So last weekend was the last of our low-key weekends in A’dam. The rest of our stay seems to be planned to the hilt and time is going to fly by even faster than it has been. Saturday was great though. We slept in a bit and then headed in to the city to do some shopping. I won’t bore you with all of the details again but as usual Vroom & Dressman was a success. I also discovered the joy of scarves … People don’t seem to wear scarves at home anymore. I’m not talking about winter scarves either, but flowy, silky, girly scarves. Anyway I found a couple of nice ones and yet another pair of shoes (the new suitcase purchase will be happening soon). I also talked Andrew into buying a really nice shirt and tie. We had lunch at the Pancake House (yummy) and then headed home for our evening.
Saturday night was the last of my birthday festivities, dinner at De Kas. I had read about this restaurant on several websites and it was something I really wanted to try. The head chef had once worked at the Moosewood and earned a Michelin star. Also, conveniently, it’s right down the street from the condo. Since this was the closest I am probably ever going to get to Michelin Star greatness, I had to try it out. Andrew was game and we convinced Robert and Marie-Anne to join us.
Robert and Marie-Anne decided to bike over to the Praterlaan and join us for drinks before hand, as Marie-Anne had not yet seen the condo. They arrived with the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers I’ve ever received and a box of chocolates for my birthday. We were also instructed on the traditional Dutch three kiss greeting. Marie-Anne gave me some instruction on dealing with the flowers and then we settled down to the first bottle of wine. Good company and good wine lead us to be a bit late for our reservation, but Andrew called and it was fine.
We had planned to take the tram to the restaurant as it’s only about 3 stops away. Marie-Anne suggested we go Dutch and ride the bikes. Well, after a bottle of wine this seemed like a good idea. Keep in mind that the last time I was on a bike was the first time I was in the Netherlands, on the bus tour, 3 years ago. Before that it was in High School. Anyway, here it’s quite common for someone to sit on the back of the bike, on the little rack for packages, while another person drives. Keep in mind also, that we’re dressed for a fancy diner which means pointy shoes (It’s not uncommon here at all for women to bike in skirts and high heals, but not something we slobby Canadians are used to). Anyway I managed somehow to get on the back of Marie-Anne’s bike. The woman must have legs of steel because she biked like I wasn’t even there. We did quite well. Despite feeling like I was going to fly off at any second, I actually only had to jump down twice to regain my balance. I did however, discover stomach muscles I hadn’t noticed in a long time. Andrew and Robert did not fare quite as well. Marie-Anne blamed it on Robert not biking very often. I blamed it on Drew’s lack of balance. Either way, the girls won that race and looked a lot less silly…
De Kas is situated in Frankendael Park. It is a huge green-house that has been partially converted into a restaurant, however part of the building still functions as its original purpose and fresh veggies and herbs are grown there for use in the kitchen. The decor is simple. The high glass ceilings give a sense of space and the restaurant feels very open and airy. We settled in, ordered some wine and the food started to arrive. Any stereotypes about fancy restaurants and small portions of food went out the green-house window. I suppose some would say the individual servings of each dish were small but we had more than enough food.
The concept of De Kas is that all of the food is fresh, organic, local, and has as little impact of the environment as possible. There is no menu. You eat what they give you, the only choices being vegetarian or not and what to drink. There were three appetizers: pumpkin and cream tart, marinated veggies with thinly shaved ham and (and this is going to sound disgusting but was wonderful) marinated giant shrimp on a bed of pasta coloured with squid ink. There was also fresh bread and butter. The main course was a beautifully grilled steak with more veggies (and a second bottle of wine [third counting the one at the condo]). Then we had a cheese plate … and more wine. Then there was dessert, which was a cake with fruit in it, followed by coffee and cookies. We were full, loud and happy. It was an all night affair. Drew and I caught the tram home and Robert and Marie-Anne biked back to their place.
The next day Drew and I had big plans to go see Den Haag. We ended up sleeping in and when we finally crawled out of bed I was suffering a Chianti head-ache. We ended up going for a drive, neither of us feeling like getting out of the car. We explored some of the beach resort towns, which are already getting crowded on weekends. Our supper was a hard earned pizza and we hit the bed early.
Last night, we had another culinary experience (yes mom, all we ever do here is eat). We hijacked Robert and went to the cafe Bern, which we had attempted to go to several times previously to no avail. The cafe Bern is a tiny little pub (about 12 tables if that and a bar) that is famous for Swiss fondue. I’ve only ever had chocolate fondue, and being in the land of cheese it seemed like a good thing to try. Dipping bread in hot cheese … what could be bad about that? Well, I can understand why we needed reservation because the Cafe became packed. It was the only time we were given the bill here without asking for it. So, having got the boot and not wanting to go home, we crossed the street and found another relatively quiet cafe to have some drinks. By the way, cafe is the general term here for what we would call a pub; Pubs here serve food; Coffeeshops are for smoking pot and Koffieshops are for drinking coffee (confused?) Anyway a few drinks (I got to be the BOB) at a nice spot, good conversation and a cozy atmosphere (Dare I say Gezellig?) and then home to bed.
Tomorrow morning we are off to Cologne or Koln, Germany in search of more stairs to climb.