February 28, 2013

Amsterdam Yummies

The food situation in Amsterdam is a good one, my friends.
When you're not busy stuffing yourself with french fries,
(the hardest part of sight-seeing in Amsterdam is not caving into the temptation of the french fry stand on every corner),
treat yourself to a great meal at any of these restaurants and you won't be sorry. 

Let's start with the traditional cuisine first, shall we?
If you want an authentic Dutch experience, 
I would highly recommend Restaurant Greetje.
We kicked the night off with Greetje's Big Beginning for two,
which is basically a giant presentation of all the appetizers on the restaurant's menu.
A lot of the dishes were different from anything we've ever tried before, 
and the thin sliced pastrami of "Beemster" lamb with duck liver curls were unbelievably tasty.
For the main course, Erik opted for the tri-tip while I indulged in a veal cheek... 
The most tender piece of meat I've ever had in my mouth. 
The cheek that is. Pervs. 
Definitely worth a visit!
Insalata con agnello al rosmarino e carciofi - salad with lamb, rosemary and artichokes
Pizza al carpaccio - with tomatoes, rocket salad, mozzarella cheese and thinly sliced fillet of beef
Fettuccine nere con capesanti, coda di gamberi e scalogno - black fettuccine with scallops, shrimps and small onions
After lots of walking on a blustery day, there's really nothing better than some comfort food. 
One of my girlfriends who recently visited Amsterdam highly recommended Casa di David,
for their quatro formaggi pizza and an outstanding wine list. 
Everything was so delicious! Just what we needed to warm our bellies and carb-load for another half-day of walking. 
On our last day in the Netherlands, we wanted to treat ourselves to a fancy farewell. 
I have read amazing reviews about Restaurant De Kas, but I'll be honest, I wasn't ready for what this green house had to offer. 
After our cab dropped us off on Middenweg, we followed a footbridge through a park until we saw the glass structure of the restaurant. 
I got so excited the second I smelt the organic essence from the garden before it was even in sight. 
Situated in Frankendael Park, between the Rembrandt Tower and the nineteenth century facades of Water­graafs­meer, 
De Kas is an oasis of calm for the fifty-thousand guests who dine there each year; 
either in the breathtaking dining room designed by Piet Boon, 
or - if weather permits - outside in the herb garden.
The menu is created daily, based on the harvest of their own nursery. 
The cooking style is inspired by the Mediterranean, the presentation was simple yet stylish, and the flavors light and exciting. 
The concept, the design, the food... everything was absolutely exquisite. 
I still dream about this place, and will definitely be back one day. 


February 26, 2013

Underground Art Walk

Hi everyone! 
Sorry I've gone MIA again.. 
had to step away from the blog for a while, to visit a little island by the name of Honolulu. 
The tropical getaway was just what I needed,
and now I'm back in full swing and ready to party!

Want to join?

I'll be heading downtown in a few days for another "Thirsty Thursday" session. 
This week, my girlfriend and I are planning to hit up Vin De Syrah,
one of my favorite spots in the Gaslamp,
to check out the Underground Art Walk event. 

I've been on the lookout for a perfect art piece for our living room for quite some time,
so when Lauren Turton, one of the featured artists, contacted me about coming to the event, I couldn't say no.
The show will start at 7 p.m. and will feature art from Lauren (check out some of her images below), and other great artists, 
as well as live music by Maria De La Paz. 
Sounds like it's going to be an amazing night. 
Hope to see you there!


February 18, 2013

I Amsterdam

Hey remember when I went to Europe last year?
Yeah.. I still haven't finished telling you all about it. 

We spent three fun-filled days in Amsterdam,
doing... a lot of things that are probably not appropriate to mention on this blog. 
Certain things I can recommend though:

1. Rent a bike and pedal your way through this gorgeous city. 
It may be a little intimidating at first, 
simply because of the overwhelming amount of bicycles every where you look. 
That, coupled with cars, trolleys and pedestrians,
makes for a pretty tricky ride,
but I promise you'll soon get the hang of it and even find it quite enjoyable. 
We started out with a bike tour to get into the groove, and it was a perfect intro to the culture. 
2. Pay a visit to the Anne Frank museum
Granted, you may walk out a few hours later in a pretty somber mood,
but the experience is a must and will leave you humbled and more appreciative of life. 
3. Grab a street-side table at one of the numerous cafes around Dam Square,
and just people watch for a few hours. 
It's pretty entertaining. 
Or, join the rest of the crowd and get lost in one of the many tiny side streets of city center.
You're guaranteed to stumble across something interesting.
4. Get out at night and wander through the Red Light District. 
No, you won't be considered a perv. 
This is such a big part of the culture that you'll regret not seeing it with your own eyes. 
Hop into one of the many bars, take an unknown shot, and chat with random strangers about just how gorgeous some of those window girls are. 
5. Grab a seat along one of the canals and take in a stunning sunset. 

