March 27, 2009
March 17, 2009
Perhaps this is the most common term for this confectionery treat made of cocoa. It is actually in South America where chocolates originated because of the abundance of cacao trees in this area, but the Spanish were the ones who made it famous. Chocolates had a history of slavery because when the Spanish conquistadors brought chocolates back to Europe, the demand went so high that they started forced labor with cacao productions.
Chocolates is considered as an aphrodisiac and even recommended for its health benefits. At least some type of chocolates. They are children's favourite and adults are rooting for them as much.
Coming to the Netherlands is a real treat for my sweet tooth. Being a neighbor of Belgium which we know is where all the best chocolates comes from, chocolates here are cheap and abundant. Since its just an hour away from Antwerpen or maybe couple of hours from other Belgian cities and since part of the country is still under the Dutch influence, the taxes for chocolates are not that high compared to other countries.
I like my chocolate very dark to the point of still being a bit bitter. I'm not too hot for sweet chocolates, much more milk chocolates. Every now and then, I also go for chocolates with nuts. I do not like pralines as much as other people does because sometimes I get to pick the ones which doesn't have a nice taste. My favourite would be dark truffels and liquer filled cherry bonbons.
I guess we all have our sweet tooth or if not, at least most of us likes chocolates. But how well do you know your chocolates? Let me give your trivia on the varieties I mentioned above.
- Pure Chocolate Liquor - Unsweetened chocolate which is in liquid form and used for baking.You wouldn't event want to try this.
- Dark Chocolate - Solid chocolate with higher concentration of chocolate liquor and is said to be beneficial to ones health because of the presence of antioxidant called flavonoids.
Milk Chocolates - Confectioneries doesn't even considered this chocolates at all. Milk chocolates is a mixture of milk, cocoa butter and sugar and doesnt really use cocoa powder. Too sweet for me.
- Pralines - Pralines originated from France and was named after sugar magnate Marshall du Plessis-Praslin. The term pralin literally means grinded sugar-coated nuts while praline is what it was known when mixed with sugar. Pralines are chocolates filled with either cream of different fruit flavours or nuts of different kinds like almond and hazelnuts. Pralines these days usually comes in different amusing shapes and sizes but everything will always have filling, otherwise it wont be pralines anymore.
- Truffles - Ever heard of the term ganache? In culinary term, it is a heavy cream that is used for fillings. Truffles are originally made from ganache that was rolled in cocoa powder or chocolate powder. Chocolate truffles resembled the black fungi called truffles thus the term, but it is considered as one of the most luxurious kind of chocolate. Sometimes it is filled with nuts of liquers or nothing at all, just solid chocolates. My truffles would always have dark chocolate fillings on it and real cocoa bits.
- Bonbons - I dont know if this is a legitimate type of chocolates or can be considered as chocolate liquer (now dont mistake that for chocolate liquor, that different because this one has a high content of alcohol) but in the Netherlands, Kersenbonbons or Cherry Bonbons are very popular. These are dark chocolates filled with rum and whole cherry and very delicious especially at mid-day to wake up your nerves that got bored in the office.
Just to give you an idea of how much these chocolates on the picture, here is a price list from ALbert Heijn and Lidl. These however are not the expensive ones you can buy at De Bijenkorf or the real pricey varieties. Just normal chocolates you can get at the supermarkt.
KersenBonbons - 2.99 (AH)
Pralines Superiuers - 2.29 (Ldl)
Truffels - 1.0 (C1000)
Bellarom Fruits and Nuts - 1.35 (Ldl)
When I arrived for the second time this January, we also dined there since the flights from Manila always arrives around 6PM. Last time when Mom, Dad and I picked up Robin from his apartment we went out to have dinner together again at La Place and it was only during that dinner that I had truly look around and appreciate the place.
La Place is a self-service restaurant and is an affiliate of the Vroom & Dreesman (V&D), one of the most popular chains of department stores in Netherlands. Inspired by the concept of a marketplace, with its fusion of smell, colors, sounds and interaction, La Place is where you can find fresh and healthy food at a very low price.Food are fresh everyday, displayed on counters and segregated by according to food groups, adding a little more persuasion to a diner's appetite with the colors and sights of delicious choices from salads and vegetables, baked products, pizza and pasta and their mouth watering desserts of pies and tarts.
