Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

Zine Magazine September 2016

It's Out | Zine Magazine | September Issue 2016
Click the squares below to see the contents of the September 2016 issue of Zine Magazine 

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Chairmans Corner

Bonfire Night
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Hello Everyone,Welcome to our sizzling September edition of the Zine.  Now the heat is slowly subsiding we can look forward to our exetensive programme of Autumn and Winter events.We recently held our AGM on 1st September which is a bit earlier than normal.  There are few changes to the society to which were agreed at the meeting.  I would like to thank our outgoing Treasurer, William Tweddle thanks for his many years of service and would like to welcome on board Rupert Apthorp as our new treasurer.There are a a number of other things we have agreed in the meeting such as our commitment to free membership for the coming year.  We have also created some new committee positions.Since the relationship with English speaking schools is very important to us, we have created school liasion positions on our committee so they can have their say in what would interest their families and staff for social events and get togethers. It is a pleasure to welcome Paul Morgan the new Principal of the British School of Amsterdam on our committee and we hope to feature an interview him soon.  We are still looking for liasions for the other English Langauge schools in Amsterdam and surroundings.  If you are representative of the school be it teacher or parent and would like to join our board and give the British Society some direction then we would be happy to welcome you.  We meet around 4 times per year to discuss the Society.We have also created the position of Events Coordinator.  This is a new position and at the moment remains unfilled.  If you are a dynamic person with some free time on your hands and would like to organise social events with the financial backing of our organisation then this is the job for you.  Please feel free to contact me at chair@britsoc.nl.Our Autumn/Winter season is the busiest we have.  Please keep your eyes peeled for the following:Expactica Fair - 2nd October, Beurs van BerlageWe need a bit of help on the stand so if you dont mind standing around for a couple of hours I can promise a couple of free drinks are in it for you.  Please contact me a chair@britsoc.nlExpatica AdBooming Business 3 - 12th October, Boom Chicago (TBC)Bonfire Night 2016 - 6th November_BON8796Glitz & Glamour Charity Ball - 10th DecemberBRT_5136The las 2 events are our to premier events and sell out extremely quickly please do not be dissapointed.  Tickets go on sale very shortly.For our smaller events please see our Meetup site:We have our sports clubs, comedy nights, curry nights and many other events which we get exclusive discounts and special offers for our members.https://www.meetup.com/Amsterdam-Expat-Meetup/Nick Nugentchair@britsoc.nl
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Bonfire Night 2016

Bonfire Night
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Our premier family event returns again this year on Sunday 6th November to the Watersports centrum Sloterpas.  This year promises to be more spectacular than ever!  We have engaged a new firework provider who is promising our most spectacular display yet.  Attached to the page is a movie of some of their previous displays.  You can see some of their recent work below.All the usual stuff will be available mulled wine, burgers and hot dogs.The Guy competition will be bigger this year with prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.Tickets will go on sale shortly in the Britsoc shop.  Last year we sold out in about 1 week.  Please don’t be dissappointed and get your tickets as soon as you can.  We have a strict limitation on tickets with our license so in the good dutch term OP=OP._BON8798_BON9010_BON8744_BON8701Address:Watersportcentrum SloterplasChristoffel Plantijngracht 4, 1065 DA AmsterdamTram 1 and 17, Bike and Car parking available.Time:Gates open 4pm Event finishes 8pmFireworks: as soon as it is dark enoughAdult tickets:  15 eurosUnder 14: Free
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Britsoc Photo Lesson #16 – Engagement shoots can be fun!

