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

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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.

Nick’s Nosh – Ron Gastrobar Oriental

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Ron’s Gastrobar Oriental  ***

Open 7 days per week 17:30 to 23:00

Kerkstraat 23
1017 GA
Amsterdam
Tel: (+31) 20 22 35 352

e-mail: info@rongastrobaroriental.nl

Online reservations

This is my first venture into Ron Blaauw’s empire, apart from a rather disappointing visit to Bridges in the Sofitel Grand, which claims it is inspired by said chef.

I fancied some oriental food which was a bit better than your average Zeedijk stuff so, booking a week in advance, we headed over to see what the fuss was all about.  Some of you may have tried Julius Jaspers attempt at a Asian fusion restaurant – Happy Happy, Joy Joy which can only be described as Sad Sad, Dreary Dreary.  The Dutch take on most Asian food is to remove all the things that make it fun to eat.  If you have tried a few Indonesians in Amsterdam you will know that they are mostly bland and have no spice at all.  I was hoping Ron would do better.

The evening happened to coincide with one of the weekend nights for ADE and so the place was packed full of disco diva’s and scruffy looking DJ wannabes.  There was one pair of girls dressed to the nines opposite us who started taking hundreds of selfies as we were halfway through the meal, with full on poses and pouting, probably for Snapgram or Instachat or the like.  I’m not sure whether this would be the regular crowd so I will not judge the clientele too much, based on this one experience.

The menu is one of these grazing/tapas-style jobs were you end up ordering too much and spending more that you wanted to.  They have a dim sum selection followed by small plates of other things which we were recommended to take 3 of to cover 2 of us.  There are some specials to share (for 2 or more people) with fairly hefty price tags as well.

We decided to take a mixed selection of Dim Sum to start and below are the 3 dishes we chose for mains:

  • DIEM SUUN DAI HA

Crispy sweet and sour prawns

  • LING MUNG KAI

Wok fried lemon chicken with black pepper and leek

  • CHAR SIU

Smothered pork meat with Char Siu sauce and coriander

We asked for the Dim Sum selection to be mostly the classical Sui Mai type thing rather than the western inspired stuff with Foie gras and whatnot.  You can never be sure whether a restaurant like this makes its own.  The ones we had were excellent quality and sauces to go with them were good whatever their origin.

The three dishes which followed looked very promising, all sticky with thick brown sauce all over the top.  I was really looking forward to the Char Siu as I had not been able to find a really good example of this in Amsterdam.  The first few bites of each dish were great.  I was thinking we have a 4 star review on our hands here.  It was only after 2 or 3 bites of each dish that I began to notice a problem.  Unfortunately all 3 dishes we had ordered had the same sort of caramel based, thick, sweet, sticky sauce to accompany.  After a while it was prawn with sticky, sweet, brown sauce, chicken with sticky, sweet, brown sauce and pork with sticky, sweet, brown sauce.  I am not saying it was bad, just the lack of something different made it really boring.

I think if the restaurant were confident enough and staff well trained enough then they could/should have realised what we had ordered and possibly suggested something away from this very similar background flavour.

We ordered some steamed rice as a side dish.  For drinks we went for a robust Barbera d’Alba which was enough to deal with the sticky, sweet, brown sauce and started with a glass of Cava which was nice enough.

Inside, the décor is lots of dark wood, dark green bench seats, with screens made with a gold square motif in the middle. The bar area has a brown marble top and at the back is a large oriental print of an Asian Girl.  White-painted, exposed bricks, those thin slate-like tiles and spot lamps make up the rest of the décor. It was dimly lit when we were there but nice enough to give it that feel of chic lounge like Tao in Las Vegas.  The music was a bit clubby but that could have been pandering to the crowd.  If it was not ADE I would not have been bothered by it either.

The review in Het Parool gave it a 9/10.  It does things well and service was slightly above average for Amsterdam but it just did not have the edge to give it more than 3 out of 5 for me. It’s maybe better than a 3 but it’s not a 4 and since I am a harsh marker, a 3 is where it will remain.  I will go back and try some of the other dishes in case I have got it wrong, but if you want posh Asian food, maybe try my other review in this month’s Zine, Oceania, first.

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_BON8701

Address:

Watersportcentrum Sloterplas

Christoffel Plantijngracht 4, 1065 DA Amsterdam

Tram 1 and 17, Bike and Car parking available.

Time:

Gates open 4pm Event finishes 8pm

Fireworks: as soon as it is dark enough

Adult tickets:  15 euros

Under 14: Free

Beth’s Blog, September and late Summer 2016

Categories: Beth's Books, Books, Reading, Uncategorized, Words
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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, 2016

At 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 books

I 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!

 

Shakespeare’s 400 Anniversary

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By Jane Walmsley

“All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players” quoth the Bard.  And never was it more true, than when the British Society decided to celebrate his life and works at Greenwoods English Restaurant on Saturday 23rd April.

400 years to the day since his death and “we few, we happy few” (30 of us actually) came together to declaim, recite, jabber and generally hold forth about his various works.  Not so much the Globe theatre, more like Shakespeare Karoake….. and a lot of fun it was too !

