creamy green pea soup with smoked salmon

Tonight was an evening of deliciousness. I made my favorite soup.

This soup is fantastic. Very decadent tasting and definitely a meal for two people. It is a wonderful with crusty fresh bread.


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 green onions, cut into rings
  • 15 g fresh dill, cut finely
  • 450 g frozen green peas
  • 750 ml chicken stock
  • 225 g potatoes ( 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 75 g cream cheese
  • 100 g smoked salmon, in pieces


  1. In a soup pan, heat the oil.
  2. Add the green onions and half of the dill, saute for 1 minute.
  3. Reserve 3 tablespoons of peas.
  4. Add the remainder of the peas and the chicken stock.
  5. Bring to a boil for about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Puree the soup using a hand blender.
  7. Add the potatoes and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes until soft.
  8. Add the rest of the peas and the cream cheese, and simmer until the cheese has melted.
  9. Add the smoked salmon and the remaining dill and bring the soup to a simmer.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.


feta: the cyclops cheese

by Lucky Bielka
I am a feta snob. Not all feta is created equal. Along with real Greek feta, our grocery store also sells some strange small pre-cut plastic-tasting squares that are disguised under a feta label. Definitely not the same thing.

The ancient Greeks would agree. Feta can be traced to the Byzantine Empire and specifically Crete 8000 years ago in a written description by Homer in the Odyssey.  Yes, in this case a cyclops (Polyfimos) is described making this cheesy wonder. (source: Somehow it makes me really happy to think of it as cyclops cheese.

Anyway, as for a description, feta is officially based on goat's milk or a combination of goat and sheep's (no more than 30%) milk. While cow versions are available this is pseudo-feta (I am a cheese snob). Real feta ;) matures for a couple of months to get its own fantastic feta-ness and is stored (and distributed) in a brine.

I would provide more information here, but the enthusiasm that is will fill in the gaps with such alacrity I feel that my own description may be inadequate. (The font on this site is insanely small, but the information is all there in it's very own cheese-PR glory.) You can *even* find out how much you have learned with the feta-invaders game which includes some interesting Greek/The Entertainer type of background music.

So, back to the cyclops cheese, feta is white crumbly salty “semi-firm” brined cheese. While I've combined it in quite a few recipes to good effect, to be honest, I personally think that feta at its best is served cold in thin slices next to a cold salad with crispy cucumber, tomato, olives and red onion, otherwise the subtlety of its flavor may be lost. But who can deny its delicious contribution to Spanakopita (spinach and feta wrapped in feather light phyllo dough) or crumbled into scrambled eggs?

Feta isn't exactly diet cheese, but its flavor means that a little goes a long way. That's how I've chosen to look at anyway.

Do you have any favorite feta recipes or feta opinions? (Some people, I understand, just don't like goat- or sheep-milk-based cheese. I understand. I feel the same way about tripe and durian.)


from "the big night"

recipe: chicken with feta sauce

ammmsterdam revived

After three years asleep, I decided to awake this resting blog. Ammmsterdam started as a restaurant review site, but I've decided to make it something more... to make it about a full exploration of food.

I think that writing about food is both aspirational and terrifying. Aspirational since not only do I love food myself,  but I believe in it. "Believe in food?" you ask. I believe in not only its importance in gathering people together, in creating childhood memories, in become an icon of culture and cultural celebration, but I also believe in its importance in terms of making us strong and healthy.

The terrifying part also has to do with the aspiration and the wish... the fear of failure. And if I succeed in becoming a food writer, in immersing myself in food, surely I'll become corpulent, self-indulgent and hedonistic. I want to make sure I keep balanced in this quest to write about food for a living.

All of this to say, the time has come. This blog won't become about food snobbery (she says determinedly). It will talk about both the indulgent and healthy. It will talk about social/cultural elements of eating as well as the joys of drinking beer on a sunlit patio, it will talk about my own attempt to become healthier through better food choices (rather than dieting) as well as moments of weakness and joyous self-pampering.

