Category Archives: Food

Las Iguanas, Bath

Last night, I went to Las Iguanas for the first time. A member of staff asked if we were celebrating anything, early on. And we are. My girlfriend’s birthday.
We didn’t think anything more of that conversation,

20131230-103435.jpg
and then we got this free between main and dessert.
It was very tasty – we might order that if we come back again. But what is it? We scoured the menu and couldn’t find it.

Me: “That was delicious – what was it?”
Staff: “Oh – it’s actually from Sainsburys”

Bit awkward. Hats off though – it was a nice gesture. More than earned a tip with this and the rest of their friendly attentive service.

P.S. Also, good having a menu that is probably 50% vegetarian (there is a full A4-sized vegetarian menu that is the normal menu with meat ones removed). Enormous amount of options for my girlfriend while I can still have meat aplenty.

Amsterdam – part 3

Amsterdam – day 3 aka Friday

One of the reasons why we were looking at going to Amsterdam in the first place, wasn’t the drugs or the prostitutes. It was for a tulip event that takes place between March and May at Keukenhof.
Of all the years we could go, ironically, this year the theme is “British”. Clearly that was a sign that we should go this year.
We could go any day during our trip (the tickets are valid for any time they’re open between March-May), but of the days we have left, a combination of different weather websites would seem to suggest today is the day when it’s least likely to rain, so today we go to Keukenhof.

Before leaving the UK, we booked the Keukenhof combi-ticket which is not only your entrance fee, but the buses to/from the place. It requires two buses – one to the airport, and another from the airport to Keukenhof. But we can’t use our combi-ticket on all buses, and sadly not on the much-more-convenient train that goes to the airport.
We made it from our hotel to Leidsplein. It tells you to catch a bus from there. But as we went via tram to Leidsplein, we’re at Leidsplein tram stop now, not Leidsplein bus stop. Where the hell do the buses stop?
After a bit of wandering around, we found a bus stop, and got our bus to the airport. (The taxi waiting area maps show where the taxis are, the tram stops show where the trams stop, but without knowing where the buses go already to find the bus stop, how are you meant to know where they are?).
I’ve said this before, but the airport is enormous. Our bus is due to make about 10 stops at the airport. The next part of the ticket/Keukenhof website instructions say to go to something plaza, and get a bus outside of arrival hall 4. We waited til we saw the plaza, and got off. Where is the OUTSIDE of arrival hall 4? It’s impossible to find, without going back into the airport, following the signs for the arrival halls, then no.4, then coming back out of the nearest exit. There’s no outside signage for this bus, really.
Maybe what the instructions should have said was “pick up the bus round the corner by the bins, in the bit that isn’t really a bus stop”.
Anyway, we found our next bus, and half an hour’s (quite warm and sweaty) journey later (due to no opening windows), we were at Keukenhof.

Keukenhof

It’s very nice. It’s lots and lots and lots of tulips.
There are some other things like daffodils and a reasonable-sized collection of orchids, but the vast majority is tulips.
We’ve come so late in their season that some parts of it were closed. There’s no boat trip to see the tulip fields (because they’re no longer interesting to look at), and some of the plants are dying off.
Despite this, it’s still impressive and so enormous that we got lost and double backed on ourselves several times.
We saw lots of interesting things though. And we’ve got some ideas for improving our garden at home (and not just by filling the entire garden with tulips).
If you exclude the Chinese people (and why would you do that? What have you got against the Chinese?), we dragged down the average age of visitor by quite a lot of years. There was lots and lots of Chinese people of all ages, all taking photos. Much like with the sex museum, a lot more women than men. So Chinese women like penis-shaped ornaments, traveling, and tulips, it seems.

I took quite a lot of photos here, but here’s a handful of them.

20130518-112400.jpg

20130518-112408.jpg

20130518-112417.jpg

20130518-112426.jpg

20130518-112436.jpg

20130518-112445.jpg

20130518-112454.jpg

20130518-112506.jpg

20130518-112527.jpg

20130518-112536.jpg

20130518-112545.jpg

20130518-112556.jpg

20130518-112606.jpg

20130518-112615.jpg

“British”

The “British” themed section was dreadful. Think of a terrible “British” cliche that you would put in something you were trying to make British. Go on. What would you have?
Bowler hats? Yep.
Umbrellas? Of course.
James Bond? Definitely.
Will and Kate? Yep.
Mr Bean? Never mind that he hasn’t been on British tv in probably 20 years, why not.
The Beatles? Really? Seriously though? (Yes they’re in there.)
A red bloody phone box? When was the last time anyone in Britain used a payphone? But yes.

