Dutch Greek

Local interpretations on 'ethnic' food.

A Greek Restaurant in Amsterdam: I love these figurines, they look like they might topple

Greek restaurants in Amsterdam have their own particular flavor. I’ve never seen such delicate decor or columns arranged in a specific way to enhance the 'Greek' ambiance. In Greektown Chicago, there are plenty of columns, but the scale is bulkier, the style is kitschier, and arrangements are less delicate.

I enjoy finding how each country reimagines foreign cuisine. Menus and ambiance have more in common with local tastes. I first encountered Greek food in Chicago, so I expected flambeed cheese to be at every Greek restaurant in the world. In Berlin, I couldn’t find my favorite Greek dish in any Greek restaurant. I asked old roommate, who is from Greece, and she had no idea what I was talking about.

"In many United States and Canadian restaurants, after being fried, the saganaki cheese is flambéed at the table (sometimes with a shout of 'opa!’), and the flames then extinguished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This is called 'flaming saganaki' and apparently originated in 1968 at The Parthenon restaurant in Chicago's Greektown…" - Wikipedia

Standard drinking glasses are nicer in Europe. This place is probably not child proof.

While in Amsterdam last year, I had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. Like Ethiopian restaurants in Chicago and Berlin, the one in Amsterdam had more in common with the restaurants in Amsterdam than Ethiopian restaurants in other cities. The food might be the same, but the service, the water glasses and the seating was more classy than what I’ve experienced.

Same for other types of cuisine. In Paris, I was alarmed to find almost every Asian restaurants to offer a combination of Asian cuisine: Chinese and Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese, Thai and Japanese, or all of the above. While this may seem offensive, the practice of having multiple Asian cuisine under one roof probably has more to do with the French history of colonization over a mix of Asian populations than the generalization of a whole region. Regardless, every country’s take is different.

Funny enough, the hipster cafes that are popping up all over the world have more in common with each other than any of the cafes or eateries that may seem foreign to a region. In Prague, I was 'introduced' to a quality coffee blend roasted in Berlin in the same way that same blend was introduced to me at a cafe in Berlin. In London, similar cafes are on every corner. Even in Taipei, I enjoyed third wave coffee in a 'rustic' setting. Of course there are slight differences in the interpretation of 'rustic' decor, but on the whole, third wave cafe culture is the same wherever you go. Unlike 'ethnic’ cuisine, modern cafes have no regard for local flavor.


The Wildest Drawings

I wish I could draw like this.

favorites by @leo.mortem

Leo is a 19 year old artist who does 'plant studies'. In her notebooks, she presses flowers and draws an illustrated version of the flower.

Since I recently started to draw, I get quite frustrated at times. I'd like to be able to go on a hike, or sit outside a garden, and be able to do pretty sketches.


Weekend Pasta

'I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?'

A summer meal, homemade this weekend

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

Making pasta and walking through the woods, highlights from the weekend

This is not a food blog. I make videos on food, but the videos reflect what I found amazing about my week. Coincidentally, it's often about food.

It's been a while since I made fresh pasta so I had an appetite for pappardelle. The weather was hot and I substituted the creamy sauce for fresh tomatoes. The dish turned out too watery, but I enjoyed the tasty pasta and the lightness overall.

Did a little hiking in the woods this weekend, swam in a river and got a ton of bug bites.


Sauerkraut part 1

Just the beginning...

The first part of pickling

I'll have to wait a couple weeks before I get to taste the pickled cabbage. It was fun combining the salt with the lettuce and carrots.



There was more mystique behind the photo than the subject of the photo.

Well-lit, despite the rainy weather

My motive for visiting the Pantheon was to replicate a famous piece of art. I wanted something classy for my home and thought it’d be simple to recreate a Thomas Struth, the photo the artist took in 1990 which later sold for over a million dollars in 2007.

When I got to the Pantheon, I was very surprised how impressive the space was. It was unexpected for someone who wasn’t there for the attraction.

I stared at the dome for a long time, marveling how something physical can look computer generated. It’s a shame they didn’t preserve the usage of the building, as a place to celebrate all gods, rather than just the Christian one.

I wonder how you can get to the 2nd floor. Really neat windows.

My first attempt: got the floor, the width but not the height

Second attempt: got the height, a bit too much, but it's half the width of the Struth I was striving for. I really enjoyed the marble inside.

Quickly I realized I couldn’t recreate the million dollar photo. The dome and the floor are too far apart.

