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

Archive for November, 2016

Burns’ Night 2017

Categories: Burns Night, Food and drink
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Britsoc are having their annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns at the British School of Amsterdam on Saturday 21st of January 2017. Burns was born on the 25th January 1759.

A Burns supper traditionally ranges from formal gatherings of scholars to uproaring informal rave ups of drunkards and louts. The Britsoc Burns night falls in the middle of this range and adheres to some sort of time honoured form. This includes the eating of the traditional Scottish meal and taking in the spirit of the Bard.

The Britsoc Burns Supper is littered with individual talents within our mists who have their own special flavour of captivating storytelling, singing and poetry. The celebration over time has developed its own unique group character, which distinguishes the Britsoc celebration from every other. The gathering has plenty of haggis, neeps and tatties to go around, and some have their favourite Scotch tipple to keep them warm.

Everyone should feel comfortable taking part, but they may need a little help and encouragement so you may need to gently motivate them in the right direction towards the dance floor. The good vibes, good food and the good company that this event celebrates would I’m sure be to a level that Burns himself would appreciate. Robert Burns died in July 1796 at the age of 37.   I’m sure we all know that since the publication of Auld Lang Syne, it has gone all around the world countless times and it is surely the greatest song of parting known to man.

Tickets are on sale now. Click here to order tickets.

 

Chairman’s Corner

Categories: Britsoc Chairman
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Chairmans Corner

Bonfire Night went with a Bang this year and think most people agreed that the firework display was the most spectacular we have ever had. Mark your cards for the 5 th November next year. The event is always popular and we will try to increase numbers so that more people can join us.

The event gallery is HERE

Our Christmas Ball is progressing nicely with only a few tickets left. If you fancy joining us for the best party to start the festive season then buy your ticket before the are all gone here:

Www.britsocshop.nl

More details are announced on the entertainment and we will start to reveal some of the tremedous prizes that we have been able to get from Amsterdam Businesses very shortly.

At the remembrance service on the 12 th November I met the Mayor of Amsterdam (pictured with me above) for the first time and was able to thank him for the meeting he arranged following the EU referendum. He told me it was only a natural reaction to the result to reassure our British contingent in Amsterdam. I would like to thank again Eberhard van der Laan in print as well for his positive reaction to our situation.

Burns Night tickets will go on sale shortly. The British School has increased the size of its hall so we are having some discussions about increasing the capacity slightly for this event. It always sells out extremely quickly so be sure to get your tickets as soon as you can

We have some smaller events coming up many of which you can sign up for via our meetup page:

http://www.meetup.com/Amsterdam-Expat- Meetup/

Booming Business 29 th November

This is our Business Networking event in conjuction with a number of other business and social clubs in Amsterdam. If you are an entrepreneur looking to increase your network and gain new business associates and clients this could be the event for you.

This months edition has 3 restaurant reviews from yours truly and great review of the current Marylin Monroe exhibition.  We also have a new organisation ICAP asking for some help with a survey on international children and education.

Hope to see you at one of these events soon.

Nick Nugent

chair@britsoc.nl

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. 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 prizesfor 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.

Last remaining tickets available here:

Click Here for Tickets

The entertainment for the night is also just announced:

This year we have The Bowkers to entertain us, a fantastic singing sensation over from the UK. Justine, Max and Lukas together with their father Jason love to perform many genres of music and they will transport you back to the golden era of swing with their classic vocals and harmonies, slick fashion and quick wit.

For those of you who love to let your hair down and dance the night away they will deliver Soul, Motown and pop classics all night long.

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The Menu has just been announced:

British Society Ball Christmas dinner menu

Amuse

Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom

Menu

Tuna tartar with black miso dressing and lemon granola

***

Duck breast with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce

***

Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

British Society Christmas dinner Vegetarian menu

Amuse

Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom

Menu

BBQ beetroot with black miso dressing and lemon granola

***

Salt crusted celeriac with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce

***

Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

Ball Charity

Our Charity this year is Voedselbank (Food Bank) which helps out 1,500 families in Amsterdam.  Some details are available here:

Click here for Charity Details

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.nl

Many thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at the  Ball on the 10th December at the NH Barbizon Hotel.

