Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cologne: Spanish Tapas at Asado Restaurant in Königsforst

A colleague tipped us about this Spanish restaurant in the forest of Cologne, Germany. I was not so sure about the ratings and reviews online but I kind of like the idea of a Spanish restaurant nestled in the middle of a woodland area not too far away =)

Asado Restaurant is located in Königsforst, a forest and nature reserve area situated in the outskirts of the city of Cologne in Porz. It takes approximately 20 minutes drive, without traffic though, to get here from the city centre. You definitely need a car to get to this place.

Personally, I welcome the change of scenery, as well as the cuisine. The trees, the green setting and the fresh air helps in the de-stressing our work-polluted minds. German food also isn't the best there is out there so I cannot turn down a suggestion of a tapas evening.

I love, love, love tapas. I need to go back to Spain to eat loads of tapas!

Having said that, we settled for a mix tapas platter as the main dish on the table for the evening. The platter consists of shrimps with garlic (Gambas al Ajillo), mushroom buttons with garlic (Champinones al Ajillo), Manchego cheese, meatballs in tomato sauce (Albondigas), anchovies in vinegar (Boquerones), olives and Jamon Serrano.

In addition, we ordered chicken drumsticks in tomato sauce and paprika, baked goat's cheese with fresh figs (Queso de Cabra con Higos) and Patatas Bravas with spicy sauce.

For dessert we shared a Crema Catalana. To seal the evening to a close, we had some coffee.

We truly enjoyed the food here and the most popular dish for the evening was the baked goat's cheese with figs. We all went totally gaga over this. However, my usual favourites will always remain the shrimps and the anchovies. I will always be a seafood gal.

It was a bit cold to be sitting outside in the evening so we grabbed a table inside.

Patatas Bravas with the spicy sauce and a Paulaner. I had a chilled white wine.

Chicken drumsticks in tomato sauce and paprika. 

The most popular dish of the evening: Baked goat's cheese with fresh figs.

Crema Catalana for dessert.

Travel Period: September 2015
Destination: Porz, Cologne (North Rhine Westphalia), Germany

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Utrecht West (Netherlands) on a Rainy Day

I was just looking at my Utrecht pictures and saw a set that I took last summer, during a rainy day. Dutchman and I did a little walk in the western suburb of Utrecht.

I remember us sitting on a bench beside a lake for half an hour waiting for the rain to stop. We watched the ducks on the water, swimming from one end of the lake to another. Dutchman said they were not ducks, but they were birds that looked like ducks. I have since forgotten the name of the bird though. Nevertheless, we were staring straight to a boat house which we thought had a very strategic location on the water. I am not sure if I would like living in a boat though, but perhaps I were to choose, I would prefer this than a two-storey house. Stairs are not my thing. I stay away from them.

As we continued to walk along the Keulsekade we passed by the Douwe Egberts coffee factory (used to be a tobacco, coffee and tea factory). The old brick building still stands proudly, and on the corner of the estate is a massive DE cup. Did you know that Pickwick tea is from Douwe Egberts?

On the other side of the water we could see the SOIA (Strand Oog in Al) which is Oog in Al Beach. It is a city beach with real white sand. It has a restaurant and a bar. The SOIA is usually busy during the summer months but not on this particular gloomy and rainy day. I can just imagine the loss of revenue. We were here at the SOIA a few weeks earlier.

Dutchman and I then proceeded to the Oog in Al park to sit down on a bench and people watch. One of the advantages of not having kids is doing stuff like this on weekends. We cannot complain.

Do you go out and explore your neighbourhood (and neighbouring neighbourhoods) as well?

Our view from the bench as we wait for the rain to stop. Dutchman and I liked the location of this particular house boat. It is located on a Y corner of the lake.

Another boat house.

Ewww! Haha.

The Douwe Egberts old building. The coffee giant was founded in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands in a town called Joure in 1753. The original Douwe Egberts shop in Joure (called De Witte Os) is now a museum. One of its tea brand is the famous Pickwick.

Keulsekade in Utrecht West.

