Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eating Amsterdam - Le Pain Quotidien

After spending a wonderful morning riding the trams, yes just watching the city go by hopping on and hopping off. Then a familiar cafe caught my eye Le Pain Quotidien, so off the tram I hopped in De Pijp. I got to know of the Le Pain Quotidien brand when in New York, so it was particularly funny that I was flanked by two tables that had American accents. It was filled with quite a few foreigners, in fact I made a friend a French guy who had just settled in Amsterdam after a decade in Australia. Meetings like these can only happen at the communal table that is Le Pain Quotidien De Pijp.

The menu is more or less the same as the New York menu, with a few specials. I started with my Le Pain usual the latte in their big cups - I love those cups.

 I opted for a special to eat, the tomato scrambled eggs on rye topped with Avo and served with a tomato relish. Now let's talk about the tomato relish, it's thick, savoury with a sweet undertone - Wonderful! I washed it down with a tart homemade raspberry lemonade. 

Hi I'm Thando I drank an all American lemonade in Amsterdam.

Le Pain Quotidien
020-675 05 06
De Pijp, Cornelius Troostplein 4hs
Best for: The latte (in that big cup), the tartiest homemade raspberry lemonade
Not sold on: The service is super relaxed, not a Jozi girl's cup of lait for sure!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eating Amsterdam - Salad at Edel

My first lunch in Amsterdam was at Edel, a great spot along the canal with a floating deck. I was starving and it was a spot recommended by my host Flavia that was within walking distance of the apartment. I spent my afternoon sitting out in the sun, watching boats go by and sipping on Old Jamaican ginger beer.

I ordered the chef's salad which was a fresh salad of parma ham, strawberries set on a bed of sliced radish, rocket and mixed greens with a balsamic dressing and slices of the best sourdough loaf. I really enjoyed my fresh R100 (yeah the exchange rate killed me) salad especially the sweet salty parma ham strawberry combination. The Jamaican ginger beer tastes better than stoney, yeah I said it!

Best for: A casual lunch laying out in the sun and boat watching along the canal

When in A'dam have a R100 salad, lol!

Monday, July 29, 2013

A home away from home in Amsterdam thanks to airbnb

As I mentioned in my Hello Amsterdam and Istanbul post (see it here) I treated myself to a trip to Amsterdam and Istanbul for my 30th birthday in July 2013. I decided I want to live as a resident would in Amsterdam and not in a hotel, in comes airbnb. Note that I was a first time airbnb user. It's really intuitive and simple to use, choose a place to stay and book it!

The key to airbnb is identifying the city, along the area you'd like to live in and then READ the reviews. Thanks to the great reviews I ended up choosing to stay with Thomas, Flavia and their little dog Sam near the beautiful Rembrandt Park in Amsterdam. Thomas and Flavia are wonderful hosts, warm, welcoming and accommodating. If you have a problem or need any help especially directions (I can be directionally challenged) they're always willing to help. It was like I was living with friends, I felt totally at ease. See Thomas' profile on airbnb here.

View from the room
The apartment is in a quiet neighbourhood, but still easy to get around the rest of the city from by bicycle (I can't cycle) or bus and tram which were my preferred modes of transport. The room is spacious, clean and sunny with a large window. It also has a desk and wifi should you need to work which I did!

Orchid in the room

A wonderful breakfast laid out every morning including muesli, yoghurt, a selection of bread, cheese and charcuterie. Flavia is a barista so that means amazing morning cappuccinos. 

Amsterdam breakfast thanks to Flavia
 It all came in at a great price. Thank you Thomas, Flavia and Sam for a wonderful 5 nights!

Go on try airbnb!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Woolworths launches third annual cheese makers' challenge

For a Fromage fan and self-proclaimed turophile (“a connoisseur of cheese” – I learnt a new word ☺) I was delighted to be invited to the Woolworths Cheese Maker’s Challenge Launch. We indulged in an array of tantalising award winning cheeses and top notch vintages all stocked exclusively by Woolworths and paired perfectly with some stunning wines. Woolworths have been supporting local cheeses for years now 60% of their cheeses are from local markets. Local is lekker indeed!

