October 21, 2008

Dagens Næringsliv‘s fabulous Friday magazine alerted me to this story. As part of Experimentadesign Amsterdam 2008, Stefan Sagmeister created a beautiful installation over 8 days made up of 250,000 eurocent coins on how Obsessions Make His Life Worse and His Work Better.

But barely 20 hours after the last coin was placed, Amsterdam police were alerted to the fact that someone was removing some of the coins, and with stunning (and unprecedented?) efficiency, moved to sweep up the entire thing. Here’s the photographic evidence.

The installation met with its end so quickly that Sagmeister and his team hadn’t even had time to document it properly, and are now appealing for any photos of it to be added to a Flickr pool. Anjens took the photo above, and here’s a time lapse video documenting the process.

The latest installment in myyearonline’s popular country series!

1. Patat met is a perfectly acceptable lunchtime meal (above shown in its native wind-blown, rain-sprayed summer habitat).

2. The orange colour – referring to the Dutch Royal House of Orange-Nassau – currently blanketing the country in the grip of football fever has its origin in France.

3. Asian Glories is the place to eat Cantonese in the Netherlands. And if you’re Malaysian, it’s THE place to eat, full stop. Just put on your best Malaysian accent and ask for Jenny.

4. Over 60% of the population live under sea level. Schiphol Airport is at -3m.

5. Every summer, the inside-out circus De Parade travels around the Netherlands. One of my favourite places to be when the sun is shining. A collection of circus tents, each hosting a dance, cabaret or theatre performance, and in the middle a tango dance floor, silent disco, and short al fresco previews of the shows by the performers. Don’t miss it if you can!

oojami at roots

June 18, 2008

I had to leave the Netherlands before finally making it to Open Air Roots Festival in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark. Surprisingly laid back, if it’s true as according to their website that 60 000 people attended the free event this year. The stretches of stalls selling random ethnicky gear weren’t quite my scene but I got to catch up with a whole slew of people, have a couple of glasses of white wine in the sun (Ms. D was right about the weather, shorts not jeans) and have a little boogie to Oojami. They are a London-based Turkish ‘groove’ collective, and throw DJs, rappers, belly dancers, violinists and Turkish melodies into the mix. It did it for me. More outdoor dancing will definitely need to be scheduled this year. Hopefully here on Friday!

dutch florist rappers

April 16, 2008

One of the greatest pleasures of living in the Netherlands is the affordability, availability and variety of fresh cut flowers. But who ever knew that Dutch florists also made such amazing rappers? Scott Mills of UK’s Radio 1 has found them out. Very childish and very funny. Click here to listen to the gag and to about halfway if you want to hear a variety of them in their full rappin’ glory!

the taxi

March 11, 2008


Two bicycles, three people, a quarter past midnight, a twenty minute walk home. The Chef gallantly offered his bike as a two-wheeled taxi. Lit-up bridges and skinny canal houses whizzed past, the towers of the Noorderkerk and the Westerkerk loomed overhead. Some of the bow bridges proved to be too steep for two on a bike post-dinner, requiring a hop off the bike, a little trot up to the crest, and speedy reboarding to freewheel down. A couple of close encounters with rare cars on the Brewers’ Canal. Safely home, a vertigonous climb upstairs to the apartment with the view. The fare: a bunch of daffodils. Spring has sprung.

yumyum bonbons

February 1, 2008


The last of my dispatches from Amsterdam. The collage above shows the before, during and after of a thoroughly enjoyable bonbon-making workshop with seven ladies and two brave men (not ashamed to show their creative side), all supervised by the lovely Karen. We made truffles and bonbons with five different flavours: rosemary, orange and basil, chilli, nougat and whisky, and dates. The truffles were rolled in chocolate shavings, nuts, coffee, cocoa powder, coconut…

My favourite so far are the rosemary ones I think, the date ones were a little too subtle. The tricks of the trade (silicon ice cube trays and melon ball scoops) were good to know!

Best of all for me though was just being together. We all got to try something new, lick lots of fingers with ‘spilt’ chocolate, and chat about films, restaurants and how life was treating us all. Perfect for a grey Amsterdam afternoon.


This morning on the tram to work, I felt like King Olav. Why? Tune in on Monday to find out!

waking window

January 30, 2008

waking window

This was the view outside my Amsterdam bedroom window on Sunday morning. What else to say? Thank you Mr and Mrs Chef for sharing your gable view with me!

On Saturday night five of us ate in a glass house. It was an experience to do so surrounded by so much light and open space, an island in the dark winter night. The service was prompt and unfussy, and the styling good but not picture perfect (making it better..?). The food was good enough that even The Chef approved, although now and again there was just far too much going on on each plate at the same time. Sadly the good feeling was not to last, as three of us (not with the most sensitive bellies either) came down with food poisoning! Not really the way you want to remember a special meal. I have emailed them about this, I wonder what they will say…

de kas

On a related theme, The Chef has been taking photos of greenhouses at night. The light they produce is spooky, and infects the surrounding objects with their very own nighttime (and sometimes it seems X-ray) spirit. I hope to share one of his shots with you soon!

Update: The management at De Kas have written back. I was going to add to the post above that one of the main selling points of De Kas is that they grow a lot of their own vegetables. I was not entirely convinced by the gimmick: the rather exciting sounding oregano champagne house aperitif was just that: a glass of Moet… and a baby sprig of oregano. Anyway, here is his letter, slightly generic and uncommitting. Tell me what you think (also of the fact that clearly only men know how to write letters)?

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raise the red lantern

January 28, 2008


How naughty! Three whole days without a post. Luckily I have so much to share after a weekend in the Lowlands (though somehow almost all of it seems to involves food, both the eating and the making of).

The perfect weekend got off to a fine start with the perfect meal out in the Hague with Double D and Bobby the Preacher (sporting a very debonair new hairstyle).

The key ingredients:

1 bottle of Chard at home

1 great Vietnamese restaurant

lots of red lanterns

6 months’ worth of news to catch up on

beers (lost count)

2 bottles of Viognier out (which mysteriously did not make it onto the bill, extra hurrah!)

aforementioned dining partners

an array of finger-lickin’ly tasty seafood parcels

lots of fresh green herbs and leaves to wrap it in, not to mention a light fish-chilli coriander sauce to dip it all in

1 playground with silly chairs to play on on the way home

1 tram-ride home in a nighttime cityscape

more chatting, this time half comatose, but still determined to talk

Thanks for the best night out. I appreciated your sacrifice of sleep! Do it all again soon? Maybe we could even swap a few of the ingredients and try new ones…

a little piece of heaven

January 12, 2008

selexyz_maastricht.jpgIn the spring we were in the medieval city of Maastricht, tucked away in the southern most corner of the Netherlands, within shouting distance of both Germany and Belgium. While Mr. Snow was busy cycling 250 km up and down a whole collection of little hills, Miss Demure, Miss Not-So-Demure and myself wandered the streets, in and out of bakeries and boutiques. But then… we found this. The largest bookstore chain in the Netherlands has found itself a spectacular new home in an 800 year old Dominican church. The Amsterdam architechts who engineered the makeover, Merkx + Girod, richly deserved the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize for 2007 for it. As if being surrounded by shelves and shelves of books wasn’t delicious enough. Do go by when you are in the area. I promise you’ll be inspired!