10 Years

Broadway
This weekend, G and I celebrated 10 years together. To mark the occasion, we decided to go to Broadway, an American-style steak and rib restaurant. Fancy? Not really, but it was perfect for us. For one thing, we met while living in New York and even lived on the corner of Broadway. Furthermore, we love ribs, but you can’t really get baby back ribs here. Spare ribs are sometimes available, but even those are usually pre-marinated and just not the same. Broadway does an excellent American-style ribs. Sure, I still prefer the ones that we made and smoked ourselves, but this is a good substitute. Even their cole slaw is surprisingly good, although the addition of raisins and the slice of orange was a but unnecessary.

Oudegracht

We got lucky and after only waiting about five minutes, we were able to get a table outside. In fact, if you look at the first photo, we ended up sitting at the two-person table by the red door. It was a nice spot to enjoy the evening. One of the things that makes dining at the restaurant so nice is that you can sit there by the side of the Oudegracht. As you can see, it’s one of the unique canals here in Utrecht. The Oudegracht and the Nieuwegracht are the canals with a street level and a canal level. Along the Oudegracht, most of what used to be storage caverns under the street level have been turned into restaurants where you can sit indoors or outdoors (depending on the weather). It’s always a pleasure to sit outdoors and watch the various boats passing by. At one point, we saw five boats tethered together, one after the other, puttering along the canal. Each had the name of a different prince. Another boat went by with a very big dog curled up on the bow, fast asleep.

Bakkerbrug

You really do sit right by the water, so a bit of care must be taken not to drop stuff into the canal, including yourself! As it was, we did see one of the chairs end up in the canal. Someone had lost their balance on the uneven bricks and knocked into a chair, which knocked into another, which fell right into the canal. Fortunately, it was light enough to float for a while, giving one the waitresses enough time to eventually fish it out of the canal with the help of a long broom. Once she pulled it up, a round of applause went up from some of the diners on our side of the canal, as well as the diners on the other side! They probably had the best view of the rescue.

It was a fun way to celebrate our anniversary, and best of all, we had leftovers! The restaurant keeps with the American concept and gives American-size portions. Fortunately, they also offer doggy bags!

Independence Day

Last Remains
Happy Fourth of July to all of my fellow Americans, no matter where you’re living today! I may not be the most patriotic of people — I’ve grown up with mixed loyalties, and those have just gotten mixed up further over the years as more countries have their influence on me — but I do think the US has had some good ideas and managed to put a few of them into practice, even, so today I raise a glass to all of those people who have worked to make the country a better place. Just remember that all of those freedoms and liberties that you’re so proud of should be extended to every American, not just the ones you like. 😉

We’re celebrating this evening with ribs that we found at the organic butcher. They had precooked and premarinated ones, but I managed to ask (in Dutch) for some plain, uncooked ones. They turned out to be incredibly cheap (goed koop), so now I wish we’d bought more! I made some potato salad to go along with the ribs and we’ve got a dry rub about to go on them, and I used the last of my molasses to make some BBQ sauce. Molasses is one of those “exotic” foods here that I can buy in the expat food shop, for the price of an arm and a leg. Thank goodness the bottle I bought lasted for almost three years. It makes the cost a little more bearable! The Dutch do their fireworks on New Year’s Eve, so things will be quiet here. If you’re setting off your own fireworks, enjoy and be careful!

Happy Independence Day!

I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas

Not Quite Right
Yesterday morning — despite our no-ads sticker on the mail slot — we got this flyer delivered. I can’t help but love it. It’s such a beautiful mash-up of America, Dutch-style.

The front is almost over-the-top American with the big flag and the sexy girl dressed up in Daisy Duke shorts, midriff-baring western shirt, and cowboy hat and boots. Yet, there’s just something about the girl that doesn’t look American. I keep thinking she looks a bit more Eastern European. It’s a subtle distinction. And of course, on top of all this American symbolism, there’s the almost jarring (from a US-perspective) inclusion of the Dutch text, which in this case says: De lekkerste van Nederland! (That would essentially translate to “the best tasting in the Netherlands”.)

Then you flip the flyer over and things get even funnier!
American Spareribs.NL
Things start off well enough with the spareribs, although some of the sauce options may be a bit different from what you’d get in the US. At least one of them is probably more of an Asian flavor with the sweet chili sauce (I’m not sure if that’s the Sweet or the Chilli. Chilli con carne tastes different here, too) Then you get to the cowlsalade. I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be cole slaw. The cole slaw we’ve had at the Broadway steakhouse on the Oudegracht was quite good, but you never know. The only recipe I could find for cowlsalade didn’t actually have any mayonnaise (or any other sauce) in it at all.

