Monday, June 1, 2015

back in the saddle

so back to the trip - on the morning we left Brussels we had breakfast at the hotel and headed to the train station for our train to Amsterdam.  we had previously booked the ticket so we didn't have to worry about the lines for tickets.

so we settled in and Phil read the mews on his phone while I watched the scenery go by... lots of canals and water and an occasional storybook-like windmill.  We arrived with no drama at all and took a taxi to the hotel from the train station. I had first stayed at the Hotel Ambassade in 1996 and Phil and I had stayed there together in 2002.  It is lovely and conveniently located to all the things in "Centrum".  It is a few blocks to two major tram stops with more than 7 tram lines represented at those stops.  We bought unlimited ride tram tickets which made the process both easier and cheaper over the eight days we would be here.

the two passes covered our planned timing - 96 hours is the longest pass available for those not buying monthly. A single ride is roughly 3 Euros so the savings add up after just two rides a day. This also gave us an opportunity to go to places where the walk may have been too long (like a couple of dinners we scheduled) and yet was fine to do as a combination walk and tram ride.  Oh and by the way the google maps worked very well with the combination walking with various tram options so we always knew how to get wherever we were going.

On our first evening in AMS we booked an earlier dinner at Brasserie Hoof dStad - only about ten minutes walk from the Ambassade. We started with a lovely charcuterie platter and went on to mains of lamb for Phil and beef for me.

we got back to the hotel after a nice walk along the canals and settled in for the first of our eight nights there.  The hotel has a lovely breakfast buffet with eggs or pancakes made to order, so we gave a try to a number of options over the course of our stay.  Here is the luscious pancake (more crepe like than pancake like - which made it even better!)

all I can say is I wish that one of these pancakes was waiting for me at the table right now! Alas I am back in the realm of waiting on myself rather than having it all put in front of me... ;-( 

we made our plans for the week after consulting many sources and also a close study of the weather. As we did in Belgium for our day our doors in Bruges - we planned the warmest driest day for our trip to The Hague. We had arrived on Wednesday so Friday was our planned excursion day.  Meanwhile we had also purchased Museum Passes which included all the museums we wished to visit in Amsterdam and The Hague, so we were ready for all our plans.

We did some restaurant booking the very first afternoon because we knew that many places were closed Sunday and Monday and others difficult to get into period- so our very first foray on our full day - day one - was to a highly rated prix fixe lunch at Bord'Eau.  The meal was exquisite and we met the sommelier Jasper  who helped us arrange a dinner there the following week. (We had tried to book online for several nights and found no openings - small place and very popular) 

we started with a number of amuse bouches - first an incredibly rich geleed consume of chicken-

a crab salad with avocado - yum yum  - with a crispy crab beignet on the top with a drop of creme fraiche!

an oyster with champagne "roe" and a champagne sauce-  another excellent taste!

the first course - lobster with caviar and "bone marrow" course (the bone was made of potato)

fabulous bread and a choice of olive oil or terrific butter-

the wine we chose had incredible legs and made quite the picture!

a wonderful spring salad course -

broken open it has pearls of couscous as well as fresh greens and spring peas - excellent flavor combinations...

the main for our lunch was a wonderful chicken based dish made in the style of a  terrine but served warm and full of flavor

then a cheese course that we shared - with many many many cheeses to choose from - origins all over the world...

dessert was meringue and strawberry based with a frozen pana cotta and sorbet thrown in to make sure there were all sorts of textures and flavors and temperatures!

such an excellent start to our time in Amsterdam but now it was already well past four o'clock LOL so we didn't get to any museums this afternoon - oh well - we're on vacation!  

our dinner that evening would never compare to such a lunch - and we had deliberately made it a later hour.  however we were surprised to have the absolute worst meal of the trip that evening - with spectacularly bad service to boot... I only mention it so you are sure to stay away- the place was so so so overrated that we informed the front desk they should take it off the list of their recommended places- 

the very old restaurant (1627)  is housed in a number of old buildings put together and has lovely charming dining rooms.

a nice mause of mango cream and black olives -

this veal in creamy sauce turned out to be basically chipped beef - except the pastry wasn't "on toast" a huge gloppy mess!

Phil's mushroom soup was pretty much cream of (with out the mushroom part)

he had a steak and frites which was decent according to his review-

my risotto tasted like Uncle Ben's not at all like arborio rice and although it was supposed to be mushroom - also was missing the essence of mushrooms so badly needed to make mushroom risotto (LOL)

the good news is- now you know to stay away from the "five flies" and to choose Bord'eau for your dining experience when in Amsterdam! 

so tomorrow's day will be off to The Hague and a couple of good surprises along the way - so stay tuned!

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