There's also a wide selection of drinks, freshly blended smoothies, bottled fruit juices, ice tea, beers and their own brand of wines. For diners who wanted hot, fresh off the grill/pan dishes, they also have a grill section where you can choose the kind of fish you want, comes with baked potatoes.
Or you can mix your vegetables with either beef, pork or chicken for an Indonesian/Asian cooked in level of spiciness you prefer. You can have it with noodles or rice, with or without coconut milk. I must say that with the small amount that you pay for a certain selection of dishes, the food are really good, not to mention healthy as it always comes with your choices of greens.
On our latest La Place diner, I had beef curry and banana/orange smoothie for only 10euros. It was so delicious, not too spicy since I opted for the mild curry and the serving is so generous I wasn't able to finish my plate.
La Place restaurants are generally spacious to accommodate a big number of customers since they are quite known with both the locals and foreigners. The inside is modestly decorated with paintings or photographs on walls, cushioned chairs and big tables, well-lit and cozier compared to some fancy restaurants back home.
The only downturn is that because of its popularity, the place is teeming with people especially during dinner or lunchtime. Waiting for your wok/grilled dishes can take a bit longer, especially that there's only once cooked assigned in each station. But considering the cooking time and the number of orders taken every 15 minutes, their services are generally fast.
So next time you are in Amsterdam or any city in Netherlands, try dropping by at La Place and save your pocket from expensive dining. Their coffee is also very very good.
The good news is La Place is now in Goes. It occupies the former furniture showroom at Schuttershof 8. It is the street beside the lake. Finally, a welcome break from the kitchen as we can just bike there for 10 minutes and have a really nice, affordable dinner.
March 15, 2009
If you want to score some labeled perfumes like Roxy, Marc Jacobs, Elizabeth Arden, etc. for like €10- €15 for a 100ml bottle, hurry to Douglas because I dont know till when the sale will be on-going.
We capped off the date with a snack at our favourite fast food, Burger King. This time, I just ordered the Double Cheeseburger Meal because it has been four straight week of Grilled Beef Burger and Im already sick of it.
March 13, 2009
March 12, 2009
I grabbed two Black Onyi tubes. One was a glittery orange Lip Shine(#8150A) and another was black mascara. I cant complain with the results. The lip shine glides to the lips like butter but the color doesnt last that long, maybe for only about 2 hours. The mascara is great. It sticks to the lashes very well, dries fast, a little thick though especially if not applied well but doesnt make a mess.
Another good buy was the Moara Shira Pure One perfume. It smell very much like Calvin Klein CK2, pleasant but not sweet or floral-y which I prefer. It last until 6 hours in the skin and the whole day when sprayed to the clothes. The price €1.99 for a 40ml bottle. The packaging is also very trendy.
March 11, 2009
I am a big fan of end-of- season sales! You know just the sight of those cards screaming 50/70/80 percents off plastered on the windows of shops thrills me. Finding out that that those jeans I was eyeing for a long time was reduced to a price I can already afford is such an elating feeling like my pocket already achieved a greater purchasing power. After all, that's the main objective of sales after all, to deceive consumers on buying more things because they think its more value for their money. Aside of course from disposing of old stocks and making way for the next fashion season.
But to be honest, I don't buy so much from end-of-season sales. Sure they make me happy, especially the atmosphere of everything cheap but I have certain preferences in clothes, shoes and bags. Even if these item are of the best design, the best quality and selling on very low prices, if I don't like it, I wont buy it. It has to meet certain personal standards and the first one of course is function. Next is that it should match with the other items I have before.
I am not the type who buys matching items in a go because it will force me to spend on things I wouldn't really be able to use fully. So end-of-season sales no matter how low doesn't really persuade me to jump on a shopping spree. Although I do indulge in impulse buying once in a while, especially if its those back breaking pumps at People Are People.
Anyway, during the recent (and still on-going) end-of-season sale in Rotterdam, I made two purchases that my euros are really of. It's actually must-haves for me because the Dutch winter prevents me from enjoying the rest of the country. It's just too damn cold when I arrived and having good boots and coat is essential.
Another good buy was this long leather boots from Axi Schoen. It has unbelievably low prices for boots starting from €10. Again I love the brown, rugged colour of the shoes, as brown is one of my favourite when it comes to shoes along with black and red. It has a nice leather strapping on the ankle part for a sort of cowboy look. It's a perfect match for jeans and probably pair it with shorts on summer.
