Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And I'm back!!

These crazy Europeans and their crazy amount of holiday...well, when in Rome! I'm taking full advantage of all the time off. 5 weeks + national holidays + living IN Europe = taking advantage of living on this side of the earth and going travelling.

This last weekend, just after arriving home from Istanbul, I was on an early flight to Amsterdam. Upon landing at Schiphol, I fell in love with the city. The moment happened when i stepped into the mall that is just outside the airport. This mall had everything, including fully stocked grocery stores. I loved it. Then I spent the morning wandering around the city and its numerous canals before lunching with an old friend who I haven't seen in ages. We lunched on a light salad and a tomato soup atop a second story balcony overlooking one of the canals. It was warm, the sun was shining, the food was good and I was in heaven. The city had so much charm and such a strong sense of pride in itself. I love cities with personality.

After lunch, I met up with my best friend, LA Eva and her husband Hot Toddie. The two of them had already started to explore the city so they were awesome tour guides. We took a canal boat tour where our boat "driver?" hit a small, private boat with our big tour one. There was a commotion and a little bit of drama as they sorted through their various insurance policies. Since boat crashes make people hungry, LAE and HT and I walked into the Jordaan area and sampled some local delicacies - french fries, croquettes and beer. The fried food was like a refreshing drink of water after walking through a desert and I'm not even being dramatic. True story. The fries were crisp and salty (thanks to LA Eva - I always let her salt the fries) and the croquettes were crisp and golden brown on the outside. The filling was a mashed potato with diced ham and let me ask you, with diced ham and potatoes deep fried into a ball how can you go wrong? I'll tell you the answer: you can't. Croquettes are an Amsterdam favorite. So much so that they are sold out of vending machines.

The last meal on my culinary tour of Amsterdam was a sandwich the locals call "toasts." It's really a grilled cheese made with 2 slices of toast, local cheese and ham, tomatoes, or pineapple. I stuck with a traditional and had the tomat and kaas (tomato and cheese). The perfect accompaniment was of course - fries and beer.

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