NYE dinner

After our experiences with the Christmas dinners, we thought it would be fun to get some kind of culinary take-away for today as well. There is a local Facebook group that collects information about restaurants doing delivery or take-out, and I trawled through that in order to find something suitable. One poster advertised a ‘Tunisian box’ with all kinds of Tunisian dishes to nibble on, and that seemed like a fun thing to eat.
However, this person only had a presence on Facebook and Instagram, and ordering was done through a messenger app. They were not very responsive — my request to pay by bank in advance was read but not acted on.
So when it was time to collect the box, we didn’t know what to expect. The address we were given was also a normal house, not a restaurant or professional kitchen — so we theorized it was a hobby cook. And indeed, the whole operation was very… amateurish. I was the third in line, and a single stressed-out man was running back and forth to finish the last dishes and to assemble everything in the boxes. He said that he had been busy cooking since five in the morning, which I fully believe. I had to wait over 20 minutes for our box because of the lack of coordination and preparation. Good thing I had the money cash on hand, because I don’t think I could have paid by bank transfer like I wanted to, and nobody checked my name either.

But the food was very good — and there was a lot!

The box itself, with all the dishes. It was too much to eat in one go, so we divided it up in three ‘courses’.

There were two types of couscous: one was a bit sweet with stewed beef, the other was a bit more spicy with chicken. We made our first course with these.

For our second course, we had the two vegetable stews with the incredibly fluffy bread. These were nicely spicy and went really well with the bread.

And finally the various tajines — which are usually stews, but in Tunisia apparently they are more like quiches? All were delicious too, and such variety.

Certainly very tasty, and it was more than enough for us two — we had gotten oliebollen, but we’re too full to eat any. But I’m not sure I’ll ever order from him again, because the apparent lack of planning doesn’t inspire me with confidence…

The Netherlands has been slowly closing again, after everything was opened too early and, predictably, cases rose again. The complete mismanagement of the pandemic by the Dutch government is breathtaking, in a bad way. But that’s not what this entry is about — it is about what happened as a result. With restaurants now closed in the week leading up to Christmas, it’s a heavy hit for a sector that has already had more than its fair share of problems these past two years. Some restaurants had already prepared for an ‘at home Christmas menu’, and others were able to pivot towards that, so not all was lost.
Friday afternoon, we drove into the city center to collect a meal from Bistro Bar Ivory, the ‘younger cousin’ of the Ivory restaurant, which is one of the best restaurants in Nijmegen. We had gotten ‘at home’ meals from them before, and I’m on their mailing list, so we checked out the menu and decided to order — along with a ‘half wine arrangement’.

Getting the wine arrangement in sealed plastic bags is quite… something. We should have gotten straws to go with it, as some kind of adult capri sun… We cut a corner from the bags and poured into small wine glasses. It was good we had each half a glass per course. This was the first time in… months?… that we had alcohol, and it hit us hard! Delicious wines though, that went very well with the courses.

Each course was packaged as a DIY project, and there were clear descriptions on what to do to finish up the course and how to plate it.

The first course was smoked duck breast filet with pumpkin, beets and apple

Then we had the garlic soup with small cubes of beef stew meat. It was not as garlic-y as I had expected, but it had just the right amount.

The main course was ‘veal cheek’. Super tender, with finely chopped hazelnuts and a great sauce. So good.

Dessert was various kinds of mousses, which we drowned in the caramel sauce that came with it.

On Christmas Day, we visited Klik’s mother (her sister was there too) and had dinner there.
But today we were at home, and we had ordered a meal box from Mr Smith, which was new to us.

Collecting the meal went super-smooth, and it came in an attractive box.

The starters were various small bits and pieces, which you could not choose. So we made sure to put most of the fish on Klik’s plate, and most of the meat things on mine.

We divided the main course in two. This is a vegetable pie, stir-fried vegetables and mushroom ragout. Normally you’d serve ragout with some pastry thing or with rice, but this was just the ragout — so we added a piece of knackebrod. It was delicious, with lots of tasty mushrooms.

Second round of the main course were small potatoes with rosemary, game stew and wild boar. Not as ‘gamey’ as we had feared, it had a very well-rounded taste.

