Sunday, February 28, 2010

Around Town: De Vredespijp

I recently posted about an incredible pie ecstasy at De Vredespijp . What started out as an innocent day of vintage shopping and market wandering turned into a complete sweets overload!

I hadn't realized that I may have created a monster because "Friday Pie Day" plan needs to be taken seriously. Next time though, we'll use extra caution because an overdose of pie has proven (as much as I hate to admit) that there can be too much of a good thing. 

Sugar coma aside, their citrus cheesecake with berry compote was nothing short of fantastic. I mean really, we could't stop ourselves despite the minor disruption we caused from swooning over this slice of cheesecake. It was zesty and sweet + creamy and crunchy...basically an amazing moment...

Until Tahlia, who was also hopped up on sugar, decided to ignore my advice and ordered a second slice. We gorged a few bites and then finally had to admit defeat, pack up the pie, hop on our bikes and take a nap. But, now that I've had a week to detox with lots and lots of yoga, I'm just about ready to hit up this place again. Or, I might need to join some kind of pie obsessed therapy group but that doesn't seam like nearly as much fun!

Follow these three steps if you wanna fall into a sugar coma...

First: Dark chocolate hot cocoa with a shot of hazelnut.
Imagine nutella melted in a cup with whipped cream on top!

Second: Throw in another slice of citrus cheesecake with berries

Third: Take a few bites of Tahlia's choice, apple crumble with currents and nuts. A great pick, but the cheesecake really well, took the cake! (Sorry, I can't resist a good pun).

This cafe also had a nice collection of furniture, random vintage knickknacks and lots of cool light fixtures. All of which we meant to explore but then the sugar kicked in and took over.
I guess that's just another reason to go back for round two!

De Vredespijp 
Eerste van der Helststraat 11A
1073 AA Amsterdam

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snacking on Roasted Corn at Amsterdam's Dappermarkt

Amsterdam, like many European cities, is filled with markets. You can purchase everything from flowers, cheese and nuts to bike chains, spray paint and gas masks. (Seriously. I still don't fully understand this one). On Saturday, I ventured over to check out the Dappermarkt, located near the Ooster Park and Tropen Museum on the eastern side of the city. I read about this market in National Geographic, who listed it as one of the Top 10 shopping streets along with the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Read the article here.

It's known for being a 'world market' and caters to African, Asian, Surainamese and Eastern European goods. Somehow, we were able to deter from indulging in stroopwafels and instead sampled some olives and roasted corn. I was suddenly struck with deja-vu and remembered the last time I snacked on this was at the Clignancourt market in Paris. It's one of my mom's favorite places to visit and upon exiting the metro you're bombarded with merchants selling roasted corn out of grocery carts! It may sound odd, but it's so good.

While munching on some salty, roasted corn, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a vender with sweet popcorn. The sweet, salty aroma made me homesick for my regular farmers market in Winter Park, Florida where a giant, sweet & salty bag of kettle corn was a weekly purchase. Oh kettle corn, how I've missed you! I quickly figured out that most of the items considered exotic or ethnic were meat related. Aside from that, this market was quite similar to most markets I've been to. The prices are great, with lots of prices starting at just 1 euro, even for the fresh stroopwafels. I'm definitely going to head back for some dried fruit and roasted nuts. Obviously, the Islamic butcher and other meat stands weren't really enjoyable spots for a vegetarian to linger, but, heres some other pretty pictures from the market.

Kaas, Broodjes & Aardappelen...Doesn't really get more Dutch that that.

Gepofte Kastanjes & Mais.


Bloemen...These pretty flowers remind me that I can't wait for tulip season to start!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Amsterdam's Houseboat Museum

Four months of winter in Amsterdam and yup, know I get why the Dutch are always complaining about the weather!

Finally, a little bit of sun pops out, so you hop on your bike to enjoy it but that fleeting moment is destroyed by grey clouds and sleet. In this situation it’s helpful to have a water resistant (yet fashionable) type of outer layer. But, if that’s not possible and you happen to be near the Jordaan when the rain randomly hits, you can just pop into the Houseboat Museum! The Hendrika-Marie was built in 1914 and currently lives in the Princessgracht.

Despite the bad weather, The Houseboat Museum is a neat little place to check out, emphasis on the small. Until now, I've never been inside any of the house boats that line Amsterdam's canals because people who live in them don’t exactly invite strangers to knock on the door and offer 3 euros for a peak inside.

Physically, inside the houseboat was a tight squeeze and at 5' 11", cramped quarters tend to freak me out. As unique and charming as they are, I doubt houseboat living is in my future. However, summer is coming and that rooftop would make a nice terrace... with plenty of space to for a BBQ. At the end of the day, a visit to The Houseboat Museum left me with one thought... I definitely plan to ride on as many boats as possible this summer!

Did you know that houseboats are actually made by teeny tiny people? It’s true.

My dream houseboat will definitely have a reading nook with a globe.

Tiny boat kitchen

Boat within a boat

Trying to climb in all the tiny spaces... You see, houseboats aren't made for giant people.

You've waited long enough to hear T-pain, it's probably the best boat anthem in existence. Enjoy!

A Surprise Visit from the Sun

The sun decided to shine on Saturday, and I couldn't be happier! Yaaay for sunshine! It took a solid three months of winter for me to realize just how much I would miss sunshine. I really, really, missed it. Hopefully spring will get here soon...and then summer! This is probably what I think about most each day. Does that mean I'm becoming Dutch or is the weather here just so disappointing that everyone eventually obsesses over it? Hmmm. 

