My daughter Tessa is in town for a long weekend visit to celebrate her 24th birthday, along with her BOYFRIEND James. They're staying in the spare room, door firmly shut and me wondering whether I should have bought some earplugs. So far though all has been quiet though, thank heavens.
It's hard for someone like me with control-freak genes to let them wander the city and see what they want to see. I'm too easily inclined to say "go there, avoid that!", though I have made my opinions clear on some things; for instance that anything with Madame Tussauds on it will be utter tripe and a waste of euros.
Her birthday treat package from me includes tram passes, a museum card (James is borrowing mine), a boat trip and, best of all, a lovely dinner.
I took them both to Borderwijk, a restaurant on Noordemarkt that I last visited about fifteen years ago. It has the same owners but, I think, a different chef. Our meal was terribly good. The bread was so fantastic that I asked where they bought it, but it's made by the owner's wife on site and isn't for sale, dammit.
James and I started with a carpaccio of raw halibut with scoops of crab meat, slices or artichoke heart and various other garnishy bits, while Tess, who doesn't do fish (yet) had her baptism into the yummy world of foie gras - a substantial slab in which you could see the separate nodes, served with a wonderfully tangy, chopped Muscadet jelly that balanced the fattiness of the liver so well I quite wanted to cry (yes, of course I was leaning over her plate and helping myself to the odd chunk).
Next we all had Dutch teal; a sliced pink breast served with a confit of the tiny leg and a mound of the liver, accompanied with scoops of mash, wafer-thin turnip slices, some wild mushrooms and an intense reduced gravy, rich and yeasty ("Marmitey" said Tess, but I think that was the fungi making themselves known - like fish, something she doesn't yet do).
Tess and the BF took a cheese course. Very cleverly, sensibly and generously, the restaurant offers a choice of three, four or five course menus. Each one includes pudding but they don't make you commit to how many courses you want from the get-go; they ask you after the main course what you want to do next. I was happy to move straight to dessert but the kids liked the look of the cheese trolley so much that they opted for four courses. They had about six chunks each, mostly French, but I got to steal the odd mouthful off Tessa's plate.
Our desserts were based around a "white chocolate crème brulée pie", which really meant that they'd made a crème brulée enriched with white chocolate (I'm not a great fan of white chocolate but here it brilliantly gave density and richness to the custard) on a terribly thin pastry, which makes it easier to serve I should think. With it were a spoon of chocolate sorbet, some biscuit and chocolate decorations and small slices of mandarin and blood orange, peeled of course.
Like all good meals I felt I'd had exactly the right amount to eat - replete yet not stuffed. What else is there to say?