Monday, July 19, 2010
I am writing this entry from our rental apartment in Paris, but figure I should finish up our tales of Amsterdam before discussing the fledgling hours of our week in the big city.
We did indeed have a fabulous dinner on Saturday night. Our guide book suggested Pastini and we were happy with the description that said the restaurant sat at the intersection of two canals. It was a bit chilly but we sat outside anyway and enjoyed a beautiful view with food to match. With our wine came the little treat in the picture above. The spread was made of some sort of sweet butter mixed with chopped olives and a green herb...maybe basil? For mains, we both ordered pasta dishes. I had the Linguini Romano - chopped brussel sprouts, bacon, creme sauce, and parmesan on the most perfectly al dente linguini pasta I've ever had. M. had the Tagliatelle Agnello which consisted of lamb, tomato, eggplant, and parmesan cheese. So good! And in true American fashion, we were amazed at how filling the European-sized portions actually were. There was dessert, too! I had the tiramisu and M. had the torta limone, which came with a scoop of house-made ice cream that was just amazing. Dessert doesn't seem so naughty when everything you eat is properly portioned.
While we were eating, we watched one of these go by. Pretty awesome.
On our last day in Amsterdam, we visited de Hortus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in Amsterdam. The greenhouses held all sorts of rare plants from around the world, maintained in their proper habitats. After that, we had lunch at a small street cafe while we waited for The Brouwerij 't Ij to open. The cafe was notable for its awful service, but also for our second helping of bitterballen. M. had a tuna melt that wasn't much, but I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich of goat cheese, walnuts, and pear syrup...once they managed to get my order right after trying to bring me the wrong sandwich twice. The brewery brightened our spirits. We tasted a couple beers before embarking on the tour, led by a cheeky dutchman who had lots of funny stories to tell. He also gave us a bit of the history of the place. The brewery was founded by a Dutch pop star and went totally organic in 2002. In order to get hops that are organic, the brewery has to import them from New Zealand! We tried another beer before buying a few and heading back to the hotel.
Our last night was fairly low-key. We went to the Maoz around the corner, enjoying falafel sandwiches and frites, before heading out for a walk around a square we hadn't visited yet. We hit a grocery store on our way back for some Dutch chocolate treats (our faves were Choco Moments and Orange Pims) and had a mini-picnic in our room before hitting the hay.
This morning, we headed to the Centraal Station to catch a high speed train to Paris. When we arrived at our rental apartment, we picked the one restaurant in our rather shi shi neighborhood that looked reasonable. Le Petit Retro did NOT disappoint! Not only was our waiter patient with my broken french, the restaurant had a very reasonably priced version of the one dish I was determined to have while in Paris: fois gras. As I said in a facebook status shortly after the meal, I have worshiped at the altar of fois gras and it was good. M. had the rack of lamb, which was also amazing, and we shared an appetizer of country pate that was great. The entire meal with wine, sparkling water, and coffee came to 84 euro, but that included tip. We understand that's quite a steal in this part of town.
We visited the Monoprix on our way home for some breakfast items. We are now stocked with cheese, jam, bread, some fruit, and pain au chocolat. After dropping off our bounty, we took a quick walk to the Eiffel Tower to see it twinkle and are now relaxing at the apartment, getting ready for a day of sightseeing, tomorrow!