Category Archives: Food

Travel – Amsterdam, Netherlands Part II

On my second day in Amsterdam, I met up with a friend who took a day off work to be my tour guide. (Thanks, C!) I can’t express my immense gratitude to him for I wouldn’t otherwise been able to explore Amsterdam and its outskirts on a bike like we did. Amsterdam is a bike-friendly city and bikers rule the streets! (At one point, C was looking up Google maps while we were smack in the middle at an intersection and a car eventually came behind us. I was petrified and urged him to move out of the way but the car just went around us, nary a honk or negative gesture!)

We rented bikes from OV-Fiets (OV-Bicycle) at Amsterdam Zuid station where I met C. As C had a membership to OV-Fiets, I don’t know how much bike rental was but one can rent a bike for 24 hours in Amsterdam for around €10. After we got our bikes, I road tested it for bit as I wasn’t familiar with coaster brakes (back pedal brakes). Once I felt fairly confident, we rode off to the Rieker Windmill before biking into the city along the Amstel River. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Rieker Windmill in Amsterdam

Rieker Windmill Amsterdam

Rieker Windmill in Amsterdam Netherlands

South of Amsterdam

Amstel River

Amsterdam bridge

VOC ship replica Amsterdam

We went to a flea market while in the city before heading to grab a quick bite at a Burgermeester. The cheeseburger and the banana milkshake I had was very good. It reminded me of Shake Shack, similar to Byron Burger here in UK. After our meal, we biked to Centraal Station to return our bikes before catching a train to Haarlem. The trip took about 15 minutes and the return train ticket was €8. From Haarlem, we rented bikes at the train station from OV-Fiets again to bike to the National Park Zuid-Kennermerland. C said that we would be biking to the beach and that it would be about 30 minutes from the train station. As I enjoy biking, I didn’t think it would be a problem as there weren’t rolling hills to be conquered. Alas, don’t be fooled by the flat lands in Netherlands! There were many times where I would be pedaling like a crazy person only to have the bike move by a few inches. C, like most Dutch who bike regularly, was super patient with me and kept motivating me to pedal along. I have to admit as we were close to the national park, I ended up wheeling my bike instead of pedaling on it for I was just too unfit! (While I’m fairly active, I haven’t worked on my cardio since I left competitive sports in high school!) All was well once we arrived at the cafe by the beach and took in the beautiful sights. After some refreshments, we walked along the beach to capture the beautiful sights.

Stairs to North Sea in Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Zuid Kennemerland National Park Bike Parking

Beach in Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea Beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Sunset North Sea Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea Beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park Amsterdam

Sunset North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Sunset North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

After taking in the sights by the beach, we took a different route to bike back to the train station. We got to see the beautiful dunes in the park and I felt as though we were on a movie set for Lord of the Rings!

Sand dunes in Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Bike path lane Zuid Kennemerland National Park Amsterdam

We made it back to Haarlem train station shortly after dusk and caught our return train back to Amsterdam. I have to say, contrary to Harlem in New York, Haarlem in Amsterdam is posh! I couldn’t help notice the pretty big houses (some mansions) while biking to and fro. C and I parted ways after he made sure I was back in Amsterdam safely. (He then took a train back to Delft about an hour away where he resides.) I’m truly blessed to have such an awesome friend! I was beyond exhausted when I finally made it back to the hotel to meet G, so we stayed in for dinner. I’ll blog more about our day trip in Netherlands in my next post. Hope you’re having a great start to the week!

Travel – Exploring York Brewery

Hullo, G here! As previously mentioned, Fauxionista and I visited York, and the last part of our trip was a tour of the York Brewery. She was kind enough to accompany me to the brewery even though she’s not really a drinker.

York has a very proud heritage – they can trace parts of the city back twenty centuries, and people have settled there in one form or another since about 8000 years before anyone had even heard of Jebus. It can trace its official founding as a city to the Romans. The Romans who were around just after Caesar. The city was founded so long ago that the calendar they used didn’t have a need for a third digit in the year yet, let alone a fourth.

