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

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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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.

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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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.

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.

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First Timer’s Guide to Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka)

We just came back from a week in Japan. This has been my favorite trip to date. The food was great for every budget. The people were very friendly. Despite the language barrier, we were always helped when we asked questions. Navigation was not hard because we had portable WiFi with us and google maps worked great. But finding the right gate or exit was sometimes a bit confusing since a lot of the stations were big and everything was in Japanese. We very often had to ask someone to help us find our way. It is definelty a country I would like to return to explore more of it. Or even go back to Tokyo just to eat. We were not sure what to expect there so we did a lot of research before our trip, to just to make it easier on us.

So here are my tips:

WiFi

  • Not many places offer free WiFi. Google maps works great to get around and to get public transport information but you can’t download it for Japan. So, you have to be online to be able to use it. Japanese people are very friendly and eager to help you, but the majority speaks very little to no English. Being able to use google translate and just being able to look anything up when we wanted to, just made our trip so much easier. It was definitely worth it for us. 
  • We rented a pocket WiFi device from Ivideo. Pieter found a discount code online. We ordered one for 8 days and we paid about 23 euros for it. We ordered it online and picked it up at the post office at the airport. It came fully charged and was ready to go. We could use it for up to 4 devices. The battery life lasted about 10 hours so in the evening, I would just charge it with a power bank while we were on the go. Ours came with a return envelope. So, before we left, we just dropped it off at one of the mail boxes at the airport. There were also stands where you can directly rent them at the airport, but it might be cheaper to do your research and rent it online. 

Transportation

The JR pass:

  • If you are planning on travelling through Japan, get a JR pass. With this pass you can travel throughout the country for a set price. The JR pass includes the Hikari Shinkansen (bullet train) which takes you from Tokyo to Kyoto (2 hours & 40 minutes) and from Kyoto to Osaka (15 minutes).  
  • If you are travelling with the JR pass, make sure to check online which trains are covered by it. For example, the Hikari bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto is covered but the Nozomi train which is 15 minutes faster is not covered. And the Kodama (also a bullet train) is covered but it is the slowest train, because it makes more stops.
  • You buy the JR pass online, it is only for tourists. Once you’ve bought it, you will get an exchange order sent to your home abroad and once you are at the airport, you exchange the voucher for the actual pass. Make sure to keep it safe. If you lose it, you cannot get refunded. 
  • You can buy it for 7, 14 or 21 days. Yo have to turn in your exchange order to get the JR pass within 3 months of purchase. So, don’t buy it earlier than 3 months before your trip.   
  • The JR pass also includes the Yamanote line which is a circular line that runs through major stops in Tokyo. To check in, you just have to show your pass to one of the officers at the booth next to the card check gates. 
  • Another tip, if you are taking the Hikari bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto or the other way around, make sure to get a seat on the side with 2 seats. This way you will be able to see Mount Fuji. The rows are switched to the direction the train goes, so the 2 seats will always have a view to the volcano. 

The Suica card:

  • This is a rechargeable transport card that you can use for public transport in Tokyo. We also used it to get around in Kyoto and Osaka. We bought one at the same booth where we got out JR passes at the airport. They charge you 500 Yen as a safety deposit. You can re-charge it at the machines on the stations. When you leave, you can return it at one of the machines at the airport and get the money that you still have on the card back. The machine just charges you about 200 Yen as a transaction cost.
  • The Suica card also works on some vending machines and some convenience stores. You can see if they accept it, if you see the logo. 

Payment:

  • Japan is a cash country. Make sure you always have enough cash with you. We could use a credit card in some stores, but most food places we went to were cash only. There are usually ATMs at convenience stores like 7 eleven. We withdrew some cash from our bank at the airport before our flight so we would just have some ready with us. One less thing to do when arriving. 
  • A lot of food shops and stands have a sort of vending machine where you can pick your dishes and pay to the machine. And then you wait to be seated down. So again, have cash with you. And prepare to wait in line, if a place is popular. 
  • In some places, the prices include tax and in some don’t. 