_SHK2772Our host for the evening, an ebullient Paul Huxley, organised an eclectic mix of verses, sonnets and ditties including a ribald recitation by Alison and ??? Smith, on the efforts of Otto Titslinger to patent the first bra.  In other words, a ditty about t…….!  Moving swiftly onward, perhaps now is the moment to mention the culinary contribution of Greenwoods.  Having been encouraged by Leigh Ann (Arthur?), Anna Markay and Liz Gamlin, by their recitation of the Witches Speech from Macbeth, to think of eye of newt and tongue of dog, what we instead got was a delicious plate of fresh seasonable asparagus and poached eggs cooked to perfection.  Bit of a relief really but as leg of lizard wasn’t featured on the menu we were probably going to be alright.

What followed by a slightly weird but rather wonderful collection of recitals;  Stephen Huyton’s  Henry V partnered with a French Katherine sounding as if she were fresh from ‘Allo ‘Allo;  a politically incorrect interview with ancient Shakespearean thesp – Sir Edwin – as imagined by Ray Goodsir;  To be or not to be – that most famous of soliloquies, which somehow mutated into a discourse on marriage!  From King Lear, through Harry’s translation of Macbeth into Zulu, Hamlet to the tune of “American Pie”, to Rob and Ray’s homage to “Laurel and Hardy does Macbeth”, it was an inventive and amusing night.

A quiet spot was found in the middle of the evening for Dave Thomas to share, in poem form, remembrances of his father and his grandparents; they were sparsely worded but wonderfully evocative images of his childhood memories.  More wonderful food followed, the jokes came thick and fast, and as a final tribute to one of Britain’s funniest and best-loved comediennes, Victoria Wood, sadly lost to us recently, Duncan Peacock and the “Sisters Smith”, rounded off the evening with their rendition of the ‘Ballad of Barry and Freda’, with Duncan’s increasingly pitiful refrain of “I can’t do it” being rebutted by Alison’s forceful insistence that she wanted him to melt the buttons on her flame proof nightie!  It was certainly a high to finish on and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – though that was mostly due to much laughter and moderate alcohol.

Thank you Paul for organising such a splendid evening, and my apologies to those whose names and efforts I have neglected to mention.   I blame the wine and the thought of Duncan trying to bend Alison backwards over her hostess trolley!!

 

Photography by Benjamin Arthur

Britsoc Chairman’s Letter. May 2015

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Ian

Dear members,

Once more I must appeal to you to help us make our events come to life.

After many years of organising our popular Blind Date, Tracey has decided to step aside and so we are looking for someone to carry on where she left off.

Tracey deserves our thanks for her efforts in making the event great fun and very well organised.

A large attendance of “singles” have enjoyed a short date and a large after party – I do hope that we can continue this tradition, which has in the past resulted in a couple of weddings!

Jane and the team have started the long preparations for the Xmas Ball – the date is set for December 12th and we are planning to hold the event at the NH Barbizon, with our Michelin star chef friend Chris in charge of the menu. Watch this space for details and join the team if you can!

The annual Shakespeare’s birthday bash was a great success – many thanks to Paul for once again managing a hectic and hilarious evening. Great quotes and terrible singing were accompanied by good food and wine from our hosts, Greenwoods.

An email to chair@britsoc.nl will be passed on to the teams who need your help.

Thanks!

 

Ian Cherington

Britsoc Chairman

Swim back to ‘ Fish and Chips for the Soul’ magazine

Bonfire Night Promotional Material

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Help us to promote Bonfire Night 2014 with these colourful posters and banners.

See below for all the different versions: website, normal print and professional digital printer versions.

 2014-Bonfire-Night-Poster-A4-red-web

Ad-Banner-Bonfire-Night-2

Digital Web versions

Download A4 web version here

Download Large Horizontal banner  Size 1390 x 328

Square Banner: 480 x 328

Please point your banner to the following URL: www.britsocshop.nl

Digital print versions, ideal for small printers. 

Download A3 version here   Size: 29.7 x 42 cm or 11.69 x 16.53 inches

 Download  A4 version here    Size: 21  × 28 cm or 8.27 in × 11.02 in

 Download  A5 version here   Size: 14.8 x 21 cm or 5.8 x 8.3 in

Professional print versions with crop marks

Download quality A3 version here  

 Download high quality A4 version here

 Download high quality A5 version here

Recent Posts

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Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Bollywood Dance lessons

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Hello there,

I was recommended by one of my friends to send a mail about my workshop.

I give Bollywood dance workshop for all ages/men/women/kids. No previous dance experience required.

Will be nice if you can let me know if you interested in having the workshop for your team. Its fun and lively. I have been giving workshop for last 4 years now in Amsterdam for all Europeans and have regular classes every week.

If you need more information about the workshop please feel free to send me a mail with your questions.

You can also check my website and Face book page links before to get a glance of the workshop pics.

Look forward to your reply.

Wish you a wonderful day.

Regards

Vyju

 

0618433929

W – www.navras.eu

FB – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bollywood-dance-and-workshop-in-Amsterdam-Vyjayanthi-Iyer/215573615125983

Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=4230393&trk=hb_tab_pro_top

email: vyjayanthii@gmail.com

Cricket: South Africa v Holland

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SOUTH AFRICA Vs NETHERLANDS ODI ON FRIDAY MAY 31, 2013

Fri 31 May 11:00 – 19:30 VRA ABN Amro ICC

2013-03-07-ETICKET-LOW

Cricket Netherlands (KNCB) is delighted to announce that following negotiations with Cricket South Africa (CSA) the South African Castle Lager ODI squad will be touring the Netherlands in May in preparation for the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy to be played in England and Wales during June.

HOW TO FOLLOW GAME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: @officialCSA/Twitter & Cricket South Africa/ Facebook Read more