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Episode #69
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Back in Amsterdam at Restaurant Five Flies!

Taking the train back from The Hague, we pass by such pretty Dutch countryside, full of lush farm land and windmills old and new. Holland recently shut down all of its nuclear power plants, in lieu of building an aggressive wind turbine and solar power (clean) systems! Holland is a country that understands alternative energy and building solutions for a healthy environment and a prosperous future.

Back in Amsterdam we are so excited to go and feature d’VijffVlighen (Five Flies) Restaurant (www.d-vijffvlighen.com)! The Five Flies comprises five buildings, some of which date back to 1627! The former owner and founder of the Five Flies was an eccentric antiques broker who ended up selling more freshly prepared meals to his patrons than antiques, thus the restaurant was born in the 1930’s!

Steeped in a rich history, with original Rembrandt etchings hanging on the wall and suits of armor and artifacts from Dutch history, Albert Veerman, head of Sales and Reservations takes us on a one-of-a-kind tour!

Later that day we meet head chef Martijn van Zwieten, who shows us around the modern kitchen and prepares some incredible dishes for us!

Making reservations and dining at Restaurant Five Flies is a must for anyone going to Amsterdam! The food is delicious, the service is warm and friendly, and the ambiance makes you feel like you’re dining in a museum!

This is as authentic as you get folks!

 
 
Episode #70
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Restaurants En Pluche and Le Garage featuring Dutch cooking TV Star, Joop Braakhekke!

In the heart of Amsterdam there are two very special restaurants that are linked by more than a doorway leading between each other, the two restaurants, En Pluche and Le Garage are both owned by Dutch TV cooking personality Joop Braakhekke!

First, Joop welcomes us into his En Pluche eatery, where we learn all about this tapas-style restaurant, covered in red velvet booths and mini-tv monitors that play classic movies all the time.

The amazing thing about En Pluche, besides its incredible dining faire, is that the kitchen itself is actually a tiny, modular set up, with Chef Danny Koster cooking up a storm in this most efficient work space!

From the freshly Smoked Carpaccio, to the Pad Thai and Vegetarian Samosa, Corn Dogs with Spicy Red Sauce En Pluche recipes have distinct spices and beautiful presentations that make for some delicious dining experiences. The ambiance of En Pluche and it’s open bar area is so warm and inviting, creating an atmosphere of coziness that makes one instantly relax and work up quite an appetite!

Just next door, Le Garage offers a world class menu with Chef Lex Kok managing all of the delicious recipes under his control. We were fortunate enough to partake in the full courses starting off with a Pasta Penne with Parmesan and Snail/Mushroom Tapenade and Sesame Encrusted Bass, to a Monk Fish braised with Taragon Sauce and Peas and finishing with the house specialty dessert of Crème Brule, each seared outdoors with a piping hot antique iron! Wow man, this place is far out!

In between the two restaurants there is a majestic ball room, where Joop played his grand piano for us a bit, while showing us so much warmth and hospitality. Later that evening, watching Joop work his way from the kitchen to the tables, shaking hands with all the guests in his restaurants, giving each and every table a healthy portion of his undivided attention, it’s clear to see why Joop is such a star in Amsterdam, and why his restaurants are known around the world!

 

 
Episode #71
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Restaurant Cinema Paradiso, Amsterdam.

What inspires someone to open a restaurant in a former movie theatre, filling the space with photographs from almost every classic movie ever made, and then staffing the restaurant with friends and family from his native Italy? Owner Carmine was so enthralled by the movie Cinema Paradiso that he decided to combine all of this with his love of food and make one of Amsterdam’s finest restaurants.

Master Chef Tassone Massimi Liano, or Massimo as he’s known is originally from Genova, Italy. Everyday fresh produce comes in from Naples and is carefully inspected and then prepared a la minute to be served upon order.

Chef Massimo was kind enough to spend a few hours with us, working on a few of the restaurant’s more popular Pasta dishes. So we are very fortunate to have this master chef showing us how to prepare Ravioli with Fresh Shrimp and the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli as well!