International Community Advisory Panel – survey on International children & education

Categories: Amsterdam, Education, Family and Children, Parent Support
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ICAP AMSTERDAM

Building bridges for the international community

ICAP Amsterdam is an initiative put together by four long-standing members of the international community to act as an independent bridge between the international community itself and government and civic organisations.

In particular, we aim to establish an independent forum which represents and reflects the views of the international community on issues which have an impact on the city’s attractiveness as a place to live in and do business.

The city regularly scores very highly in international comparisons – facts which officials are keen to promote whenever possible. However, these glowing reports do not always reflect the reality on the ground. And Amsterdam lacks a broad framework for communicating with and receiving input/feedback from the international community and assessing its diverse needs and concerns. ICAP aims to change this.

The International Community Advisory Panel will focus on four main areas:

– Education

– Housing

– Healthcare

– Work and Inclusion

Support

ICAP is an independent foundation, registered in Amsterdam.

ICAP’s ideals are supported by the Amsterdam Expatcenter and ICAP is already working with city officials in some areas.

Initiators

Robin Pascoe: founder of news website DutchNews.nl

Emmy McCarthy: founder of information and support source Amsterdam Mamas

Lynn Kaplanian Buller: Co-owner of The American Book Centre

Deborah Valentine: Executive Director of volunteer network ACCESS

If you can help with this survey on International children and education
Your input will help the International Community Advisory Panel to find out more about how international parents in the Netherlands approach their children’s education and will, we hope, lead to improvements in the future.

This is the link

Open Survey

90 years of Marilyn Monroe Exhibition

Categories: Amsterdam, Art and Culture, To do in Amsterdam
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by Carol Moore

Having just been to see the exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk of celebrating what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, I thought it a rather poignant topic in which to highlight the life and challenges that being a female in society brings.

Marilyn, whose real name of Norma Jean Baker began life in a rather squalid, turbulent way. Born in 1926, she was given away by her natural mother to foster parents and subsequently appeared to have had the burden of growing up too fast thrust upon her. She even married her next door neighbour so as not to have to return to the orphanage again. What a young person goes through and experiences as such an early age most definitely shapes them for their later years and who they will become. But it isn’t always doom and gloom that must repeat itself, as often, this kick-starts a desire to win, in whatever shape or form, but almost certainly, a catalyst to prove others wrong.

Marilyn was determined to fulfill her lifelong ambition of becoming a successful actress from an early age and became fascinated by Hollywood, glamour and the influence and adulation she saw they received. Perhaps as a contrast to her own lack of attention from an adolescent, she soon realised that she would show the world she meant business. In an age back then where women were not equal to men, she marilyn-2was famously quoted as saying “I have too many fantasies to be a housewife.” Something which back then would have caused great controversy but also as we see now, as others have done too, provide huge inspiration to many females. She also decided to work out, lifting weights, which was abhorrently unheard of, in order to perfect and maintain her wonderful physique. I often wonder if she had been an icon in our modern times, if so many of my friends and acquaintances might not have suffered the negative body image that is placed upon us when seeing the emaciated look of the so called international catwalk models, whose body shape almost most of us will never match.

She threw caution to the wind and became a movie star, albeit a not very successful one initially, but like so many things that we try and fail with, she continued with a strong will and conviction, which eventually paid off. She was reported as quoting “If I had observed all the rules, I’d never have gotten anywhere.” We must take note from this and realise that we make our own destiny in life and if we just keep trying and ignore the haters, it will eventually pay off.