Amsterdam
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BritPhotShot of the Month
Amsterdam is infinitely photogenic. That’s why it makes the perfect backdrop for an engagement shoot! Just this past summer I was lucky enough to be asked to cover the surprise proposal by Jeremy of his high school sweetheart Rebecca. That happened at a place we picked out; the corner of Reguliersgracht and Prinsengracht.britphotshot-photo-spetember-20161Once the proposal had been safely navigated, ring on the finger of the blushing bride-to-be, we then set off on a walkabout of some of the city’s finest sights. Leidsegracht is always a great canal to pick because it has this wonderful bridge and a lot of photogenic boats passing underneath. The result on this blessed July Sunday - one of the few genuinely nice days this summer - was this incredibly striking image.It just goes to show that engagement shoots don’t have to be stuffy and studio bound. They can be fun and full of all the joy that the couple anticipate experiencing on their wedding day.Technical details; Nikon D810 with mounted AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm (2.8) f/10 @ 1/400thBenjamin Arthur – the British Photographer in Amsterdam.More information @ www.benjaminarthur.comEmail is benjaminarthur@gmail.com.Phone # is 06 83 94 35 52
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Restaurant Review - Meneer de wit Heeft Honger

Amsterdam
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 Meneer de wit Heeft Honger ****Witte de Withstraat 10, 1057 XV Amsterdam Tel: +31 20 737 3184http://meneerdewitheefthonger.nl/Online reservation possibleI live in the West of Amsterdam on the border of De Baarsjes and Bos & Lommer. Although Bos & Lommer has some wonderful ethnic cuisine, in general we head into the Baarsjes for our local restaurant fix. There is normally a new place opening in our area every month and so we do not suffer from a lack of choice. We recently visited Huis van Lopez which was aiming for a Mexican style. However everything just tasted of lime juice and pretty much nothing else. This review is about a restaurant I do like.It is now extremely rare that a restaurant makes it to my go-to list which currently consists of 42 places. This one does.This is a very unassuming restaurant just off Kinkerstraat on the line of the 17 and 7 tram. I had walked past it before and I thought it smelled great. The owner/chef is a Moroccan guy and the menu is Arabic/Mediterranean inspired. It is a simple place with white walls, basic wooden furniture open kitchen and room for about 50 covers.I had looked on2016-07-21-20-05-42line at the menu beforehand so I was pretty sure what I wanted. Unfortunately the grilled sardines where finished when we arrived and so we chose 3 starters and oven baked dorade to share. The starters we chose were Arabic staples - hummus, baked spicy aubergine and a maybe not so Arabic staple, mixed beet platter. The first 2 were my choice and I thought they sang with flavour. Beets I don’t particularly care for, but they were nice enough. These were served with some slices of regular baguette-style bread. I could have just stopped there as it was filling enough and very tasty.  The dorade came out on a silver platter with wedges of lemon and covered in spices. The top of it was crispy roasted skin and underneath was slightly stewed. It was cooked to perfection. We shared a bit of the top and bottom with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. We had nothing to accompany it, but if you would like something, then a simple green salad would be all you would need.The service was effective and unobtrusive. Simple. We had a bottle of white wine, no idea what it was, but it was good enough. The bill was well under 100 euros for 2 people.It is simple, tasty, good value. You don’t need to know much more than this. Just go - you will be happy you have been there.
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Advance Notice - Giltz and Glam Charity Ball December 10th

Amsterdam
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On the 10th December this year the most glamorous and glittering event of the Netherlands Christmas social calendar will be once again held in the St Olaf Chapel in The NH Barbizon Hotel opposite Central station.This year's theme will be Glitz and Glam and tickets will go on sale shortly. Chris Naylor, Head Chef at Restaurant Vermeer in the NH Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam, will be sprinkling his Michelin star magic over the three course menu he has developed for the charity ball.At the welcome reception you will be able to get a glimpse of the terrific prizes\for the Charity raffle and Silent auction. The fabulous meal will be accompanied by wine and an evening of entertainment to dance the night away. A late night breakfast will also be served to those who are still going strong after midnight.We will be open for ticket sales later in September but you may have to be quick as last year we were sold out in 3 weeks!GENEROUS SPONSORS NEEDED!We are hoping to find generous sponsors this year who can provide a prize for our raffle or silent auction which we can turn into cash for our chosen charity which this year is the Food Bank in Amsterdam. They provide basic nutrition for around 1,500 families in Amsterdam who cannot afford to feed their families.It also provides you or your business with a great opportunity to advertise to the British and Expat community in and around Amsterdam. The offer of a generous prize means we will splash you all over our website and facebook feeds plus you will be featured in a special spread in our monthly Zine magazine.  This means you reach around 3,000 Britons and Expats.We are asking for your help to make this excellent event a fantastic success.  All offers of help from any organisation through sponsorship and other ideas for the ball's Charity Raffle or Silent Auction are very welcome…please email us ...chair@britsoc.nl or ball@britsoc.nlMany thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at the Glitz and Glam Charity Ball on the 10th December at the NH Barbizon Hotel.
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Beth’s Blog, September and late Summer 2016