Etiquette:

  • Don’t leave a tip. Japanese believe that service should always be great and can get offended if you tip them. So just don’t. One less thing to calculate!
  • Don’t eat and drink while walking. It is frown upon. It is better to eat next to the shop where you bought your food/drink from, because you can’t find trash cans everywhere.
  • Trash cans: Japan is a very clean country and even though you cannot find that many trash cans on the streets, people don’t litter. If you buy food, you eat it inside (or next to) the shop where you bought it from. We would just find a spot to eat without disturbing traffic. You can more easily dispose of the trash where you bought it from, if the shop doesn’t have one, you can ask a person working there to disposed of it for you.
  • Public toilets are more easily found that trash cans in Japan. They are usually very clean and unlike the Netherlands, they are for free. 
  • Walk on the left side (like the way they drive). If you are on the escalator, keep to your left if you are not in a rush. The right side if for people who walk it.
  • This might be a given but it is just nice to remember. Especially in Tokyo where everywhere is crowded, so if you need to stop to look for directions, etc. Try to step aside, don’t just stop in the middle where there is a lot of people traffic. People are too polite to say something but it is better to not disturb the flow. 
  • Learn a few basic Japanese words. Arigato (thank you) and Oishii (delicious) were our favorite words to use. 
  • Form a line for taking the metro and train.You will see markings on the floor. Even for the escalator, people will form a neat line. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t skip the line. 

Tax free shopping:

  • Some stores offer you a tax refund. But this only works if you have your passport with you. 

TOKYO

Where to eat:

Ichiran Ramen

This is a minimal interaction ramen shop. You choose your ramen from a vending machine. You pay to the machine so make sure to have cash with you. Then you get a little form where you can customize your ramen. And finally, you get seated in your very own little cubicle. You will have a bamboo roll up window blind in front and that’s where your food will come from without you seeing the face of your waiter. You also get your personal water on tap for free. 

Flipper’s (Soufflé pancakes)

This shop specializes in soufflé pancakes. And they were the fluffiest I have ever had. When we were there they had a limited time one that came with strawberry gelato covered in mochi and fresh strawberries. I recommend you to try it if they still have it when you go. 

Sushi No Midori

This restaurant has great sushi for a reasonable price. And it is very popular because of that. It opens at 11am. We were there at around noon and there was already a huge line. 

There is a machine outside of the restaurant (next to the take-out area) where you have to get a ticket with your number before sitting down to wait in line. Don’t forget to get your ticket because at least when we were there, there was no one to tell you that you should get a ticket. A person from the restaurant would come out every so often to call the numbers (with a number board, so don’t worry about the Japanese). If you don’t mind waiting, request to be seated at the bar while you get your number at the machine. It’s a nicer experience to see the chefs preparing your dishes. We paid around 40 euros for the both of us.

Misoya Hachiro Shoten (Ramen)

This ramen shop specializes in tonkotsu (pork bone) and miso based ramen. It was incredible! You also need to pay to a vending machine before sitting down. So again, don’t forget to have cash with you.

Gekko (Mochi)

This is a traditional mochi and tea house. They make the mochi by hand every morning. The restaurant only sits 12 people and they only make a limited amount. Go early if you want to try something specific from their menu. The restaurant opens at noon. We arrived around 2pm on a Sunday and we had to wait in line for about 1 hour. By the time we got seated, there were already quite a few items sold out from the menu. They serve savory and sweet mochi. I would definitely recommend to give it a try. Once thing to keep in mind, they have a sign outside of the door that says that they don’t allow children aged 6 and under inside. I didn’t know why until I posted in on my stories and one of you guys said it was probably a choking hazard. After a little bit of research online, I read that in fact young children and elderly people who cannot chew properly can suffocate if it is not cut down into very small pieces. 

Tonkatsu Maisen 

This restaurant specializes in crispy fried pork cutlet. It was incredibly tender. We had two menu items. Both came with rice and miso soup. We paid about 30 euros for the both of us. 

Itteki Hassenya (Udon noodles)

This shop specializes in udon noodles. Their chicken tempura was also great. I know they offer a lunch especial where you can try two different kinds of udon dishes but we went there for dinner.