Later we sat down for dinner at Cinema Paradiso and started with an incredible Antipasta dish that was filled with so many amazing colors it looked like it should be displayed in a modern art museum! The Antipasta included all kinds of Marinated Veggies, from Eggplant to Peppers and Mushrooms and a variety of Marinated Octopus and Fish. The pasta then followed with a Spinach and Ricotta Cheese filled Ravioli that was made from the freshest Pasta and was truly a sublime experience! Then it’s a blur really, all the dishes kept coming and coming, from a plate full of Vongole (fresh steamed Clams in Garlic), to all kinds of Pizza rolls and Pasta dishes with Shrimp and Fresh Tuna!

For dessert, we all shared a Tiramisu which was almost the size of the table- along with some special Limone Liquor and Lemon Sherbet with Vodka! Man we were ready to fly out of Cinema Paradiso, we were so full and happy!

So when you’re in Amsterdam you simply have to make a reservation to eat at Cinema Paradiso! You’ll find that even though the restaurant is filled with famous television, film and sports stars from around the world, the atmosphere is completely laid-back and wonderful! The best part is that you can see the open kitchen area from all the tables in the restaurant and watch Chef Massimo and his team preparing all your fresh food. Truly an incredible experience.

 
Episode #72
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In Italy at the Cowboy’s Guest Ranch, Voghera, Italy.

There’s nothing quite like stepping off the airplane in Milan and driving a couple of hours through the countryside of northwest Italy, only to come upon the Cowboy’s Guest Ranch!

Yes it’s true, in the middle of Italy there is a western style Cowboy Ranch, with stables full of horses, a family amusement park and even a giant rodeo pavilion, mostly used for dressage and performances.

The Cowboy’s Guest Ranch has something very special to offer everyone, including weekend getaways on horseback that are fully catered and include bringing in the cows from pasture!

The cuisine is American as Apple Pie, with a real southwest twist that includes Nachos and Salsa, sizzling fresh plates of Fajitas with Corn or Flour Tortillas, gigantic Steaks and French Fries and desserts that are deliciously tempting to try all of them at once!

Most importantly, your host Carlo Riccardi and his entire family are there to make your stay warm, comfortable and down right laid-back! The guest rooms are all in the style of a western ranch, with antiques, photos and a real sense of being in the wild-west, err, of Italy that is!

So when you’re in Italy, you HAVE to go and stay at the Cowboy’s Guest Ranch! Dust off those jeans, pull down that cowboy hat and tell ‘em The Hippy Gourmet sent ‘ya! Yahoo partner!

 

 
 
Episode #73
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In Italy from Pisa to Pizza, Seghieri Pizza Torte in Livorno.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is spectacular! Built over the course of many decades, during multiple wars between regional factions, it wasn’t until three years into building that they noticed the tower’s tilt. Rather than start from scratch, they continued construction with the intent of making something pretty different.

Pisa is also the birth place of Galileo and is steeped in the art, science and history that shaped the modern world. Today, the Leaning Tower compound is host to tourists from around the world, who love to pose in photographs as if attempting to hold up the tower.

On route from Pisa to Livorno we work up quite an appetite, so when we arrive in Livorno we head directly to Siegheiri Pizza Torta! Owned and operated since 1912, Siegheiri Pizza Torta has a lovely brick oven, fired with fresh crackling hardwood.

The owner, Vittonio Siegheiri shows us how to make their house specialty, which is an entirely vegan Pizza made from Garbonzo Bean Flour and spread out on a thick-lipped pizza tray! This is something really special as it bakes up to bubbling perfection in their oven, then just several minutes later is removed, sliced up and seasoned with a little fresh ground black pepper!

There’s nothing like experiencing a family tradition of cooking and eating in such a charming location as this! So when you’re in Livorno, Italy you must stop at Sieghieri Pizza Torta and sample this amazing recipe for yourself!

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