31/07/2011

Burgers Zoo

by Rob on

Originally today’s plan was going to “De Apenheul” together with Sanne and Marion. Sanne remarked yesterday that she has been before to “De Apenheul”. That was also true for Marion and me. Then she said that she never had been to Burgers Zoo near the city of Arnhem. I have been to Burgers Zoo, but it rather some years ago. The same could be said for Marion. So we changed plans and did go today to Burgers Zoo.

The journey to Burgers Zoo was without any problems. Once inside we first decided to go for some coffee. While enjoying the coffee, I checked in on Facebook with Burgers Zoo as location and wanted to tag Marion and Sanne as being there with me. But for some stupid reason I could only tag Sanne. I selected Marion and Sanne, but only Sanne got tagged. Even adding Marion did not work strange enough. Of course this leaded to remarks that this showed that I only wanted to be there with Sanne and not with Marion. Evil women, that the two of them are :).

Of course when Marion tried to do it later on, it worked directly as it should. Figures….

Burgers Zoo is already for a long time around and it is known for growing along with new times, which resulted in the rather modern zoo it is nowadays. Here you can read about the history of Burgers Zoo

Although the sun was not really shining, the temperature was nice and most important, it didn’t rain. Maybe too hot weather is not very nice when you are visiting something like a zoo. It was nice weather for a walk through a zoo actually.

It was busy. To be honest, too busy for me. At a certain moment all these people around me start to annoy me a little. Specially when I got for the sixth time the same pram pushed hard against my ankles… and people really need to smoke on the spots were lots of people are gathered… and people keep pushing me when I am trying to make a picture…
Marion must have noticed it (she knows me so well :P), because she took me by my arm and talked a bit with me. That helped :P. Any way, I now know again why I never wanted to go to a zoo or something alike in a weekend during the holiday time.

But over all, I had a great time. It is wonderful to see how the animals is such a modern zoo live in area’s (you cannot call it cages anymore) that gets so close as possible to the natural habitat.

Some more pictures of the zoo…

As said, it was a wonderful day and it is good to see that zoo’s as Burgers Zoo take their responsibility of taking care of species that are endangered. Sanne really knows a lot about animals. I learned a lot from her today.

For dinner we looked at places near to the zoo (more or less). We found “Brasserie De Boerderij”. It looked really nice, but when we saw that “ganzenlever” (“foie gras”) was on the menu, we turned around and looked for another place. Even just france fries or something then “foie gras”… it is real torture how these animals are kept and fed!
Although not that close to the zoo, we found a very nice restaurant called “Zeldzaam eten en drinken”. There we had a very good dinner. All three of us enjoyed it. We will go back there!

A very nice spend Sunday…. :)


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I know that some people have problems with eating the meat of animal-species that they feel closer to then others (for whatever reason). This is of course their full right… I don’t have this.

My point of view is very simple and straight forward in this… All animal-species are equal. No species is more or less animal then other. A horse is not more (or a better) animal as a cow. A chicken is just as much animal as a pheasant.
The difference for me is my personal relation to a certain animal. Did I know the animal personally? Did I work with it? Did I train with it? Did I take of it? That would be for me reasons not to eat meat for it. So not the species, but the individual animal.
Very important for me is to know that the animal I eat meat of had a good life. Was taken good care. Had room to move. And I am willing to pay more for that.

But that is me… and now the recipe…

The horse steak I sliced into small strips of meat. The strips I baked fast with some olive oil. After the meat was done, I removed it from the frying pan into a bowl. In the still hot frying pan I baked sliced chestnut mushrooms. Added about 50 ml whiskey (of course no Single Malt, but blended whisky), 100 ml not whipped whipped-cream (okay, that sounds strange :P) and a spoon of mustard. Some herbs as salt, cayenne and thyme. Bringing it all on temperature again, before adding the steak strips again. stirring it all until it is nicely warm again.

I did cut some not peeled new potatoes in halves. Laid them in an marinade of olive oil, rosemary, salt en pepper. I baked them for 25 minutes on 200 degrees in the oven.

As vegetables I added boiled snow peas.