Piss alley (Omoide Yokocho)

It’s a small street full of small restaurants and bars. It used to have only one bathroom so the visitors would relieve themselves in the alley, hence the nickname. This is a great place for yakitori (skewered meat). 

Ameyoko Market

This market is full of food stands where you can try anything from sushi, to Chinese dumplings, kebabs, fresh fruit on a stick among other things. We really enjoyed sharing some bites there. 

Tomato (Korean food and BBQ)

It is located in Shin-Okobu which is Tokyo’s Korea Town. The area is worth visiting since it has a lot of street food stands, restaurants and Korean beauty shops. This restaurant offers Korean food and BBQ.

For Coffee or tea:

Blue Bottle 

This was a must stop for us since we had one close to our hotel. Can’t start the day without a good cup of coffee.

Café Kitsuné

Great coffee with some Parisian food

The Alley (Bubble tea)

I loved their brown sugar bubble milk tea and their Aurora series iced tea which was made with butterfly pea flower.

For Street food:

Korean potato corn dog

There are many different stands that sell this popular dish on a stick. We had the one with mozzarella cheese (without the hot dog). It’s pretty impossible to not run into one of these if you are in Tokyo. We always saw a line of teenage girls eating them. Do what the locals do was our motto when it came to street food. We didn’t add any sugar to ours though. 

Popo Hottoku 

This is a stand in Korea Town (Shin-Okobu). They sell Hottoku, which is a sweet Korean pancake. We had the one with honey & cheese, and it was so delicious. We came back on our last day to have it again but we were too late and it was already closed. We did buy the ready to mix box at one of the supermarkets in the same area to try to make it at home.

The Gindaco

They make Takoyaki (mini savory round pancakes stuffed with octopus) and they are located all over Tokyo. 

Eiswelt Gelato 

They serve the cutest ice creams.

Totti Candy factory

They sell the famous rainbow cotton candy.

Pablo 

They serve mini cheese tarts in many flavors. We had the one with sakura mochi and the one with strawberry. So delicious. 

Convenience Stores

There are 7 Eleven and other convenience stores that are open 24 hours pretty much on every street. When we had very early days, we would just grab a sandwich and some onigiri there to have for breakfast. 

Vending machines

There are also vending machines with drinks pretty much on every street. 

About the Cherry blossoms

We were lucky to see some cherry blossom in full bloom while we were in Tokyo. We were a bit too early when we arrived, but on our last day we got lucky. We went to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden because I had read that this park had then most variety of cherry blossom. So you were most likely to see some in full bloom during the season (some kinds bloom earlier and some are late blooms). The park opened at 9am and they charge 500 Yen (about 4 euros) entry fee. Because we knew it is very popular during this time of the year, we arrived at 8:30am and there was already a line. I do advise you to go early if you want to take nice pictures. No alcohol is allowed here.

Purikura (Japanese Photo booth)

These are the popular photo booths where you can edit the pictures to make your eyes look bigger, put filters and stamps on. It is very popular among teenagers and just an overall fun experience if you are in Japan. There are many all over the city. Just search for Purikura on google maps. We went to one located on Takeshita street in Harajuku.

Shopping:

Don Quijote

This is the most popular discount store in Japan. While I wouldn’t call their prices the cheapest (We did see some of the same items cheaper on other random stores that we walked into), it was nice to visit because they have such a huge stock of items. The store has many floors ranging from beauty to electronics, to food and souvenirs. They have many stores all over Tokyo. We literally spent hours there. 

Tokyu Hands

This is a department store. They had a bit of everything from home goods to pet accessories. 

Ito Yokado (supermarket)

We went to the one in Shinjuku because it was the closest to our hotel. It was in a more residential area but we really liked it because it was a proper big supermarket. I love visiting supermarkets abroad not just to buy stuff to bring back home but also to see what the locals buy and eat. 

Where to stay in Tokyo:

We stayed at the Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku. The location was perfect. Just a short walk from Shinjuku station. And they have a bus service to the airport. Our room was small but very clean. We didn’t have breakfast there. We paid around 138 euros per night. 

