Saturday, December 31, 2011

From a deluxe girly ‘High Tea Lunch’ at Tafelberg to a rowdy boy’s game of ‘Kart Racing’ at the Coronel

High Tea has become so popular in the Netherlands that a lot of restaurants are now offering this on their menu, including the Tafelberg, a chic restaurant in Blaricum, ‘t Gooi.

Because its high tea, we had a lot of sweets, chocolates and sandwiches. We even had crème brulee. I didn’t take pictures of all the food. I was busy socialising =)

High tea delights on a 3-tiered plate.

All photos taken by iPhone. Quality? Mwah.

This is the interior of Tafelberg restaurant. Picture taken from Tafelberg website. We sat upstairs and occupied 1 wing of the mezzanine floor.

Tafelberg is located on De Heide, a beautiful nature preserved area in Blaricum. I have read that there is a nice walking trail here where the buffalo look-alike Scottish Highlands goats roam freely. Oh, I want to see these cool long haired goats! I am bookmarking this place and will come back another time for a walk and Scottish Highlands goat sightseeing.

After the high tea lunch we all went back to our cars and drove to Coronel Kartracing in Huizen, also in ‘t Gooi for kart racing.

I was supposed to join in the kart racing competition but they ran out of SMALL jackets. I guess that saved my ass as I am not really into this kind of sport. I would not mind though but if there is an escape route I would gladly take it.

At any rate I was quite content to watch. We had 3 rounds and each round the participants go through an elimination.

Oh well, what a day. From a deluxe girly ‘high tea lunch’ to a rowdy boy’s game of ‘kart racing’.

Visit Period: December 2011
Destination: Blaricum and Laren (Het Gooi), The Netherlands

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Ijsbaan op de Neude

Translation: ‘Skating rink on Neude square’ in Utrecht Centrum. This provisional indoor skating rink on Neude is open from 10:00 to 22:00 until 8 January 2012. There is a cafe inside as well.

Skating is the national sport of the Netherlands. Almost everyone in this country can skate, at least applicable to those that are of Dutch origin. Skating is big here, it’s just too bad that during winter we rarely get frozen lakes, rivers and canals these days, unlike 20 years ago.

In fact the Netherlands is a lovely sight when the lakes, rivers and canals are frozen. So many people from different ages are out skating. Gezelligheid!

This winter is probably the mildest winter I have ever experienced.

Visit Period: December 2011
Destination: Utrecht Centrum (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Beer Tasting at Brouwerij de Molen in Bodegraven, The Netherlands

I was invited to a beer tasting event with dinner subsequently last month at ‘Brouwerij de Molen’ (literal translation: Windmill Brewery) in Bodegraven in the South Holland province. It was a business related event, and the brewery is really located inside a windmill.

The Netherlands is famous for beer brands such as Heineken, Amstel, Grolsch and Bavaria which I often call as water beer. I almost never drink them. So it was a big revelation for me to learn that the Netherlands actually produce real beers or something along the gastronomic beers that you can only find in Belgium. Well surprise, there is one in Bodegraven! And it looks like that the ‘Brouwerij de Molen’ is the only beer brewery in the Netherlands brewing the best beers in the country.

At, an international site where beer enthuasiasts rate beers from all over the world, one can find a number of Brouwerij de Molen’s concoctions on the Top 50, even on the Top 10. Interestingly, it is the only Dutch brewery that entered the Top 50.

Anywho I don’t want to go into beer technicalities but what I do want to tell is that I enjoyed the beer tasting. I find the ‘Mooi & Machtig’ really grand. This is the cherry on top of the icing and can easily be served as an aperitif as well. Unfortunately, they only brew this beer for tasting and not for commercial production. All the beers we tasted had over 12% alcohol content which is pretty high for beer.

The nearest to taste to Mooi & Machtig is the ‘Bommen en Granaten’ so I bought four bottles to take home with me. The brewery has a little beer shop where consumers can buy their own locally brewed beers, as well as beers from other breweries around the world.

After the beer tasting we had dinner. I had the usual seafood but I did not take fotos of my starter and main, however I did for our desserts. Dinner was good and I would rate the food here 4 stars out of 5. And the beer? 5 stars of course =)

For the beer enthusiast, this is your place.

Brouwerij de Molen. Not joking but the brewery is in a windmill.

The beer guide telling us the history of the brewery.

The beer tasting starts! Now.

We tasted 3 types of beers. The first one was a Stout (left foto). The second one was a Blonde or Pale Ale (see first foto at the top of this entry). The third one is the Mooi & Machtig, the most impressive (right foto).