I struggle with believing in many things. My inner cynic is loud and is quite a bully. But I believe food. What I know about food:
  1. I am an omnivore. I will (probably) never cut out entire food groups. No one has yet convinced me that moderation in all things is a bad thing. I will never be completely cheeseless, grainless, meatless or sugarless. Health and environmental problems related to food seem to have to do more with habit rather than individual experiences.
  2. I love that different cultures celebrate food in different ways and that often food memory represents a coming together, a celebration or a comfort. 
  3. I need to eat healthier. Part of this will be an exploration of how I, as a food lover, can remain so without growing wider and wigglier than I already am. And how, in fact, I can lose some weight despite my foody joys.
  4. I do believe in ethical eating. I haven't quite figured out how to incorporate this into my life in a meaningful way, but I strive towards a greater conscientiousness than I currently use when buying food for sustainable, ethical sources.
  5. New and different makes me happy. While I have no desire to repeat the one encounter I have had with tripe, in general, I love trying new things, textures and tastes. Food exploration is fun :)
  6. Markets have their own special energy that seems to have to do with getting closer to the source of food. Living in a city, it is often as close as we can get to actually pulling that carrot out of the ground. There is an earthiness about the smells and an anticipation of eating that I've never experienced in a grocery store.
OK. That's all for now. I have millions of ideas for what format this blog should/will take. It will probably use a bit of all of them. :)

I hope you'll come with me.


flo (mmmm) life will never be the same after lardons

amstelstraat 9, amsterdam
020 890 47 57


food: 8 out of 10 (appetizer and main only... my dessert was less inspiring, however A's dessert was fabulous)
service: 8.5 out of 10 (*very* laid back but surprisingly efficient and engaged)
decor: 8 out of 10 (typical brasserie decor... reminded me of Paris)
mmm rating:
We went to Flo as part of Amsterdam Restaurant Week where, most fabulously, you can go and eat either lunch (3 courses for 20 Euros) or dinner (3 courses for 25 Euros) at a selection of restaurants in the city. Ohhh. Next year I have to fast for a couple of weeks just so that I can indulge in an *entire week* of over-indulgent hedonism. Mind you, can hedonism be "typically indulgent" or "moderately indulgent"? Probably not.

Flo is the opportunity to be part of the riff-raff, non fancified crowd at many more up-scale restaurants. So perfect for me :)

Flo looks like typical brasserie with ... not surprisingly, brass lamps and fixtures, booths with comfy red seats, strategically placed mirrors and a generally laid back feeling. Fortunately, it does not come with a stereotypical snotty French waiter (with whom, to be honest, I have only had one encounter despite a few trips to Paris). Instead, we had a non-stereotypically attentive Dutch waiter.

Our waiter was laid back as to almost seem sleepy. But somehow at the same time, very conscientious and sweet. It was almost as though you were being served by a very docile and gentle uncle or something. Non-waitery but extremely friendly and efficient.

Despite my best intentions I did not order Lillet as an aperitif, so instead we just started with sparkling water. Silly really since a French restaurant is really the most likely place to actually get the stuff. We did have the benefit of bread directly out of the oven (still hot to the touch and steaming when we broke it open) with salted butter. (It sounds strange to make butter a feature, but this was remarkably delicious butter.)

Anyways... for lunch we were given a choice of two options per course:
  • Starter: Salad with a poached egg and lardons or onion soup
  • Main: Salmon with new potatoes or chicken with mash and tarragon sauce (and lardons)
  • Dessert: Crème brulé or vacherin with sorbet of raspberries and mango
Most of these descriptions are "Ingrified" based on my memory of the meal (and yes, I should bring a notepad if I am going to do these reviews.) We each chose one of each (A the first three selections, I the last three).

A's salad was incredible. I know that lardon is just French for bacon, but wow. That was some goooood lardon. A smoky, bacony flavour that makes me happy that all bacon doesn't taste like that or I would weigh 50000 lbs. I would eat bacon all of the time. I only had one bite, so that is all I can say, but it was *exceptionally* good for a very simple salad.

My onion soup was very very good, filled with oniony goodness and fabulous melted cheese over a crispy slice of bread on the top. But rich. Oh my.

We mentioned to the waiter how awed we were by the deliciousity of A's salad, despite its simplicity, and he had a moment with us. You could see the reverence and honour on his face as he shared in the appreciation of simple cookery. It was a special moment. (I'm not being sarcastic.)

A's main was also "the winner" (really he did choose the winning menu... mine was just a bit too heavy albeit delicious). He had lovely salmon on top of beautiful small potatoes and some greens. Again simple, but the purity of the flavours made it just wonderful.

My chicken was fantastic but heavy with smooth mashed potatoes, a creamy tarragon sauce and mushrooms. A great meal, but perhaps a winter one after walking for miles having earned a hearty appetite.

