Phu Quoc, Vietnam

We spent the second part of our holiday in Phu Quoc, Vietnam. We flew in from Singapore with a connecting flight in Kuala Lumpur. The beach in the area of Long beach is beautiful and all the locals were super friendly. We were there at the beginning of December which is high season, but it was not too busy while we were there. It gets busier towards the holiday season. If you don’t speak or understand Vietnamese, it is handy to use google translate.

How we moved around:

Renting a scooter is the cheapest way of transportation on the island. We paid about €8 per day. The longer you rent one, the more you can negotiate the price. Gas is also pretty cheap. There are some gas stations in Phu Quoc town, but you can also buy it in front of some shops. You can tell if you see plastic bottles with a yellowish liquid at the front of the shop. 

Where we stayed:

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

We booked the Intercontinental Phu Quoc Long Beach resort. The resort is quite new, it opened in 2018. The resort is beautiful. The beach was clean, the water was clear with hardly any waves. It was basically a salt water pool and I loved it. The resort has 2 big pools and a kid’s pool which is, I have to say very smartly hidden from the main two pools. You can’t drink the tap water in Vietnam but the resort does provide you with complementary water bottles in the room, and you can always request more. The breakfast buffet had a large variety of options, from local cuisine, to Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes. The resort also has a nice rooftop bar which is very popular for watching the sunset. We also ordered room service, had lunch at the beach restaurant, and ordered food & drinks from the pool bar. For a luxury resort the food we tried was pretty average. The resort is about a 20-minute ride from Phu Quoc town. Riding the scooter in the evening from and to Phu Quoc town was a bit chilly since a part of the road by surrounded by a forest, so we had to wear a light jacket. 

Where we ate:

The language barrier made it a bit difficult for us to find proper Vietnamese food. We tried some restaurants that were recommended on English websites but they were nothing worth mentioning. The only restaurant we loved was Nhà Xua 68. It specializes in hot pots. The place was full of locals which was already a good sign. The menu has an English translation which is not the most accurate. They had Dutch hot pot which when we asked what it was, we found out that they actually meant duck and not Dutch. We ordered the sour squid hot pot which ended up being baby octopus. Never mind being lost in translation, the food was great and so was the service. The restaurant does have Wi-Fi, so you can use google translate. We had a great meal with fish, vegetables, the hot pot and 2 drinks for €12. We came back here on our last night. We have to thank the owner of Banh Mi Lam for this recommendation.

Banh Mi Lam is a Banh Mi food truck by the side of the road. It is only open in the evenings. He also sells them with omelet if you want to skip the meat. And he serves them in a paper bag. We paid about €0.7 per sandwich. We also came back here twice. He has a few tables where you can sit down. He doesn’t sell drinks though. 

We discovered Fresh Bar PQ about half way our stay and we came back every night afterwards. It is a smoothie truck which only opens in the evening. The average price per smoothie was about €1.20, same price as the night market but with more sustainable packaging. The owner serves them in paper cups and he actually asks you if you would like a straw to avoid waste. And if you do, they are also paper straws. You also get a discount on your drink if you bring your own cup/bottle. The owner is super nice. He taught me a few words in Vietnamese. 

How we relaxed:

Besides reading by the pool or beach, there are many massage parlors in Phu Quoc town. An hour massage will set you back around €10. I loved getting one-hour foot massages. And the shops usually have Wi-Fi. 

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48 hours in Singapore

We were in Singapore for a very short time but we made the best out of it. It is definitely worth a visit. It is super clean, very modern and the food was great. Although it is quite expensive, you can have very good meals at hawker centers for about €5. 

How we moved around:

We had planned to purchase a tourist public transport card but when we asked for it at one of the metro stations we were told they didn’t sell it at that particular one. But they told us that we could also pay for each ride using our credit cards. Just blip your credit card when you go in and out of public transport. Keep in mind that you need one credit card per person. This was very handy for us. But we ended up grabbing cabs more often than public transport to save time. You can hail cabs from the streets, and shopping malls have a designated area for them. But we also downloaded the grab app which is the Asian version of Uber, but you do need to have internet for it. One thing to remember is that you cannot always pay the cab by card, so it is handy to always have enough cash with you. 