In those days, they likely didn’t have a brewery per se – they probably just had people that made beer, or in their case, “barbarian drink”. To be honest, from what little I remember of Latin class, back then they likely would have had beer in the Roman city of York, but it would have been only for the commoners, largely for medicinal purposes, and not very good. The women would use the beer foam in much the same way that skin cream is used today, so if you can imagine your wife dunking her hands in your beer and smearing it on her face before you started to sip your beer through a husk you’ll get some idea of what beer culture was like when the city was started.

Thankfully, that all went out of fauxion some time ago.

Two thousand years ago, beer would have been much weaker in both flavour and alcohol content (unless we’re talking about Heineken, I suppose), and would have contained a lot more sediment, and would have been much less consistent from batch to batch. It’s much better today, and the people at York Brewery are responsible for a portion of that!

We started the tour in a small room where they store the ingredients for beer (barley, hops, yeast, and water). (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

 photo OMDS0785.jpgThey did have a fine selection of different malts on hand, and we got to taste them!

 photo OMDS0788.jpgThey had the malt piled high on the side of the room – thankfully, this wasn’t what they handed out for tasting.

 photo OMDS0787.jpgThis was what we got to taste – the different types of malts.  They tasted a lot like cereal, but the darker ones were better with a fuller taste.

 photo OMDS0786.jpgSurprisingly, for the number of kegs and taps in the room, there was no actual beer to be had on the tour.  (They made it available at the end.)

 photo OMDS0789.jpgThe box on the floor with the handle (lower left) was filled with hops that people could taste.

We then got into learning how beer is made, as our guide explained the brewing process. More accurately, Fauxionista learned, and I stood around trying not to yell out the answers every time the guide asked a question of the group of about ten of us. (This was not my first brewery tour!)

 photo 20131019_173115.jpgBrewing is a fairly simple process. Brewing well is difficult.

 photo 20131019_165814.jpgFermenting beer in a giant vat – essentially a giant beer that’s almost finished being made.

The brewing process is fairly straightforward, and rather than relate it here, I’ll provide a link to the Wikipedia article on brewing in case you’re interested. What made this unique was we saw how the people at York Brewery do it to come up with the various flavours they have.

 photo 20131019_173441.jpgThe list of core (yellow) and non-core (white) brews at York Brewery for 2013.

After the tour was over, we got to go to the pub portion of the brewery, and actually sample some of the beer! The entry fee gets each ticket holder two half-pints of beer, and since Fauxionista didn’t want hers, that meant that I got to try four different beers! I had previously tried “Centurion’s Ghost Ale”, one of their core beers, the Christmas before last. Additionally, I’d had York Minster Ale which I liked, but a little less than the Ghost Ale, which I think is one of the best balanced beers I’ve had in a while.

Given that I’d already had those two ten months earlier, I decided to start with the York Guzzler. Every brewery has a “light summer ale” which is typically more like a pilsner, being lighter in colour and having less alcohol and more ‘zest’. The Guzzler is true to that form, and while good, it was not generally the sort of beer that I go for on a regular basis. (It reminded me a lot of Dogfish Head’s “Lawnmower Ale” actually.) I could see drinking it on a late summer’s evening if it were fairly warm, but I prefer a heavier, hoppier beer.

The unfortunately named “Yorkshire Terrier” proved to be worthy of the lacklustre imagination under which it was named, and was the worst of the four beers I tried. There was a confusing element to the taste (never good).  It wasn’t entirely unpalatable, and I did finish the sample, but I probably wouldn’t buy it.