Amsterdam is honestly one of the prettiest cities we've ever had a chance to visit. 
I can't wait to go back!


February 12, 2013

Spread the love San Diego

For Your Valentine

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. 
Do you have plans? 
If you're attached, you probably fall within two categories:
A. You're in the honeymoon phase of your relationship, and you, along with your significant other, have an amazing evening planned down to a tee (flowers, dinnner, dancing..). 
Let's be honest, ain't nobody got time for that. 
B. You completely forgot about this convenient holiday, again, and are now scrambling to put something together last minute. 

Alright, it's not always black or white.
The husband and I, for example, fall somewhere in between the two categories... 
dinner reservations made, and that's about it. 
"Let's just go with the flow" is our motto. 

But if all signs point towards the second category for you,
don't fret! 
San Diego has PLENTY of last minute options to help you sweep your luvah off his/her feet. 
Below are just a few options for a guaranteed romantic gesture on any budget:

1. Dinner at Acqua al 2 -  This restaurant, located in downtown San Diego, will be having a special Valentine’s Day menu. 
Enjoy a sampler of five items from the first course list, soup, and salad, a choice of a main entrée, and a dessert selection for $60.00 per person.

2. Cups La Jolla personalized sweetheart cookies - Cups, located in downtown La Jolla, now has “sweethearts”-inspired organic cookies for Valentine’s Day. 
These yummy treats are available in traditional organic or gluten free options. 
Get creative and write your own message on each cookie! 
$1.50 for the small and $2.50 for the big one.  

3. Sammy's Woodfired Pizza & Grill Take Home Pizza Kits - The restaurant will be selling their popular take home Valentine’s Day Pizza Kits beginning February 4th through 14th. 
 These kits provide an easy, fun, and enjoyable way to celebrate Valentine’s season. 
Partial proceeds from all pizza kit sales to benefit the American Heart Association. 
 Sammy’s will also be hosting a photo contest on Instagram. 
Customers are invited to upload their best heart-shaped pizza photo with the hashtag #iheartsammys and be entered to win dinner for two at any Sammy’s location. 
 Valentine’s Day Pizza kits start at only $6.50 each!

4. Dinner at TOAST Enoteca & Cucina - This East Village restaurant will be having a special Valentine’s Day menu. 
Enjoy a sampler of five items from the first course list, soup, and salad, a choice of a main entrée, and a dessert selection for $45.00 per person. 

For My Single Ladies
Single this year? 
Chins up! 
There is an awesome event going on this Thursday at the Andaz Hotel,
which involves cocktails, bachelors, and dancing. 
Anyone in attendance will have an opportunity to bid on the bachelor of their choice,
and the best part is that you don't even have to feel guilty about spending money,
because 100% of the auction proceeds will be donated to the American Heart Association 

If you're having any doubts about attending,
check out some of the eye-candy you could potentially win a date with:
Mmmm kinda makes me wish I was single. 
Just kidding, hah!
Interested? Click here to check out the rest of the bachelors and find more info about the event. 

So. What are your plans for Valentine's Day this year?


February 10, 2013


There's a new place in town, and I'm absolutely smitten! 
Bailiwick is the definition of charming and is the perfect place for your next cocktail party. 
The location couldn't get better - nestled smack in the center of 5th Avenue,
the space is actually larger than it seems from the outside. 
Follow the soft glow inside, where you can get cozy in a shabby-chic booth, 
or better yet,
grab a seat at the bar and witness as the mixology masters whip up drink after drink, each one more original than the next. 

Let me tell you, I put those bartenders to the test - 
after trying out a few selections from the menu (Moscow Mule, Fritz Fernal and the Nolet's Nectar were all delish),
we decided to take it to the next level, and try something off the menu. 
"I usually drink dirty martinis, but why don't you surprise me?", was my request,
and thank goodness, they didn't disappoint!
We were brought out drink after drink, filled with tongue titillating ingredients (white fennel bitters stands out the most), 
and if it wasn't for the amazing appetizers we were treated to throughout the night, 
I'm not quite sure how we would have made it home that evening. 

Speaking of the food... there are currently only four items on the nightly menu,
however I cannot wait for the selection to grow! 
The two options that we got to indulge in, 
the cheese + meat board and the grilled oysters,
were executed to perfection. 
A giant thank you to the chef, who came out to check on us and describe the menu more than once. 
Such a great experience, and I cannot wait to come back!
Meat + Cheese
Grilled Oysters - thyme sake & jalapeno brown butter + prosciutto chips
And guess what?
It only gets better. 
Bailiwick now officially serves brunch with, 
wait for it,
$15 bottomless mimosas! 
I know, you just died and went to heaven. 
And there's more.. 
you heard it here first - 
the establishment is toying with the idea of offering up a fresh oyster bar in the very near future. 
Sign me up!