Having married and divorced at an early age, she later went on to marry Joe De Maggio, a famous US sports star, however this wasn’t to last as he all too soon he became very controlling, jealous and resentful of her popularity and success. “I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it” became a key statement for her as she edged towards equaling the male Hollywood stars of that time. How often do we see even now, the challenges of being a female in the workplace balanced with having children, perhaps taking a career break to raise them and returning to the same position as your male counterpart? It seems that although she was living in times gone by, the same challenges are still very much alive.

marilyn-3What we, as women (and every gender in fact) must take from this, is that “Fear is stupid. So are Regrets.” The fear of not having dared try something has hit me many a time and have missed out on trying or doing something, which looking back, would have been just fine! Personally speaking, it took me 6 years to pluck up the courage to go to the cinema alone. My fear was that “people would stare,” or that others would think I was a loner. Having done this for the past 6 years now, my only regret was not having done this earlier!

If we try and follow her motto of “I live to succeed, not to please you or anyone else” we won’t go far wrong. And I personally have taken many key learnings from this wonderfully stylish, powerful, yet gentle woman.

Highly recommend anyone looking to spend an hour strolling around the exhibition to go for it and who knows, you might take your own life lessons from it. Closes February 2017. 

Nick’s Nosh – Moon

Categories: Food and drink, Nick's Nosh
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Moon ***

Overhoeksplein 3
1031 KS Amsterdam
www.restaurantmoon.nl

Tel: +31(0)20.237.6311

Online reservations possible

I was in Turkey some years ago, in Ankara to be precise, meeting with a distributor out there who was beginning to become very successful selling the product from the company I was working for at the time.  I happened to mention that they have a revolving restaurant in Ankara and I have a thing about them.  I have been to around 13 of the about 360 (yes there really are 360 revolving restaurants) and was sort of ticking them off whenever I went somewhere which had one.  I told the distributor that we should just go there for a drink as the food is most likely to be rubbish.  Unbeknown to me, they booked for dinner and, as we sat down, they explained to the waiter that I had had some bad experiences and that he should suggest the best thing they do, as I thought revolving restaurants were pretty bad.  After the dinner the waiter asked my Turkish colleagues what I thought.  Not knowing what they had said, I thought I would be clever and say that it was as good as all other revolving restaurants I had been too.  He understood enough English to realise what I had said and his face went red with anger!

I should also explain that I have been having a run of bad Michelin star experiences recently, which I normally do for my birthday.  Moon, the new revolving restaurant on top of ADAM toren, was my choice for this year’s birthday meal.  Normally for the Michelin Star stuff it’s just myself and my girlfriend as I don’t want my friends to bear that sort of cost.  This time I was able to invite some of my closest friends as I was expecting it to be somewhat less.

So 6 of us arrived in the freezing cold to the tower and we headed up to the top deck where I was treated to the swing thing for my birthday.  On the way up the operator happened to mention it was a bit broken at the moment!!  I survived with a slightly raised heart rate.

On to dinner.

We sat down and were asked if we wanted an aperitif before we started.  The guys went for the bottle of prosecco and I ordered my standard rusty nail.  The waiter told us there was no barman and they had no idea how to make one! No barman on a Friday night?

After about 10 minutes we got some menus and after another 10 minutes they came to take our order.  I should explain the menu a bit.  You can have a choice of 5 or 7 courses.  If you don’t like something on the 5 courses you can change for something on the 7 courses but you pay a 5 euro penalty for each change.  You can add matched wine as well to the combination, which takes the whole meal over the 100 euro mark per person.  We are in Michelin price territory here.

Most took the standard 5 courses but I decided to change the 2 middle courses for another 10 euros. These are the 7 courses, so you can see what everyone had:

Raw Wagyu – Leek, sambal, herring roe

Coquille – truffle, miso

Dashi – eel, radish, chorizo

Babi pangang – pork belly, gamba, atjar, passion fruit

Lobster – Kaffir lime, egg, hollandaise

Canard aux pruneaux – plum, chicory, beet

The Moon – chocolate, yuzu, mango, orange velvet cake

Cheese Plate

Apart from the Cheese plate these descriptions are exactly how they appeared on the menu.

Once we had ordered they brought out a tasty selection of things – black twig-like parmesan crisps coated with poppy seeds, cassava chips, smoked almonds and a marinated tomato with a red pepper puree on top.

