My wife Lucy has been here for the last three days, which has been good for me but not so good for blogging. She leaves again tomorrow just as we have grown used to being together again. Contrary (probably) to what you may imagine, a few days if reunion isn't like a brief honeymoon. I'm having to work during the dreariest part of the rehearsal process - stage and piano technicals, and Lucy is readying herself for her next job which starts in Geneva on Monday (a new house for her), and try as hard as we might, it is often hard to relax. Besides, the organisation of my digs has so far been entirely left to me. I know where stuff goes, how much I need, there's just my laundry to do... In other words I have been leading a selfish and solitary existence for the last three weeks and now all that is disrupted. Don't get me wrong; I want it to be disrupted but the price of company is the loss of "it's-all-about-me-ness" and it takes time to adjust.
I'm quite open about saying this because it's an entirely common experience and when I pop to Geneva myself in a few weeks' time for a couple of days, the shoe will be on the other foot. Let's face it; it's much easier to be a singer and do the job of being a singer when you have no-one to take care of but yourself. I may have actually said all this before in a blog last September, but I really cannot remember and as I write this offline, I have no way of checking. Oh dear, oh dear, I may be starting to repeat myself...
In spite of a few teething troubles of an entirely minor kind (usually provoked by some funk of my own where I contemplate out loud what it's all about, this life malarky) we have managed some good meals out and a particularly enjoyable wander around the new photography museum FoAM.
The first meal was up in the Jordaan in the unpromising-sounding but excellent Burger's Patio. It has nothing to do with hamburgers but serves a limited menu of modern French/ Mediterranean dishes in typically Amsterdammy surroundings; i.e. a sort of minimalist shabby chic which combines formica tables with subtle lighting. We were lucky to get a table but we both ate skrei, "a white fish like cod", we were told. I think it's what we call Pollock. Nevertheless it was excellent. (I've now had a chance to look up skrei and in fact it's a strain of cod in its own right - the Norwegian-Arctic. So there you go.)
Last night we celebrated Lucy's birthday a week early. Rashly and foolishly I thought our luck was good and rather than book led the way to a well written-up Italian place near the Albert Cuyp market, Caffe 500. This neighbourhood, De Pijp, twenty years ago is not somewhere where you'd lead a date for the evening unless your idea of a good night out involved munching at a cheap Indonesian caff and dropping by a seedy-looking brothel. Incidentally Pijp is also what the Dutch call a blowjob. I don't how I know that. But De Pijp is on a rapid rise upward, as are most areas of Amsterdam including the red light district, and it is now home to some very fine eateries. The reason is probably because this is where young professionals can now afford to live and the restauranteurs are hot on their tails. It also home to one of the best chefs' shops in the world, Duikelman, but that's another blog.
Needless to say Caffe 500 looked great but was fully-booked. We tried another place around the corner. No luck there either. A Friday night - what did I expect? Everywhere was looking full. I led us down Frans Halsstraat, heavy with the sense that wandering the streets on a cold night in search of a table wasn't the birthday celebration that Lucy had in mind. Frans Halsstraat has plenty of eateries. Surely one of them would have a small table for two? We stumbled on an elegant-looking place called SenT (the capital T is deliberate), busy but not full, and chanced our luck. After a lot of lip-chewing we were given a table by the window, we glugged down a glass of prosecco and started to relax. Another great meal followed. Phew. I had the 3-course chef's menu at €29.50 and it was a bargain.
I don't usually do this, but here's a link to their website: http://www.restaurantsent.nl/Restaurant_Sent/Home.html