November 26, 2007

Amsterdam 2007

-mental soundtrack ---> Jens Lekman
-an entire country that knows how to pronounce (and spell) my last name
-train to Centraal Station
-arriving in the city at the same moment as Sinterklaas, with all of the church bells ringing away
-walk along the Singel Canal to the Hotel Brouwer, where a black dogger named Hera was curled up by the heater
-first stop: De Poezenboot! so many sweet, happy kitties rocking away in their houseboat, rescued off the streets and ready to be adopted out
-back to Centraal to get my tram pass, then a short ride down to the Museumplein
-aged cheese, strong mustard, and pumpkin chutney on wholegrain Dutch bread at the CoBrA Cafe
-the streets all decked out for Christmas
-art and unique curiosity shops on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, international homogeneous consumer culture on Kalverstraat
-sugared waffle from a street vendor
-the Red Light District at twilight, with pairs of middle-aged men and groups of stoned teenage boys browsing the windows
-chicory and port sauce amuse-bouche + celery root consomme with walnut oil and crispy winter vegetables + carrot and paprika croquettes with roasted potatoes and lavender-butter sauce + bock beer and chocolate parfait with apple-cinnamon fritters at d'Vijff Vlieghen
-being stopped for directions on my first night in town, and being able to give them (in English, mind...not in Dutch)
-a night in the Brouwer's vintage Bosch room, complete with curtained platform bed and a Delft tile fireplace

-mental soundtrack ---> The Octopus Project
-waking up to a rainy Amsterdam, with commuters riding their bicycles with their hoods pulled up
-kicking the last of my jet lag with a good Dutch breakfast (bread with butter and jam, cheese, tea, orange juice, hard-boiled egg)
-the Anne Frank Huis first thing in the morning and her not-yet-chopped-down chestnut tree
-window-shopping the adorable shops in the Negen Straatjes
-Orangina + toast with goat cheese, honey, and walnuts at Hein
-Japanese book exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum plus the fantastic Barcelona 1900 show, full of Gaudi and Picasso and other Spanish delights
-a mercifully pared-down display of the Rijksmuseum highlights thanks to the main building being closed for renovations, but still with the requisite Rembrandts, Vermeers, giant a gorgeous Constable on loan from London
-appeltaart and warm chocolate milk at Taart van m'n Tante
-the diverse stands of the outdoor Albert Cuypmarket -- pickles, cheese, sheet music, wigs, faux fur...
-chamomile tea and well-earned rest for my feets at Cafe Sarphaat
-apertif + mussel soup amuse-bouche + ricotta salad with date-and-eggplant-stuffed crispy wontons + halibut in cilantro-lime sauce with pumpkin + Thai green curry sorbet with pineapple and coconut milk at Puyck

-mental soundtrack ---> Thom Yorke
-I think I spoke too soon about kicking my jet lag
-a stroll through the peaceful Begijnhof courtyard with its hidden churches and beautifully-preserved houses
-artifact overload at the Amsterdam Historisch Museum
-smoked mozzarella and pesto pancake at the museum cafe
-Art Nouveau fantasias at the Hermitage Amsterdam courtesy of the czars' collections, including pieces by Lalique, Faberge, and Tiffany
-another swing by the Poezenboot for some kitty time
-Chardonnay + mascarpone cannelloni with zucchini and arugula + Advocaat liqueur pannacotta with apricot coulis and brandy biscuit at De Belhamel
-funny, my Dutch gets much better after a glass of wine
-wow it gets even better after a Heineken and an Amstel Bock, courtesy of canalside brown Cafe 't Smalle

-mental soundtrack ---> Beirut
-modernist Russian masterpieces and 400 years of Amsterdam Jewish history at the Joods Historisch Museum, all housed within a complex of gorgeous old synagogues
-being continuously blown away by the exhibition design at all these museums -- they implement many different interactive media types from traditional displays to video and computer kiosks, and offer the visitor many different levels of immersion (spend a couple hours or an entire day)
-falafel and hummus in a fluffy pita at the kosher museum cafe
-the ginormous Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue
-my growing distaste for the stoned tourists stumbling around the Dam
-Chinese mushrooms with broccoli and snow peas at bustling Nam Kee
-the Amstel by night, with drawbridges all lit by fairy lights
-a glass of yummy dark beer while tapping my foot to live big band jazz at Casablanca
-late-night oliebollen from a stand on the Damrak

-mental soundtrack ---> Aesop Rock
-morning canal wandering
-Belgian-style frites with way more mayo than I care to remember right now from Vlaams Fritehuis
-just when the canals were starting to feel a little claustrophobic, a hike through the Eastern Docklands and all of its amazing new architecture blows my head completely open
-cheese snack, with mustard for dipping, overlooking the Ij at the Star Ferry Cafe
-sesame-encrusted seared tuna with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed salad in a soy sauce + an untranslatable fish with haricots verts and roasted potato in a tarragon-butter sauce + cheese plate + raspberry mousse tart with blood orange sorbet and berry sauce at Gare de l'Est
-the Schonberg Quartet take my breath away playing Schulhoff, Schonberg, Webern, Shostakovich, and Andriessen in the stunningly-designed and perfectly-acousticked Muziekgebouw aan t'Ij
-post-show glass of Affligem beer at the Lloyd Hotel while I try not to think how far I walked that day with a blistered toe (12+ km)

-mental soundtrack ---> Kevin Drew
-the incredibly moving Hollandsche Schouwberg monument to the Dutch Jews who were rounded up and deported by the Nazis
-going from heartbreak to uplift at the Verzetmuseum with the story of the Dutch resistance
-mozzarella with sun-dried tomato tapenade on ciabatta at Plancius
-old shipping warehouses now kitted out inside with modern architecture studios and apartments along the Entrepotdok
-total and complete sadness to find technology museum EnergeticA closed
-being the only one in the audience laughing at the San Francisco references in Kara Herold's hilarious Bachelorette, 34, getting its world premiere at the IDFA documentary festival at the Pathe de Munt theater
-drinks with Kara after the film at grand cafe De Kroon
-filo dough stuffed with pumpkin, spinach, and mushrooms in a creamy sauce + warm waffle with candied cherries and chocolate ice cream at Koffiehuis van den Volksbond
-a full moon and a handful of stars over the canals on my last night in Amsterdam

Posted by nightfall at November 26, 2007 08:30 PM