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All nice little tasty things, very salty, but tasty.

We had been sat down for well over 40 minutes by this point and my friends had run out of wine quite a while ago so we were a bit thirsty with all the salt.

Luckily the next thing to arrive was a pearl in an oyster shell.  I say luckily as the pearl contained a margarita cocktail.  I think the container was made from tempered white chocolate and was wafer thin.  The cocktail inside was a nice explosion of flavour with all the characteristics of a margarita.

We were approaching one hour sat down and the wine and first course was served.  Everyone took the wagyu beef tartar.  There was no indication it was going to be a tartar from the menu description.  OK it’s a beef tartar with a shrug of the shoulders.  To be honest they could have made it with regular fillet steak as the wagyu, I don’t think, added anything.  It was ok, not the best tartar I’ve had, but did not really live up to the billing given.

Wine served with it was a German Riesling.

At this point we started to notice how noisy the place is.  I was sat at the window and had about 1.5 metres worth of table between me and the waiter.  I could barely hear the explanations of the food and wine,  so, if I have made some mistakes, it’s because actually I did not know what I was getting.

The Riesling was a nice example, not completely overpowering petroleum nose which can happen with this type of wine.  It was subtle wine which worked fine with this course.

The next course I diverged with the majority who took the scallop.  I took the Dashi dish.  I have had a number of dashi broths and sauces which I think, when it is done well, is spectacular.  The dish presented was, I guess, a square slice of daikon about 3 mm thick on the bottom of the plate, with slices of smoked eel on top and a chorizo crumb.  The Dashi was a vinaigrette which was spooned over it.  The waiter gave me 3 measly spoonful’s and I told him “it is my birthday can you leave the bowl?”  Apparently that was the total amount they had for the evening.  This was a spectacular dish.  The vinaigrette was a taste explosion and complimented the smoked eel very well and the smoky paprika chorizo crumb.

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Both courses were served with a white Cote du Rhone, a wine I was not very familiar with.  It was bland and did not match my dish at all.  It was completely overwhelmed by the intense flavours.  I luckily had about ¼ glass of the Riesling left which had enough character to stand up to my dish.  I asked was it normal to serve the same wine with both.  I sort of got the feeling that possibly I should have had something different but they could not be bothered for one awkward diner like me.

The next course many people chose to swap to the lobster.  I wish that they had mentioned on the menu that it was served with a bisque.  I have a hate, love relationship with bisque.  In general hate it but once in a while I get a good one.  I think for the delicate lobster meat you just cannot serve something so strong.  I winced with every bite of this and attempted to scrape off the bisque to concentrate on the lobster.

At least the wine choice was excellent, if there was no bisque that is.  A Saint Veran white burgundy which was subtle and with a little vanilla from the oak.

Next there was duck.  It was 4 slices of duck breast cooked pink, with plum tart tatin, a couple of chicory leaves and sauce.  The duck, in combination with the tart, that fruit/duck combination that classically works quite well, worked quite well.  The chicory I mostly left and the sauce was a decent accompaniment.

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This was served with a Corbières which was decent and was a fairly good match for the food.

On to the cheese/sweets.  Only one of our party chose the moon dessert.  The rest of us had the cheese platter.  The cheeses were ok, but not spectacular, and, as I could not hear what was said, I cannot tell you what they were.  One was goat, the best one was a sheep cheese, there was a strong Dutch one and blue one from somewhere.

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We were offered a LBV port to go with it.

The Moon dessert looked pretty good.

A little bit more on the décor.  The tables and chairs are made from a laminated wood.  Apart from the one 12 seater table, all other tables have a maximum occupancy of 6 people and radially span out from the centre.  They all sit on a platform which the rotating mechanism sits on.  These are bench seats so having a lot of surface area to bounce the sound off.  The ceiling has some attempt at controlling the sound with some wooden blocks there which I assume are to diffuse the sound somewhat.  There is some piped in music, which, for the life of me, I have no clue what it was because of the din.  It’s a problem.