And yes, I'm still thinking about the lardons. Who knew that good bacon could do this to me. Amidst our post dinner smiles, the laid-back waiter smashed a glass off of a near-by table. He didn't even flinch, just continued taking the order from a somewhat flustered looking couple and looked down casually at the glass broken on the floor by his feet. Wonderful :) A colleague came by and cleaned up the glass.

So, despite my intention of having crème brulé for a dessert, I just couldn't after the cheese and the creamy sauce... So I opted for the mysterious vacherin... Initially I figured this must have something to do with cows but instead, it consists of two very thin meringue wafers that sandwich some small balls of sorbet, one raspberry and one mango. The sorbet was jam-like in both consistency and in flavour. It was just too much. Too much sweet, too aggressively fruity. For me unappealing. So I had a few bites and left the rest.

A's crème brulé on the other hand, was oooohhhh la laaa! Delicious. Really perfectly creamy. But a bit too cold. Warmer is nicer (A says).

So, while this was not a typical meal (since our choices were limited and it was a lunch rather than dinner), Flo was great. Very good service. Delicious food (overall). We will most certainly be coming back.

What Iens has to say
Special Bite likes them too


prego part deux (mmm++) mixing it up

Herenstraat 25, Amsterdam
(020) 638 0148

food: 7.5 out of 10 (very very good with some strange exceptions)
service: 7.5 out of 10 (related to the food rating)
decor: 8 out of 10 (as always cosy and comfortable...)
mmm rating:
A return to a restaurant that you had a great dinner in before is always a bit of risk. Will it be as good as last time? Will you be awed and delighted by the flavors the way you were before, or are you setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment?

Or am I being melodramatic?

Just before we arrived we made a wish that they would seat us in the same place as the last time. On the upper level, next to the window where you can peek into Amsterdam backyards and where you can also view the whole restaurant. To my (our?) delight, our wish was granted and they gave us this fabulous location due to a cancellation.

As always, I made note of the people eating alone (something which makes my heart lurch despite the fact that these people may really prefer and enjoy this solitary indulgence) since I imagine that they would much rather have company.

All this aside, I had done some research earlier in the afternoon in terms of ordering aperitifs. I usually feel at a complete loss when asked what I want to drink before dinner. Should I order water and risk being sneered at by the server all the while knowing I shouldn't really care what they think about me? Or should I order some old fashioned concoction like a whiskey sour? If so, is this an appropriate before dinner drink? Oh the dilemma.

I decided to resolve my quandary by doing a little research (aka Google and Wikipedia) on this topic and decided that I needed to try Campari with soda (lots of soda was recommended) *or* Lillet (which is French and sounds indulgent although I have no idea what it tastes like). I ordered the Campari with soda, which was indeed bitter, and did require considerable watering down to become more palatable. But it was ... "refreshing".

Our fellow diners arrived and we quickly selected our dinner to come... for me grilled sardines as a starter

Italian sardines from the grill with pickled lemon,

braised peppers and parsley

and then tuna

Sauteed tuna with brandade, tomato sauce and a

tempura of prawns and black olives

This time, I didn't sample much from A's plate so I won't comment on his selections. As for my own meal, the sardines smoky and tender, and the peppers and balsamic sauce provided a really great contrast (egad, I was going to say, "counterpointed the oiliness of the fish... " how snotty!) It was quite delicious.

The tuna was excellent (perfectly cooked) and had the unexpected extra of tempura asparagus in addition to the prawns. Unfortunately, the accompanying mash (the brandade) was so salty it was actually inedible. So I didn't eat it and it was excellent.

Sadly, this is where the "not as good as last time" comes in, since one of our dinner companions ordered the so-called tame duck. (We —ok, I— envisioned a duck named Jack that sits next to you on the couch while watching television, who you feed bits of chips to until his time is up... At least a bit more humane than fois gras.)

Tame duck breast with green asparagus, tagliatelle and

a sauce with morilles

which did not come with asparagus but with some fairly mushy, bitter spinach. The explanation that they had run out of asparagus did not make sense given that I had unexpected asparagus. So. Unfortunately, we didn't mention the absent asparagus until after we finished dinner, but no apology or adequate explanation was made. Pity. Otherwise I would have given an 8 for food.

I added a negative to the evening by mentioning that I think that morilles resemble brains, which resulted in a look of disgust and nausea from one of our dinner companions, who would then not try any of her husband's mushrooms. (Have I said that you can dress me up but...)