Beth's Books
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The selection of books this summer has been terrific.  Unfortunately some of them are still in hardback or large paperbacks.  But do consider your local bookshop before you order the e-book version!!My absolute favourite is Emma Cline’s The Girls, probably the best debut I have read in years.  The author is 27 and her prose is amazing.  Don’t be put off by the story line which is a new, fictionalized take on the Charles Manson murders in California in 1969.  Cline explores the human element of the various members of the Manson family, but rather than concentrating on the charisma of Charles, she examines the attraction young girls have for each other as they seek their peer group.  Beautifully recounted, the book was an extra shock for me as I felt teleported back to my childhood in California – I could feel the sun, smell the L’Air du Temps perfume from my youth and revel in the freedom of those long, slow summers.Just out is Annie Proulx’s long awaited new novel Barkskins, an epos spanning three centuries and covering two young Frenchmen who seek their fortune in 17th century New France.  The stories of the two men who begin as barkskins or woodcutters are intertwined with the history or Canada and the early United States.  Proulx draws a brutal picture of wilderness life, of the effects of the devastation of the vast forests of the new continent on the native Americans and on the ecology of the country.  Billed as her greatest work, the author regales us with wild adventures anchored both in history and imagination.Eowyn Ivey’s second book has been published and this is also a wilderness tale mixed with the magic realism of the Pacific Northwest.   Located in Alaska, where Ivey’s acclaimed debut The Snow Child took place, To the Bright Edge of the World recounts the 1885 mission of Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester to navigate the Wolverine River in a move to open up the newly acquired territory of Alaska. Forrester’s adventurous young wife, Sophie, is left behind at the military barracks to carve out her own destiny during her husband’s year long absence. Written as letters and journal entries, this is one of the most moving accounts of life’s challenges I have every read.  Ivey is well on her way to matching Proulx’s reputation as a genius of literature.After postponing my reading of what some booksellers and critics call the best book of 2015, I finally picked up Hanya Yanagihara’s tome, A Little Life, and found myself drawn into its pages and hoping it would never end. Four friends who meet each other during university in New York City maintain a special friendship well into middle age. While its premise is tragic, this book is a moving testament to Yanigihara’s skill in detailing the lives, emotions and the tenderness of the bonds of this group of young men. Truly worth your time this summer – and I promise you, it will kidnap your heart.Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, was a National Book Award finalist in 2015 and Obama phoned the author to tell her this was his favorite book. Reviews by the public are mixed depending on how much energy you are willing to put into a complex read.  It is a brilliantly written and structured tale of a marriage, its joys, its secrets, and what a couple really shares with each other.  The first half of the book shows the reader how the couple interacts – from the husband’s point of view; the second part reveals in brilliant twists just how complicated and remarkable the 24 year long marriage really is. Groff has been awarded many prizes over the years for the rich prose and creativity of her three novels.For some real nitty gritty thinking about new strategies for approaching city planning and design, I can highly recommend the two books below, both written by Dutch authors who are working on the world scale.A customer and old friend, Fred Bakker has just published The Smartest Places on Earth:Why Rustbelts are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation. (Dutch title: Hier wordt de toekomst gebouwd). Authored by Bakker, the former editor of Het Financieele Dagblad and Antoine Van Agtmael, who during his tenure at the World Bank in the 1980s coined the term “emerging markets,” the book argues that depleted industrial centres in the US and Europe  are regenerating as “brainbelts” which will be capable of identifying strategies for addressing some of the world’s new issues. The book describes a recipe for turn-around – a sort of 266 page inspirational Ted talk for those pondering the future of cities. The bookstore would love to organize a reading or workshop on this topic if there is interest.I had the privilege of participating in a stimulating book discussion at Springhouse, home for Radical Innovators on the Ruijterkade in Amsterdam.  