Sunday, September 29, 2013


We haven't blogged much this month. Part of the silence is due to our weeklong road trip in Pennsylvania, but we've been back for over a week and a half. We've also been watching a lot of TV (Agents of SHIELD!) since it's fall premiere season. But neither of those is really an excuse for not recording our adventures for our own memories.

Traversing the mountains of western Pennsylvania, the fall colors starting to show

We visited a lot of different towns and cities in the southern half of Pennsylvania between this road trip and a weekend stay in Philadelphia earlier this summer, but even so, it feels like we barely scraped the surface of the state. On our road trip, we tried to get all the food items unique or special to the Pennsylvania regions we visited - like ham balls, scrapple, shoofly pie and Eat'n Park cookies - and we can't wait to relive our adventures here. Now we just have to get started...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Goodbye Pancakes

On our final day in Amsterdam, we made a beeline for Pancakes! Amsterdam. As we said before, we loved our pancakes so much on our first visit that we decided to leave for Belgium a little later so we could get another pancake. We arrived at Pancakes! Amsterdam before it opened and just strolled the nearby streets as we waited for them to get set up. The lady setting up must have seen us waiting patiently because she motioned that we could come in even though they technically didn't open for another 5-10 minutes.

To start off our lunch (snack? brunch?), A got another glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and I got a bottle of perensap. I liked the pear juice as it was more unique and not a common juice option. I'm not sure if I liked the flavor better than the apple juice from the day before. (It's been three years; that memory has faded.)

Since we were planning for our lunch to be a food crawl, we decided to split one pancake this time instead of getting two individual ones. The combination we chose this time had spinach, goat cheese, garlic oil, pine nuts and sunflower seeds.

We liked this pancake, but we liked our choices from our first visit better. For me, this one was just a little richer and heavier because of the goat cheese, and I liked the lighter vegetable pancake more (so much that it made my favorites list for the year). A also preferred his daily special from the day before. This pancake wasn't bad by any means. We just liked our other choices more.

We were sad to say goodbye to the little pancake shop as we loved it there and didn't know when we would be able to return. We highly recommend Pancakes! Amsterdam for a casual and fulfilling meal!

Pancakes! Amsterdam is located at Berenstraat 38 in Amsterdam.

Tempo Doeloe

Our memories of our rijsttafel at Tempo Doeloe in Amsterdam three years ago are getting a little hazy, but on the anniversary of our visit, we thought it was about time that we got back to our 2010 Europe trip recaps (before another year goes by!).

Tempo Doeloe is the green awning on a quiet street

We went for a relatively late dinner that night, after having various snacks and meals throughout the day (pancakes, herring, beer and ossenworst). It was our second rijsttafel of the trip (the first was at the more "modern" Blauw) and we were excited to go to one of the more "traditional" places that has been in Amsterdam for years. We didn't make reservations in advance (we didn't make reservations anywhere on that trip) and there was a short wait. As we waited, they gave us some chips (krupak udang and another shrimp cracker) and a sauce that we can't remember too much about.  We were hungry so we were thankful for the free snack.  

Bar snacks

[Side note: Since our visit, we've seen Tempo Doeloe featured on TV, including on Bourdain's show. While we loved seeing it and reliving our time there, internet research tells me that reservations are basically required now since the restaurant is so small (and that you have to ring a bell to be allowed in). Perhaps it was that busy back then too and on a random Wednesday night in September we just got lucky, but I think it's gotten busier over the years.]

Ordering at Tempo Doeloe was easy, since we knew we wanted another rijsttafel adventure. We really enjoyed having such a great variety of small tastes and were really pleased to see how extensive their rijsttafel menu was. They have some smaller rijsttafel options but we went for the grand one. Three years later, we couldn't possibly tell you which of the dishes were our favorites, but I'm not sure we would have been able to do that three weeks later either. It was all really good.

Clearest photo of our rijsttafel but no iPhone yet and didn't want to use flash for everything

The rijsttafel came with two types of rice (white and yellow) and four trays of dishes (three on burners to keep them warm).

Fluffy white rice

"Yellow" rice - basically like fried rice, topped with delicious fried garlic/onions

The four trays of rijsttafel dishes were separated by type and spiciness. The small circular dish had snacks and cold salads, and the others were mild, medium and spicy.