Where we stayed:

We stayed at Hotel G. We paid around €100 per night. The hotel had a great location. The room was very small but it was clean. And since we were only going to sleep there, it worked great for us. The only thing I would advise if you decide to book with them is to avoid their breakfast. Ours was already included in the price so we decided to try it out, but the food didn’t look appealing at all so we left without eating. Good thing is, there is plenty of options close to it.

Where we ate:

We had the famous kaya toast breakfast at Ya Kun Kaya Toast which was around the corner of our hotel and at Toast Box, which was just across the street. And there are also plenty of 7 eleven stores around.

If you like brown sugar boba, I recommend you try HeyTea. We went to the one located at Ion Orchard mall. There was quite a line for it but it was definitely worth the wait. We came back a second time to get our boba fix. The food at hawker centers and mall food courts is known to be good in Singapore, so give it a try. While we were at Ion Orchard mall, we also had lunch at the food court. If you are there, also try the soursop juice and sugar cane juice. 

We went to Long Beach UDMC seafood restaurant to try their famous chili and black pepper crab. They are known for having a spicier version of the chili crab which is why we came here. My favorite of the two was the black pepper crab. You pay market price per crab, ours came to about €52 per crab. It was not a cheap meal but it was delicious.

Where we took pictures:

We didn’t make it to Gardens by the Bay because of time but we did visit the colorful Peranakan houses and the Spiral staircase at Fort Canning. If you visit Fort Canning, be prepared to wait in line for a picture at the staircase. It was not very busy for us since we went early in the morning, but we still had to wait about 20 minutes to take a shot. 

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Festive Christmas Brunch at Goldfinch Brasserie (Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam)

I can’t believe it is already November. The holiday season is approaching fast and so are the events to celebrate. The Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam has an especial 5 course menu for the 25th of December at their Goldfinch Brasserie. 

Their festive menu consists of a Coconut Snowman filled with shrimp, a Black Truffle Benedict with hazelnut hollandaise, Pork belly with beetroot & terragon, Lobster & chorizo puffed pastry with bonito flakes & a Christmas tree made with 64% Manjari chocolate and mandarin.

The cost of this Christmas brunch is €99. 

The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

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My skincare favorites

It’s been a hot minute since I posted about skincare but since I always get questions on my instagram stories when I show a new product, I thought it was time for an updated version. These are the products I am currently loving:

Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

I have combination skin. My T-Zone gets oily very easily . This toner makes my skin feel cleaner, it minimizes my pores (around my nose) and also helps dry up any breakouts.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair

I’m 35 years old and I started using it for wrinkle prevention. I am on my third bottle now. This anti-aging serum absorbs quickly and leaves my skin feeling smooth and radiant. It is more on the pricier side but a few drops go a long way. Since I’ve been using this, I wear a lighter foundation.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intense Reset Concentrate

I use this when my skin is acting up or when I’m stressed since I can see it on my skin (hello 12-hour shoot days). This helps restore hydration & gets rid of irritation and redness. 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

This is a hydrating serum. I especially love using this during the colder months when my skin gets extra dry. The texture is a bit sticky but if you apply other products afterwards, it goes away. What I also like about The Ordinary, is that most of their products are very affordable (usually under €10). 

Laniege Lip Sleeping Mask

I love this lip mask. I actually use it also in the morning. It also has hyaluronic acid which helps lock in the moisture. It leaves my lips super soft. I have the original one in Berry flavor.

Biologique Recherche Serum Placenta

I was very intrigued about this brand. I had read good reviews online but wasn’t able to find any website that would deliver to the NL. After some research I found that the salon Rob Peetoom in Haarlem is an official retailer so I went there to buy it. This is a repairing serum. The active ingredient is hydrolyzed placental protein from pigs. It reconstructs damaged skin, reduces pigmentation, lightens dark circles & calms acne breakouts. I’ve been using this for 2 months now. I use it day and night as a spot treatment. I’ve noticed a very slight improvement on my dark circles, nothing mayor. Where I have noticed the most improvement is when I have a breakout. It helps it heal faster. It reduces inflammation and lightens the dark spots that are left afterwards. They don’t use perfums, so the smell is not the nicest but I don’t mind it. It absorbs very quickly and the products that I use afterwards mask the smell.  