KYOTO

We found Kyoto very beautiful. Our first stop there was the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest which is open all day. We were lucky that the tram that went directly there was only about a block away from our hotel. We arrived around 8 am and it was already starting to get busy, so taking a nice picture without a crowd was just a waiting game. We saw some couples running towards the end of the forest to take pictures. Towards the end, the path gets a bit more narrow. 

At the end of the bamboo forest, you can just keep walking following the river and end up at % Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama which is a really good coffee shop.

After that we headed towards Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Because it was already later in the morning, the crowd here was much larger but we still managed to take some nice pictures if we were just patient enough to wait for the right moment. Going up to the shrine is a really nice walk in nature so we really enjoyed it. By the time we were leaving, we had already worked up an appetite. And luckily enough they have many food stands at the bottom of the shrine. More expensive than street food because it’s a touristy place but the food was still nice. We loved the Mitarashi Dango which is grilled mochi on a stick brushed with a sweet soy sauce glace. 

After that we headed towards the Higashiyama district which is the preserved historic district. It is where you will find a more traditional old Kyoto. The streets are lined with small shops, cafes and restaurants. It was really nice to walk around. But we were there during the middle of the day and it was very crowded.

Where to eat and have coffee:

Omen (Udon)

I loved this Udon restaurant. I had the cold udon with crispy tempura and Pieter had the hot soup noodles with baby shrimp and mackerel sushi.

% Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama (Coffee)

This coffee shop is just a little walk from the end of the bamboo forest if you follow the river. They do offer soy or almond milk which is rare in Japan. 

Where we stayed in Kyoto:

We stayed at Karaksa Hotel Kyoto One. It is a small hotel. Our room was tiny but it was very clean and the service was great. We had a metro stop right across the street and the tram that went directly to the bamboo forest was only a block away. We paid about €85 per night.O

OSAKA

We took the Hikari bullet train from Kyoto to Osaka. It was covered by our JR passes and it only took 15 minutes. We actually came to Osaka because I really wanted to try the famous Rikuro jiggly cheesecake. It is super popular and we had to wait in line to get one. I love cheesecake but I was a bit disappointed with this one. We got one right out of the oven so it was still warm. It was missing something like vanilla for me. It was too eggy in taste and I wasn’t a fan that it was still warm. It wasn’t horrible or anything like that, just not my kind of cheesecake. I’m still happy I got to try it, so at least it is off my list.

After that we just walked a bit around the city and then took the train back to Kyoto where we were staying since Pieter was sick with a cold and we were very tired. So, we didn’t do much else there. 

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.

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The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam Celebrates Its 5 Year Anniversary

During the whole month of May, the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Amsterdam will celebrate its 5-year anniversary with some especial menus and a lottery raffle if you use any of the hotel services. 

They will celebrate with a special Anniversary Afternoon Tea. I tried it today and it is still my favorite high tea in Amsterdam. There is so much attention to detail in every dish and the flavor combinations are always amazing. It started with a beautiful rose of red beet and goat cheese. 

Just look at those mini pots (all edible). The flower ones had black sesame, yuzu and matcha. And the tulip bulbs were made with coconut, lemon leaf and strawberry. 

The Vault Bar created a cocktail made with Jenever, Bourbon, watermelon liqueur, roasted bell pepper syrup, ginger syrup, orange, coffee and chocolate bitters. It was delicious and very complex. 

The Goldfinch Brasserie will be offering a 4-course menu that includes a tartar with toro (the fatty part of the tuna) for €62.50.

The Guerlain Spa offers massage treatments based on an 80 year old technique. Their new 80 massage has been re-developed to fit these times better. To release stress and give you a boost. It is fit for both women and men. 

If you use any of the facilities of the hotel (guests and non-guests), you can win some prices during the festivities in the month of May. They will have a lottery raffle. The main price is a weekend stay at the Conrad Algarve in Portugal (also part of the luxury hotels of the Hilton family). 

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

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.

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