The York IPA was significantly better. Since I do prefer hoppy beers, this was quite pleasant to drink. The hops that York Brewery uses actually come from mainland Europe (we learned on the tour), which is ironic insofar as Kent (in Southeast England) is known for producing hops. (They do get some from there, to be fair.) (Another aside – my Dad, who was born near Kent, would often go hop-picking on family vacations in Kent as a boy.) It’s not as hoppy as I would have liked – but it was still quite smooth with a slightly bitter aftertaste which gave it a nice finish.

I next sampled the “Black Bess”, a dark beer with a dark malty colour, not unlike Guinness. It’s colour was the only thing that it shared with Guinness, though, and that is a good thing – it has its own unique flavour palette, and while I generally don’t like roasted malt beers (they often taste too much like coffee), this one was actually fairly pleasant. It did have a taste of coffee to it, but the sugars in the beer offset that for the most part.  It would still lose in a head-to-head competition with the Centurion’s Ghost Ale, which is also a malty roasted beer but definitely the better of the two.

If you’re in York, and you enjoy beer and/or brewing, I would recommend York Brewery! It’s the only brewery in York (and in the city proper, at that), but as microbreweries go it’s a pleasant experience with a friendly atmosphere and some enjoyable beers.

Winter Wonderland in London

I hope you had a good holiday or perhaps some of you are still on holiday! G & I spent our first Christmas together and had a low-key holiday just enjoying each others’ company. Having just moved to London, a friend highly recommended that I check out Winter Wonderland and to go with an empty stomach. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London is bound to put most people into the festive holiday spirit unless you’re an absolute grinch. It is a combination of a Christmas market and a carnival (funfair). While it would have been nice to see the Christmas lights in the evening, G and I opted to visit Winter Wonderland in the late morning on a beautiful Saturday gearing towards Christmas.  We figured it would be less crowded and warmer than visiting in the evening. We both enjoyed ourselves checking out the various stalls while trying out different food. (Tip: Bring cash with you!) The veggie burger (£5.50) I had from the Angus Steak and Burger hut was quite good. G had the cheeseburger (£6.50) but it wasn’t particularly good and he didn’t finish it! I will recommend the marzipans (£4 for 100g) since I have a sweet tooth but I would say overall, food was quite pricey. A small cup of mulled wine ranged from £4-6, so we both decided to pass.

There were plenty of games and rides for children and there was also a skating rink that caters to both adults and children. We however, didn’t check those out since we don’t have any children yet nor did we particularly feel like ice skating that day. If you plan on doing either or both, feel free to get more information here.

Winter Wonderland London UK

Winter Wonderland London UK

San Antonio Street Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London

Hot Roast Pork Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London decor

Winter Wonderland London decor reindeer chandelier

Winter Wonderland London Christmas Tree

Winter Wonderland Dunnele Bakery German Pizza

Homemade Food Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London Pizza House

German Sweets Winter Wonderland London

Marzipan at Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland  London Jagerwald

Winter Wonderland London Nordic Wooden Sculptures

Winter Wonderland London

Hand painted bowls from Turkey at Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland London Candle Holder Lamp Shades

Winter Wonderland London Wooden Hanging Decorations Stall

Toys & games at Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London Carousel

Winter Wonderland Rides London

Winter Wonderland Ferris Wheel London

We didn’t walk through the entire Winter Wonderland for it started to get more crowded particularly near the rides, so we decided to exit Hyde Park and head towards Harvey Nichols and Harrods for some window shopping instead. Would we return to Winter Wonderland? Quite likely but perhaps on a weekday evening for a change of scenery. If you’re in London, do pay a visit before their final day on January 5!

Spring Weekends

Here are snippets of some pics from how I’ve been spending some of my Spring weekends. There are many more that went undocumented though, like today where I enjoyed a decent bowl of pho at Sprig and Sprout followed by some chocolate and mango gelato from Dolcezza that was just lip-smacking delicious!

