Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 it is!

2010 was the year I have to say goodbye to SG and say hello to the Netherlands.  2010 was the most challenging year but I was happy and contented.  2010 was the birth year of this blog.

And what made 2010 special for HT couple's blog? :) Aside from the magnificent food trips we've made...being acquainted to everyone virtually through our blogs and especially meeting all of you who shared the same passion and for sharing your time even if i was about to leave Singapore then and now still keeping in touch even if i am on the other side of the world...thanks for the friendship!

Happy 2011 foodies!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a good steak, but it ain't beef!

The snow and the cold weather made my Christmas very different from what I had for the past decades.  And I was surprised how I have nicely adjusted with it (of course, wearing  3 or 4 layers of clothes really helps).  The temperature dropped below 0 in time for Christmas holiday which is a season to keep on eating...and eating makes our body warm (good excuse :D).

We spent our Christmas eve and Christmas day with our small friends/family community in Utrecht.  It was really 2 nights of fun...of no worries, just dancing, playing and savoring each moment of our favorite hobby...indulging good food (Thanks again to the hosts, you know who you are *wink*).

We also had our "HT couple Christmas dinner" which HT hubbie made something special for me.  Sweet, isn't he?
This juicy-looking steak is not beef (though it looks like one).  It came from a big animal that has long legs, neck and lots of feathers...can you guess it now? :) Yes!  This delicious steak is an ostrich meat (struisvogelstuk). 

Seared in a pan for 2-3 minutes after which, topped with hazelnut puree and sauce and hopped it went to the oven at 175 Celsius, grill setting for 10 minutes.  This was cooked medium and still very tender and succulent.  This was my first time to eat ostrich meat but HT hubbie said it never failed him.

And fun facts from wikipedia: Ostrich meat are low in cholesterol and they don't have marbled fats.  It is pretty healthy as it is rich in iron just enough of what every woman needs.  But are they endangered?  Hmm, I've read they're not, so you can have it (as long as you know that it's not everyday a holiday:D).

Of course we had dessert (just bought it in a bakkerij) but it was way too sweet.
Nougat Tart

I'm just wondering, since this red meat came from a bird, are those who are not eating beef makes ostrich meat an exception?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TIME-OUT: It's Christmas time again...

Time flew fast and it's almost Christmas! :)  I just love this season.  Walking around the shopping area, you can hear a lot of people saying 'LEUK' (meaning "nice" or "pretty" ) in every corner.

Why do i love this season?

I love Christmas lights.  I even enjoyed cycling even if it's freezing cold to check out from the smallest christmas light a family put up in their house up to the almost burning home of a family who didn't care about the electricity bill just to give that Christmas atmosphere.  I love it!

Santa would suddenly show up (ok here in NL after the Sinterklaas).  He still makes me smile even if he had stopped giving me gifts since I was 6. (but i wouldn't mind if i'm getting one this year...did you get that HT hubbie? :D)

I love putting up a Christmas tree and it's more special here in Holland as we bought a real tree! Though I miss dad's talent in decorating one...but it's the spirit that counts. 

I love receiving Christmas cards unexpectedly.  I even got a huge one from my colleagues in India! :)

And of course, the never ending parties, gatherings and get together makes this season even more special.  Everyone gives time to be part of it.

So before everyone goes for holiday and becomes busy to read our blog...
HT COUPLE would like to greet you...
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Prettige Feestdagen and Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!

There are hundreds of reason to love this holiday season.  What's yours? :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TIME OUT: Party here, there and in the Netherlands

Hello!  HT couple had been very busy since the 1st of December hit the calendar.  Dec, is my favorite month.  Aside from the holiday break from work, it gives a sense of joy with all the glittering lights put up on the street (not to mention the almost-burning Orchard Road in Singapore) and how each (building in Makati in Philippines) glam up as if there's a big prize for creativity.  Parties, reunions almost everyday...just sharing food, laughters and time.