Sans Ceuticals Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil

This oil hydrates your skin. It has Vitamin A and E, and botanical oils. Their website recommends it for treating scars, dermatitis, acne, dry skin and eczema. It leaves my skin super soft and it has helped me with my eczema. Luckily I don’t get it often but this helped sooth it. I use it on my face, neck, hands (especially on my cuticles) and on my feet. I sometimes also use it on the rest of my body. This oil is plant-based and cruelty free.

Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré

This is a great moisturizer. I especially love using it during the winter months. During a shoot a few years ago, we had a make-up artist touching up my hands for some shots. She was French and used this cream on my hands before applying make-up. She told me it was an staple in her kit. I went right ahead and bought it afterwards.  

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops

I’ve been using this for two weeks so it is more of a first impression. But so far, I am pleasantly surprised. I’ve been curious about self-tanning for years but I’ve always been a bit scared of it. Since I didn’t want to turn into an orange mess. I got the dark version since I can take a deeper tan. I only wanted it to use on my face. My body is currently darker than my face, since I try to protect my face more when I’m in the sun.

I’ve used it gradually, mixing a few drops with my Embryolisse cream at night after all my skincare. I put the cream and the drops in the palm of my hand, and mix it for a good 30 seconds. Then apply it all over my face, neck (also the back) and ears. You can customise your tan, as you can go from 1 to up to 12 drops per time.  I started with 3 drops the first day and then 2 drops on the next. I wanted to build it up gradually. I ended up using a total of 8 drops in 4 consecutive days till I got the tan I wanted. It gives a nice natural tan. It was easy to mix and it didn’t leave me with stained hands. 

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes & more of Amsterdam you can follow my Instagram stories.

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Peruvian Dinner at Callao (the Hague)

Last Friday we were invited to have dinner at Callao, a Peruvian restaurant by chef Jaime Pesaque (Also chef of Mayta, Nr 49 of Latin America’s 50 Best restaurants 2019). It was a especial evening since Jaime and Jose del Castillo (Chef of Isolina, Nr 12 of Latin America’s 50 Best restaurants 2019) were both in NL cooking a set menu that night.

The evening started with a Pisco Sour workshop made with chicha morada (Peru’s national drink made with dried purple corn and spices). Then we got a demo of how to make a causa with seared tuna by Jaime. And how to make a ceviche carretillero (with fried calamari) by Jose. 

The best part was of course getting to taste them. I haven’t been in Peru in 5 years so I’m always excited to eat my country’s food. The whole evening was a delicious treat. The actual diner entailed of classic ceviche. A vegetarian tiradito made with roasted heart of palm. A more cold weather kind of causa with mushrooms and crispy kale. The mains were beef rib seco and aji de gallina. And for dessert we had manjar de lucuma. 

Callao is located at the fishing port in the Hague. It has only been open for a few months and it is definitely worth a visit if you are craving Peruvian food, or just want to give it a try.

Callao Cevicheria Peruana

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Edel by Dennis

Yesterday we tried the new restaurant by chef Dennis Huwaë (Restaurant Daalder). It is located on the west side of Het Sierrad (previously Lokaal Edel).

Here there is no chef’s menu, only a la carte. He will cook his favorite dishes from all over the world. Dennis is known for making unique flavor combinations and here it will be no different. Only with a more laid-back approach, more comfort food style cooking.

For example, at Restaurant Daalder the pigeon on the menu is: Pigeon breast with sauerkraut cooked in goose fat, green apple jelly, jus of mustard seeds and potato mousseline with horseradish.

At Edel by Dennis the same dish will be: Pigeon and goose liver sausage with a stamppot of the same sauerkraut and potato mousseline. Served with pigeon gravy, apple sauce and fresh herbs.