Snacks and salads

Mild (I think)

The dishes in the rijsttafel according to the menu were:
  • babi tjien (pork in mild soy sauce with aniseed)
  • daging semoor (beef in sweet soy sauce and tomatoes)
  • paksoy (green leaf vegetables with sesame oil)
  • sawi toemis (Chinese cabbage with Indonesian spices)
  • ajam opor (chicken in mild coconut sauce)
  • gadon dari sapi (beef in creamy coconut sauce and fresh coriander)
  • sambal goreng tempeh (fried soy cake in spicy sauce)
  • sambal goreng tahoe (fried tofu in spicy sauce)
  • sambal goreng oedang (small shrimp with peteh beans)
  • sambal goreng boentjes (string beans in spicy sauce)
  • sambal goreng hati (chicken livers in spicy soy sauce)
  • oerapan (fresh vegetables with rasped coconut)
  • ajam roedjak (chicken in strongly seasoned sauce of chili peppers and coconut)
  • ajam bali (chicken in a sauce of tomatoes and peppers)
  • sajoer lodeh (vegetables in coconut broth)
  • orek arek (caterpillar cabbage with garlic)
  • daging belado (beef in spicy sauce with red peppers and garlic)
  • daging rendang (the spiciest thing there - very spicy beef stewed with coconut)
  • sateh babi (pork skewers with peanut sauce)
  • gado gado (fresh vegetables with peanut sauce)
  • kroepoek (crispy prawn crackers)
  • emping (crispy chips of belindjonuts)
  • seroendeng (rasped coconut and peanuts)
  • atjar (sweet and sour Indonesian salad)

Medium (I think)

Spicy (definitely)

A story about Tempo Doeloe's spicy dishes, which I will let A tell:
M and I had heard so much about the spicy dishes of a traditional rijsttafel, and I was really intrigued to try them. I remember the first four having decent heat, but it wasn't that overpowering. The second to last spicy dish was the dish with red chili peppers shown above. This had a definite kick to it. The burn was pretty intense, and that made us pretty worried about trying the last dish. So we each built ourselves up and tried little pieces of the spiciest dish pictured above with the slice of what appears to be a scotch bonnet pepper as a garnish. To quote The Simpsons, "It tastes like... burning..." Dear god, this was one of the spiciest things I had ever eaten in my life. The burn consumes your mouth, and no amount of anything helps alleviate it. Our waiter recommended some toasted coconut that comes with the rijstaffel, but that only did a little. M didn't eat as much of the spicy dishes as they were a little overwhelming, so the majority of these dishes were mine to eat. I'm pretty sure I ate it all, but I suffered through it.
However, this wasn't the end. On their menu is a stewed chicken dish that is hotter than the spiciest dish listed above. They actually offer you a taste if you really want one, and it's also offered as a full dish. We decided against destroying what was left of the feeling in our mouths, but one brave soul at the far end of the restaurant tried it. He had apparently been bragging all night about how he could take any heat to the staff so they were more than happy to oblige. After the small dish was delivered, our waiter came back with a wry smile and told us to watch as the guy ate the chicken. He put on a brave face for the first 10-30 seconds, and our waiter told us to wait for it. Within 5 seconds of saying that, an intense look of pain crossed the guys face. He got really red, started sweating profusely, and was banging his fist on the table in an attempt to stem the tide of pure flame coursing through his mouth. He ran back to the bathroom, and I'm pretty sure we didn't see him again before we left. Our waiter enjoyed a small chuckle with us before departing to continue his duties. Knowing that it's spicier than the spiciest dish we tried, we couldn't even begin to imagine how nasty that chicken would have felt.
Even after 25 dishes, we wanted dessert, so we got the "grand dessert" (to go with our grand rijsttafel) - a selection of various ice creams (can't remember the flavors) with tropical fruit (one piece each of kiwi, star fruit, passion fruit, watermelon, strawberry, pineapple). This was a sweet and refreshing end to a great meal.

Pretty fruit plate

There was also a complimentary plate of mints/chocolate chips at the end of the meal.

Our blackberries! This was so long ago...

We were glad we got to try the rijsttafel at both Blauw and Tempo Doeloe, since they were very different experiences and both delicious. The dishes at Tempo Doeloe centered mostly around beef, pork, chicken and vegetables, while Blauw's rijsttafel also had fish and goat. Tempo Doeloe had more dishes in the rijsttafel but Blauw compensated for less variety with larger dishes. We really thought both restaurants were excellent and would love to go back to Amsterdam for more rijsttafel. Unless you live in an area with phenomenal Indonesian food, we highly recommend a rijsttafel meal during any Amsterdam visit.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Custard Calendar

Happy Labor Day weekend! The September custard calendar is up with all repeat custards, which means we have reviews to link to! 

The custard line-up for September is (with our average scores in parentheses):

Monday - salted caramel (4.75/10)
Tuesday - banana bread (6.75/10)
Wednesday - red velvet (6.75/10)
Thursday - thin mint (8/10)
Friday - peanut butter & jelly (4.5/10)
Saturday - coffee & donuts (5.75/10 - but a bit skewed since I don't drink coffee)
Sunday - oatmeal creme pie (6.25/10)

As you can see from the scores, there are some generally solid custards, but I'm not sure any of these would make our all-time favorites list. Looking forward to the fall flavors that should start to show up in the coming months...