I think that it tasted really good!


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Recently I had some remarks and comments that it can be hard to contact me through my blog, specially for people who don’t know me directly. Add to that I delete comments on articles that are off-topic directly.
And yet, so as some folks told me, it would be handy to have a way contact me.

I have been pondering about that and I had to admit that this was reasonable request. So I have been looking through the many and many plug-ins that are available for WordPress. And yes, I found something useful (which I am not really surprised about).

So now to the right on the main menu there is a “Contact me” option. This option will open a mail-form. The content will be mailed to me. To stop spam it is protected with a small “Chaptcha”.

Coming time I will look into if this plug-in has more nice options to me. Anyway, I hope I added something useful to my weblog with this.

Cheers,
Rob.


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Balvenie, 12 years old

by Rob on

Yesterday Marion and I have been shopping. While I was gathering all kind of things for dinner tonight, Marion visited a liquor store to buy a nice wine for that dinner (she has much more knowledge about wine then I have). But she returned not only with a very nice wine, but also with a bottle Single Malt Whisky… a Balvenie 12 years old!

Her attention for this bottle of Single Malt was taken by de name on it. This Whisky finds it origin in Dufftown, the town in Scotland that Marion and just very recently visited. And even more, it caries the name of the castle (or what is left of that) that Marion and I visited during our stay. A friend already told about the Balvenie Distillery after he heard we visited Dufftown. And already by now I can taste this Single Malt. Thank you so much Marion…

I am not an expert on tasting and reviewing Single Malt Whiskeys. I am doing just my own thing on my own way… and yes, there is still a lot to learn for me (and that is the fun part for me).

As already pointed out, the Balvenie distillery is located in Duffstown, the Speyside area. The distillery was founded in 1889 by William Grant. For that he bought in the 18th century the Balvenie New House estate. It took more then a year to rebuilt the estate to a distillery.
It is said that William Grant was until his death on a age of 83 involved with the distillery.
Balvenie grows its own barley from the family farm for traditional floor maltings, and still uses coopers to tend the casks and a coppersmith to tend the stills.

The Balvenie Single Malt I have tasted here is the Double Wood, 12 years.
Double wood means that it has been matured in two woods. Over the time of maturation it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to an European Oak Sherry Task. The traditional oak casks soften and add character to the Single Malt, whilst the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour.

I have to admit that I really like this Single Malt. It is soft and smooth, so no need to add any water to this one. The nose is sweet. Honey with a touch of vanilla.
The taste and flavour is all full of honey, maybe even a bit nutty. A soft touch of peat. A great taste in my opinion.
The after-taste is long, cinnamon flavours and soothing. Very enjoyable.

This Single Malt will be more often a guest in my house. And I am looking forward to taste the other Single Malts of this distillery…


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Done…

by Rob on

A few months ago I bought a new media centre to replace the old one, which started to have some problems. I really like this new Pioneer-set. Great amplifier with a BluRay-player and good all-around speakers. As said, I am really happy with this set.

But in the old set was a hard disk placed so I could record anything that was on TV. I hardly used this possibility of the old set, so when I bought the new Pioneer-set I thought I would not miss this. I was wrong. By now there have been quite some occasions that it would have been very handy to record something that was displayed on TV.

Today Tom showed me an offer for a BluRay player that also was equipped with a hard disk recorder and could also function as cable decoder. This started to make me think again, but what really stopped me was that I didn’t want to buy a BluRay-player while just very recently I bought a new one and a very good one with that.

But it made me ponder again about it. And I found something…

I found information on this cable-decoder (supported by my cable-company) that has an hard disk built-in. This hard disk can be used to record everything in HD quality. But that not alone, it is also fitted for TV on Demand, that means I can watch movies and series whenever I want it. And there are some more nice things to it.

But yes, it is spending money again. I talked with Marion about it. Her opinion was very simple. I enjoy this media stuff (tv, movies, streaming, computers and so on and so on) a lot and like to link it all up together. Marion said that when I enjoy this all so much, I should just go and buy this cable-decorder with hard disk.
And she will enjoy it as well, because she loves to watch movies together with me. So I ordered it tonight.