We tried the salted cod tacos which were delicious. We had a small chicken three ways. Fried drumsticks, yakitori and the breast still on the bone. The last one was so moist and tender. Also loved the fried chicken. The crust was perfectly crispy, not too thick and it was still juicy. 

I am already a fan of Dennis. Restaurant Daalder doesn’t disappoint and I’m very happy we got to sample some of the menu items of this new concept. This menu is more for casual dining and since there is no set menu, you can stay as long or as short as you want. 

It will open on the 31stof October. 

Edel by Dennis

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Lindt Store Amsterdam

Today opened the first Lindt store in Amsterdam. It is located on Heiligeweg 22, where the Le Creuset store used to be.

I personally love their chocolates. I always found it a bit of shame that you couldn’t find a lot of flavors in the supermarket. But now with the new store, you have a lot to choose from in one place. And since they opened just before the holiday season, they also have a selection of chocolates for Christmas time. Chocolate heaven in Amsterdam!

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes & more of Amsterdam you can follow my Instagram stories.

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Spiced carrot breakfast tacos with labneh, avocado and fried quail eggs

This is one of the recipes I created for Ketel One Vodka’s Big Bloody Mary book. These spiced carrot tacos with Labneh pair perfectly with their King’s Mary, which has a carrot juice base. And they are very easy to make! It’s perfect if you are having brunch with friends since you can easily make a larger batch and place all of the ingredients on the table for your friends to assemble each taco themselves. 

You can now have access to all the brunch and cocktail recipes from the book online through this link. 

This recipe makes 6 small tacos. 

Ingredients:

For the spiced carrots:

5 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 ½ teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of cayenne

1 teaspoon of celery salt

Freshly grounded pepper

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Extras:

6 small tortillas

1 cup of labneh

6 quail eggs

1 avocado, thinly sliced

Vegetable oil to fry the quail eggs

Chili flakes

To make the spiced carrots: Place the olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, add the diced carrots and the spices. Stir from time to time until the carrots are cooked through. You want them to still have some bite to them and not be mush. This will take about 5 minutes. Then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an extra 2 minutes so they caramelize a bit.

Fry the quail eggs in vegetable oil and set them aside. 

Warm up the tortillas in a pan. 

To assemble each taco, slather a bit of the labneh on each tortilla and add some of the spiced carrots. Top with the fried quail egg and some avocado slices. Sprinkle a bit of chili flakes over the avocado. 

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes & more of Amsterdam you can follow my Instagram stories.

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A Week in Phuket, Thailand

Last month we went on holiday to Phuket. We love Thailand and its food so much that we were really looking forward to coming back after 2 years.

Our criteria for choosing our holiday location was that it needed to be in a main city/island so we could find things to do and eat in the evenings (nothing very secluded). Transportation needed to be affordable so we would have the freedom to go anywhere without spending a lot (renting a scooter in Thailand is about 8 euros per day). To find a nice resort since we would be spending most of the daytime just relaxing by the beach/pool. The beach needed to be nice and preferably not too touristy. 

After a lot of research, we decided to go to Phuket. We heard that it is a party island but it is a large island. We searched for a place to stay in an area that was a bit quieter. That’s how we found The Surin Phuket Resort. This resort is located in a small bay so it shares the beach with another resort. And since there are a lot of rocks on each corner of the bay, it makes the beach pretty much private, since you have to enter through either of the two resorts. The beach was beautiful. The current was a bit strong with waves so you had to be a bit careful. But at least during our 7-day stay, we didn’t see any vendors on the beach. We were also very lucky with the weather. We went there in July during monsoon season, so we expected rain. The first time that we were in Thailand it was also during this season and we got rain everyday. But it was only for about an hour. This time around, we only got rain on one day and it only lasted 30 minutes.

The resort was beautiful, the service was excellent. I loved that they offered cold water by the pool. There were always complimentary glass bottles of water in the room. About 3 times per week they had a small complimentary tea time by the pool. They served ice cream, fruit, mini sandwiches and other local bites. The buffet breakfast was also very good with plenty of choices and also a very varied a la carte menu. If you followed my Instagram stories, you probably saw that I was having curry for breakfast every day. They offer massages at the beach, which we really enjoyed. I would definitely recommend this hotel.

