Thursday, 25 June 2009

Poison Ivy

I went to dinner at one of the Netherlands' top new restaurants on Tuesday, and reviewed the experience for my friend Karen's cooking blog
Fearless in the Kitchen.

Apparently I was somewhat anal-retentive about the whole thing, but you can judge that for yourself here.

Wimbledon cuteness

You don't have to like tennis to appreciate this:

"Frenchman Micheal Llodra had to forfeit his match against german Tommy Haas today after losing his balance during a rally and crashing into the umpires chair (and the face of a ball girl). Haas wasn't quite ready to leave centre court yet though, so he dedided to treat the audience to a little game with the ball boys and girl."

Well, it looks like I have a new crush. How cute was that!?! (And how much do you love that the only kid with game doesn't have a Y chromosome...)

* Once again for the Dutchies; if you are reading this on my Hyves page, the RSS feed doesn't copy the YouTube clips so you'll have to click through to my blog.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Best, worst and hottest, the dad edition!

So I've already turned the spotlight on my own dad today, but there are many fatherly characters out there that speak to the imagination, for better or worse...

Worst dad: Josef Fritzl
You have to be one disgusting human being to win this title, but unfortunately mr. Fritzl is as loathsome as they come. Locking his daughter in the basement for most of her life, using her as a sex slave, and fathering his own grandchildren. Some of whom were kept hidden from the world, and one who didn't even survive life in his hellish Austrian dungeon.

Worst animated dad: Randy Marsh (South Park)

When he's not busy mastrubating, drinking and/or causing mass hysteria, he is still a pretty big jackass, causing his son Stan massive headaches and much embarressment. Granted, Peter Griffin may be even worse. But Family Guy is way less funny and I've kind of had it with them, so they are spared this dubious honour.

Best dad: Jon stewart

Let's face it, the guy is by all accounts pretty much perfect. He's smart, funny and has morals that seem incredibly sane for Hollywood standards. Not to mention that he'd be a very worthy adversary for any teenage smartmouth. Truly a dad to look up to.

Best dad (who isn't a dad) - Stephen Fry

He might be an elderly gay man and therefore an unlikely candidate for fatherhood, but I think mr. Fry would make the perfect dad. Kind and wise, conscientious and witty, I would hand this man my firstborn in a heartbeat. Also, having Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie for god parents wouldn't be too shabby...

Hottest dad - Hank Moody (Californation)

Hank Moody's smooth, poetic ways may ruin his daughter for all other men, but they sure are a delight to watch. Never short of a good oneliner, he is the (fictional) dad whose face I would most happily use as a chair. And he isn't without life lessons either; "Back tatts are the watermark of the promiscuous". True that...

Happy father's day dad!

As far as dads go, mine is pretty fantastic. He's quite funny (not as funny as he thinks he is, but I guess that runs in the family...), he's generous, very proud, loving, and generally fun to be around. He's instilled in me a profound love for music, a strong sense of independance, and the confidence to go after whatever you want out of life. He's the dad you can have a beer with (read: many, many beers), and the dad my sister and I wouldn't trade for anyone. So in honour of father's day, I'd like to share some of his parenting greatest hits.

When I was in my early teens, I was the typical, sensitive, idealistic bookworm (you know the type; wears a lot of black, not very good at the evil high school politics, writes awful and naive poetry about changing the world) and also not very easy to shop for. When my birthday came around, my dad walked into the local bookshop and told the saleswoman; "My daughter is way too smart for her own good and loves to read. I have no idea what kind of book to get her, help me." And so that's how I got Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter for my 13th birthday. It still gives me a headache, but it's nonetheless very flattering to know that your dad mistakenly believes you to be some kind of genius.

A few years after that, I had tickets for a Junkie XL concert in Tilburg (about an hour away) and my friend and I had secretly planned to stay with some students who lived there, so we could stay out all night. Naturally we got busted for lying about where we were planning to stay, but instead of grounding me, he drove us to the concert and came to pick us up at one in the morning, joking and smiling all the way. This of course made me feel horribly guilty about being a lying little shit, and earned him major cool points for life.

The best thing my dad ever did though, and the biggest example of the kind of person he is, was what he did when my cousin was in trouble. I won't go into details, but let's just say he was being mistreated by the people who were supposed to take care of him. When he got the call, my dad just got in his car, got him out of there, and gave him a home in our house. No questions asked. It was the only right thing to do, but I know many, many people wouldn't have.

I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you dad. I love you.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The (complete) ten commandments of hospitality, FOR CUSTOMERS!!!

There are many rules restaurant employees have to mind when working around food and people:
"Take a shower every once in a while, try to minimise the pointing and laughing at customers, and refrain from hot plate frisbee during rush hour."
Sounds fair enough, right? But I do believe us humble servant folk deserve SOME common courtesy in return by our guests. The following is a detailed list of ten things that make us want to put arsenic in your coffee, and that you should please never again do in a restaurant. Basically it all boils down to: "don't be a twat", but that doesn't make a very good list now does it?