February 8, 2013

New York Food Porn

I have to prepare you,
because this post may be overwhelming, 
and will very likely leave you hungry..
but I just have to share my dining experiences from last weekend in New York with you.
So, without further delay...
I should really know better than to make dinner reservations for the night we're due to fly in. 
It didn't work out in San Francisco, and unfortunately, we got delayed during our flight into NY too. 
Our original plan was to nosh on a pre-fixe menu at Mr. Chow,
which I still want to check out some day,
but I can't exactly complain about our back-up option either. 
Blue Ribbon is one of those low-key spots that most natives prefer to keep to themselves. 
Lucky for us, we have some intel,
so when we needed a last minute, late night reservation, this restaurant jumped to the top of our list. 

We waltzed in right after midnight,
and although we were sat immediately, I can't say that the place was empty.
In fact, the restaurant filled up to capacity pretty soon after we got there,
and by the time we were leaving (around 2 a.m.) there was actually a line out the door!
Which pretty much means one thing - the food here must be great,
a theory we proved to be true. 

The standout of the evening was definitely the bone marrow
Seriously the best I've ever had.
The mixture of the fattiness with the oxtail marmalade makes me drool just thinking about it. 
The oysters is just an appetizer that I can never resist.. 
anytime it's on the menu, it's guaranteed to end up in my belly. 
The fried chicken was a crowd favorite too! 
Perfectly crisp, served with a side of honey... aw comfort food heaven! 
I think it's no secret that it gets pretty darn cold on the east coast in February. 
I love popping in and out of coffee shops when the bone chilling winds become unbearable,
and it's always a nice bonus when the cafe is as handsome as La Colombe.
We cozied into one of the warm booths and took in the comforting atmosphere, cappuccinos in hand,
before heading back out into the concrete jungle. 
Lightly Cured Arctic Char
Bamboo Rice Risotto
Crispy Braised Duck
The Marrow is one of the new kids on the block,
but in the short time that it has been opened, the restaurant has already managed to gather up some outstanding reviews. 
This is Harold Dieterle's third restaurant in NYC (first two are Perilla and Kin Shop),
and if his name sounds familiar, 
well it's probably because you watched him win the first season of Top Chef

The cuisine here plays up the flavors from Dieterle's German heritage, along with some Italian influence to keep it interesting. 
We started the evening off with some dirty martinis, because, well, you can never go wrong with those, right?
Once seated, the girls and I decided to try a few different options,
starting with the Lightly Sauerbratened Lamb Ribs with caraway yoghurt,
which are not pictured above simply because they were inhaled too quickly. 
Next up we sprang for the Lightly Cured Arctic Char, which may have been a little too fishy for my liking, 
but it doesn't matter because the Crispy Braised Duck and the Bamboo Rice Risotto more than made up for the taste. 
I must tell you that it was pretty hard to get a reservation at this place already,
and I have a feeling that it's only going to get busier as more people find out about it. 
The next morning we were in desperate need to fill our bellies since the night before lasted into the wee hours of the early morning. 
Russ & Daughters was a perfect choice. 
This classic institution has been run by four generations of the Russ family since 1914,
and it really doesn't get any more "New York" than salmon lox bagel sandwiches!
I really love how well it has been preserved over the years.. 
the tastes, traditions and the old-world class of this landmark is spectacular. 
Foie Gras Brulé, Dried Sour Cherries, Candied Pistachios and White Port Gelee
Crab Dumplings
Madai Sashimi, Warm Black Truffle Crostini
Black Sea Bass, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Spiced Apple Jus
Poached Turbot, Steamed Mussels, Puree
Roasted Loin of Lamb, Crunchy Polenta, Red Wine-Smoked Chili Glaze
Crispy Confit of Suckling Pig, Rutabaga “Pudding” and Smoked Marmalade
Sweetbread with Glazed Chestnut and Black Truffle Vinaigrette
And this brings us to the grand finale.
On our last night in the city, the girls and I wanted to treat ourselves to something extra special.
After much deliberation, we settled on Jean-Georges,
an iconic Manhattan restaurant located on the first floor of the Trump Hotel Central Park
After three decadent courses and dessert, we could barely even hail a cab,
but the experience was truly unforgettable and left us satiated and then some.
The crowd favorites had to be the Foie Gras Brule, the Butternut Squash Soup and the Crispy Confit of Suckling Pig
Simply divine and a helluva way to end a vacation. 

If you're planning a trip to New York any time soon,
I would highly recommend any of the places mentioned above, along with a few from my last trip there.