There are some spectacular cheeses being made locally among them - Kilimanjaro, produced by Belnori Boutique Cheesery in Gauteng -  a delightful nutty goat’s milk cheese which not only was the winner of the 2012 Cheese Makers Challenge but also won a silver medal at the 2012 World Cheese Awards. From strong and creamy Blue Rock – a blue-veined “Roquefort style” cheese with a full creamy texture, to melt-in-the-mouth Cambozola Camembert – a traditional fully ripened cheese with a blue vein adding a subtle deep buttery texture and nutty flavour the variety on offer at Woolworths is astounding.

My personal favorite was the Fig and Pecan Nut Duetto – a decadent fresh mascarpone – interlayered with figs and pecan nut. The buttery melt in your mouth cheese with the sweetness from the fig and crunch from the nut is food heaven! The Brie de Roche and Franschoek White with Truffle Butter were also delicious and go perfectly with the Weltevrede Vanilla Chardonnay – the sweet vanilla from the wine lingers and accentuates the flavour of the cheese without overpowering it.  But another favorite was the Taleggio – a buttery delicate semi-soft Italian cheese with a rough crust hiding sweetness.

The Royal Ashton and Woolworths Vintage Cheddar were enjoyable dry strong cheeses with depth of flavour and a smokiness which brought out the spices of the Laibach Ladybird Red – a multi award winning wine named after the ladybirds that live in a fennel bushes surrounding the vineyards

The cheeses were served with platters filled with Woolworths green fig preserve, exotic fruit chutney and onion marmalade as well as crackers, olives and fresh fruit like grapes and strawberries which when combined with the cheese added to the tastes experience .

The cheeses were paired perfectly with some multi award winning wines. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wine and cheese pairings . You should let your palate guide you and find a harmony and balance between the flavours. The wine should not dominate the flavour of the cheese and vice versa. As a general rule white wines pair well with softer, milder creamier cheeses and red wine with the richer harder cheeses.

Go out and try some of  Woolworths' delectable South African cheeses and the wonderful variety they have on offer.

Peace out,


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hello Amsterdam & Istanbul

Yes I have been a bit quiet, with good reason. I decided to treat myself to a trip to Amsterdam and Istanbul in celebration of my thirtieth on the 13th of July.

I started solo in the beautiful city that is Amsterdam in the summer. It's all canals, bicycles, narrow cobbled streets and great buildings.

Buildings in Amsterdam
I then met up with my bestie in Istanbul. Istanbul is rich in history, Constantine deemed it the new capital of the Roman empire, it's littered with beautiful mosques, and historical sites with the Bosphorus running through it.

View of the Blue Mosque from the hotel terrace
This is the first post of the series on my travels, can't wait to share them with you especially the amazing food.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Eating Tunis - Doughnuts at Sidi Bou Said Market

I was in Tunisia a couple of weeks ago and I am still craving the donuts (doughnuts) I bought in the Sidi Bou Said market.

The market is set in atop the blue and white village of Sidi Bou Said. It's a tourist market which means it is bustling on most days of the week. I found it as expected slightly over priced, as it is geared for tourists, although with some serious haggling you can get good deals, bring your A game.

The market offers beautiful ceramics, rugs, jewellery and normal knick knacks like fridge magnets. I of course opted to buy something to eat instead. the DOUGHNUT!

Ceramics at the Sidi Bou Said market
The doughnuts are piping hot fresh out of the fryer tossed in sugar. They are light, sugary and also have an unexpected salty element which makes them a real treat. I love unexpected savoury sweet combinations. If you find yourself at the Sidi Bou Said market in Tunis, make your way to the top street and buy that doughnut, thank me later!

Sidi Bou Said Market
Best for Doughnuts, ceramics and trinkets