~ October 2015 Archives ~

Cookbook Dinner with Donna Hay! / October 30, 2015

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I’ve read Donna Hay magazine for at least a decade and still have every single issue I’ve ever purchased. Long story short, I’m a Donna Hay magazine hoarder. They are all so beautiful to look at, but even better are the simple but elegant recipes that stand the test of time. I think you can tell this already, but I count myself among her many many fans.

Last week, as an early birthday present, I was able to attend an event at Luma restaurant with a dinner and Q&A with Donna Hay. The sold-out event, in celebration of her newest cookbook The New Easy, was a wonderful way to spend an evening. (Also wonderful: getting to spend the evening with my mom, since we’ve oohed and ahhhed over her magazine together many times).

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The Q&A was led by Pay Chen, a host and food writer in Toronto, and she chatted with Donna about where she gets her inspiration (design and fashion), and about recognizing a need for simple food styling and a very clean white-on-white feel to the photography, a style which was in stark contrast to most food photography at the time she began her career. Following the Q&A, I had a quick chance to get a photo (I NEVER have the nerve to go up to anyone but figured this was a one time shot!) and say a few words. She was lovely and inspiring (and had amazing heels on, but that’s neither here nor there) — and she also stopped by the tables between courses to chat with everyone as an added bonus.

Dinner was a collection of recipes from the cookbook, including the best chicken I think I have ever tasted (not an exaggeration) — tarragon & lemon roasted chicken, plus a variety of side dishes and a salted chocolate caramel tart for dessert. A crowd pleaser at my table was this Annie’s Lane Clare Valley 2013 Riesling from Australia.

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Picking up a copy of the cookbook on my way out the door was a wonderful way to end the night!

Sisters Trip to Amsterdam! / October 1, 2015

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Get ready for many many many pictures of boats, canals, and bikes. Then some more pictures of boats, canals, and bikes. Amsterdam was such a magical place to visit that I thought I would share a little peek at what my sister and I had a chance to see over our three day trip:

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Our first stop the day we arrived was dinner at Pancakes Amsterdam. That’s right, pancakes for dinner and I wouldn’t change a thing. We ordered ours with bacon and apple (so good!) and then an order of poffertjes (tiny pancakes dusted in powdered sugar) to split for dessert. It’s quite a tiny place with no reservations accepted and is only open until 7pm, so it’s probably best to go early if you decide to go the breakfast for dinner route like we did! I almost went back another day, it was that good.

After that we walked to the Anne Frank House, which isn’t too far away and as you would anticipate is lined up at all times — we decided to try for the next night around 7pm in the hopes of a slighly shorter line (that’s the best time to go according to our hotel). To say that visiting the Anne Frank House was an incredibly moving experience is an understatement, it is well worth a visit.

The next day we headed bright and early to a few of the museums, which are all located near each other. First up was The Rijksmuseum, where we had a beautiful lunch in their atrium upstairs and I admired the tiny tiny details of the “children’s playhouses”:

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The Van Gogh Museum was also very beautiful. I’d recommend to go early in the day or try to book advanced tickets – we didn’t know our schedule for the day and chose to just wing it and ended up standing outside in the midday sun for quite some time! While standing in line we overheard a guard say that usually after dinner there isn’t a wait at all.

The Stedelijk Museum was another highlight, which we visited for the Matisse exhibit (also pictured, the stairwell in the museum, which I loved just as much as the Matisse exhibit. Seriously, simplicity at its very best).

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Nearby is the Heineken Experience tour, which was kindly recommended to us by our sister. It was really fun to do if you are in the area – I loved seeing all of the copper vats and the pretty typography of Heineken along the tour.

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A quick mention about some more of the food we ate: at breakfast each morning I’d have the apple juice (appelsap) which I loved since it was more like cider, but even better if you can believe it. Alongside our Heinekens one night we had bitterballen (little fried croquettes with beef and potatoes) overlooking a beautiful canal, Prinsengracht. We also couldn’t resist a pit stop for stroopwafels one day at Stroopwafel Heaven (located quite close to the Anne Frank House in case you’re looking for a snack for the long lines!). You could seriously smell the scents of the waffels from outside and the woman who worked there couldn’t have been sweeter. Plus, the blue & white wallpaper?! Can you tell I LOVED it there?!

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The next day we took a canal tour, which was so wonderful since you get to see all of the houseboats and homes from a lower vantage point, and to see all of the locals and their families and friends cruising alongside you in their boats.

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Last but not least we rented bikes and rode through Vondelpark! It was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least considering I haven’t really ridden a bike since I was a kid, but the park was absolutely beautiful to see (while clutching my handlebars in mild panic. just kidding. The winding roads through the park were quite wide and accommodated my random swerving to the left and right quite nicely, I would say haha!).

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There really are so many people biking everywhere in Amsterdam, it was so inspiring to watch, especially the families riding with their very young children — sometimes one on the front and one seated at the back of the bike. It is definitely a city with very fit people!

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Hope you enjoyed my little look at Amsterdam — it’s such a beautiful city that I hope to be lucky enough to return to some day! Up next, a tour of Copenhagen and Stockholm. More bikes & more beauty everywhere you look. I hope to post those very soon!