My dessert consisted of a tiny perfect lemon meringue pie and a delicious blob of some sort of frozen thing which turned out to be champagne sorbet.

So... at the end of the evening, the dinner had many delicious highlights, very personable service despite the whole asparagus episode, and some disappointments (e.g. if you are going to make a substitution of something that is quite clearly written on the menu, it would make sense to convey this earlier rather than later. For example: "You ordered chicken but we didn't have any left so here's some fish" or, less dramatically, "You ordered the dish with asparagus, but we have substituted it for rather overcooked spinach despite the fact that your dinner companions have asparagus.")

I will go back to this restaurant since the overall experience was very nice. And if the wrong things are on my plate, I will send them back with a smile.
the difference between morille and brains
the difference between spinach and asparagus


orbit (mmm+) baagaa baagaa baagaa

scheldestraat 95
(020) 67 22 922


food: 7.5 out of 10 (savory & delicious)
service: 7.5 out of 10 (sweet but surly)
decor: 7.5 out of 10 (very chic and modern, but the plastic chairs were a little "sweaty")
mmm rating: mmm+/mmmmm

After a long day of workin' on the railroad, I was excited to be meeting up with my girlfriends at a new find, "Orbit". It had been too long since we had hung out on an evening like this...

When first walking in, Orbit feels very... chic... Maybe too chic for me, since despite my foodiness, I am sometimes described as one of those whom you can dress up but can't take out.

That being said, we were all quite hungry so we plunged in to examine the extensive appetizer and somewhat shorter main course menus... After quickly summoning the waitress to provide us with the liquid element of our dinner (the house white wine -- Cogmans Kloof Kristal -- which went down just fine thankyouverymuch) we salivated over our many choices for appetizers. The menu included many "dim-sum" type dumpling appetizers in addition to satay skewers and steamed oysters. As famished as we were, the many choices perplexed us more than it should have, so we settled on the "mixed appetizers" between the three of us... Then for main, some Peking duck (sans pancakes), Chinese broccoli, and the BaaGaa chicken (which I like to repeat over and over again just for fun).

After placing our order, the waitress warned us that we might have fist-fights over the starter delicacies since there are only two of each kind. (Perhaps we wanted to order an assortment instead?) We assured her of our kindness and love for one another all the while preparing our chopsticks for some finger food competition.

After girly disclosures of recent weekend escapades and other fantasies, we were served our lovely 10 piece appetizer assortment... along with some really delicious dipping sauces (spicy, sweet, hoisin, and soy). After tasting one or two we looked jealously at the remaining pieces, determined to taste as many as possible. They were really lovely. The platter consisted of mostly Gyoza and dumpling style appetizers with a couple of spring rolls for good measure.

Looking with dismay at the empty bottle of wine and our empty glasses we ordered more wine to accompany our upcoming mains... The Chinese broccoli was exactly as it should be: crispy, gingery, garlicky and bright green. Along with this the Peking duck was really wonderful with a thin crispy skin, juicy meat and wonderful flavor. We *were* a teeny tiny bit disappointed that it didn't come with the pancakes, but I think that we had absolutely no problem eating it anyway.

I sampled L's BaaGaa chicken (BaaGaa BaaGaa BaaGaa BaaGaa BaaGaa) and it too was quite flavorful.

So what can I say? It was a great night out with the girls (or women if you prefer) and everything we ate was good.

I suspect Orbit is a bit over-priced for what we ate, but we all thoroughly enjoyed everything. So why the 7.5 you ask? Why not an 8 or a 9? I reserve these types of scores for the extraordinary. And while I thoroughly enjoyed Orbit, it did not send me to the moon. And happily, it wasn't "too chic" for me.
peking duck


visaandeschelde (mmmm+)

restaurant visaandeschelde
scheldeplein 48
+31(0)20 67 51 583


food: 9/10 (perfectly cooked seafood but maybe a little complicated sometimes)
service: 8/10 (we were ignored a little, but once we got service it was great)
decor: 8/10 (some acoustic tiling would be great, but other than that, very nice)
mmm rating:


We had a late reservation for 8:30 p.m. And we were hungry. We had heard so much about this restaurant and had read so many positive reviews that our expectations were quite high.

Our table was not yet ready, so our server encouraged us to relax at the bar. We had some drinks and watched the activity in the lobster tanks. One half of the tank contained the lobsters that seemed to have given themselves over to the whole experience. They were resigned to their eventual consumption. The other tank contained the feisty fighters that still believed that they had some chance of escape, attempting to scale the walls of the tank with amazing agility. As I cheered them on and contemplated assisting them, I realized that I was not going to eat lobster, despite my earlier intentions to do so.

