Romanesco

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Creepy food hall of fame

Have you ever seen this before? I didn’t think so. I had never seen it in the U.S., but it’s all over the place here. It’s called Romanesco, a strange monster-like head in an even creepier pea-green color. If broccoli and cauliflower were to… you know… breed, I think this would be the love child. It makes me nervous just looking at it. Nevertheless, we bought one at the market and cooked it. I’m always up for trying a new food, despite (sometimes ugly) appearances. While I don’t have any pictures of the final product, we just roasted it with its parents and some carrot for about an hour. And actually, it was quite tasty. I’m even starting to think it’s pretty (must be the accountant in me, it has the Fibonacci sequence in it, nerd alert!). Call me smitten.

Spaghetti & (mozzarella-stuffed) meatballs

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One of our favorite meals

You want a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Look no further. We use the (in)famous Scott Conant’s recipe for his mouth-watering Scarpetta spaghetti. You can check out a pretty good adaptation of the recipe here. It all comes down to the ingredients. As in, they better be the freshest of fresh. We took it a step further and even used fresh, handmade spaghetti noodles found at our Noordermarkt, but that’s your call. Just don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

As far as those huge balls of meat, we like (who is surprised) Giada’s recipe found within here. They are each stuffed with a perfect oozing cube of mozzarella. Do yourself a favor and make sure that is fresh too. You won’t regret it!

Vietnamese chicken soup

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Perfect rainy weather meal

Amsterdam is known for its constant rain, so a good way to combat the winter blues? A hearty soup! I sort of made this up as I went along, but basically boiled vegetables (hearty ones like carrots, celery & onions) in chicken broth and in a separate pot, boiled pieces of chicken in water. Once both were done, I threw the chicken in the soup and used its water to boil vermillion (you can sub this for rice noodles) and added that to the rest once it was cooked. Go ahead and salt & pepper to your own taste (for me, a lot). For garnish on top, I added cilantro, mint, bamboo sprouts and a squirt of lime juice. The lime juice is essential! It really gives the dish its Asian flair.

In Exile

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Man found frozen on Ukrainian bus. Authorities say he wasn't drinking enough Vodka.

I arrived in Ukraine today…Or should I say I was exiled to Ukraine today? The weather is what I always imagined Siberia to be like so being here feels like I’m being punished.

The ice in Kiev does not have the same charm as it does in Amsterdam, or Chicago for that matter. Let’s be honest, the city isn’t all that pretty to begin with and do you think they really have a system for snow removal in a place where the parking meters have a pulse? Don’t think so. I almost killed myself on the sidewalk outside our apartment because they’re covered with ice. Imagine if I’d cracked a rib in this place! I will say crossing over the frozen Dnipro with the snow falling was pretty cool.

Fortunately, when I arrived at the apartment it was nice and warm and the smell from the bathroom was here to welcome me – one of the joys in Ukraine is the smells (My wife wrote extensively on the subject a while back). We have a lovely stench which our landlord refuses to admit exists coming from our bathroom. Hoping to finally get that taken care of this week.

It’s not all bad though. I’m excited to get some work done here and I’m hoping to meet some new people and see some new places. Fingers crossed that a few of them are winners. So long as I don’t freeze to death or slip on the ice and fall into a coma, I’ll consider this week a success. Wish me luck.