Dessert was a piece of brownie pie, apple crumble, tiramisu and some kind of mango yoghurt-cream. Can’t really go wrong with that.

We might look for something similar for New Year’s Eve, because we really enjoy having a restaurant dinner at home.

Mooncakes

Every evening we re-group and watch a few videos on YouTube. I’ve built up quite a nice bubble with travel videos (mostly in Japan…), cooking, architecture and history, so it’s not hard to find interesting stuff to watch.
Since mid-September, there were some videos popping up about moon cakes, the traditional sweets to eat during the Chinese mid-autumn festival — which follows the lunar calendar and was mid-September this year. And… I got kind of obsessed with the variety of fillings and the beautiful designs. Baking/patisserie is a bit of a hobby of mine, as anyone who has been following me for a while knows — and I just couldn’t let it go. So I ordered a moon cake press for 50 gram moon cakes. Last Saturday it came in, and Sunday we went to the Asian supermarket to get the ingredients.
(Pro-tip: if the lady in the video is handling the glutinous rice dough with plastic gloves, this is not for show…)

At the end of the day, we had twelve snow-skin moon cakes: six with a home-made sweet red bean filling and six with a pre-made lotus bean paste filling around an almond! It’s a bit too much, because the shells dried out as the week progressed. Maybe we need to make smaller batches. And of course we still need to try out the more traditional baked-shell moon cakes too!

Texel 2019

It’s been quite a while since I posted on here. So why don’t I break the silence by showing you some photos I took from our trip to Texel last week? My mother in law had invited us (just like last year), and we stayed at the same camping in a ‘chalet’ (basically a trailer without wheels).

Spoiler Inside: Misc photos

We also went to the Beachcomber’s Museum, which exhibits stuff that was found on the Texel beaches (or literally robbed from beached ships!)

Spoiler Inside: Beachcomber museum

On our last day on the island, we went to the Slufter, a ‘national park’. The dunes have been dug away there, creating the original tidal flat landscape.

Spoiler Inside: De Slufter


Afterwards, we had a pancake lunch at De Cocksdorp, the northern-most village on the island. We had drove past there on our way to the lighthouse, but we hadn’t seen the village center itself. So we walked down the main street, all the way to the stairs over the dyke and onto the beach.

We had been eating out a few times, and in the village where we were staying, the restaurants are all quite… ‘touristy’. So basically merely okay food for a relatively high price — something you also saw reflected in the reviews guests had given. But we walked past the restaurant Topido in De Cocksdorp that I had seen earlier, which had consistently good reviews. It’s run by a couple, only nine tables, and they use locally sourced ingredients.
That evening, we would be going to the Indian place, but they only did take-out that day. So we suggested going to Topido, and luckily for us, they still had a table open!

Spoiler Inside: Texel-style fine dining

I think we’ll be eating there next year too — it was truly delicious.

So what do you do after working hard on the house for eight days straight, and the weather is very good? Well, you find a nearby foodtruck festival and go there!

As usual, we did a tour of all the offerings before we dug in. Instead of paying at the trucks themselves like we did with previous festivals, we had to buy ‘coins’ at a central spot. These coins turned out to be plastic chits that came stuck together in ‘mats’. You could also break them in half, because some of the things on offer cost 2,5 coins etcetera. Those coins didn’t seem to be re-used, which irked me. Drinks were served in plastic Coca Cola cups that proudly proclaimed that they were made with 40% recycled material — that weren’t re-used either. I really didn’t like that aspect of the festival.


Our first food was ‘Korean soul food’: a Beef Bolgogi wrap. We selected ‘medium spicy’, which was right for us. I enjoyed the slightly sweet marinaded beef and the slightly sour and spicy taste of the home-made kimchi.


Second course was an Indonesian chicken satay sandwich. There was not much sauce to go with it, which was fine: often this is just a greasy blob anyway, so we didn’t miss it. We added some ketjap sambal and fried onions. The meat was so, so soft! Delicious.


A Spanish burger. The patty was freshly grilled on a large charcoal grill, with some chorizo on top. The sauce was made with orange, which made for an interesting combination.


We had to wait for that burger in the full sun, so we were getting a tad warm. We decided to get some ice cream (lemon sherbert for klik, straciatella cream for me) to enjoy on a park bench under the linden in the park.