My old decoder? I will trash it? No, by a remark of Michiel today I got an idea. I will buy a HD TV-card for my computer. My old cable-decorder will move to the computers and will get connected to the TV card. This will make it possible to save things on TV to the computer. This all in HD quality. And it will be possible to save things I want to keep to DvD or an external hard disk.

It will be fun to play around with this!!!!


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A Perfect Glass for Whisky…

by Rob on

“Champagne, Brandy, Wine… each has its own glass. Yet whisky, the worlds most complex spirit can be found served in anything from hiball tumblers to Paris goblets.

It’s a bit like pouring your vintage champagne into a pint tumbler or your XO brandy into a shot glass!

Whisky is a drink to be savoured. Time spent enjoying the flavours on the nose are equally important as those on the palate. Raymond Davidson decided it was about time someone designed a proper whisky glass…

The perfect glass for whisky was created and left to mature for some twenty years at the bottom of a filing cabinet.

After adequate maturation, his sons Paul and Scott decided to take his design to the people who know best… the master blenders!

With their help and support they were able to take the glass around the world and promote it as the Glass for whisky, developed by the whisky industry for the whisky industry.

It’s roots lie in the traditional nosing glasses used by blenders around the world.

The unique and stylish shape has been crafted with eminent care, to enhance the enjoyment of whisky.

The tapering mouth allows an ease of drinking not associated with traditional nosing glasses whilst capturing the aromas on the nose.

The wide bowl allows for the fullest appreciation of the whisky’s colour and the solid base is designed to be easy on the hand.

Today the Glencairn Glass can be found at every distillery in Scotland, Ireland, Wales as well as most in the USA. It has won accolades from around the world including the Queens Award, the highest award for business in the UK.

Importantly it is also beginning to appear in the places it was designed for… the bars!

It may have taken a few hundred years to arrive, but whisky now has a glass of its own… FINALLY!”

Above text is taken from The Glencairn Glass-website. These words describe better why a good glass is so important to really enjoy a good Whiskey.
I had already some good glasses for Whisky, but I wanted the best. And by reading and listening around I learned that these Glencairn Glasses are the best. And that is why I ordered them and I am very happy to have them.

No, I am not an expert at reviewing Whiskies, but I am learning. And it is fun to learn about something so enjoyable.

Some time soon I will write a bit about what I have learned until now about reviewing a Single Malt whiskey. For now I am just very happy with these real Whisky glasses….


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Xena, Warrior Princess

by Rob on

From 1995 to 2001 the TV series “Xena, Warrior Princess” were recorded. Around these years the series was also shown on TV over here. I always liked that series, but I am a bad TV series watcher. So I missed many episodes.

The series of Xena is a spin-off from the TV series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”.

It all takes place in Ancient Greece, where Xena was a merciless and warlike leader of an army. Through certain things that happen Xena leaves her dark past behind and starts her many skills for the good. Of course this leads to many situations where she is confronted with her past. In all her adventures Xena has Gabrielle at her side, who is in a way a complete opposite of her self. Of course Hercules shows his face every now and then as well.
Apart from Gabrielle, Hercules and some other always returning persons (as Joxer and Autolycus) Xena is confronted with friendly and less friendly gods, half-gods and mythical beasts.
But her remarkable skills as fighter always safe the day, because when it comes down to fighting she one of a kind.

Xena is played by the actrice Lucy Lawless (from New Sealand) and Gabrielle is played by Renée O’Connor (from the USA).

So why all this about Xena? Currently I am watching all episodes of all seasons of Xena (the Hercules-adventures included). Not in a big rush, but all on its time. Like a episode while having dinner (I always eat my dinner behind the TV when Marion is not here).

It is great fun to see these series… including all the episodes that I missed in the past!!!!


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Glenkincie, 12 years old

by Rob on

After the visit Marion and I made to Scotland it must be very clear that I really like a good whiskey.

A good glass of Single Malt Whiskey is really nice while reading a good book or listening to nice music. It is also a very nice way to end an enjoyable evening.