Before dinner was served we were led to the little beer shop:

Brouwerij de Molen also sells other beers, imported beers.

I bought four bottles of the Bommen & Granaten beer flavours.

Then dinner was served and I had a pint of stout to go with it:

This was really good.

No fotos of the dinner except the desserts. Here is mine, a bavaroi tart with ice cream and melon... could not finish it.

The others had chocolate muffin with warm chocolate inside and some ice cream and melon.

Travel Period: November 2011
Destination: Bodegraven (South Holland), The Netherlands

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Tea, Chocolate and Macarons at Laduree Champs-Elysees, Paris

Laduree the patisserie branch of LVMH is doing very well these days. It’s most popular branch on Champs-Elysees is a tourist attraction itself. Each day the patisserie shop has a lengthy line that extends outside to the street, and to get a table at the café restaurant is another dragging challenge to endure.

Very cute pastel coloured menu booklets. On a side note, I am sure the Dutchman would not want to be caught dead hand ordering coffee or tea here, haha. He always say, 'I am not gay, go pick one of your girlfriends.'

Tourists, tourists, tourists. A French colleague once told me, Laduree is just a name, that's all.

Blondine ordered hot chocolate drink and mine is a pot of tea goodness. These are delicious macarons, especially the pistachios!

Another picture of us because the friendly neighbour saw me struggling to make a shot for us two =)

The macarons at Laduree are of course no better than the everyday normal macaron’s sold on the streets of Paris. People flock here like seagulls, mostly tourists, because of the brand. Everyone wants to savour the Laduree macaron (or cakes) and sit in the café. Including us haha.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait long to be seated and we were given a table at the outdoor terrace. Pink is my least favourite colour but the pairing between pastel pink and mint green with a touch of gold for Laduree is quite elegant and catchy.

As for the macaroons, the pistachio macaroon is probably the yummiest of them all.

After tea, Blondine and I lined up at the patisserie retail shop. The line was still long but at least it did not stretched outside the door. I did not buy anything, two macarons are enough for me to last a while, but Blondine did.

Next time I will come here at Laduree Champs-Elysees, I will have tea inside so I can enjoy the lavish and royal interior design.

Long line at the patisserie.

Arc de Triomphe on Champs-Elysees.

Inside Laduree patisserie. One of the ladies behind the counter asked me not to take pictures. I mean why? I am sure Laduree is not insecure enough that their pastry designs will be copied? I mean if they are Laduree, they are Laduree.

Arc de Triomphe and traffic at night.

Travel Period: October 2011
Destination: Paris, France

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ganzenmarkt Werfkelder Tunnel in Utrecht

There is nothing much to say about these pictures except... Typically Utrecht.

This is the Ganzenmarkt cellar tunnel on the Oudegracht in Utrecht, beautifully lighted in a rainbow of colours as part of the Traject Lumen, an illumination project of the city.

Tip: This is right beside and below of Winkel van Sinkel on the Oudegracht.

Visit Period: December 2011
Destination: Utrecht Centrum (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paris Metro Scenes & Crazy Traffic

Perhaps the easiest way to travel in Paris is by Metro? I quite agree but when you are wearing high heels its not the best option. Having said that we took the cab moving forward.

Paris Metro Scenes:

They even have Amsterdam beer in Paris? Not heard of!

Traffic in Paris was insane. I am lucky I live in the Netherlands where rules are rules and they are followed. Not in Paris though.

We had this cab driver who was literally suicidal. He drove on trattoirs and areas where vehicles are not allowed on. He was very aggressive with driving, stepping on the gas and braking all too often that we had to hold on tight for our lives at the backseat. I would not have been surprised if we hit something! He said that it is the usual rush hour in Paris and traffic is mainly caused by non-Parisians visiting the city with their (stupid) cars. He then pointed out and scoffed at all the French cars with non-Parisian plate numbers whilst nodding his head in disagreement: OUI, NON PARISIEN! OUI, NON PARISIENNE!

He went on picking out non-Parisian cars and chanting like this for as long as I can remember until we arrived at our restaurant at the other side of the River Seine. His driving skills was something to reckon with, albeit a bit disturbed, but nevertheless he was quite charming and amusing, and more importantly, we arrived safely.

Here we are inside the cab:

Our cabbie and the horrible traffic on Pont de la Concorde.

The supposedly 5-minute cab ride took 45 minutes. That is not including the amount of time we spent waiting for this cab and to fight for it as well. Unfortunately cabs in Paris are in high demand.

Travel Period: October 2011
Destination: Paris, France

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