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:

Summer may be over, but the fun continues

Once again it has been a long time since I’ve written. But I can promise it’s been a crazy if fun (and of course travel filled) six weeks.

On the practical front my visa renewal is all but finished. I have my temporary papers but need to collect and drop off two final school related items to claim the official document. Which means, I officially get to stay in France for another year.

I also took my first trip to Burgundy and stayed with the absolutely lovely L. family. I got to experience Beaune in all its glory. Great Pinot Noir. Amazing Chardonnays. Intriguing Aligotes. (and yes, I am actually raving about white wines) In fact, I added to my steadily growing collection. I got to explore some of the area’s history, the Hospice and Clos de Vougeot. And the wine nerd in me got to see the famous Domaine de Romanee Conti. Now I just need to get a chance to taste the wine…. I’ll have to work on that. Click here for some of the amazing array of photos.

Then I went home for three weeks and almost completely checked out (even though I did bring my computer home). I got to see old friends, celebrate birthdays with family and take a vacation. Stops included Disneyland (yes I’m still enough of a kid to love it), Vegas (yes I’m enough of an adult to take advantage) and Mammoth (got nothing on this one). Sorry no high-quality pictures on this one, but click here for a few iPhone snaps.

And on the way back to France, I made a pit stop in Amsterdam with my dad. And a whirlwind 48 hours it was. A Canal Tour, Heineken Brewery Experience, Van Gogh Museum, the Flower Market, Museum of the Canals, Houseboat Museum, Tulip Museum, Cheese Museum, the House of Bols and Genever, the Windmill Brewery (Brozerit’j IJ) and of course the obligatory tour through the Red Light District. It was a very busy trip and of course this time there were photos.

I would say I don’t have another trip planned but I’m afraid that just isn’t the case. I’ll be back in Spain, visiting the Rioja region with school, in October. And it looks like I’ll be headed back to Burgundy for the Hospice de Beaune Vente de Vin in November. In the mean time, I’ll go back to work and start preparing for the new school year. I’ll confess to feeling very nervous about what this year will bring, but I can say with 100% certainty that I know I’ll be enjoying that wine collection I built up over the summer. In fact, I doubt it will last until Christmas. 😉 But I promise to start posting more wine reviews and updates.

So for now –à la prochaine !