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The furniture is way too basic to be paying this sort of money.  It needs to be a classier.  Service, as you may have guessed from some of my comments, was slow.  No barman on a Friday night, come on what is that all about?  The food was ok with one spectacular dish for me.  In the end, with a drink for the road, the bill was 280 euros per couple which is smack bang in Michelin territory.  It’s not good enough.

I think I would like to try the slightly less expensive non-revolving M’adam restaurant for comparison, but I certainly don’t need to go back here, unless someone else is paying.  Unfortunately they have managed to maintain my opinion on revolving restaurants of average food and extortionate prices.

Beth’s Books

Categories: Beth's Books, Literature
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Beth’s Book Blog

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This magnificen51pfzg0xtsl-_sx367_bo1204203200_t story of a retired soldier turned itinerant newsreader in the American Southwest of 1870 is a poetic portrayal of a harsh world of frontier farmers confronted by difficult conditions, including Indian raids where families are massacred and children abducted. Retired Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through this territory and takes on the responsibility of returning an Alsatian child who has been rescued from her Kiowan captors to her remaining aunt and uncle in Texas. The ten year old girl is completely assimilated to the Indian life and the captain struggles to reach her. News of the World by Paulette Jiles was a finalist for the National Book award. It is a jewel of a tale by an author with an impressive and singular writing style.511gzuvee4l-_sx327_bo1204203200_

 

El Paso by Winston Groom

Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, has written his own account of wild adventure in the American Southwest in a completely different vein. El Paso is the sweeping saga of American railroad barons and their incursions into the politics of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. When the grandchildren of the tycoon known as the Colonel are kidnapped by the legendary Pancho Villa, the hunt is on. Complete with shootouts, daring escapes on foot and in the air, and even a passionate bull fight, this is old-fashioned historical fiction with flair and theater.

The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle’s latest work, The Terranauts, is based on an Arizona experiment to create the perfect ecological biome for humanity as resources become scarce. It reads like a series of episodes from the Dutch soap, Big Brother, and is, in essence, a Swiftian satire on human behavior in extremis. Eight experts commit to living in this sealed environment for two years – a new Eden where human nature is once again sure to bring down the new ‘ ark of humanity.’

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

This year’s winner of the Man Booker Award is The Sellout, a satire on being black in America written by the brilliant and outrageous Paul Beatty. It is a tsunami of words, irreverent humor and tongue in cheek jabs at society as it recounts the life of its protagonist who ultimately is on trial for reinstating slavery and segregation in a suburb of Los Angeles. Not for everyone, this book turns political correctness upside down in a bruising and darkly amusing portrait of racism today.5198uy9pfzl-_sx310_bo1204203200_

The Crimson Skew by Philip Pullman

As I am apparently focusing on American fiction this month, I will also recommend the third and final volume of the Mapmakers Trilogy by S. E. Grove. For reviews of the first two books of the series – The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific – see my earlier reviews. The Crimson Skew brings this tale of time slip, rather than time travel, to a satisfying conclusion. While the themes are complex, the author treats questions of time, social interaction and good and evil within the context of an exciting fantasy adventure which will appeal to readers of Philip Pullman’s trilogy.

The Cooking Coach – Rabbit Stew with Prunes

Categories: Cooking Coach, Food and drink
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The Cooking Coach

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu

 rabbitprunestew5

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 cook book.

Rabbit Stew with Prunes

Every year, when the days get shorter and the temperature drops, I start to crave comfort food.  This comes in many forms for me, and one category is stew.  It never used to be. I grew up eating stew in some form or another practically every day.  I was so bored with it and had no appreciation for how good it really was.  I was completely oblivious to the goodness and taste of all those fresh root vegetables, straight from our garden, and the cuts of local meat and game my dad procured from farmers and game keepers on the island.