Kees Dorst, Professor of Design Innovation at the University of Technology, Sydney, was visiting and discussed with a variety of design thinkers from around the world his new book, Frame Innovation: Create New thinking by Design. Dorst describes a new, innovation-centered form of design thinking to tackle problem-solving in organizations. He maps solutions that include rethinking a store layout so retail spaces encourage purchasing rather than stealing, applying the frame of a music festival to understand late-night problems of crime and congestion in a club district, and creative ways to attract young employees to a temporary staffing agency. This frame creation provides an inspiring guide which will help practitioners determine their own (bottom-up) ways of innovating.A tip about a wonderful book translated from Dutch and brilliantly reviewed by both The Guardian and The New York Times. War and Turpentine, written by the award-winning Flemish poet and author, Stefan Hertmans, is a distillation of the musings of Hertmans’ grandfather on World War I. As Neel Mukherjee wrote in his review: War and Turpentine is the astonishing result of Hertmans’ reckoning with his grandfather’s diaries. It is a book that lies at the crossroads of novel, biography, autobiography and history, with inset essays, meditations, pictures. It seems to be aching to be called “Sebaldian”, and earns the epithet glowingly.”Radio Girls, Sarah-Jan Stratford, 2016At Townie Books in Crested Butte, Colorado, I picked up a sparkling novel which traces the history of women working at the BBC in its early 1920s broadcasting years. The atmosphere at the new company was electrifying – new technology, the chance to reach into the living rooms of people all over Great Britain, and the dynamism of Hilda Matheson, Director of the popular Talks programmes, who dreamed of expanding the knowledge base of all layers of British society. This is historical fiction at its best, giving us a believable picture of the new world after the end of the Great War.  An appealing and thoroughly enjoyable book!Jay McInerney, Bright Precious Days.Bright, Precious Days is the third in a Manhattan psychological trilogy, tracing the ups and downs of the lives of Corinne and Russell Calloway. Now in their 50s, the couple struggle with mid-life ennui and uncertain financial futures in a warm, well-drawn portrait of the times.  The book can be read alone.  On September 13, McInerney will speak at the John Adams Institute.Young Adult booksI ran across a book from 2012 recently and was impressed by its treatment of teen issues of identity and sexuality. Written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (and also issued as an audiobook read by Lin-Manuel Miranda),  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe has received an array of awards.  It recounts the summer of two loners - Aristotle, an angry sixteen year old with a brother in prison and Dante, a self-assured teen with his own way of looking at the world. Beautifully written from the perspective of the non-communicative Ari, it portrays the boys’ discovery of important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.My top young adult book of 2015 was All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.  This incredibly talented author dealt in an uplifting (!) manner with the issue of teen suicide.  In her latest novel, Holding Up the Universe, she tackles how teens attempt to fit in to their peer groups.  Jack, with his swagger and nonchalance, is a master of disguising the fact that he cannot recognize faces. Libby, in the face of vicious sneers about her overweight, is determined to move beyond what people think because she wants to be “the girl who can do anything.”  These two unforgettable characters take on their high school community and learn to see each other for who they are.  A strong and poignant book!Boekhandel van Rossum has selected the following teen book for our monthly Forum van Rossum reading group.  Those who have read the book are welcome to join us for the discussion on 29 September at 8 p.m. in the bookstore.  Kook by Chris Vick is a hard-hitting novel about a group of teens in the surfing sub-culture of Cornwall on the southern coast of England.  Sam, whose father drowned when Sam was four, has just moved from London back to his birthplace in Cornwall. At loose ends as he tries to settle in, he becomes fascinated by his neighbor Jade, a beautiful and fanatic surfer always looking for the Big Wave.  The storyline is powerful (no spoilers here) and portrays the characters realistically – from escapism in drugs and alcohol to the search for excellence in what one is passionate about – from science to survival tactics in deep water.  Superbly written, the book draws you into its story with amazing skill.  Do join us to share your views! 
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7 aside football for the over 35s and 45s

