Friday, November 2, 2007

Maybe you really can live in Ikea.

Our apartment is really working out well for us. We're so pleased with the location. We've enjoyed being able to shop their markets here and make food for ourselves. And the stairs have been good exercise, they don't even seem that bad any more. I can't imagine getting much other furniture all the way up here though, so I'm no longer surprised everything is from Ikea. It sort of does feel like we're living in one of those Ikea display rooms. But it totally works for us!

Yesterday was a very enjoyable day. We slept in, had crepes for breakfast and by the time we went out for a walk it was going on 1pm. We went over to the Waterlooplein flea market, there was nothing for us there to consider buying but it was kind of a hoot to see. Sort of like Whole Earth and every garage sale in Davis... no make that Woodland or Dixon, rolled into one big market. We wandered around a bit, continuing our attempts to make this city's layout make sense in our brains. We ended up close to the Friteshause mentioned in my guidebook, so I had to go check it out. There was a bit of a line and the narrow street where they are found is very much like the one I Fratellini is on in Florence. Lots of people standing around eating the food, and lots of birds loitering and trying to get in on the action. The birds here are very bold too, they are much more interested in getting their share of the fry someone just dropped than then are in avoiding the humans around them. Our fries were so delicious! These really must be the best in town. CF liked them even more because they were on a narrow street that wasn't too easy to find. CF never likes to eat on a main row.

We had only been out for about two hours but it was our day to rest so we wandered back home. We both had a nap. I checked in on our accounting, we're doing all right, though this is not a cheap trip by any means. We read over restaurant descriptions in the guidebook and decided on one to try for dinner. We called to make a reservation and told them 7:30 or 8pm, "Okay, see you tonight!" "Wait!" CF exclaimed, "Which one are you putting us down for?" "Oh, either works." "Oh... okay." They're so laid back here, I love it. We got there just before 8 and felt a little silly. Most of the tables were empty except for one big party of people near us where a Dutch woman who reminded me of Glen Close was leading a spirited conversation.

It was our first nice meal out in Amsterdam, and we were going to have a good time. We ordered a bottle of prosecco, which never let's us down. I had to have the pumpkin sage tart for a starter, CF had a salmon tartar. His was good, but mine was amazing. So delicious. It was basically just thin slices of pumpkin layered into a flaky crust with a little sage and maybe a little cream of some kind. It was served with these spiced cherries and a little ginger sour scream. It was like pumpkin pie, but savory... and the cherries made it feel so festive it was like Thanksgiving. I shared a little with CF and he was so jealous. I even told the waiter this and he thought it was very amusing. Our main dishes were both very good. CF had some sea bass with this little baked potatoes stuffed with cheese and shrimp. I had a stuffed chicken breast with a sherry cream sauce and a dab of these whipped parsnips that were fantastic. All their food was fantastic, but subtle. The Dutch seem to be experts at understated greatness, we feel the same way about the flavors at Puccini Bomboni. Dessert was their signature dessert that the restaurant is named after, Hemelse Modder, Heavenly Mud. It was the best chocolate mousse ever! We ordered espresso and they brought over the sugar dish with two little cookies (they like doing that with hot drinks here) and some little bean shaped chocolates. I thought they were chocolate covered coffee beans but since they were just chocolate I decided to drop a few in my espresso. Brilliant! What a classy little fantastic restaurant. And guess what? While we having a very enjoyable dining experience the restaurant filled up, and emptied again. We finally got the gezellig down!!!

The night wasn't even over. We were full and getting sleepy again but we had decided to see some nightlife in Amsterdam finally so we walked back over to our side of town and settled into a cozy nook in a "brown cafe" I later read dates back to 1642. The bar man was very nice and everyone in the place seemed to be having a good time. Two guys about our age started talking to us. One of them had been to San Francisco last year and found it very laid back and European. They wondered what we had been doing all week that made us enjoy the city so much. Both of them were rather impressed that we hadn't been on a boat tour of the canals... something that they've seen every tourist do, "especially the Americans!" I told them we had just come from Zurich, and they knew right away that in comparison their city was much more satisfying. They asked where we were headed next and seemed to approve. Except we should have saved the best for last and ended in Amsterdam, of course! We ended up talking about how the Dutch are rather tall, CF fits right in here. He told them he might have some Dutch heritage but not a significant portion. The fellow who had been to San Francisco said, "All Americans know their European make up, right? So, what? You're German (pointed to CF) and you're Italian? (pointed to me)" Well, he was close. We all said how everyone is becoming more and more intertwined, our nationalities will all eventually be Mutt. We had such a good time talking to our new friends. They excused themselves, they had to go to work in the morning of course. CF went and asked the bar man if we could try some Dutch gin. Now, I hate, HATE, gin usually. I have only recently been able to tolerate it in drinks where the flavor doesn't come out. But Dutch gin is something rather different I guess. He had us try a young one and an old one. The young one was more flavorless but had a bit of a kick. The old one had much more complexity, but went down completely smooth. It was after midnight and we were satisfied with our night on the town. We both admitted during the short walk home that we are quite in love with this city. It's more than just charming.

This morning I woke up to CF snoring. I think he's coming down with a cold... which usually leads to me getting a cold. Damn it! So we're going to continue to take it easy and take a lot of vitamin C. There's several more weeks of this adventure still!

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