In Holland, we start the festivity with Sinterklaas.  Also known as St. Nicholas or Santa Claus for me!  He celebrates his birthday every 5th of December and this is when you find Sint (santa) all over the places in the Netherlands.  Nobody has confirmed if Santa Claus of the US really originated from Holland's Sinterklaas.  But do take note, that New York (new Amsterdam) was a Dutch colony.  Wherever it came from, at this age, Sint or Santa still gives a big smile on my face. :)

This is how Sint (santa) looks like in Holland.  He wears a cape and a bishops hat, (ok, he was supposed to have white beard as well but somehow this Sint shaved :D) and along with him are the Zwarte Pieten (black Piets), who we are acquainted to as santa's elves, carry the gifts and serve as Sint's assistants (ok don't ask about the reindeers...they're not part of this festivity, i think)

Pepernoten - these are the small, candy-like biscuits that Zwarte Pieten throw to kids while they try to grab as much pieces as they can.  But taking note of the hygiene of those kids eating their pepernoten from the floor, Piet changed their ways by getting a handful from a sack and hand it off to kids and even to somebody who looks innocent like me (if there hands are cleaner than the floor, is another story).  And if you can't find Piet to get your share of this cookie, go inside in some shops, and look for a plate filled with pepernoten at the counter (be discreet and only grab a few pieces not a's all about sharing *wink*).

Festivities like this include getting a gift from Sint!  The unique way here is that the exchange gift should be accompanied with a poem. What you're getting really comes from the heart, well at least, making a poem makes it "personal".

opening my gift with the whole Sinterklaas gang!  (my nice poem was inside:D)

what is a party without food!!!

Another fun thing about parties is preparing for it too!  I made a Filipino street food called Turon...
it's simply made of lumpia wrapper, sugar, bananas for cooking (bak banaan in toko).  In Singapore, you might be able to get it in Lucky Plaza or sometimes if you're lucky in Carrefour and Fairprice.

Roll the banana slices in sugar, wrap it in until the bananas are safely secured (use water as paste), heat the pan with oil and put sugar in it, once the sugar goes on top of the heat up oil, throw in those turon  pieces until they're brown and crispy.

Ta-dah...let the oil drip so it won't be soggy.  It's supposed to deep fried, but I made it calorie-friendly.

This reminds me I have to start preparing for our Christmas' and New Year's eve menu :)  Hope everyone is excited with their plans.  Do share your holiday menu for this year or the restaurant/place you would be spending your holiday with your loved ones.

2 weeks to go! :)

*party photos were taken by my co-choir members :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Utrecht, Netherlands: Saigon: Vietnamees Cuisine: thank God they're in Utrecht!

Brrrr...brrr....brrr...this had been my favorite expression since the temperature drop to 0.  A tropical-blooded human being trying to fight her way over the winter.  And an enjoyable and effective way is to keep on eating to bring up the heat in you.  Yes!!!
We visited this always full-packed restaurant beside the Japanese hole-in-the-wall and was lucky enough to secure a table for 2.  It was already 9 pm and the place was still very busy.  Observing the diners on what they have ordered, everyone was into the DIY spring rolls or what they called "gegrild specialiteiten met rijstpapier" (grilled items with rice paper).  As I have made up my  mind that I wanted a vietnamese soup bowl for dinner and in a cold weather like this, laziness do kick in easily (good excuse) here's what we got for an adventure...(yeah right)
Appetizer: Fresh Spring Rolls (Goi Cuon) - enough fillings of vermicelli, vegetables, shrimps(garnalen) and pork slices (varkensvlees).  The sweet chili sauce, of course, always give extra taste to this dish.   HT hubbie wanted to get the fried ones but after tasting this, he agreed we ordered right...healthy and tasty.

Mains: Pho (Pho Bo Tai)- my much-awaited vietnamese soup bowl!  There's something in this soup that after the first sip it always gives me the comfort that I need and even more comforting in this cold and gloomy weather.  The rice noodle soup was such a delight and the beef slices were all tender and take note "medium rare", so the beefy taste was retained.  One word: excellent! 

these fresh herbs (ok they were not that fresh) - mints, chili, lemon and big stalks of coriander...completed my pho!  Though, i know some prefer it without the herbs...and that black bean sauce reminded me of yong tau foo (haay, Singapore) :D

Mains: Grilled beef in black bean sauce (Bo Xao Tuong Den) -  This beef dish was delicious.  It goes very well with fragrant rice.  (All along I thought HT hubbie didn't like black bean it was good to know that my assumption was wrong...trying this out at home).

After a satisfying meal, we can't leave the place without hubby ordering this (TRIVIA: night doesn't end if HT hubbie didn't get his 4th or 5th dose of caffeine for the day):

The famous Vietnamese drip coffee!  It's not as strong as how hubby wants it (but for me it's strong enough), but we both agreed it's very aromatic.  You can get it cold too!

Overall, it was a good yet simple dinner.

Price Summary in Euro:
Fresh Spring Rolls = 5.50
Pho = 13.25
Grilled beef in black bean sauce = 14.25
Vietnamese drip coffee = 3.00

Saigon Vietnamees Restaurant
Voorstraat 68
Utrecht, Netherlands