After being entertained in this morbid way, our server directed us to our table. The restaurant was completely full, and first we just took in our surroundings, watching passing plates of carefully designed vertical food with longing. We took in the "in crowd" who knew all of the servers and who greeted other tables of people with equal familiarity. We looked hungrily at the bread and aioli on the table next to us, our stomachs growling as waiters passed with great efficiency to serve other tables.

Having lived in the Netherlands for a few years now, I can now do "the look" which says "Hi, We've been here a while, and unless you want me to start eating my napkin, and loudly calling to you 'a lazy bastard', you should come and help us now." OK, I admit it, I can't usually do the look, but in this case, I was successful. I did the look and a very friendly waiter, wearing an appropriately concerned look on his face, immediately attended to us. I was appeased.

He brought us our bread (which was lovely crispy and hot) and its accompaniments (garlicky and delicious, but this could be starvation talking at this point) and ensured that we had menus and could choose a wine.

From this point on, I would say that our service was excellent. And since I firmly believe that anticipation is half of enjoyment, I will interpret our early waiting experience as an "enhancement" to the evening. (Optimism at its finest.)

As with many restaurants, the names of the meals are rarely simple.
  • Appetizers: A. had a "Lobster salad with duck liver swirls and truffle dressing" and I had the "Lemon-pepper marinated swordfish with chorizo, olive & cornichon dressing crispy prawn and aioli" and
  • Main: A. had the "Pan-fried ray wing fillet with herb gnocchi, fennel and Nouilly Prat vermouth sauce and I had the "Sautéed sea bream on lime risotto with warm sage mayonnaise and grilled vegetables"
A.'s appetizer was fabulous. Beautiful flavours and textures. Mine was very very good, but I think that since both the swordfish and the prawn were independently fantastic (I deconstructed the salad tower and tasted everything separately), their flavours were a little lost together. Too much of good things together maybe? If you ever order this particular appetizer, I strongly recommend deconstruction.

Both main courses were fantastic. Perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. Given A.'s happy smile while eating, I will assume that he felt the same way.

For dessert A. had a chocolate mousse type thingy which looked wonderful. I had crème brule. Both were, again, faultless.

Now. All of this praise being heaped on the food, I have two small criticisms:
  1. Sitting next to chain smokers is bad during any eating experience, but this is something that the restaurant can't do too much about.
  2. The restaurant is loud. The acoustics are such that you have to do a fair amount of loud talking yourself in order to have a conversation, thereby contributing to the loudness. This may be a better restaurant for a big group where everyone ends up bellowing anyway, or maybe this was the function of going on a Friday night. But probably, the problem could be remedied with some acoustic tiling or white noise makers.
Other reviews:
special bite

A recipe for lemon risotto since it is so incredible with fish. Yum!


il ponte (mmm+) any faster would be creepy

van woustraat 206
or order online


food: 7.5 (Good food to "order in" including pizza, pasta and turkish meals.)
service: 10 (Fastest delivery in Amsterdam. The best record so far was 15 minutes. Any faster would be just creepy.)
decor: n/a (Our own apartment. A bad score would reflect on the "management" and a good score would imply bias, so I'll stick with neutral.)
mmm rating:
mmm.5/mmmmm (While very good, it is just pizza etc.)
This is the best take-away when you come home hungry and want to eat soon! Delivery times from Il Ponte are always amazing.

One among many "Turkalian" or "Italish" restaurants, Il Ponte always delivers good quality food, and there lots of menu items to choose from. (The extensive menu can be a problem for me, as can the mixture of cuisines: "Do I want Italian, or Turkish? If I order the Lasagne, can I still have the Piliç Guveç? . . . )

While we were busy tranforming our apartment from a vacuous cement bunker to the beautiful delight that it now is, Il Ponte came to the rescue many times, as it did this week when we arrived home from work famished. Or rather, I arrived at home famished.

This week, I ordered a Turkish Pizza, which was very nice (lamb, herbs, cheese, pepper and onion) and a salad that had the most lovely feta I have ever eaten. Gorgeous. Unlike Greek feta, Turkish Feta is quite creamy and mild. You can't so much crumble it as spread it.