Now, it’s a different story.  I would love to pick vegetables from my own garden or pop next door to the game keeper for some fresh rabbit, deer or pheasant.  We always want what we can’t have I suppose.  But that’s not going to stop me having good go at it.  Until now I’ve concentrated on stews with beef, oxtail, casseroles with chicken and even sausages, but this year I’m upping my game.  Enough time has passed and the trauma of skinning rabbits at our kitchen table while the Border Collies looked on licking their lips, has subsided.  It’s time to make rabbit stew.  I looked at a lot of recipes and decided I liked the idea of adding some prunes as well as a bit of booze, so this is my first very own rabbit stew.  I’m really pleased with it, and, as with all stews, it’s easy to make.

Where to get your Rabbit

In the Netherlands you can buy rabbit at the poultry shop (poelier), and not the butcher (slager).

The Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking Time:  two and a half to three hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 x tbsp olive oil and 2 x tsps unsalted butter
2 x rabbits, jointed
200gr / 7oz. prunes
1 x tbsp honey
A little plain flour to dust the meat
100gr / 3.5oz. bacon, sliced finely
2 x medium sized carrots, chopped roughly
1 x onion, chopped roughly
2 x cloves of garlic chopped roughly
The leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme chopped finely
2 x bay leaves
150ml / 5fl. oz. Madeira
150ml / 5fl. oz. red wine
200ml / 6.5fl. oz. good quality chicken stock (no cubes please)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Some freshly chopped flat parsley leaves to serve

rabbitprunestew2rabbitprunestew1

Method

  1. Set your oven to heat to 150°C/300°F.
  2. Sprinkle a small handful of flour onto a dinner plate and roll the pieces of rabbit in it until they are lightly covered.
  3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large stew or soup pan (that you can put in the oven) on a medium to high heat. Place the pieces of rabbit into the pan and allow them to brown. Make sure they sizzle as you put them into the oil and butter mix, but not too aggressively, you don’t want the butter and oil to burn.  This should take a couple of minutes on each side.  You may need to do it in batches as all the meat will need to come into contact with the base of the pan so it can brown nicely.  If you move the meat too soon after putting it into the pan, it will stick, so resist the temptation.
  4. Once the meat has been browned, set it aside and add to the same pan (without cleaning it) the onion, bacon, carrots and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes allowing the bacon to brown, but be careful the garlic doesn’t burn.
  5. Return the rabbit to the pan, add the thyme, bay leaves, Madeira, red wine, stock, honey and prunes. Add a little salt and pepper too.
  6. Bring the stew to a gentle bubble, put its lid on and place it in the oven for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falls off the bone – check after the first 20 minutes to make sure it is bubbling very gently.
  7. Check for seasoning and remove the bay leaves before you serve and sprinkle some fresh parsley over the stew before you bring it to the table.

Tips and Variations

  • My favourite way to serve this rabbit stew is with some boiled potatoes and Savoy cabbage.
  • This stew will keep for a few days in the fridge, so you can make it the day before if you wish.

Nick’s Nosh – Oceania

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Oceania ****

Daily open:

12.00 – 22.00

Scheldestraat 77, 1078 GH AMSTERDAM

T: +31 (0) 20 – 6738907

F: +31 (0) 20 – 6796548

E: info@restaurantoceania.nl

I have always been suspicious of the restaurants around RAI.  To me, they all look like they are catering for the exhibitions.  The prices are a bit too high and the few restaurants I have been to I don’t really rate that highly.  I had persuaded my girlfriend to take me bowling for my birthday and so we were looking for a quick bite beforehand.  I had remembered there was a Chinese and a Pakistani restaurant on Scheldestraat.  It seems that the Pakistani restaurant is now a brand new Indian Nawaab which I am looking forward to reviewing soon.  In the end we chose Oceania without really knowing anything about it.

It is a very upmarket Chinese restaurant which specialises in seafood, which you realise as soon as you open the menu. There are around 5 pages of main courses involving fish and 3-4 pages of starters, a lot of which have fishy elements.

It was clear I was not going to be able to do my regular Chinese order of lots of starter-y things and one main course between 2.  It was clear that fish was the star of the show here and it was my birthday and so I was going to go for it.

