PetCube Bites

PetCube
This past year we have been travelling more and every time we go on a trip, I miss our cats. I heard of PetCube from my Instagram friend Kati who also has cats. Last year I saw it on her Instagram stories. And when she was visiting Amsterdam, I asked her about it and she was really happy with it.

PetCube is a device with a camera that allows you to see and talk to your furry baby when you are not home. How awesome is that? They have two products to choose from. One has a laser which allows you to play with your dog or cat. The one I have is PetCube Bites, which allows you to throw treats. It has a setting where you can choose the distance. You can either throw the treat close by, mid-range or far. The treats that our cats like are quite small. Every time we give them a treat though this device, it throws around 4. That is something to keep in mind so you are not over-feeding your pet.

The PetCube Bites is very easy to set up. We just hanged it to the wall, plugged it in and connected it to our Wi-Fi. We downloaded the app in our phones and we were ready to go. We installed it and tried it out while we were in the house, to see how our cats reacted. Nip was the most excited as he is very food driven. A few days later we went to the Bahamas and NYC. And we were so happy that we could see them, talk to them and give them treats at any time that we wanted.

It also has night vision, so when it was dark all we could see were their eyes flickering. The short video at the beginning of this post is from the PetCube camera. On the first clip with the bone, you can see that I am throwing treats. The second clip is Nip reacting to us talking to him and the last clip is at night. During our trip, we would just check the app every time we had wifi and see what they were up to. Even though I know they are very well taken care of when we travel, what this little machine does is priceless to me. Seeing them in real time no matter where I am is just incredible.

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Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken & Peanut Sauce

I love these kinds off noddle salads. I often order it when I go out for Vietnamese but it so easy to make at home. This time I served it with grilled chicken, but you can also use tofu. Or keep the salad plain for a quick lunch. It’s great to take to work too. This dish comes together pretty quickly. I buy my carrot already shredded to save time.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

300gr of rice vermicelli noodles

For the salad dressing:

1 bird’s eye chili, minced

½ cup of fish sauce

½ cup of white vinegar

4 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Pinch of garlic powder

For the chicken:

400grs of deboned chicken legs (excess fat trimmed off)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of lemongrass powder

Wooden skewers

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

For the peanut sauce:

1 ½ teaspoons of lemongrass powder

1 cup of coconut milk

1 cup of peanut butter

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

juice of half a lime

pinch of garlic powder

1 bird’s eye chili, chopped

Toppings:

Fried onions (I used store-bought)

1 cup of unsalted peanuts, chopped and toasted

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

100grs of bean sprouts

1 cup of shredded carrots

Coriander, chopped

Lime wedges for serving

 

To make the salad dressing: place the chili, vinegar, fish sauce, garlic powder and sugar in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Stir for a couple of minutes till the sugar has dissolved. Then transfer it to a bowl to cool down.

To make the peanut sauce: just blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Set it aside.

To make the chicken: If you are using wooden skewers for the chicken, make sure to soak them in water a few minutes before. Trim off the excess fat from the thighs. Then slice them into bitesize pieces. Season them with lemongrass powder, salt and pepper.

Arrange some of the chicken pieces in each skewer. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken skewers. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until they become golden and the chicken is completely cooked.

Cook the noodles as instructed on the package. They need to be tender but not mushy. I cooked mine for 4 minutes. Then quickly rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking.

Drain them. I like to pat them dry with some paper towels to remove the extra water otherwise it will water down the salad dressing.

To serve: Divide the noodles into 3 bowls. Add some cucumber, bean sprouts and carrots. Add the chicken skewers. Drizzle some of the peanut sauce over each skewer. Sprinkle with some toasted peanuts and fried onions. I also like to sprinkle some chopped coriander and chili flakes over the chicken. Serve with the dressing on the side and some lime wedges.

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Hokkai Kitchen in Ijmuiden

Since last year, I’ve heard a lot about this place from my friend Stasja. Today we hopped into two buses (there is a direct bus from Sloterdijk station) and arrived in an industrial area in Ijmuiden. Luckily for us, the bus stop is just a 4 minute walk from the restaurant.