Overall, I would say reliable, fast, good. Great qualities in a restaurant that delivers.

turkish pizza
Turkish cuisine
What iens had to say


panini (mmmm) dessert mayhem is good thing

vijzelgracht 3/5,
(020) 626 49 39

food: 8 (7.5 for fresh sandwiches and 8.5 for delicious desserts)
8.5 (our server was outstanding; attentive, interactive, and efficient)
decor: 7.5 (comfortable and relaxed)
mmm rating:

Yesterday, I met up with my writing group for our "kick-off" lunch. (I almost wrote the word "luncheon" but this sounded even more pretentious than the fact that I am part of a writing group... think of it as a support group and it sounds ok.) We met on a little Italian restaurant, Panini, that serves very nice panini, salads, pasta and other tasty treats.

Our little group sat in a lovely empty corner of the restaurant and talked about our summers' experiences: featuring solitary retreats to isolated islands, frightening hotels in Istanbul with blood colored stains in the bathtub, and team building events that enforced manual labour as "fun". At any rate, our wonderful waiter kept arriving at the table just as someone was making outrageous statements like: "I looked down and he was just lying there, as limp as seaweed." (Ah, the world abounds in metaphor.)

After consuming our sandwiches, and drinking several glasses of wine, we were happily content, and most definitely entertained by one another. Our wise writing mentor boldly assented to our waiters suggestion: a plate with a combination of all of the desserts in the restaurant menu. This fabulous decadence is not normally on offer in this restaurant. (Maybe our strange conversation made him feel that we needed some dessert comfort... or maybe we managed to entertain him too...)

He brought two large plates to our table with the following:
  • Raspberry semifreddo: creamy, cold, and lovely
  • Lemon meringue pie: lovely, lemony and wonderful
  • Tiramisu: decadent layers of custard and coffee and lusciousness
  • Raspberry tart: sweet berry delight
  • Panna cotta: erm. I don't really like panna cotta. So I can't comment.
  • Fresh fruit: the plate was adorned with beautiful strawberries, raspberries and currants
We nibbled on this incredible display of glorious dessert artistry for about another hour.

What was best? As always, the company, but I have to say that everything was great. The restaurant gave us a wonderful cozy homey feeling with a comfortable table in a sunny corner, a warm (not freddo ... ha ha) waiter who was attentive and very kind, and of course, our foray into a jungle of perfect, simple desserts.

I love going out for lunch.
iens review
panini defined


prego (mmmm+) not italian but fabulous

herenstraat 25
jordaan, amsterdam
(020) 638 01 48

food: 8 (Delicious and simple. I am always cautious to give food too high praise, because while it was very very good, it was not yet divine.)
service: 8 (Wonderful. Warm, attentive, and friendly.)
decor: 8 (This restaurant has everything I love. Nice lighting, cozy, and comfortable. Clean without being uptight.)
mmm rating:
We went to this restaurant with another couple and had fabulous evening. We were able to get reservations for a Saturday night, by fluke, on the same day. Usually this is not possible.

The owner greeted us at the door warmly, and brought us to a very nice table at the back of the restaurant by the garden. The evening was full of excellent conversation (thanks to good company) which was just enhanced by the service that accompanied our evening there. Our waitress was very sweet and while she was not, strictly speaking, filled with efficiency this was for me nicer. I would much rather have a slightly awkward, gentle and efficient server than an extremely proper and perfect one. It makes the experience more real.

The food. Oh the food. Yum! I had the chef's menu:
  • Amuse Gueule: A very nice little tea cup of shrimp bisque. Exactly what an amuse gueule should be, it whetted my appetite for more.
  • Antipasti: Smoked salmon, celeriac, and cray fish salad. This was really lovely, fresh and light. Very very nice.
  • Primo: A small plate of risotto with mussels. This was very nice. A small portion which was perfect in size. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I learned to make risotto myself, and like my own the best. (How vain!) So while this was very good, it was a bit too starchy and thick. But the mussels were perfect and it was, overall, very nice.
  • Secondo: Comfort food course consisting of roast duck, mashed potato and spinach. While this does not sound amazing, it was lovely, warm and homey. The duck was perfect and tender, the potatoes creamy garlicky, and the spinach perfect and light with all of the other rich things. I'm not sure how Italian this is, but it was lovely nevertheless.
  • Tutto: Fresh berries and something like creme fraiche. Lovely and light. A perfect ending.
What made the evening great? As always, the company of people you really really like and the conversation that goes with that. Really genuine service where the server is warm and hospitable, and makes you feel at home. Comfortable surroundings that are simple but elegant. And finally, food that is not eclectic or "haute cuisine" but that fills you with comfort and joy. Multiple mmms.
Special bite
More about Italian food, history, and culture