Britsoc Social Activities
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Our friends at NFC Masters Football are recruiting!

NFC has +35 and a +45 teams that are currently looking for new players. Both teams are international selections, with some of the classiest has-beens and could-have-beens you can find in Amsterdam.

We're a friendly group off the field, but some of the old competitiveness still sneaks out when we strap on the boots and step onto the field - we all still love the beautiful game. We play a 7 x7 format on a half-sized field, with games or friendlies most weeks in Autumn and Spring, usually followed by a quiet beer afterwards.

If this sounds like you, or someone you know, or even if you just want a good excuse to get out of the house one night each week, please contact the team leaders:

45+ Justin Sherrard: justin.sherrard1@gmail.com or Stephen Huyton: shuyton@thermopatch.nl

35+ Jacques D'Arrigo: Jacques.Darrigo@nike.com

Image credit: Milkovasa/shutterstock.com

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The Cooking Coach - Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce

Cooking Coach
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Karen Vivers is originally from Scotland and has lived in Amsterdam since 1997. Following on from her award winning delicatessen, Karen now runs her business ‘The Cooking Coach’.The Cooking Coach is all about sharing great food. Karen does this by eating her way through Amsterdam with her Private Food Tour clients or writing about food in the city and further afield. And, if she’s not eating out, she’s cooking at home - developing lots of tasty recipes to share on her blog or for her next cookbook.Sausages in Onion and Tomato SauceI really can’t resist a sausage, and when autumn starts to peek its head around the corner, the cravings only increase. Luckily, I’ve got lots of sausage recipes – not that you need a recipe, a good old sausage sandwich (or piece n’ sausage as we’d say in Scotland) with loads of tomato ketchup or brown sauce is hard to beat.If you live in Amsterdam there’s no shortage of good butchers making their own excellent sausages these days. I norrecipekvsausageontomspinmally go to Alain Bernard, or the French butcher as he’s known, on the Albert Cuypstraat for mine, and lots of other meats too. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re French, but the cuts seem to be more similar to those I recognise from the UK, and they understand the need for large pieces of meat to roast, whereas in the Netherlands, very often the meat at the butchers is already portioned up into small pieces.This recipe is one of my versions of a sausage and mash style meal. It has a tangy, almost sweet and sour sauce instead of the traditional onion gravy. I love to serve it as pictured with wild spinach and garlic (you’ll find this recipe on my website) and some mashed potatoes.Oh, the ketchup I use in the sauce is my own home made chunky tomato ketchup for which you will also find the recipe on my website but don’t worry, any good ketchup will work.Preparation Time: 10 minutesCooking Time: 25 minutesServes 41 x tbsp olive oil600 to 800gr / 1.3 to 1.7 lb sausages. I like to use plain pork, something like bratwurst or a breakfast sausage.2 x large onions sliced into thin rings3 x large cloves of garlic chopped finely6 x medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly3 x tbsps tomato ketchup2 x tsps English mustard1 x tbsp tomato purée100ml / 4 fl. oz. red wine100ml / 4 fl. oz. water1 x tbsp of fresh thyme leaves chopped finely1 x tbsp honeySalt and pepper to tasteMethod1. Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan then place the sausages in it, turning them to brown. Leave them on each side a couple of minutes to do this. Make sure your pan is on a relatively high heat so that you get colour.2. Add the onions and garlic, allow to brown and cook for a couple of minutes.3. Add the wine and water to deglaze the pan, stir through.4. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, tomato purée, thyme, honey and a little salt and pepper. Stir through and bring to the boil. Set the heat to a gentle simmer, cover with a close fitting lid and let the sausages cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are cooked through.recipekvsausageoniontompan5. Check for seasoning and serve.Tips and Variations* The sausages don’t have to be completely covered by the sauce during cooking, about half way up is fine.* When the sausages are cooked you can reduce the sauce if you want by turning up the heat, taking the lid off and allowing to cook until you get a thicker more concentrated sauce.* I like to serve these sausages with some boiled potatoes and garlic spinach.Love Food, Live Healthywww.thecookingcoach.euMobile : 06 1424 0009Email: karen@thecookingcoach.eu
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Restaurant Review - Bak