The only thing is that it was a bit far from most night markets and the city center. But we decided that it was worth driving 30-45 minutes in a scooter at night to go get food, than to stay in more touristy area and have a less private beach. One tip if you decide to stay in this hotel, ask for a room the closest down in the category that you choose. The resort is located on a hill, which gives a nice view and privacy. But that also means stairs to go up to the room and down to the beach. And if you are on the highest part, that means a lot of stairs. 

In the evenings we went to some night markets. There are many in the island and they open on different days, so check online which is closest to you. If you have a sweet tooth, try the Roti. it is a sort of very thin pancake stuffed with fruit like banana or mango, and topped with condensed milk. The dough is so thin that it gets super crispy when cooked. They sell it a most night markets. In Phuket old town there is one every Sunday from 4-10pm, this night market is very big. We also ate at two restaurants close to the hotel but the food was average. There were two restaurants that we loved during our stay. One of them is called Raya in Old Phuket town. Phuket specializes in seafood and one local dish is crab curry. Would definitely recommend to order it. It was not too spicy and it came with a very generous serving of crab meat. Other dishes that we also loved there was their whole fried fish with lemongrass & tamarind sauce, and the green curry. 

The other restaurant that we enjoyed is called Chomchan. It is from the same group of restaurants as Raya. From here we loved the fried softshell crab with mango salad, the deep fried tiger prawns with tamarind sauce, the red curry with tiger prawns and the whole fried fish with ginger and tamarind sauce. We came here twice for dinner. We found it slightly cheaper than Raya. The service was great and fast.

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Harissa Aubergine with Pearl Couscous Salad

This has been one of my go-to recipes for a few months now. I make it at least twice a month. I made it on my stories and I so happy so many of you made it so I decided to add it here for the ones who missed my stories.

This recipe can be made vegan by just using agave syrup instead of honey. 

I sometimes serve it with some of Labneh on the side. You guys also made it with grilled halloumi. I count 1 small aubergine per person. I make the whole recipe and we eat the 2 portions that are left over for lunch on the next day. It is perfect to take to work and you don’t have to reheat it if you can’t or don’t want to. I sometimes eat it cold, or just reheat the aubergine in the microwave. It’s also great that you can make it in advance. I had friends over for dinner yesterday and my kitchen gets very hot during summer, so I just prepared this in the morning when it was still cool. 

Ingredients:

For the harissa aubergine:

4 aubergines, chopped into small pieces

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

4 heaped tablespoons of harissa paste, or more if you like it more spicy

4 tablespoons of honey or agave syrup

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons of onion powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of celery salt or normal salt if you can’t find it

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

For the pearl couscous:

300grs of pearl couscous

Boiling water to cook it

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

1 bunch of mint, chopped

1 cup of pomegranate seeds

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (you can use any vegetable that you like, I sometimes use bell peppers or sweet peppers)

For the vinaigrette:

¼ of a cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/3 of a cup of white vinegar

1 tablespoon of honey or agave

1 teaspoon of mustard

Salt to taste

Cook the pearl couscous with boiling water over medium heat for 10 minutes. I do it uncovered with a wooden spoon on top of the pot to prevent it from boiling over. 

To make the vinaigrette: just place all of the ingredients in a jar, close it with a lid and shake it until it emulsifies. 

Once the couscous is ready, drain the water and place it in a big bowl. Add the vinaigrette right away and mix with a fork. This will prevent the couscous from sticking together. 

To make the harissa aubergine, chop the aubergine into small pieces. Mix all of the seasoning in a large bowl. Then add the aubergine and mix well. 

Cook the aubergine in a non-stick pan over medium heat for about 8 minutes. I do this in batches until the aubergine is lightly caramelized. Make sure to stir from time to time and keep an eye on it because it can burn easily. 

Add the cucumber, mint, parsley and pomegranate seeds to the couscous. Mix well. 

Serve the couscous with the Harissa aubergine. I added some borage (edible) flowers from my garden for a pop of color.

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