Archive of ‘Eating Out’ category

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage (& Nord-Pas-de-Calais), Part III

I was supposed to write a follow-up to my last post, but France didn’t let me. We got back to our apartment after a lovely dinner at Restaurant Du Marché, and the only thing I wanted to do was let the whole day just sink in.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage We ate at Du Marché last year, but I had no idea it was such a popular place until last Saturday evening. Swarms of wealthy Parisians started pouring in at around 8PM, removing their fancy fur coats and ordering glasses of champagne. The place was absolutely buzzing, and the food was great. I had the Marmite Du Marché, a rich fish soup with cream, mussels, cod, salmon and potatoes. So incredibly good! How I wish I would’ve had room for dessert. Instead I had a Grand Marnier. Majorly bummed that they didn’t have Armagnac.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageThe next day was Easter Sunday and even though we weren’t home, I still tried to make our table a little festive. We had a nice breakfast (though everyone was so not amused with my stinky Maroilles) and then headed out for a drive through the countryside and beaches. If you know me, you probably know that my heart belongs to Le Sud Ouest. This region, however, has something magical. I feel that every time I look out over the endless hills or breathe in the salty ocean air.
Our drive took us through a few different places, including Wimereux, Audresselles and Ambleteuse, where we stopped for lunch.
Nord Pas-de-Calais IMG_4401 (1) unnamed (1)When hubby suggested where we should go for lunch, I hesitated. From the looks of the place, called ‘Le Freestyle‘, I wasn’t too convinced. We went in and were greeted by a very friendly young man who quickly seated us. Just in time, because moments later, everyone who came in was turned down. It was a simple resto, all decked out in American style (license plates everywhere, blues and country music playing in the background). The food (and wine) were surprisingly good. I had the regional specialty, potjevleesch, which is a cold meat terrine, somewhat similar to Burgundy’s jambon persillé. If I’m back in the area, I will definitely return.
IMG_4412I even had room for dessert, a yummy café gourmand, with a kick ass mousse au chocolat and crème brûlée.
dessertThe rest of the day included a little relaxing and more walks on the beach. We certainly took advantage of the beautiful weather.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-CalaisThat night we also made a late dinner reservation, just so we could see the sun set. It was stunning. We walked down the boulevard as the sun slowly went to sleep, not saying ‘good-bye’, just saying ‘until next time’.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageLe Touquet-Paris-PlageOur dinner reservation was at Café Leffe, one of the few places that was not fully booked. I think all of Paris arrived (and quickly booked every restaurant!) the day before. Luckily, this proved to be a lovely place, too. I started with oysters and a glass of Chardonnay. My main was the leg of lamb (succulent and beautifully cooked), and for dessert, I had to have the crêpe with salted caramel. Yes, I was stuffed, but it was worth it!
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageThat last day was well-spent. The next morning, after a pain au raisin, we headed back to Holland.
boulangerieCan’t wait to see you again, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage!
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

Lunch Date Saturday: Krab aan de Haven (Almere-Haven)


Krab aan de haven

It has been a while since I did a ‘Lunch Date Saturday’ review, so without further ado, let’s get on with my experience at Krab aan de Haven yesterday, a seafood restaurant located in Almere-Haven. It isn’t a new restaurant. It’s been there a while and has had it good moments (being chosen as best restaurant in the city by Robert Kranenborg in 2006) and its lesser moments (having to be helped by Herman den Blijker’s restaurant makeover program ‘Herrie Gezocht’ in 2011). I am a huge seafood fan and had yet to visit the restaurant. It’s hard to believe that yesterday was my first time. Perhaps the reason is because I’m quite biased when it comes to choosing places to eat out. I usually prefer restaurants outside of my own city. Not because the restaurants here are horrible (although we certainly have a few disasters), but because the atmosphere is quite different in other cities, in my opinion.
That was my first thought when I stepped into an empty Krab aan de Haven yesterday afternoon.
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Lunch Date Saturday: Bel Ami, Bussum

Bel Ami Bussum

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may remember me mentioning Bel Ami several times. We discovered the restaurant last year and have regularly returned to enjoy an experience which I can honestly describe as faultless.
Entering Bel Ami, situated in Bussum in the Dutch province of North Holland, feels like coming home. As soon as I sit down, I know that for the next few hours life will be good, and that I will not merely pay and leave the restaurant, but float away — smiling and looking forward to my next visit.
Where should I start? Their service is outstanding. From the way the waiters look and their professionalism, to the way they serve the food and are attentive to everything without ever being pushy or arrogant. Something which I detest. Not too long ago I visited a very fancy restaurant in Amsterdam where the staff was staring and looking over our shoulder the whole time — ready to attack with a wine refill before the glass was even empty. I’m not a big fan of being asked if ‘everything’s OK’ every five minutes either. I go to a restaurant to delight in the pleasures of great food and great company, not to be harrassed by overly attentive waiters. At Bel Ami, you are left alone, yet any desire is quickly fulfilled.
The place looks like a dream, too. Hardwood floors decorated with classically beautiful stone tiles, soft ligthing in the form of elegant chandeliers, and my personal favorite — a collection of stunning artwork interspersed throughout the establishment.bonnetje-belleami
I’ve eaten so many wonderfully prepared meals. There’s the perfect steak tartare, exquisitely cut and served with golden shoestring fries and a well-dressed salad. And speaking of salad, their ‘Salade Riche’ is pure sensuality with seafood delicacies and, if desired, duck liver curls. Every season the menu is updated with new selections. I’ve had mustard soup with trout, the best tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream ever, spaghetti alle vongole which moved me to tears, and yesterday a creamy truffle risotto with mushrooms and a poached egg that was every bit as fabulous as it sounds. You want French classics? They’re there. Sole à la Meunière, escargots, boeuf bourguignon, crème brûlée, Gillardeau oysters… A great wine list, too and house wines that are quite a joy to drink.
Four stars for the admirable accomplishment of serving consistently superb food without ever being pretentious — plus one extra for never failing to put me in a state of culinary ecstasy.

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Lunch Date Saturday: Barista, Almere

baristaIt wasn’t that long ago that people looked at me with a certain amount of compassion when I mentioned I lived in Almere. That “boring ass” city where no one would want to be caught dead in. At first, I couldn’t help but bow my head somewhat and agree. But long gone are the days when venturing outside of town was necessary in order to shop (commerce is growing stronger by the day), enrich the mind (plenty of cultural activities such as expositions, readings, film and theater), and wine and dine (though not all of them are equally exciting, there are enough new restaurants popping up all over the city).
I had heard of Barista in Almere, a café which opened late this past July, but had yet to visit.
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