puccini (mmm+)

staalstraat 21,
nieuwmarkt, amsterdam
020) 620 84 58

food: 7.5 (fabulously fresh sandwiches and salads)
service: 7.5 (very friendly but just a tad slow)
decor: 7.5 (plain but who needs complicated for lunch)
Unless food is horrible, it is hard to go wrong when you are going out for a lunch with good friends. This time was no exception. ("What do you mean?" you gasp! "Was the food awful?") No not at all! The food was great. All I meant to say, was that I would have had a wonderful afternoon even if it had been awful, since I got to hang out with girl friends chatting about girly things and generally being girly.

Puccini is a tiny little restaurant in a very pretty area of Amsterdam. Canals all around, beautiful houses canal side, bikes, and that summer feeling in the air, this is a great spot for a fabulous sandwich or salad.

Puccini has a great list of delectable, complicated sandwiches and salads, fresh juices, and other yummies. I highly recommend this little spot if you want to take a break in a little restaurant with a very nice atmosphere. The girls and I had much to discuss and we found this little haven perfect for our chatter.

Just in case you are interested in what I ate: I had a fresh OJ (mmmmmm), a roastbeef sandwich (with delicately thin slices of roast beef on a very nice lettucey mix), and then a Calvados truffle with a ristretto. Yummy. We were happy girls with that chocolate gleam in our eyes. One of my friends had an enormous salad with large pieces of salmon, and truly heavenly sun blushed tomatoes (tomatoes that haven't indulged in fully fledged sun bathing but are a little dried and all the more sweet and tender).

The service was a tiny bit slow, but very friendly, with waitresses who smiled with our girly banter. All in all, a great place for a leisurely Saturday lunch.
More about ristretto
What iens said about puccini
What special bite said about puccini

takara (mmm++) on the way to a lebanese restaurant...

europaplein 11
1078 gs amsterdam
tel 020- 675 0016

food: 8/10 (Fresh and delicious)
service: 7.5/10 (Very courteous and friendly)
decor: 7/10 (Plain, clean and comfortable.)
We arrived early one evening, anticipating a meal at a nearby Lebanese restaurant that serves excellent meze, but were drawn to the fresh look of this new addition to Europaplein. After glancing at the menu outside of the door we entered and were very graciously ushered to some seats by a friendly waitress.

Takara is a fairly new Japanese restaurant in Rivierenburt, and is located across from the RAI. Still pristine, the interior is uncluttered, clean, and new. There are also a few outside tables just in front of the restaurant.

The menu features both a long a la carte list as well as some very nice set menus. We went for "menu number 16":
  • Salad with seaweed and sesame dressing: Very nice. The dressing was savory and subtle, and the seaweed didn't squeak between my teeth. Always a good sign. Nothing amazing but refreshing and a nice beginning to the delicacies that followed.
  • Sashimi and norimaki: The tuna, salmon and shrimp were really wonderful and tender. Very very yummy. This is the type of fresh fish that convinces you that raw is not a bad thing.
  • Miso soup: If you like miso soup, great. If not, like my boyfriend, poor you.
  • Yakitori: Very very nice. Wonderful grilled salmon, tuna, and scallops. Very tender and delicious.
  • Tempura: Again, really wonderful and crispy. The shrimp tempura was extremely fresh and good. I love all things tempura... The sweet potato was particularly nice.
Yay! I think that this is a new favorite. We had a really lovely meal, with the exception of the noisy toddler at the next table who was hell-bent on throwing plates.

While biting into a wasabi laden piece of norimaki (I love the wasabi rush), I contemplated various means of keeping small children at bay while in a restaurant. I actually invented a new device. It would consist of a pair of headphones and and something stick like thing made of foam with a motion detector. The kid could thump the hell out of the table, and something in the stick thing would make loud thumping noises but only in the headphones. That way, the kid would get the satisfaction of smacking something around, but no one else would have to hear it. You could even do something electrical in the handle that would give the kid a little jolt. I mentioned this idea to my boyfriend who looked over at me and said, "No, I have a better idea. Babysitter."

Can you tell that we are childless? A good thing, I think.

All of this to say, great little restaurant. Wonderful food and very good service.