Britsoc Chairman
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Bak **Van Diemenstraat 408, 1013 CR AmsterdamTel: 020 737 2553http://www.bakrestaurant.nl/nlOnline reservation possibleThis restaurant had gained almost mythical status in my head as a bastion of really good food, not due to the fact that I had been there, but because people with opinions I respect had been there and told me that it was not just good… it was really good.  Apart from very few exceptions in Amsterdam, these unicorns do not exist, or maybe they do but then a poacher comes along and murders it for its horn.  I had a recent experience at Dragon-I, formerly my favourite Pan-Asian restaurant, which left me with the feeling it had been mortally wounded.  I need to go back for another QC visit soon but I am not hopeful.There had been murmurings that all was not right in the BAK camp a few months ago, but I had been trying to get into this place, admittedly on the spur of the moment most times, for about 1 year.  I thought it was time to actually book this place in advance.  My sister was in town for a visit and I had given her the choice of around 8 new restaurants which I wanted to try.  BAK was the choice.It is located in the old warehouses along Van Diemenstraat on the third floor.  If you manage to get one of the very few window seats, then you have an excellent view looking out past Silodam over to NSDM werf and beyond up the IJ.  However we were not so lucky and probably you would have to request one of those tables or be someone with a bit of clout to get one.  The inside has a simple, elegant, industrial feel about it.  It is light and airy with the high ceilings and white walls.  We were happy it looked very promising.One odd thing however, which did get my hackles up before we started, is that we had a very bizarre experience with the confirmation of the booking.  You may have encountered this practice with other posh restaurants, which have a habit of calling you on the day, just to make sure that you are really coming.  They often have a clause that if they cannot reach you after X attempts or Y hours, they reserve the right to give your table away.  At around 13:30 I had a call from them (I had BAK’s number in my phone from previous failed attempts) and I said hello for about 30 secs but no-one responded.  A minute later, the same thing.  Knowing the policy and since I could not hear anything, I dropped them an email about 10 minutes later to confirm I was coming and that they might have an issue with their phone.  The response I got was that they had heard me.  Why not send me an email then?  This made me suspicious that they were trying to free up some capacity, maybe for a regular guest.  This is conjecture of course, but if you did not have their number in your phone and lost your table, then that would be unfortunate.  I use this as a cautionary tale for you all out there.As we sat and looked at the menu - which consisted of about 25 ingredients – no cooking technique listed or sauces mentioned, we wondered what we were in for.  You have the choice of 6 courses as standard or add in 2 additional courses.  The additions were:LangoustineCassoulet, bone marrowMessekleverMediar, watercressIn the end we added the Langoustine only, but did select the matching wine choices, while also selecting a glass of Champagne as an aperitif.The meal got off to a bang with the 2 amuses. The first was a tapioca crisp made with squid ink and seaweed mayo.  This wa2016-08-12-19-35-19s very flavoursome with just the right balance of salty and fishiness.  The second amuse was a yellow beetroot wedge served on a berry compote and with citrus foam.  Personally I am not that fond of beetroot but was prepared to go for it, but I thought the citrus really clashed with the earthy beet.  I guess this signalled what was about to happen.Our Menu started in earnest with the matched wines.  So first of all the wine was delivered.  They pride themselves on mostly local and organic produce, which means the wines are organic.  I like a good organic wine.  We got a La Sorga from Languedoc in France.  The sommelier pointed out that this was made by oxidative technique.  What this meant was that the glass we were presented with looked cloudy, the colour of scrumpy and had many of those characteristics on the nose.  My guests thought it was wrong in more ways than one.  This was not a wine to be had without food.So the food.  What was delivered was as pretty as a picture.  Hopefully our Editor includes my amateur shot of it, as it was beautiful.  Just a shame we had to enjoy it with what I can only describe as a funky wine.  The plate consisted of courgette 3 ways, raw, pickled and blanched ribbons.  Edible flowers , citrus mayo and a lemon verbena sauce completed the dish.  It was fresh and tasty, apart from when you tried to match with the wine which, I’m sorry, just did not work except maybe a little with the pickle.  I did however get a bit bored with this dish after about 4 – 5 forkfuls of it.  The lemon verbena sauce needed some more prominence.  It was only ok in the end.The next course was described as:EggplantMiso, Bottarga2016-08-12-20-21-36This consisted of 2 wafer thin roasted crisps of aubergine, creating a sandwich of which the filling consisted of an aubergine ragout with miso.  