20130518-112722.jpg

20130518-112732.jpg

20130518-112741.jpg

And talk about London-centric. Why don’t you just name the displays after London tube stations or something.

20130518-112844.jpg
Oh.. you have.

They have multiple cafes, and with a British theme, and one of the cafes apparently serving British food, you couldn’t fail to get a nice cup of tea, could you?
I despair. I really do.
The first place had only mint and lemon tea. What the fuck.
Rooibos? Come on. Nobody really drinks that piss.
Where’s the Twinings English Breakfast?
We found one of the cafes selling Ceylon, and while it’s a bit weak, it’s not too bad.
But hot water, teabags and milk all presented at the same time pre-payment. Children’s-style beakers without handles as per usual (does nobody drink hot drinks, yet not want to continually burn themselves, in Holland?).
My girlfriend had the novel idea of taking an extra cup to fill with milk, so our tea had a bit of time to brew. It ended up a bit weak, but other than that, not completely awful.

Possibly worse than the tea, and worse than the British cliches, was the RHS building. There’s several buildings. One has orchids in for example, and one had a lot of lilies. And one was stipulated as being set up by the RHS. I’ve never seen such a disappointingly dull garden-themed thing.
It was all printed cardboard backgrounds, and handy garden “tips”. There was a written piece about all the things people consider typifies a British garden. And that was it. Just words and pictures. Not a single real flower or plant in the building.

20130518-112952.jpg

20130518-113001.jpg
It’s a disgrace, considering the sort of artistic flair and clear expertise had been displayed elsewhere at Keukenhof, and how good RHS gardens usually are.

Dinner

After a lot of flowers, we had two exhaustingly-crammed bus journeys back to the centre of Amsterdam, where we found somewhere for dinner. And after all that walking, who can be bothered to go looking for restaurants?…especially when there’s a branch of Pieminister we’ve already found.
Pie and mash each, and two cups of tea.
Two cups of hot water (with handles), with black tea teabags, and milk in a tiny motorway services milk jug.
I’m home at last.

20130518-113126.jpg
Interestingly the pies are apparently still made in Bristol, using local ingredients (presumably local to Bristol, not local to Amsterdam). I can’t quite figure out how that’s possible. Do they make a load and get someone to ship them in, frozen? Do they fly them in, daily? They tasted great, anyway.
The tea was a tiny bit weak (builders tea just doesn’t seem to exist in Amsterdam), but the best we’ve had in a cafe here so far.

20130518-113206.jpg

They all look the same, those lot

Earlier, I’ve commented how the buildings all look quite similar/aren’t that interesting to look at. I mentioned this today to my girlfriend, who was appalled at this suggestion. Then later on, her usually-incredible sense of direction failed her, when we got lost and she proclaimed “these streets all start to look the same”.
To be fair re buildings, I think maybe I’m just spoilt. If I lived in Swindon, I’d probably think these buildings were quite grand. But big doorways, finicky edging, etc. is easily and readily seen in Bristol. Meh.

Chocolate roulade. #Success

Chocolate roulade. #Success by benparkuk
Chocolate roulade. #Success, a photo by benparkuk on Flickr.

And here’s another picture, that maybe might be better:

It looks like a swiss roll, and tastes like a very light almost-melt-in-the-mouth sponge cake. I didn’t get the cream very even. Probably could have done with a bit more. And I ate some of it with a spoon before it even reached the roulade (sorry). The recipe is one of Mary Berry’s, and is available on the BBC’s website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chocolate_roulade_79152 – if you fancy making one.

It’s quite an expensive dessert to make, especially if, in the case of this one, you use Green and Black’s fairtrade 70% cocoa chocolate, and Yeo Valley organic double cream. Was £6 just for those two ingredients. Still, tastes delicious, and it’s quite big. It’s designed to serve 8.

Second warning: serves 8. And it probably does. It’s surprisingly filling for something made from mostly eggs and air.