There we met the owner Marinus Noordenbos, who worked in the seafood business in Japan. He started his business here in 1993 and since then, he’s been providing Japanese fish products for the Japanese expat communities all over Europe. In his effort to change the way Dutch people eat fish, he opened a small restaurant (and take-out) right next to his factory. We got a little tour of the factory and saw some of his products. He explained us how he freezes the tuna at minus 50 degrees to not only preserve the quality, but also the color of the fish due to its high fat content. It’s always nice to meet people who are so passionate about their craft.

You can either buy the frozen fish at his shop or order it online, he delivers door to door once a month. For the delivery, there is a minimum purchase of about €125 euros. He told us that usually family or friends just make one order together to reach that minimum.

Pictured below is a piece of Otoro, the oily belly part of the tuna. Just look at the marbling!

We started with the sashimi cocktail with a frozen egg yolk which was amazing. Our second course was composed of Capelin which was dried and baked, salted Mackerel and black cod in miso sauce. Pieter’s favorite was the capelin which had a very intense flavor and you can eat the whole fish. Mine was the cod which was so buttery. We finished with an assortment of maki and nigiri. From scallop to squid, to 3 different cuts of tuna (Maguro, Chu-toro, O-toro). The quality of his fish is superb and you can taste it.

If you decide to go, I’d advise you to make a reservation and go early. As this place is gaining popularity, it does get busy.

Next Sunday February the 11th from 1 to 5pm, they are organizing an open day at their factory. Guests from Japan and France will be demonstrating traditional Japanese food and slicing tuna for sashimi. They will have some tastings (including sake tasting) and you can also purchase their products there. Entrance is free.

Hokkai Kitchen

Egmondstraat 2, Ijmuiden

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Amsterdam Grocery and Market Guide

When I moved to Amsterdam (from Lima, Peru), it took me some time to gather my favorite places where to do groceries and find certain ingredients. Pieter is Dutch but it was his first time living in Amsterdam, so this city was new for the both of us. Since I often get emails and messages from you guys asking me where to buy certain ingredients, I thought it would be nice to write an Amsterdam grocery and market guide.

Supermarkets:

Even though the product range in supermarkets has improved a lot since I moved here. I often still need to visit several places before I can complete my shopping list. If you are new in Amsterdam, keep in mind that not every supermarket chain will have the same products. If you live in the city center, you will probably find very small Albert Heijns (one of the main supermarket chains in the Netherlands). And of course since they have limited space, they also tend to only have the basics. The AH at the Dam and the AH XL (There is one in Osdorp and one in Gelderlandplein) are the ones that have the most variety of products. The AH XL (at least the one in Osdorpplein) has free parking. We don’t own a car so once a month we order though ah.nl to get our groceries delivered. They deliver to your kitchen which is great if you live on a higher floor. This is by no means an advertisement for AH but we do love their service. We’ve been ordering from them for years. We only order once a month to get non-perishables and bulky (or heavy) stuff like toilet paper, cleaning materials, rice, pasta, drinks, etc. Doing big groceries on a bike is not fun.

All that being said, AH is not the cheapest. I just find it the most convenient as you find AH everywhere. I also like going to the Dirk (Dirk van den Broek), Jumbo and Lidl, which are cheaper. If you like to buy biological, Eko plaza is a good place. I like it because there you can find Kombucha, nutritional yeast and a big variety of grains and seeds. This is where I like to buy black rice, different types of quinoa, superfoods and unsweetened puffed rice among other things. Another supermarket that I also like is Marqt. I buy there my burrata and Oatly barista edition. They also have a good selection of spices, seafood and cheeses.

Farmer’s Markets:

Noordermarkt (Saturday) is my favorite Farmer’s market. You can buy there edible flowers, herbs that you usually don’t find at regular markets, plants, a lot of cheeses and oysters that are chucked in front of you. There is a mushroom stand with a lot of variety. You can also get a mushroom omelet there.

Niewmarkt Farmer’s market (Saturday) and the Zuidermrkt (Saturday) are quite small but also worth a visit, especially if you are or live in the area. The first one is located in Chinatown and the latter in Zuid.