So here is the final look of my day's steal at those fashion stores in Rotterdam. Oh how I wish its end-of-season sale everyday.
Coat: €30 Zara
March 8, 2009
But since I dont get so many writing assignments anymore, I have to divert my passion to the most available market which is the world wide web. Our house has 24/7 wireless internet access and most of the day, after doing the house chores, I have free time to noodle around. I don't want to spend it only on social networking sites so I searched for some websites that pays me to voice out my opinion, good or bad.
I found several sites that does this and been a member of a few of it for quite sometimes now. Two of it are Triond and Hubpages where I posted all my unpublished lifestyle articles for the papers, some poetry, some travel stories, movie and book reviews and even some fiction. With Triond I was posting articles in a 2-3/month frequency while with Hubpages I just recently starting posting after becoming a member for 8 months. The inspiration got lost amidst the pile of writing jobs for my company before.
The pay with these two is not really that much and up to this point I havent earned a decent income. Well that is because, I am not really a very sociable member. I dont always leave comments especially to mediocre articles in Triond and I dont explore much the member's area in Hubpages so I dont have so many "friends or fans". This is a very important factor for these sites because that's is how you generate traffic to your posts and traffic, comments, ratings are always translated to earnings. A fraction of the fraction of a cent, probably. If you are thinking of earning bigtime with these sites but lacks the patience to go around and write furiously, then keep your expections at the minimum.
My latest discovery was Ciao, a website that pays you for reviewing products on their list. Like Triond, there are mediocre write-ups copy-pasting the specs of a certain product and saying things like "its so nice", "its not good". But of course, like how the old adage goes "everybody is entitled to their opinions" so I wont delve on that.
I started with Ciao just two days ago and I already have $.30 earnings. Not a bad eh? I dont know if they pay like Triond who gives me my dollar cents religiously every 15th of the month but according to members, they actually do. Like the two websites mentioned above, the trick is to get as many friends as you can, leave them some comments and rate their reviews so they will do the same to you and you can earn big.
I am keeping my optimism with these sites. Ive yet to earn something with my ads on Hubpages or anything surprising in Triond but who knows? They give me an avenue to be as opinionated as I am and practice on my writing skills as much and as long as I want to.
If you want to try these sites click the links in this article or on the sidebar.
Denim jeans in the Netherlands doesn't come cheap especially on regular seasons. Prices range from €50-€100 euros or more depending on the brand of course. Affordable denim jeans are hard to find and when you chance upon one, you shouldn't let it escape.
Fortunately, one Saturday of going around the centrum of Goes, I turned right to Papegaaistraat and saw stacks of clothing outside, from jeans to tops. The sign is screaming "Alles Voor €5". I was ecstatic because I have been wanting to buy jeans since I didn't bring so many pants when I came here. I rummage through the displays and found one stone washed jeans that's just right my size. I didn't think twice and bought two, the other one was darker colored. They're a bit too long for me but its perfectly highlighting my nether parts which is the first factor that I consider when buying jeans. And for €5 apiece (from €45), it's a total steal!!!
Steal: BlackBurn Jeans
March 6, 2009
All of these refer to a Dutch custom of sharing everything with the other person, up to the last cents. This might be viewed as unethical especially for the conservative and the feminist but this is actually one part of the Dutch culture that separates them from the rest of the world.
The Dutch are very frugal, prudent to the point of being cheap. Before making a purchase, they will have to make a list of its pro's and con's, price comparison, warranty extent, the best place to buy etc. And trust them that they will get it from the lowest seller but not sacrificing quality, because when it comes to consumer rights (like returning a broken item, missing parts etc.) the Dutch definitely know what they can do about it.
I couldn't say that I am frugal person niether a wise spender. I believe that money should be spent for happiness, most especially when you work very hard for it. Frugality is a forced word to me when money is scarce. Although I don't go for excessively pricey items. As much as possible I try to buy good quality product at the lowest price available.
Coming to Netherlands, my perspective on spending changed completely. At first I was hesitant with it, finding fault in their seeming stingyness. But I come to realize that saving up for the rainy days is not really a bad idea especially if you keep it for better things for the future.
So this blog is dedicated to everything that is cheap in the Netherlands and the countries I will be visiting soon, from clothes to groceries and everything that I would be wisely spending my euros on.