My perspective of the Thomas Struth has changed. He totally used a special lens. And I thought it would be so simple…


Weekend Coloring: a minimal kitchen

'Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.' - Julia Child

This week’s coloring page is a minimal kitchen that’s sparsely filled. I like how children’s coloring books sometimes allow space to draw in details to complete the picture. The bottom shelves have plenty of space for dry food or other dishes. Since the kitchen cabinets are minimal, there’s room to make your own alterations, adding a knob or some sort of decorative front.

A4 size coloring page PDF - download here
Letter size coloring page PDF - download here



Changing my style.

This time, my colors are inspired by storms, but maybe for my next design, I can find a way to transform the darkness of a dense forest online.

I get tired of how my blog looks so I change it a couple times a year. This time, I’ve used colors I found in a thunderstorm. Dark blue, stormy grays and a bit of warm gold-ish gray reflects the volatile clouds that unexpectedly part letting a stream of warm light run through.

It’s strange to see the same colors in my bedroom. I did not plan for that. It takes time for my own preferences to be revealed to me.

The text is not as crisp and clear but I feel like the voice behind the blog became softer. The 'medium is the message' and often online, I feel like there are pages yelling at me. Sometimes the font style or weight is too loud.

The dark blue background cocoons my shared thoughts. Compared to the white background and black text from my former designs, my blog has become a more protected and safe place to journal.


morning in miami

A place where everyone is invited to wear short shorts.

Gentle waves, warm water, perfect for swimming anytime

I didn’t expect much from Miami on my first trip many years ago. I thought it was a "cheesy" place known for bright clashing colors and butt implants.

After arriving, I found the colors and implants, as expected, but it wasn’t cheap nor was it cheesy. I remember staring at a woman with two butt cheeks the size of basketballs, spherically round to perfection. The level of craftsmanship is beyond.

For the first time, I felt confident about my thighs. Women were proudly exposing broad thighs, far broader than mine, and their confidence made me aspire for more curves.

Taken on the morning before my flight, I didn't want to leave without walking on the beach for the last time. The dark spots are from rain drops that landed on my lens.

Most of my life I dieted and exercised hoping to convert my thick legs into thin twigs. All I had to do was visit Miami. It felt good to be me.


Plastic Windows

Fantastic plastic.

makeshift windows glowing in the evening

I love this plastic material that's found all over Europe. It seems to be used as cheap window material, an alternative to glass. There's always a pattern or some sort of fuzz so anything on the other side is made less visable.

The material isn't as common in the states--perhaps that explains my fascination. There's nothing in the states that's functional and comes in a variety of patterns that each had some consideration for design. I'd be happy to cover my home with plastic, maybe make a greenhouse with different patterns, but I don't expect people in Europe to enjoy it the same way.


Food Retreats

Making a 'home' away from home.

A scene from Mimi Thorisson’s 'Workshops’ held in Médoc, a village in the French countryside far away from Paris. One of the most popular retreats, 2017 workshops are already planned. Photo via mimithorisson.com.

The most interesting vacation spots are not European cities or tropical destinations. Instagram has overexposed once desirable destinations to an extent that they all seem too familiar. I no longer want to visit.

There’s a relatively new category of travel that I’m drawn to. It’s the retreats food bloggers host. Maybe it has something to do with my love for food…

While 'exotic' travel offers vibrant experiences, the type of experience food and lifestyle retreats offer is less 'exhilarating'. On a past vacation to Panama, I found a flavor of excitment that just wasn’t something I’d ever look forward to again: ATV riding through tropical terrain.

Cooking and photography in a place made to feel like a ’home away from home' is more comparable to the enjoyment of having an afternoon coffee. Especially when compared to slugging drinks in between jello shots, the tempo that defines packaged travel experiences.

Perhaps I am an old lady at heart. Cooking, photo taking and making things is invigorating.

’Home away from home’ in Marrakech, Local Milk’s upcoming destination. Photos via Local Milk Retreats.

It’s possible that gourment luxury imagery will not be popular for long, as they’re becoming overexposed, but I like how these retreats create new 'destinations' for travel. Local Milk holds workshops in Tennessee and demonstrate how 'destinations' are not confined to tourist centers.

Many retreats offer fantasy travel experiences, like eating and cooking in a palazzo in Venice, a type of experience different than waiting for a tour of some important building. Also, it’s world’s away from the the experience of procuring a fake handbag. (Why are there fake handbags wherever there are tourists? Doesn’t a nice photo on Instagram with many likes command more respect than a designer logo these days?)

Why must we all enjoy the same destinations and stress each other out? Lifestyle retreats, along with other types of retreats, like yoga and meditation, expand the possibilities for travel, with more destinations to yearn for.