The sauce was a cream sauce with bottarga, which is a cured fish roe.  OK.  I like a challenge to my palette.  The previous wine I just about accepted.  My guests did not.  This was an extremely challenging dish.  If you go out on Friday night for a nice feed I am not really expecting to be confronted with PhD level flavour combination viva.  There is no doubt that this had flavour, but the word funky comes to mind again.  The fishy burnt aubergine combination was funky.  It was served with a Beaujolais wine which was all red fruits and perfume.  Not really a nice combination with the burnt, miso, fishy thing we were confronted with.So now you may imagine we are starting to get a bit twitchy about everything as there has been a series of very odd things.  Maybe one sign of the confusion which was on the plate was the cutlery.  Every knife, fork and spoon which was delivered was different.  Most were quite functional until I was delivered a really small thin fork with tines very close together which could not spear anything.  Our attention was also drawn to the music which was mostly in the background then one song in 5, something like Rocket man, would blare out and distract.  The third point was the chairs.  I was sort of ok in mine but my guests were really starting to complain.  They are not the most comfortable at all.2016-08-12-20-31-482016-08-12-20-31-412016-08-12-20-31-37Vegetables and HerbsWas the title of the next course an2016-08-12-20-41-13d it lived up to its name.  It was quite pretty with a range of vegetables treated in various different ways and arranged like art on the plate.  It looked very healthy and we all looked forward to eating it.  We were warned to use the almost glowing, translucent gel on the side of the plate sparingly with all the components.  It turned out to be a lemon sauce. There were some nice things on the plate.  Local tomatoes which actually tasted of something.  A pumpkin puree which was flavoursome, a carrot cooked with garlic truffle and assorted herbs.  Nice things.  Nothing worked together.  It was a collection of vegetables cooked in different ways which did not really go together.  I love peas.  Correction. I love cooked peas. The bullets which I tried to spear using my useless narrow tined fork were impossible.  The glowing nuclear lemon sauce coated the tongue which left you unable to taste anything for about 3-4 minutes.  The wine chosen to battle with our palette was a Zanotto Prosecco – yes  this lightly perfumed Prosecco was pointless and could not compete with the sauce.  I would also class the lemon sauce as funky.The next course was the extra one of the Langoustine.  Funky!!  Beans (the cassoulet) undercooked for me, very savoury, bacon flavoured sauce from the marrowbone and a delicate langoustine and some well cooked broad beans.  The langoustine was lost in the melée of beans and marrowbone.  After the langoustine was gone, the beans were boring.  This was matched with a strange red, Pinot Grigio I think, which arrived about 2 minutes after the course arrived.By this point we had realised that the dessert was semolina, which was not a favourite of any of us, so we asked to switch.  The only option was the cheese – Messeklaver.  We accepted.2016-08-12-21-31-36Main was wild boar, with a some pieces of beetroot, a red wine reduction and a hollandaise sauce with elderflower.  This was well cooked. My guests really liked this.  The piece of meat I had, had sinew running through the middle, which spoiled my enjoyment.  The wine served was a Spanish Ribero del Duero, which is a very powerful Rioja-style oaked wine.  A ex-colleague of  mine once told me that game meats like this are often paired with big heavy, tannic wines and it just does not work.  I am in total agreement with this point of view.  Actually things like this and venison deserve a more subtle wine, Pinot Noir or even Beaujolais.  This was a good course for all except for me.  Another miss. Next came the funky tomato pre-dessert.  If you are going to serve a pre-dessert which is savoury it needs to be nice.  I have a few examples of this over the years. One example, which I would rather forget, was a goats’ cheese mousse, which was shocking.  This was not in that league, but we ended up eating it with scrunched up faces as we did not really know how to process this dish in our brains.Finally the cheese. A generous chunk of cow cheese with something like a melba toast.  It was half decent cheese with very average toast.Bill Please.This cost all in all 324 euros for 3 people.  I did not feel we had 324 euros-worth of food.  The service was exceptional by Amsterdam standards.  We had arrived at 7:30 and we were paying the bill by 10:30.  I was not really expecting to endure such a test of my taste buds, I really just wanted to enjoy a nice dinner.  All the food and wine combinations were funky.  In my opinion, get back to basics.  The ingredients are there. They know how to cook and present food, just stop with all the experimental stuff, you are not good enough.  If my sister was doing this review they would have got 1 star.  I thought the service was so outstanding that it deserves a point and they get 1 for the food.  Never meet your heroes, you will be disappointed.Nick Nugentnicksnosh@hotmail.com
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Poetry Critique Group - Amsterdam