Chicken massala in a bun made of spiced dough, from the Surinam kitchen. We topped it off with some cucumber pickles. Again, the meat was so soft and tender it almost melted in your mouth. The spices in the bread really added another layer of flavour.


A “chimney cake”. I had never heard of it, and thought it would be like baumkuchen. Here’s ours being baked.


We had it dipped in cinnamon sugar — apparently the most popular choice.


The roasted dough is crunchy on the outside, but really soft on the inside. And since it’s been turned around the ‘chimney pipe’ (or in this case, a wooden stick), it spirals around, which makes it easy to eat. But it was a lot, and it was good we shared!

After that, we got a last drink before returning home, our coins gone and our bellies full.

So I sent the photos of our haul at the foodtruck festival to my parents, and they were making appreciative noises at how good the food looked. So I checked their agenda, and I saw that the same festival was taking place in Eindhoven, near my parents, this weekend. So we invited them to check it out!
This Sunday was (and had been predicted to be) very hot: more than 30 degrees, and it would be held on an open field — so we were doubtful if we’d be comfortable enough. We decided to go anyway, and if one of us wanted to go, we’d just pack up and leave right away. We also went early on the day: the festival opened at 14:00 on Sunday, and we were there at 15:00. There was ample space, and we even managed to find a table and some (rickety) chairs with a little corner of shade — and as the sun rotated, all of us ended up sitting in the shade!
We started out with a tour of the site, to see what was on offer. About 50% of the trucks were also at the festival in Nijmegen, so there were some new options for us too.

My parents started out by sharing a ‘hotdog’ from the chorizo place where I got my starting hotdog in Nijmegen too — but they went for the less spicy option!

We started out by sharing a rendang sandwich. The bread was lightly toasted, which added a really nice crunch to the Indonesian beef stew.

Next round, we got duck confit on a hamburger bun. On the left the blue cheese variant (for my dad) and to the right the goat’s cheese variant that me and klik shared. We had this last year, and it was still as good as we remembered.

Meanwhile, my mom had been to the same Indonesian place to get a taster plate. She got extra because she got her food late because of a screw-up on their side. When I was there, I too noticed that they didn’t have their ordering process in order… But the food was very good — but since it was a large plate, my mom didn’t get to eat a lot after all that, even though we shared, and we didn’t touch the rice!

Me and klik shared a ‘crispy sushi’ roll. Came with a packet of wasabi paste and a pipette of soy sauce. The sushi itself was very mediocre, but the crunchy layer added a nice touch to it.

After sitting around for a bit, watching the people and having a few drinks, I went to get a serving of Thai-style satay. The meat was so tender! Really delicious, and I appreciated the pickles after all that bread and meat…

By then we were quite full, but we did get a portion of churros with caramel sauce to share!

We were back at their house at 17:30, and enjoyed coffee and tea before heading back home. Everyone had a great time, and it definitely wasn’t too hot. We’ll take them again next year — and next weekend, we’re taking klik’s mother to a foodtruck festival near her! I had to promise my mom to send photos of the things we eat there!

Last year, we went to the ‘Trek’(*) foodtruck festival in the city and had a great time (and great food)! This weekend is this year’s edition, and we invited babarage to come with us. We still had the (branded) hard plastic ‘glasses’ they use for the drinks over from last year, so we simply swapped our glasses for new ones when I went to get drinks. Good to know that those glasses carry over from year to year.
We did a circuit of the grounds to take stock of what was on offer, and manage to score two little crates to sit on. We installed babarage there, and then we went on various foraging trips!

First course: I had a chorizo ‘hotdog’ (though much larger than a regular hotdog) which was delicious! The others had an asian tasting platter to share.

For the second course, we shared a grilled steak sandwich with the three of us. The people selling it warned me that someone with an allergy to nuts shouldn’t eat the sandwich, but babarage ate some of the steak pieces without any ill effect.

For the third course, we shared two steamed buns filled with grilled duck with hoisin sauce. Delicious!

Fourth course: a taster with pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket and a miniscule amount of coleslaw…

Finished up with banana/caramel/sea salt pancakes![/spoiler]

So much food, and there was more delicious stuff that I would want to try, but by the end we were quite done with eating! We’ll be sure to come back next year.