Saturday included a sunny bike ride with only a few touches of rain that I chose to escape by visiting The Houseboat Museum. I promise, to never my darling sun for granted!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Celebrating Carnival in Maasctricht

Last weekend, I headed south to Maastricht to celebrate Carnival! It was the very first time so, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Of course, when I think of Carnival, I imagine downing a colorful feathered bikini in someplace far warmer than The Netherlands.  But this year I'm on the cold side of the globe and fortunately, I teamed up with some seasoned veterans of Dutch and German descent. They're experts in pursuing all the fun things to before repenting for Lent. 

Dutch carnival takes place in the south, so our celebration began with a train ride full of wild and intoxicated people.  Think American Halloween costumes + extraordinary amounts of alcohol + loud oompapa songs in the street on a freezing cold, snowy night. Oh, and also add to that equation me waving around a tambourine the entire night to make up for lack of knowing any of the weird Dutch songs. This night met my expectations although surprisingly, we kept things pretty tame and I met my goal for the night by not ending up covered in beer. Nice!

Isa and I make our costumes in the train filled to capacity with funny costumes. There's nothing a little Ductape can't create! So, can you guess what we are?

Thats right, we're lamps... with real lights inside! Pretty good for an impromptu Carnival trip on a tight budget (too bad we forgot to turn off the lights)

Keeping up with the whimsy of carnival I sported a new hair style too. 

A single shot of the drunken, singing masses in Maastricht. My camera bag was almost immediately sucked in the crowed and lost forever so the camera didn't stay out for long.

A Final Stop in Den Haag... least for a little while. I enjoyed a Friday afternoon with none other than my fabulous, jet-set mother as we rode bikes around town and remised about all the summers (and winters and autumns and springs) we've spent together in Den Haag. Scheduling changes are making her visits less frequent, which means (gasp!) a severe cut in my free international importing of American goods to Amsterdam and loss of monthly hugs from my mom. So, no more coco butter and Arm&Hammer toothpaste for me. (Seriously, the toothpaste here is bleeeeah gross). Thanks for bringing so many treats and hugs, mom! It's going to be really weird not meeting up with you in places around the world.

So sad that it will be our last time together for a while, but at least we finally took a photo in front of the Peace Palace!

Here's the obligatory wrought iron photo...

Later we ate at Baklust which was a really yummy vegetarian tea/cake shop but I was so excited to be chatting with my mom that photos were completely ignored. Whoops! But, we shared a hummus veggie sandwich, mushroom quiche and carrot cake, everything was very tasty indeed.

And to follow up on the bittersweet loss of my mom's regular visits heres a few of my favorite photos from one of our Den Haag to Scheveningen bike ride adventures from a few summers ago...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Pieday

Friday pie day was one of my greatest ideas, ever.
I went to De Vredespijp with Thalia for coffee and pie (Happy Friday!) and this citrus cheesecake with berry compote is to die for! A perfect combination of sweet/tart and crunchy/creamy.

 I feel like I'm eating little, creamy-tart bites of summer on this cold, drizzly day. And I'm not even ashamed to admit that Thalia and I helped ourselves to two slices!  Bring on the sugar coma!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Buffy Sainte-Marie... Live at Paradiso

I was beyond excited that Buffy Sainte Marie booked a date to play in Amsterda. I was so lucky to catch tickets and a chance to see her sing and dance around! I grew up singing her songs and find her truly inspirational. The show was intimate and I was most likely the youngest person there but she played Cripple Creek and the mouth bow and now, my life is just about complete. Honestly, I never ever thought I'd get to see her perform live but, I did! Way to be amazing, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Thanks for all of your brilliant, meaningful creations and thanks for wearing the most fantastically accessorized outfits. And now, I'm homesick and just wanna go back to across the Atlantic to and dance at a powwow. If you've never attended one, you need to.

Here's some photos and video from the show at Paradiso.

Yesss! She played the mouthbow and my favorite song, Cripple Creek!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Collection of Random Observations

I've past three months aka the legal amount of time one can spend on a tourist visa. But, I'm still caught in limbo with the government due to bureaucrat backup I still haven't officially been accepted in to the Netherlands. Despite this minor detail, the last three months have whizzed by! Honestly, I can't believe February is already here. Since, 1/4 of my contract has been completed, it seems like a good time to share a few random observations collected over the course of my first three months here.

• Just passed a guy balancing a big suitcase on the front of his bike, in the snow!
• Successfully navigated Amsterdam’s streets full of drunks/trams/cars on my new bike!
• Excited for Amsterdam bike adventure day although I think snow may have ruined my picnic plans.
• Super crazy lady gaga dance party with the cutest Dutch kids ever!!!
• Yup, some 16 year old kids just gave me a beer because they were having a party in the metro and silly me I didn’t bring any booze for the 5 minute ride! Hashanah no joke this is my life in Amsterdam.
• European guys use a lot of :) ;) :) smiley face things in texting. It's almost at an overused point but I'm trying not to be ethnocentric.
• Note from my awesome mom: "xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoox * just wanted to send you an email hug!!!! love, mom"
• Pretty sure I'm catching six different languages at the tram stop right now! Awesome! Do I understand them? No. Still listening intently.
• Today is the most sunny, magical, beautiful day! But really its a trick of -6°c outside. Jammer.
• Amsterdam nighttime bike ride playlist only includes songs that are perfect for whistling!

The Complications...

...of trying to capture the full moon glow while riding my bike. Still looks pretty despite the bumpy cobblestone streets.

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