Amsterdam
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Our Friends at the language poetry critique group are looking for new members.We are an English language poetry critique group based in Amsterdam. We meet twice monthly on a Thursday evening from 6.30 till around 8.30. No experience is necessary, but you would need to write poetry in English and give and receive critique in a supportive environment. We are a friendly open group and welcome anyone who is interested. Membership is free, but there may be a small charge for the venue.The next meeting is on 8th October.For further details contact Robin Winkel at robinwinckel@kpnplanet.nl
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Check the Validity of your Passport before Half Term

British Consular
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The British Consulate is advising families to check their travel documents validity before travelling this half term especially if you are travelling to North America.  In April this year the US goverment, under some new anti terror regulations brought in the strict need to have an electronic passport.These are the rules according to the US customs and Border Protection:
as of April 1, 2016, you must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. You can readily identify an e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol on the cover.Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.
Additionally Canada has also introduced a new rules from September:
Entry rules into Canada has changed for visitors from “visa-exempt” countries. They will be in full effect after September 30, 2016.New rule does not apply to Canadian or USA citizens, and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.If this applies to you, please remember to check and apply, before you travel to Canada, and based on the passport that you plan to travel with, as perhttp://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp“The rules are part of Canada's Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), established in 2011 to facilitate travel between the U.S. and Canada. A result of the eTA was an effort to more closely scrutinize foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries.Visit the Government of Canada website here to determine if an eTA is needed and/or to apply through an online process. Please note, a passport, credit card, and email address are necessary to apply.”
It is always a good idea to make sure you have the right documentation for your destination and so don't be caught out this half term.  

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