The starters we ordered were a prawn satay for my girlfriend and I ordered the crabmeat and sweetcorn soup.  One thing I never even thought about doing was to even look at the prices for these things.  This I would regret at the end.  I did spot, as the menus were being taken away, that the sesame prawn toast was €16.50.  I thought that was expensive, but never really questioned it further.

The wine menu is extremely extensive and I decided to go with my favourite wine to have with fish; a Pouilly Fumé.

We ordered a steamed medium-sized Turbot for mains, with some steamed rice and Pak Choi with garlic and chili.

The prawn satay which came out was not your traditional Indonesian peanut sauce affair, but they were using the term merely for something on a stick.  The sauce was a rich soy based sauce bordering on barbeque.

The delicate little bowl of crabmeat and sweetcorn which was laid before me was great.  I could tell it was fresh crabmeat rather than the crabsticks which most places use.  It had that typical MSG thickness and was nicely sweet. I added a couple of drops of chili oil to pep things up a bit.

OK nice. It was going well.

The restaurant is lusciously decorated with wood, Chinese watercolours and a golden log in a fish tank with some writing on it!  The tables have proper table cloths and the cutlery was screaming that this was a classy establishment.  Add in the smartly attired waiting staff, even the girls had a tie, it was classy. The music was appropriate for the venue and unobtrusive.

oceania-2

The turbot dish came out with great flourish and was displayed for around 10 seconds before being whisked away under the hot station to be prepared.  In blink of an eye a small taster of the fish arrived on a plate with our rice and vegetables. The undressed fish came back to the table after a couple of minutes and we began to spoon pieces of delicate flesh on to our plates with some of the accompanying steaming liquor. The fish did not have a chance as it was hoovered down in a matter of minutes and even the fish cheeks were eaten for good measure.  The Pak Choi was steamed nicely and the simplicity of the delicate white fish, steamed rice and vegetables brought joy to my heart.  The fish was beautifully cooked and the liquor was extremely tasty.  All washed down with some Pouilly Fumé.

It was time to go and we asked for the bill.  It came and I noted that the prawn satay was a bit pricey at about €16.  I thought ok.  The soup however was best part of € 23 for less than an average cup full.  I asked if this was correct.  The waitress had to take the bill away and ask as she obviously thought it was a mistake.  “No sir, the soup is made with Alaskan, Spider Crab!” 23 euros it is then.  Caveat Emptor.

Without the ridiculous pricing of the starters this place could have achieved my first ever 5 star rating in this column.  It does not exactly for that reason.

I will go back again but I think I have a cunning plan, as Baldrick would say.  Take say a cheaper fish like snapper or seabass, a small one and have it grilled or fried and as a starter.  Then take the medium sized turbot or halibut steamed as your main.  You will pay about the same price as we did for our meal this way.

Bonfire Night 2016

Categories: Bonfire Night, Britsoc Events, Firework display, Guy Fawkes
Comments Off on Bonfire Night 2016

by Elliott Ford-Jones

It was a wet start to this years’ annual BritSoc Bonfire night.  However, as usual our great mix of student & adult volunteers braved the weather to begin setting-up the drink & food stalls; the most interesting being the large marquee that took around 12 people over half an hour to put together

…it was a great puzzle but it felt like a good team-building exercise once completed.  At 4pm the gates opened to the general public to another great sell-out event.  Some volunteers & most likely some people decided not to brave the weather, however those that did participate witnessed a terrific firework display provided by a new Dutch firework company, a fantastic bonfire where five (5), Guy Fawkes dummy’s were ritually thrown into the blaze and 3 lucky winners of great prizes.

We had mulled wine to lighten the dampened spirits, BBQ food supplied by Marks & Spencer, cakes & other delicacies provided by the British Society and the usual festive treats.  Sorry there were no Toffee Apples this year, we will ensure they are available next year.  If you would like to volunteer for this or any BritSOc event…

The event gallery is HERE