 

Markets:

The most popular market here is the Albert Cuypmarkt (Monday- Saturday). It gets a lot of tourists so it is not the cheapest. But I love it because it has a lot of variety, also with ready to eat food stands. I love getting a freshly made stroopwafel, my favorite are the ones from the Original Stroopwafels stand. You can also get fresh juices for 1 euro. I also like buying my flowers here. De Versmarkt is a fruit & vegetable stand at this market that I really like because it has a very large variety of produce, some of which are hard to find. Some of the things you can find here are (depending on the season of course) purple potatoes, Padrón peppers, edible flowers, yellow raspberries and a variety of heirloom tomatoes.

The Ten Katemarkt (Monday- Saturday) is another market worth visiting. It is cheaper than the Albert Cuypmarkt. There is a famous vegetable stand at the beginning where you can buy a lot of vegetables and herbs for about 50 cents per package. At the end of the market, you will find a truck called Gouden Tent. Their hummus is delicious and they have a large variety of flavors. Besides their regular one, I like the one with mango. They also sell really nice falafel wraps. If falafel or hummus is not your thing, you can also buy lumpias for 1.20 euros or a portion of poffertjes (small yeasted pancakes) for about 2 euros.

The Lindengracht market is another nice market to visit. It is located in the Jordaan area. It is only open on Saturdays.

The Dappermarkt (Monday – Saturday), located at the Dapperstraat 279, is another big market in Amsterdam and it’s it also quite cheap.

 

Bakeries:

If you follow my Instagram stories, you probably already know this one since I visit it often. Le Fournil de Sébastien is an artisanal French bakery located at Olympiaplein. They have the best baguettes in Amsterdam, the most flakey croissants and delicious canelés. If you don’t live in the area, you can buy their baguettes and freeze them. And when you want to eat one, just bake it for about 10 minutes at 180C/350F.

Specialty stores:

Tokos (Indonesian for shops) are stores in the Netherlands which sell mainly Asian food products. In these stores is where I buy my noodles, green papaya, daikon, Thai basil, kimchi, frozen dumplings, miso, matcha, frozen water chestnuts, plantain chips and sauces. But they also sell things like dulce de leche and Milo. This is also where I buy baking soda. When I first moved here, it wasn’t sold in supermarkets. And still now, not every supermarket has it.

My favorites are the Honk Kong Superstore (because it has a lot and is the closest to my house), located in the Kinkerstraat and Dun Yong (because it is big, which means a larger product range). The plus size of Dun Yong, is that it sells tableware and kitchen supplies in the basement and on the 3rd floor, it has a small restaurant called Taka Japanese Kitchen. The restaurant is very small and only has one chef (Taka). He serves ramen among a few other bites. If you want to go, check out their Facebook page for their opening times because the kitchen is only open untill he sells out. The first two times we went there, he didn’t have any food left anymore. Our third time was the charmed one when we arrived when he just opened. Don Yong is located in Zeedijk (Amsterdam’s Chinatown). There are also other smaller Asian shops there but another big one is Amazing Oriental located in Niewmarkt 27.

Another Toko that I really like it Tijn’s. It is located on Eerste van der Helststraat, a side street of the Albert Cuyp market. Besides your usual Asian products; they sell Peruvian, Mexican and American products. I buy my Peruvian chili pastes there, Cholula and Valentina sauces. They also sell corn tortillas, tomatillos and American seasonings among other things.

De Volkskruiden is an herb and spice shop located on the Kinkerstraat 142. They also sell pulses, Lebanese bread, preserved lemon, different kinds of couscous and tea, nuts, etc.

At the end of the Kindkerstaat (355), you will find Finalmente Brazil. Like the name implies, it is a Brazilian store. I love it because they sell exotic fruit pulp like Acai, passion fruit and guanabana (soursop). They also sell different cuts of meat, great for BBQs.

And talking about meat, Kema Vlees is a butcher with a wide range of meats and the prices are much better that at any supermarket. Their staff is always super friendly.

If you are looking for more high-end cuts of meat or for example Wagyu beef, then Slagerij De Leeuw at the Utrechstraat 92 is a great choice.

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

Cozy mornings with Eve Sleep

Pieter & I have been testing the Eve pocket spring mattress since the Christmas holidays and we both love it. The mattress has great suspension and support without being too firm. We have been sleeping like babies since we got it. This mattress has layers of wool, silk, cotton and polyester, which are tied together to keep the springs in place. One of the things we noticed is that it does keep us warmer. Our bedroom is the coldest room in the house because we have large windows, and this mattress maintains the heat much better, making it a cozier sleep.