This old factory (Cooperatieve Stichtsche Olie en Lijnkoekenfabriek) has been transformed into a lifestyle and entertainment complex. The restaurant Buurten in de Fabriek where I had dinner with the Dutch mother and sisters a while back is located here.

Public pole chargers for electric cars. My next car will definitely be an electric one but I am not in a hurry to buy a new car at the moment.

The Oog in Al park. 

Visit Period: July 2015
Destination: Utrecht West (Utrecht), Netherlands

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Netherlands: Driving around Heukelum and surroundings

I took these pictures from the moving car last year.

Heukelum Castle | Kasteel Heukelum.

I did not drive. Dutchman did.

We were driving around this area last October, showing the countryside to the Dutch father. This was his last road trip, albeit a very short one. We drove through the town of Heukelum and on the dikes in the surrounding areas, passing by lush farm field plantations and comfortable farm houses. Dutchman wanted to show the Dutch father the Netherlands he used to know and have always known.

You know the Netherlands is incredibly flat. It is also very green. Oh, obsessively symmetrical as well. Have you noticed all those trees on a straight line?

Although Dutch father was very tired, he enjoyed this little road trip. He left us 6 weeks later.

Life is fleeting.

Heukelum Castle is also called Merckenburg Castle.

Farm fields in nearby Heukelum. The village is part of the Lingewaal municipality.

A house on the dike.

Farm plantation. The Netherlands is one of the most orderly and symmetrically landscaped countries in the world.

A chic farm house with a ranch.

A watermill house.

For some reason I like this picture. It gives me the impression that life is indeed fleeting. Make the most of it and enjoy it, when you can

Travel Period: October 2015
Destination: Heukelum, Lingewaal (Gelderland), Netherlands

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Outdoor Dining and Terrace Scene in Fiskardo, Kefalonia (Greece)

Dining outdoors never gets old during the warm summer months, especially when you are in the lovely Greek Islands.

One of my favourite places in Kefalonia (well I got a few!) is Fiskardo. It’s a lovely fishing village in the northern tip of the island that is now transformed into a cosmopolitan holiday town. The once fishing harbour is ringed with traditional colourful Greek fishing boats and pristine yachts, and the docks have become a commercial boulevard lined with gorgeous shops, cafes and inviting restaurants and outdoor terraces.

It is the St. Tropez of Kefalonia they say.

The outdoor terraces here in Fiskardo guarantees for a lively scene every summer. They get busy during lunch time when boat tours from nearby Ithaca and other parts of the island arrive. In the afternoon the outdoor terraces are a great place to hang out and have a light drink before proceeding to the beach, or after. If you have not tried the Greek Frappe, you should when you are in the Greek Islands.

We had dinner here as well which was again one of my enjoyable meals. I will post the dinner separately so as not to clog up this entry with too many pictures.

Dutchman and I also met an English couple who have been to Kefalonia many times, and every time they are holidaying here, they always stay in Fiskardo. Some people indeed prefer coming back to the same place they have fallen in love with. It gives them the familiarity, comfort and security. That’s surely fine. Dutchman and I however, especially moi, get the kick in trying out different places.

But seriously speaking, if you ever find yourself in Kefalonia (also spelled Cephalonia), you must not miss a visit to pretty Fiskardo. Better yet, stay in Fiskardo!

Here are the outdoor dining terrace scenes in Fiskardo.

This was taken early in the afternoon, during siesta time when many holidaymakers are lazing on the beaches.

There were a few traditional small fishing boats anchored on the harbour. They served well for variety, authenticity, as well as charm.

The inner harbour is full to the brim with yachts.

 Dining on the harbour boulevard.

This was taken late in the afternoon. The harbour boulevard is slowly starting to become lively for the evening.

This upper deck terrace must have a lovely view of the harbour.

Dutchman and I ate here at Irida's Restaurant.

The harbour boulevard is now busy for dinner. It is lovely to eat outdoors like this.

This setting is typically the Greek Islands =)

Travel Period: June-July 2015
Destination: Fiskardo, Erisos (Kefalonia – Ionian Islands), Greece

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