Archive | September, 2010

Marzipan Fun – I learned something new

27 Sep

Here’s what I got up to last weekend:

Marzipan. Like clay, but you can eat it.

I made it at a cake decorating course offered by Sugarlicious, a new-ish shop specialising in cake decorating supplies here in Amsterdam. I made no secret that I really loved the store, and ‘WHAT, they offer cake decorating courses?’, in the weeks leading up to my birthday to help my boyfriend in the gift department.

While I’m no novice baker, I have never worked with marzipan and fondant, and it’s definitely a skill I wanted to learn. Overall, I’d say it was a great course and definitely worth the EUR 50. It was, however, taught all in Dutch, so I had to strain my hungover brain quite a bit to grasp the instructions. I think I did alright though.

I’m not a huge marzipan fan, but it was definitely fun to work with. I managed to get the giant circle of it over the entire cake without breaking it, though I think I rolled it out a tad too thin (lesson learned).

The owner of the shop was quite impressed that both me and the girl sitting across from me decorated our cake without any flowers, bows, or butterflies. Apparently it was the first time since they started the courses that any ‘student’ declined to saturate their cake top with bright pink and red flowers.

I used my other gift certificate to buy edible glitter, a cake decorating spatula, zebra cupcake liners, and a multi-purpose cupcake carrying tote. Score!

Three Weeks of Gluttony in Toronto and New York

22 Sep

I just came back from three weeks of eating and drinking whatever I wanted. And it was amazing. One of the things I miss the most about living in Toronto is the huge selection of amazing meals for cheap. Giant empanadas in Kensington Market for 5 bucks, an enormous bowl of salad with quality ingredients for 8 dollars, delicious breakfasts for the cost of a latte in Amsterdam.

A giant empanada from Toronto's Kensington Market

Ingredients for a Caeser - the quintessential Canadian cocktail.

And the grocery stores. Sure, they’re too big and mostly filled with junky processed crap, but it is a real luxury to find all the ingredients for a meal in one place. In Amsterdam, making something with more than five ingredients usually requires going to at least three different grocery stores.

When I’m visiting Canada, the majority of my time is spent with my aunt and uncle at their immaculate, yet uber-comfortable home in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Burlington, Ontario. They take great pride in their home, especially the yard. The grass is always lush and vibrant green. The area used to be an orchard, so they’ve got a big pear tree and a big apple tree in the yard.

I miss squirrels.

After a couple weeks of miserable August rain in Amsterdam, we were more than thrilled to enjoy the last month of practically perfect summer weather. People were surprised I came back with a tan.

Yes, it does get hot in Canada. Scorching hot.

So, I spent a lot of time relaxing in a reclining chair in my aunt and uncle’s backyard, cocktail in hand. They live the good life and I love that they are so generous with sharing their life with me when I’m there.  My uncle (who is the only father figure I have) turned 60 on August 29th, and they had the entire family over for a BBQ. Our family is a bunch of complete lunatics, and I love them for it.

The only non-lunatic amongst our crazy family. Pictured here with bday cupcakes courtesy of yours truly.

Oh, and did I mention my Gramma’s Coconut Cream Pie. I’m capitalising that for a reason, because it’s a pie that’s come down from heaven. I could eat a whole one if left to my own devices. It would be the last thing that my tongue tasted should I ever find myself on death row.

The world's best pie.

One of the most memorable meals we had was in NYC. It was a place I’d read about in New York magazine on the plane ride over. A new hipster place with a small menu featuring southern classics. It was called Commodore’s and if you’re ever anywhere near NYC, you should make a special trip to this place just for the fried chicken alone.

It. was. heaven.

Fried Chicken and Biscuits (made with bacon grease) - HOLY FUCK.

And this is just a small percentage of the many, many memorable meals we had over three weeks…but my wrists are getting soar, so I’ll leave it here for now.

What’s been your most memorable meal while on vacation?