They deliver the mattress to your bedroom which I think it is great. It comes packed in two layers of plastic which might seem irrelevant, but the outer layer comes with some dust due to transportation. Once it arrives, they take that first layer of plastic off, leaving the other layer which is clean. So while it is being moved to your bedroom, the dirt is not being dragged into your house.

You can check out the Eve website here.

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

Crab & Quinoa Sliders with Wasabi Mayo, Sesame Cucumber and Potato Chips

These sliders come together fairly quick since I buy the crab meat already prepared. If you want to save even more time, you can cook the quinoa in advance and have it in the fridge.

When I make sliders, I normally make my own buns. I have only been able to find one kind of slider buns here and even though they taste just fine, I don’t love the way they look. They are quite pale and a bit boring. So for when I am pressed for time, I buy them but I pimp them up a little bit. This is my 10 minute bun hack: I brush them with some egg wash. Then sprinkle them with sesame seeds (or poppy seeds) and then I bake them in a 180C/350F preheated oven for 10 minutes. You can see the before and after below:

This recipe makes about 8 sliders.

Ingredients:

For the patties:

1/3 cup of white quinoa

360grs Crab meat (I used canned crab), make sure to press off any excess water.

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of celery salt

½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

1 egg white

¼ cup of breadcrumbs

1/3 cup of panko

For the wasabi mayo:

½ cup of mayonnaise

1 ½ teaspoon of wasabi (more or less to taste)

Juice of half a lime

For the sesame cucumber:

½ a cucumber, thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

Extras:

Slider buns

Potato chips

Vegetable oil for cooking the patties

Garden cress for decoration (optional)

 

To make the sesame cucumber: To make the dressing, just whisk together in a small bowl the sesame oil, vinegar, honey and soy sauce. Set it aside.

Thinly slice the cucumber, I used a mandoline to be faster. Place a few paper towels in a medium bowl and place the sliced cucumber on top. You want to get rid of extra moisture. When you are ready to serve, then mix the cucumber with the dressing.

To make the wasabi mayo, just whisk the mayo with the wasabi and lime juice. Set it aside.

To make the patties:

First cook the quinoa. I use white quinoa because it binds better with the rest of the ingredients. Rinse it under cold water and then boil it for 12 minutes. Drain it and set it aside to cool down. Once it is cold, start making the patties.

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Shape each burger using your hands. I used about 1/3 of a cup of the crab mixture per burger. Pour some vegetable oil (I used about ¼ of a cup) in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the patties until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.

To serve, just place a few slices of the sesame cucumber on the lower part of the bun, then add the burger. Top it with some wasabi mayo, crumbled potato chips and garden cress. Serve straight away.

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

Venice in the Fall

I’ve dreamed of going to Venice since I was a little kid. And finally in late November we did. For two days we just got lost through little streets and just wandered around. We ate artisanal gelato at Suso.

We went to T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a department store close to the Rialto bridge. It has a roof terrace where you can get a view of the Grand Canal.

We visited Libreria Acqua Alta. A peculiar library where the books are piled up in the walls, a bathtub and a gondola. They are even used as stairs that overlook the canal in the back. I read that this library is home to some cats, unfortunately we didn’t run into any kitties.


We had an amazing lunch at Osteria Alla Staffa (thank you Jen for the tip). Not only was the food delicious, the prices were also very reasonable.

We also took a boat to visit the Island of Burano. A fisherman’s Island known for its colorful houses. It was definitely worth the trip. We were thinking of visiting Murano too but the weather got worse, so we decided to just head back to Venice.

We stayed at the NH Palazzo Barocci. We had the junior suit with a view. And what a spectacular view it was. We arrived at night so we couldn’t see much, but the next morning we opened the doors to the balcony to see a gorgeous view of the Grand Canal and the Rialto bridge. The hotel has a great location, as one of the boat stops (Vaporetto) was right outside.

