The last couple of months Koen and I have been eating more sweet potatoes. Normally I only eat sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving, but I had been seeing more and more recipes calling for them. I have to say, all 3 of these dishes were outstanding and I will definitely make them all again!
My first sweet potato dish that was not a pie or souffle, was the Big Comfy Sweet Potato from My New Roots. It consists of an oven-baked sweet potato topped with a mole inspired sauce served with black beans, avocado, goat cheese, green onion, sprouts, and cilantro. Yum!
I had recently read an article about the revival of cocktail parties. I shared it with some of my classmates at the United International Business Schools, Antwerp and it was decided for me that I’d host one myself. It’s always fun to entertain, so I didn’t mind. As for cocktails, we provided the essentials for gin and tonics and Cuba Libres – for the rest everyone brought their favorite drinks and mixers. To pair with the cocktails, I made two sweet and two savory options. For the sweet tooths, I made mini pecan pies and coconut macarons (lactose-free option). Personally I like something savory with my drinks, so I made a garlic-free guacomole (it is a party afterall!) and quinoa cups with spinach and bacon. We had a lot of fun and it’s always nice to see everyone in another setting!
A special thank you to Diana and David for the invitation to come see the Longines Global Champions Tour 2014, formally known as Jumping Antwerpen! Last year I went with Koen and really enjoyed it. This year I invited Hannah to join me, because she does some jumping herself. Such a good choice for a guest! I was able to learn a lot while we watched. Enthusiasm is also contagious, so being with someone who loves horses made the event that much more fun! The venue is beautiful and located on the dockside of Antwerp’s Scheldt River with a view of the cranes.
In Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, late April to late June is white asparagus season. During this period I always try to eat as much white asparagus as possible – we’ve already had them 4 times! Compared to green asparagus, the white ones are more tender and less bitter. Normally Koen and I always eat them the Dutch way, with Hollandais sauce, ham, smoked salmon and a boiled egg. This season we’ve been experimenting. A few tips from Jeroen Meus to keep in mind when preparing asparagus:
Poke the bottom of the asparagus with your thumbnail; if moisture comes, they’re fresh
Rub the asparagus together; if they make a squeaky sound, they’re fresh
Rather than cutting the end off, break it off with your hands; that way you don’t accidentally cut off any of the tender asparagus
Day 13 was our last full day in NYC because we needed to head to the airport after lunch the next day. So we spent our last real day eating my favorite lunch again from the trip – Banh Mì from Saigon in Chinatown, and then heading back to Midtown to buy presents. I also wanted to visit the Ralph Lauren stores on Madison Avenue as well as his daughter’s candy store, Dylan’s Candy Bar. As a thank you to Christina for letting us stay with her so long, we spent our last evening seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway! The next morning we needed to pack and get our things together. For our last lunch we decided to go back to San Gennaro’s for steak and mozzarella sandwiches. Luckily we planned a lot of time between leaving Christina’s apartment and our flight. It turns out the exact time we wanted to head to the metro station was during the huge parade for San Gennaro! The crowds were gigantic and we were both with two suitcases trying to fight our way through. Then we had to talk to the police officers to try and convince them to let us cross through the parade because if we had would wait another hour it would be too late. So rather than taking 5 minutes to get to the metro station it took us 30 minutes – but we made it! At the airport we decided to have one last burger from the Shake Shack! Now we are both looking forward to going back to NYC in September!
Heading into our last days in NYC, we knew we had to try a bagel from Russ and Daughters. Christina and I left to pick up bagels to bring back to the apartment but we hadn’t realized our trip coincided with Yom Kippur. There is always a long wait but we arrived the day before the holiest day of the year for Jewish people. So it was packed! But luckily a kind stranger gave us his tickets and we didn’t have to wait more than half an hour – but some people were waiting more than an hour to place orders! But I have to say it was worth the wait (plus I had good company)! After lunch we headed to Little Italy for the grand opening of San Gennaro – the oldest and biggest religious street festival in NYC. We heard there was a cannoli eating contest and we had to check it out. We’ll never be able to unsee the contest, but at least I can check off attending an eating event from my bucket list. I lost my craving for cannolis so we headed to The Butcher’s Daughter for kale chips and fresh juice. We were invited over to Queens for dinner at my friend Greg’s place, but of course I forgot to take photos!
Now that we had explored a lot of Manhattan, we decided on day 11 to meet up with some friends in Brooklyn. First we ate sushi in Chinatown and stopped for cupcakes and iced coffee at Molly’s Cupcakes in Greenwich Village. Then we met up with our friend Matt in Brooklyn to see another side of NYC. First we explored Williamsburg, walking around and stopping at the park to look at the view of Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge. Matt also took us to Five Leaves where I of course ordered a Brooklyn beer, because it was only fitting. For dinner we headed to Bushwick to meet Danny at Arepera Guacuco and I tried arepas for the first time! After dinner we met up with my friend Meredith for drinks in Bushwick. When we go back to New York in September we’ll be seeing a bit more of Brooklyn!
By our 10th day in NYC, we had already seen quite a bit – so we slept in before enjoying lunch at the famous Katz’s Delicatessen, founded in 1888! Everyone knows the famous scene in Katz’s Deli from the movie When Harry Met Sally. There’s sign hanging in the restaurant if you’re interested in sitting in the same booth! After our HUGE lunch, we headed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection at the Met is overwhelming. In general, it’s so amazing how much art is at your fingertips while you are in New York City. Koen and I will be back in NYC September 2014, and we’ll definitely head back to the Met! If you’re on a budget, admission for the museum is based on donations. So if $25 is too much, you can give what you can any day of the week. After our trip to the Met we met Christina when she got off from work for Mexican food.
This Christmas my husband surprised me with a ticket to see Beyoncé in Antwerp! If you don’t know, Queen Bey is my absolute favorite and this was my first time seeing her live! Koen doesn’t have the same enthusiasm, so I had a girls’ night with Barbara dancing and singing! Love being part of the Bey Hive!
This year Koen and I volunteered to host Easter brunch at our apartment in Antwerp. It was a lot of fun coming up with a menu and plan for the afternoon. We knew we wanted to buy lots of different breads and spreads as well as pastries, both savory and sweet. Of course we placed our order at Lints, our favorite bakery. Because the weather was nice and sunny, we also were in the mood for fruit! So we served watermelon, mango, pineapple, raspberries, and passion fruit alongside homemade kiwi juice (we used the leftovers to make a delicious smoothie the next day). After our huge brunch we went for a walk around the city, walking along the Scheldt River and through the historic district, stopping for a drink in front of City Hall and the famous Brabo fountain.