Desserts at Serendipity 3 with a friend. I have heard so much about this popular restaurant to visit in New York that I finally went to visit and check out the food since they’ve been in Georgetown for a while now. Their signature drink is the frozen hot chocolate and it is HUGE! It tastes decent, reminiscent of chocolate malt drinks but it can be better. Perhaps a little less ice to maintain the rich chocolate would’ve been good. Yes, I love my chocolate rich and not too sweet.

Serendipity 3 Menu

Serendipity 3 MenuThe giant menu

Frozen Hot Chocolate Serendipity 3Frozen Hot Chocolate $10 (I wasn’t kidding about the size!)

Strawberry Fields Sundae Serendipity 3Strawberry Fields Sundae $13

I can’t tell you how the strawberry fields sundae taste since I didn’t have any of that. I couldn’t even finish my frozen hot chocolate! I have since learnt that one should go to Serendipity 3 for desserts after a light meal not a heavy one for you’d have no room to finish their desserts!

Rosa Loves Madewell event that was held at the end of March. Rosa is one of the few DC bloggers that I follow on Twitter and since we’ve tweeted each other a few times, I thought it would be nice to finally meet her in person. (I’m working on my networking skills as a blogger, since as an introvert I often feel cozy in my own company!) Rosa made pretty cards of Lola her dog and decorated the drinks and the store with it! It was also my first visit to Madewell on Wisconsin Avenue even though I frequently pass by. Thank you Rosa for giving me an excuse to check out the store! 😉

Rosa Loves Madewell The pretty cards that Rosa made of Lola affixed to the drinks

Rosa Loves Madewell eventThe delicious macarons at the event (which, I had one too many!)

Madewell ChambrayMadewell Chambray

ZARA Prada dress black turtleneckWhat I wore to the event (black turtleneck over ZARA dress paired with Adia Kibur sample necklace)

I have to confess that something utterly embarrassing happened while at the event. For whatever reason, I happened to have butter fingers and I dropped the can of soda that I was sipping on and made quite the scene. Thankfully I didn’t spill any on myself or the clothes in the store but I still made a mess and Carmen was super nice to help me. Thank you!

And last but not least, here are some pretty blooming cherry blossoms and tulips!

Cherry BlossomCherry blossom

TulipsTulips

How have you been spending your Spring weekends? I hope they’ve been great to refresh and made you ready to start the week! 🙂

Happy Lunar New Year!

Chinese New Year decor at Changi International Airport Lunar New Year decor at Changi International Airport in Singapore

Happy Lunar New Year! Apologies on the lack of posts in the past few days as I was travelling back to Malaysia and was without internet for a while to be able to upload pics and blog a decent post.

I flew with United Airlines and the food portion wasn’t enough to satisfy my appetite so, shortly upon touch down at Changi Airport in Singapore, I was looking for food. Thank goodness it’s Asia for that translates to 24 hour restaurants even in the airport!

24 Hr Food Gallery at Changi International Airport24 Hr Food Gallery in Terminal 3 of Changi Airport in Singapore

24Hr Food Gallery Menu Menu

Fishball Noodle SoupFishball noodle soup

The fishballs were actually very good which I wasn’t really expecting since airport food tends to be subpar quality. Needless to say, I pretty much inhaled my bowl of noodles and my cup of hot Milo (chocolate malt drink).

The plan for the first day back in Kuala Lumpur (aka KL, capital city of Malaysia where I was born and bred) was twofold: get a haircut, and celebrate my Dad’s birthday (not at the same time!).

8-10 inches of hair Bye bye locks! (that’s for not getting a haircut in 21 months!)  

Loving my short do now. So refreshing and no blow drying needed! 😉

Yee sang for dad's birthday dinner

Fruit-based yee sang

Fruit-based yee sang (raw fish salad) for dad’s birthday

Yee Sang all tossed up Yee sang all tossed

 

Dad's durian birthday cake from This & ThatDad’s durian cake from This & That Cafe

Okay, off to spend some quality time with the family now. I’ll try to snap some outfit pics soon! Have a great weekend! 🙂