 

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

Roasted Grape & Brie Crostini, with Honey Roasted Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds

This is such an easy recipe for entertaining. You can make the roasted nuts in advance and just store them in an airtight container once they are completely cold. I also bought the baguette the night before and froze it. There is one really good French artisanal bakery here (it is called Le Fournil de Sebastien). Even though it is not very far from my home, it is out of my usual route and very often I just don’t have the time to go there. So now I just stock up when I am less busy, and keep it the freezer. I just sprinkle some water over the baguette. Then I bake it for about 15 minutes at 180C/350F and voilà, perfect baguette as it was just freshly made. For this recipe, I like the grapes to still keep their shape. So when you bite into them, they just burst open in your mouth. I roasted them in a bit of balsamic vinegar and port to add a bit more of a complex flavor to them. So good!

This recipe is for two medium baguettes.

Ingredients:
For the honey roasted walnuts & pumpkin seeds:
100grs of walnuts
60grs of pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of honey
Pinch of salt
For the roasted grapes:
500grs of red seedless grapes
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of port
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle of salt
Extras:
2 baguettes, sliced
400grs of Brie
Fresh thyme leaves to decorate

Start by making the nuts. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the vegetable oil, a pinch of salt and honey in a bowl, mix well with a fork. Then add the walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Mix well until they are evenly coated.

Spread them in a single layer and bake them for about 15-18 minutes, stirring half way through. Check that they don’t burn. Once the nuts are done, set them aside to cool down.

Raise the oven temperature to 220C/420F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the grapes from the vine. Add the olive oil, port, balsamic vinegar, thyme and sprinkle of salt. Add the grapes and toss to coat them. Spread the grapes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Don’t forget to also pour the sauce.

Roast the grapes for 20-25 minutes until they begin to burst. You want them to still keep their shape.

To serve, place a slice of brie over each slice of bread. Top with some roasted grapes and a bit of the juice. Then add some of the honey roasted nuts and a few thyme leaves. Enjoy!

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Treating the Winter Blues with an Energy Lamp

I’ve never been a huge fan of winter. I’m just not a cold weather person. But it wasn’t till I moved to the Netherlands that winter actually took a toll on me. Right now the sun rises at 8:33am and the sunset is at 4:28pm. That’s not many hours of daylight in a day and it can have a big impact on some people, including myself. It is only while living here that I learned of SAD (a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder).

They say that the lack of sunlight upsets your biological clock (sleep patterns) and causes hormone problems which affect your mood. Some of the symptoms include feeling lethargic, getting easily irritated, wanting to sleep more, and craving carbs.

I feel it the most on the days in which I work behind my laptop. On some occasions, at around 4pm, I just can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Once it is dark, I don’t want to go out anymore. When I have something to do in the evening, I really have to push myself out of the door.

I’ve been very curious to try light therapy for a while, and to see if it actually makes a difference. These kinds of lamps simulate the exposure to sunlight. This past week Pieter and I tested the Medisana LT 480 Daylight lamp. We always have breakfast and dinner together, and nowadays it is dark at that time. So we just sit in front of the light while we eat. And we really feel a difference. Now, we don’t feel hyper as if we had taken an energy drink but we do feel more awake. In the morning, it helps me get the day started and in the evening, it helps me to stay awake till we go to bed. I am the kind of person that can very easily fall asleep on the couch, or anywhere for that matter. So I am really happy with this lamp. It makes these dark days more manageable.

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

Prinz Wolf

Today we had lunch at Prinz Wolf, the newly opened restaurant from Chef Michael Wolf (Wolf Atelier). This new tartaria as the name implies, specializes in tartare. They currently offer 6 different kinds, and yes there are vegetarian options too. They also offer some small bites/sides and oysters served with mignonette.

We went for the salmon tartare with mango, chili and avocado; and the tuna with daikon, jalapeño and coriander. Both were delicious and well balanced. From the sides, we had the ceviche with Argentinian prawns which was really nice in flavor. But it reminded me more of a crudo than a ceviche, since ceviche tends to have more sour notes.

We also had the glazed pork belly with pearl couscous and pumpkin puree. I’m a sucker for pork belly and Ï loved the crunchy onions coating it. The prices are very reasonable. Especially considering the prime location that it has, as it is located right by the Prinsengracht.

Prinz Wolf Tartaria

Prinsengracht 411

 

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