point in The Hague. It’s  past midnight and Himself and I have had a fabulous brilliant day… Rotterdam Rocks, and we have seen so much to add to our list to come back to.

(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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