Off to Neverland

While I have a whole list of articles that I’ve been working on and trying to get online, I decided to post this one in honor of my upcoming trip back to Amsterdam. While I don’t think I’ll be able to repeat this particular adventure I am looking forward to heading back to what is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cities.

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IMG_2379Despite the stress of a thesis and exam, I recently found time to hop over to Amsterdam for an unexpected weekend with my parents. Given my high levels of stress and the fact that my mom’s birthday was about 10 days away, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out.  So after a little careful research we booked a table at Lastage, an intimate 30-seat Michelin starred restaurant on the edge of the infamous Red Light District specializing in Dutch cuisine and classic French technique. It was the best decision we made the entire weekend.

IMG_2381The flexible menu is all about choices and courses, ranging from 3-courses to the 8-course tasting menu. Everything sounded fabulous and we couldn’t decide: the 8 course tasting menu or selecting specific items from the six-course option. There were specific things on the six course menu that stood out:  the soup of fresh peas, terrine of sweetbreads and quail, dark chocolate and blueberry dessert. Of course all of this is complicated on my end by my fish allergy. But in the end, after being assured that our three call outs could be included and that accommodations could be made for me, we decided on the tasting menu. Which of course also included three petites amusés bouches. It sounds like a ton of food but the courses were purposefully small and it was a leisurely meal (about four hours to be exact).

IMG_2382The next big decision we faced was the wine. With the tasting menu we weren’t preview to what would be showing up on our plates and to be perfectly honest I was nerding out over the wine list. Carefully crafted by Sommelier and owner Elise Moeskops, the unique list includes everything from sparkling Hungarian Furmint to Petit Verdot Rosado from Spain in addition to classics such as Bordeaux and Barolo. There were so many fun options to choose from, so much diversity, I couldn’t decide. So we asked the obvious question: is there a wine pairing flight to accompany the tasting menu? And the answer: of course! So off to pairing Neverland we went.

IMG_2383In all seriousness, this was one of the best food and wine pairing flights I have ever experienced. New glasses with each course.  Full pours, none of this wimpy half pour nonsense. Bold and unusual choices: like the above mentioned Petit Verdot Rosado or Merlot Dulce. Different wines for me when the menu deviated due to fish. Good background information about each of the wines and what made them unique: different clone of Trebbiano, unique vinification methods and the winemaker’s “favorite, but not really” vineyard. At the end of the evening we had tried twelve different wines (photos of 11 below) and I would recommend all of them.

Now I have a few key tasks ahead of me. One: Plot my return for another amazing meal. And two: find the Nebbiolo rose we talked about but didn’t get to try.

And now the rest of the photos:

Txakoli: An Adventure in Basque Country

May is a fun month in France. The weather has already started to turn and there are four federal holidays, which thanks to the way the calendar fell this year meant four long weekends.  And of course, being me, I tried to take advantage of all of them. There was the Saint Emilion Portes Ouvertes, a trip to London for the London Wine Fair and a girl’s weekend in San Sebastian. And of course being me – I couldn’t let the last one go without some kind of wine related adventure.

11258038_10152737085342657_1430919325007564612_nPerched only 12 miles from the French border, the charming seaside town of San Sebastian, called Donostia in the Basque language,lies in the heart of Spanish Basque country and is one of Spain’s foremost tourist destinations. Given the city culture is rich with history and amazing food (the city boasts more Michelin stars per capita than any other in the world), it is no big surprise. The city also boasts a stunning beach and warm weather perfect for enjoying it. In addition to the abundance of gourmet restaurants, the Old Town city center is home to over 300 pinxtos and tapas bars. And of course spending time in the sun and eating all that great food makes you thirsty: enter Txakoli (pronounced CHOCK-oh-lee). Continue reading

Life is a Cabaret

Paris. The acknowledged home of the cabaret. Home of the world famous Moulin Rouge. I’ve always wanted to see a traditional Parisian cabaret and in April I finally got the chance at Paradis Latin.640px-Paradis_Latin_2012
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