But then you get to the funny part. The next item on this American-themed menu? KipsatĂ©. (Chicken satay) To be honest, I think you would be hard-pressed to find any restaurant in the Netherlands that doesn’t have satĂ© on the menu, be it high end or snack bar; it’s everywhere. It’s not that it’s unknown in the US, but it’s just not something that you see all the time. When you get just a further bit down on the menu to the American Combi Grill option, it’s kind of funny to see ribs, chicken drumsticks, and good ol’ satĂ© make up the American combination platter. Today is the Fourth of July — Independence Day — in the US, and it’s a tradition that lots of people will be grilling today to celebrate. Ribs and chicken (and burgers, hot dogs, steaks and even veggie burgers) will be sizzling on the grills today, but I’m pretty sure your average American won’t be grilling up some chicken satĂ©. Kabobs maybe, but not satĂ©.

They do offer the American Burger XXL, “a real American double cheeseburger”. I wonder what cheese they use. Probably goudse. The burger comes with the usual toppings such as lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, but they also throw in cucumber for that little something different. There’s also a special “hamburger sauce”. No telling what that could be. Thousand Island dressing, just like McDonald’s Big Mac “special sauce”?

Speaking of sauces, they have a whole section devoted to sauces, but even here, they’re so very Dutch. Knoflooksaus (garlic sauce and very tasty), whiskysaus, shaslicksaus (I have NO idea, seems to be some sort of bbq sauce), currysaus, fritesaus (basically, mayonnaise), appelmoes (apple sauce), and of course, satĂ© sauce. There’s one other sauce listed: American fritessaus. Frites are fries, so it’s American fries sauce. You’d think that would be ketchup, wouldn’t you. You’d be wrong. It’s also mayonnaise. I’m not really sure how it differs from regular fritessaus. Can anyone offer a good explanation? For what it’s worth, there’s no ketchup listed in the sauces. I’m not sure it’s available at all. I prefer mayonnaise for my fries, anyway, so it’s not a loss for me, but it’s still funny to think of an “American” restaurant not having ketchup.

When I was joking with G about the menu and the subtle differences, his response was, “Welcome to my world.” He’s right; now I know how he feels any time he goes into an “Italian” restaurant. Similar base ingredients are there, but what is done with them from then on can be quite different! It’s not bad, it’s just different.

We picked up a package of ribs at the grocery store for today’s celebration. Unfortunately, they’ve already got their own marinade/seasoning, so I can’t do my voodoo that I love to do. There were three options in the flavoring: Indian, Piri Piri, and Texan. We went with Texan. I’ll let you know how that goes.

(This post is dedicated to Kerryanne and Ken, a couple of fellow Americans I got to spend an enjoyable evening with last night. One of our topics of conversation was the differences in foods. I’ll never think of potato salad in the same way!)

Ribs, Glorious Ribs


Ribs, glorious ribs!
Hot french fries, and coleslaw …

I had another TweetUp (meet-up with friends from Twitter) last night, meeting with pinkypie, ROtotheD, Pamcakes, and Melissa, a friend of pinkypie’s. We’d gone to Stairway to Heaven last time we all got together, and this time we went to Broadway American Steakhouse Restaurant on the Oudegracht. Our goal? Ribs. Pammy had been before and said the ribs were actually quite good, so we were hopeful. That hope was not in vain. The ribs were surprisingly good! As good as the ones G and I used to make? No, but really, how could they be. 😉 They more than satisfied my rib craving — or maybe they’ve just inflamed my craving. Either way, we’ll definitely be going back, especially once the weather is warmer and drier and we can sit on the terrace right there on the canal.

We probably could have sat outside last night. The day was sunny and surprisingly warm, getting up to 17C! It seemed like all of Utrecht was outside last night, with every restaurant and cafĂ©’s outdoor seating filled to the brim with people enjoying the warmer temperatures. It really was a gezellig evening — friends enjoying each other’s company, laughter ringing out, and the glow of table candles lighting the evening in a rainbow of colors.

We did eat indoors, but it was still fun and an interesting setting. The restaurant is in one of the canal-level/below street-level spaces where the interior is filled with curved walls creating a cave-like atmosphere, without the dampness or dreariness. They had the walls painted with scenes from Old Hollywood, including a mural of Laurel and Hardy.

The pictures aren’t that great, but that’s because they were a last-minute thought as we were getting ready to leave. The rest of the evening was taken up laughing, eating, and generally have a great time. Most of us also got “doggy bags”, since the portion sizes were also American. What you see in the top picture is the ribs that I had left and brought home for my lunch today. The dinner also came with patat/frites (French fries) and we got some cole slaw to go along with it all. Even the cole slaw was excellent, although we partly attributed that to the use of Dutch mayonnaise. All in all, it was a great night with great food and great company. Can’t wait to do it all again!