1. Thou shalt not be a pervert

Rule of thumb: "If he/she is young enough to be your child (or worse) don't try to hit on your waiter." First of all because it's gross, and second of all, we have to be nice to you for money. Please don't make that even more creepy than it has to be. Yes, we may come across very friendly or even flirty, but that is what being a good host(ess) is. We make you feel welcome. If you misinterpret those signals as a sexual green light, we will make fun of you to our colleagues and deem you pathetic behind your back (except if you were the hot guy sitting at table 42 on saturday, in which case I totally meant to flirt with you).

2. Thou shalt sit wherever the hell thou are told

Seriously people, it's not that difficult. If a table seats eight and there's only two of you, don't act surprised if you are not seated there. We understand you like the extra elbow space, but we kind of like the six hundred euros we can make by sticking actual people in those empty chairs. Your boss doesn't allow you to throw your computer out the office window at the end of the day does he? No, because THAT would be a waste of money. Think about it, dumbass.

3. Thou shalt not be a stingy bastard

You knew this was coming, but tipping is important! If the food and service are good, or even great, it's nice to tell us so, but compliments do not pay the rent. Hospitality is hard and physically strenuous work, for not a lot of money. So if you can afford to eat at a high end place like ours, we know you have a few extra pennies to show your appreciation. It pains me to say this but women are especially lousy tippers. Not that I believe men to be more altruistic or generous, but their machismo fear of being called a cheapskate moves them to do the right thing.

4. Thou shalt keep thy womb fruit in check

It's nice that you think your offspring is of magnificent beauty and wisdom, but it's pretty safe to assume to rest of us are less impressed. Therefore, it would be helpful if you could teach your kids some goddamn manners. I don't know what my parents would have done if eight year old me had been running around the restaurant screaming, ruining all the table settings, and slamming into fully loaded waiters, but I'm pretty sure that it would have hurt. Call me old fashioned, but I genuinely didn't expect to be scolded by the mother of the little creep I had just prevented from eating glass fragments off the floor. Next time I'll just hand junior a box of matches and a steak knife, and send him on his merry way.

5. Thou shalt realise when the party is over

We've all been there. You've had a few too many and you're not quite ready to go home. At this point it's probably wise to realise that the people who are working there are all itching for you to leave so that they can finally relax themselves, and that is why they've been asking: "can I get you anything else", every three minutes for the last half hour. Go be drunk around people who are in a similar state of intoxication, and who won't remember you so harshly, if at all.

6. Thou shalt not mess with the balancing act

You may think that you're helping, but handing us the smallest thing on the table, thereby ensuring that we can't stack anything else on, thus forcing us to make another run to the kitchen is the exact opposite. There is a very fragile logic between what we can carry and how we stack it, and it is different for everyone, so please don't hand us anything, unless we ask. If we are carrying a serving tray, for the love of Krishna do not take anything from it, or place anything on it when we aren't looking, because it will fall. That doesn't make us clumbsy, it makes you daft, and probably dripping.

7. Thou shalt not treat thy waiters like cattle

Whistling, clapping, snapping your fingers and waving hysterically at restaurant staff should be punishable by death. Or at the very least by flogging. It's incredibly rude, humiliating, dehumanising and it pretty much garantees you crap service for the rest of the night, because the entire staff will loathe you. It is however completely acceptable to walk up to a stranger who displays this behaviour and punch them in the throat. When they stare back at you, baffled and afraid, you can snap your fingers at them (or whistle, clap etc.) and say; "you know why!".

8. Thou shalt not be hysterically pregnant

Since the dawn of time, blushing farm women, malnourished African women, and stupid teenagers (surviving solely on a steady diet of KFC and twinkies) alike have been putting healthy youngens on this earth. It's good that we now know a little more about what not to do during pregnancy, but try not to be a total paranoid bitch about it. We are not out to poison your child to be, and if you are so very afraid of the redness of meat, then just DON'T ORDER THE FUCKING STEAK! It makes our souls hurt to serve grey beef. Oh, and those three drops of alcohol in the sauce will have evaporated in the cooking process, it is not necessairy to ask that question about every single thing on the menu while pointing at your stomache. You have told us you're pregnant five times already, and also, you are huge and bloated.

9. Thou shalt not be hasty

You know why fast food is so cheap? Because it takes no thought, no time to prepare, and it's expected to taste like crap. Good, fresh food actually takes time and care, and if you look around, you'll notice that you're not the only person who we're serving at the moment. We'll serve you in a very timely manner, and if we feel you might be waiting a minute too long, we'll be at your table, apologising profusely and offering you free drinks. If you are so very bored with your company that you have nothing better to do than to stare at your watch all night, might we suggest "rent-a-friend", or a divorce.

10. Thou shalt not assume thy waiter is an idiot

There are plenty of dim bulbs who work in hospitality, like there are in any industry, but there's no need to talk to your waiter like they're mentally handicapped. If you are dining in a good restaurant, or even in a crappy one in a cool city, chances are you are being served by someone who has a sharp mind and a passion for food and wine, who understands there's an art to making sure you have a great evening, who has a college education and probably could do many other things just as well, but who chose this career because it makes them happy, they are fucking great at it, and it's a helluvalot more fun than being stuck in some office all day.