So I thought it would be nice to write a bit about the whiskeys that I taste. Specially the “Single Malt” whiskeys. A Single Malt Whiskey is a whiskey made at one particular distillery from a mash that uses one particular malted grain, which is ordinarily barley (this as a contrary to a blended whiskey, which is generally the product of mixing one or more higher quality or single malt whiskeys with higher-alcohol-content spirits or neutral grain spirits and water).

I will tell a bit about the whiskey itself. Where the distillery is located. Maybe a bit about the history of the distillery. Fun and interesting things to know. And of course what I think about that whiskey.
I have to be honest, I never tasted a Single Malt Whiskey that I didn’t like. But there are many differences between all the Single Malt Whiskeys that are out there and I like one more then the other.

Don’t expect every week such an article about a whiskey. It takes some time before I finish a bottle of whiskey. I don’t drink every day whiskey. Whiskey is something you should drink when the mood is right. There are weeks I don’t drink it at all. And when I drink whiskey, I drink two, maybe three, glasses at most. And of course you don’t fill a whiskey-glass up completely. You just fill it with a bottom of whiskey. So yes, considering all that, it takes some time before a bottle of whiskey is empty.

Most of the time I have just one bottle of Single Malt Whiskey open (which doesn’t mean I have just one bottle at home :P). The Single Malt I am currently enjoying is the Glenkincie, 12 years old…

The distillery of the Glenkincie lies in a glen (“valley”) of the Kinchie Burn. It is situated about 25 kilometres from the city of Edinburgh. It origins date back to around 1825 and was named Milton Distillery, but was most likely renamed around 1837 to its current name.
The Glenkinchie label was relatively little known until 1989, when United Distillers started marketing it under their Classic Malts brand.

The standard 10 year old Glenkinchie has now been replaced by the standard “12 year old”. This is a fairly typical lowland whisky in that it is fresh and light in character, with notes of lemon and cut grass. A sweet nose and a hint of peat make this a good introduction to the world of single malts.

Fun fact to mention is that we are here talking about a Lowland Whiskey. Most people will have heard about the Speyside, Highlands and Islay whiskeys. But yes, the Lowlands have their whiskeys as well. The Lowlands is the region of Scotland that borders with England.

For me it was the first time that I taste a Glenkinchie Single Malt. I like it, as already said before I never tasted a Single Malt Whiskey that I really disliked. But to be really honest, it is certainly not the best tasting Single Malt that I ever had.

Bare me, I’m not an experienced or trained person on Whiskey reviews. I am here just at the start of long (and hopefully a very enjoyable) road to follow and learn more on this subject (and the recent visit at The Glenlivet Distillery was a very important spot in that roadmap). So all I can do describe what I think and experienced with this whiskey. And lets not forgot, taste is very personal matter, which can differ very strongly from one person to another.

The flavour and first taste was wonderful. Very round and fresh, notes of lemon as advertised. Words as fruity, honey and oak comes to mind. The body I would call medium to light, maybe a bit creamy. So far very enjoyable.
But then with what I would call the “after taste” something changes…. It is harsh and too strong in my opinion. Kind a pity after such a good first impression.

No, I won’t empty this bottle through the kitchen sink, but I am looking forward to the next Single Malt to review.

A search on the Internet showed me that there is also a 14 years Glenkinchie Distillers Edition. Maybe that one has a better “after taste”. The future will tell.


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Coming home…

by Rob on

Walking home from the train station to my home. Not a big distance, but soaking wet from the rain because my umbrella couldn’t stand the rain and wind.

Cold and tired when I finally enter my apartment. Getting rid of the wet clothes. Taking a nice and warm shower. Starting to feel more comfortable again. Putting on clean and dry clothes. Making a simple, but nice dinner. Enjoying the food. Loving the dish-washer. Grabbing a bottle of beer and relax while watching some tv. Feeling good again…

Home, such a good place to be…


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I promised some people that I still had to write a bit to our visit to Scotland…

So as everybody might know, Marion and I have been some days to Scotland. A needed break from everything, because the last half year has been very hectic. The passing away from my mother, everything involving the buying of my apartment and the mortgage belonging to it and more things like that.
So it was more then time to break away for a few days from everything.

Scotland was one of the places I still wanted to go. People told me how beautiful this country was and how friendly the people are there. And of course it is where the distillery of my favourite single malt whiskey The Glenlivet is located.

So Tuesday Marion and Sanne came to my place. Because my apartment is so close to the sea, Sanne often stays at my place when I am away, so she can make long walks with one of her dogs on the beaches around there. And for me it is nice that someone takes care of my birds and plants.

Marion and I travelled by plane to Scotland. We flew from Schiphol Amsterdam to London and from London we went to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is the closest airport to where we wanted to go. From Aberdeen it was a bit more than an hour driving to the town of Dufftown.

Dufftown is a town in the centre of the Speyside area and is located at the two rivers Fiddich and Dullan. Dufftown is well known for the malt whiskey distilleries. The towns calls itself “The Malt Whisky Capital of Scotland. As a matter of fact the Glenfiddich Distillery is located in Dufftown (but we did not visit it).
Dufftown has a rich history. There are Pictish stones that are 2000 years old. In 566 AD a Christian Community was started there and founded the Mortlach Church, one of the oldest Christian settlements in Scotland. Dufftown itself was founded in 1817 by James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife.
There many old buildings in Dufftown that show the history of the town. There are some very nice pubs and some very good places to eat.

We had a very nice bed & breakfast arranged in Dufftown, because during the day we would be travelling around. For both of us bed & breakfast is something new, but we both liked it. It is way more homely as a hotel. Everything was very clean. We could get packed lunches if we wanted. The landlord and lady were very nice and friendly people.

I really enjoyed the conversation that I had one evening with the landlord while enjoying one of the local whiskeys.

Throughout Scotland there are many castles and fortresses. Some in good condition, other have become ruins.

Close to Dufftown one can find the Balvenie Castle… at least what is left of it. The largest part of this castle has fallen to a ruin. But still it is very impressive and the ruin that is left still shows what a great stronghold this must have been that witnessed many battles and wars. I love to walk around this kind of old places.

One thing I really enjoyed during this holiday (among other things that I really enjoyed) was our visit to The Glenlivet Distillery. It is not a secret that for me The Glenlivet is my favourite single malt whiskey. That doesn’t mean I don’t like others… nothing like that. There are some pretty good single malt whiskeys out there, but the Glenlivet has something special for me.

During my visit at The Glenlivet Distillery I learned a lot of new things about single malt whiskeys and that is a good thing. About something so delicious and delicate you can never know enough.
I not only learned how about a good single malt whiskey is made, but also about how to drink and enjoy a whiskey. The were nice stories about the past of whiskey. As for example the fact that The Glenlivet is the only Scotch single malt whiskey that may use the word “The” in their brandname. This because The Glenlivet was the first legal whiskey distillery in Scotland (after being for many years an illegal one :P). So it is not only the Glenlivet, it is THE Glenlivet.

There is one thing I am Marion very grateful for. She made it possible for me to taste a 47 year old Glenlivet Single Malt Whiskey. This was a very special moment. Remember, I am just one year older that this whiskey. The richness of its taste was so wonderful. With every sip of it you felt how your mouth, tongue and throat reacted to the after taste of this fine and mature whiskey.
Thank you Marion, for giving me this very special moment. It is something I will remember forever.

After visiting The Glenlivet Distillery we took the opportunity to make a long walk along the river The Livet. I heard more then once that is beautiful around that river. And yes, it really is. The nature there is still very pure, something we hardly know anymore over here in The Netherlands.

During that walks (and other walks Marion and I made) we have seen many awesome sights and landscapes. I think that I can say for both of us that Scotland has stolen a bit of our hearts.

Even when it was a small holidays, it was a wonderful time. Maybe there are many more things I could tell about this holiday in the Highlands, but maybe I shouldn’t. I would fill many pages of text and become boring. And if this holiday doesn’t deserve one thing it is not to be associated with boring, because it was anything than that!

One thing is for sure…. One day we will go back, but then for a longer time. I already can look forward to that…


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