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Archive for February, 2011

Who doesn’t like cake?

I’d like a show of hands.

Just as I thought. Not a single hand was raised. Everyone loves cake. We pig out on it at least once a year when our birthday rolls around. Whether you are blowing out candles or taking your mum out for a treat (yes, my mum loves cake too) or cheering yourself up after a downer day, cake is the solution to many of life’s problems. I don’t mean this to be an ode to cake. Just an introduction to one city who knows cake, really really well: Amsterdam.

Who is the king of the cake castle?

The two gents behind De taart van m’n tante. Siemon and Noam don’t make just any kind of cakes, they make pieces of art. Their tasty creations have actually been on exhibition before at the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, Van Gogh Museum and Utrechts Museum. It’s serious business, cakes.The pair opened the café in 1990 and since then have exploded with success, locals aren’t the only ones apparently who love cake. It’s a special spot to visit if you’re in Amsterdam. I know at this point you’ve already searched for flights to Amsterdam

I already can’t wait to get my hands on a slice of their magic. What’s more, the cake shop is also a Bed & Breakfast. There are three rooms upstairs, each with its own theme. There is a communal kitchen, living room and wireless internet. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to the smell of delicious cakes being baked just underneath? Mmmm…. sweet dreams indeed!

Where can you find them?

Ferdinand Bolstraat 10
1072 LJ Amsterdam
Open: 10:00-18:00 daily

In their own words, “A life full of cake – how magnificently delicious!”

In your opinion, which culture does the best dessert? Which sweet have you tried abroad that you just wish you could eat everyday at home?

For more info, check out their website.

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It’s almost inevitable that you will get sick (pretty much inevitable) while travelling in India. Lifestyle conditions, letting down your guard and other factors will guarantee it. India’s standards are a lot different than ours so when you’re planning your trip, it’s best to be prepared. How can you travel through India and avoid Delhi Belly? That’s an excellent question, one which I can definitely answer. (I’ve had my share of “Beaver Fever” and Mexican Maladies)

It’s not something a lot of people thing about before buying their flights to India, nore should it scare travellers away from doing so. You have to really get your body ready for the foreign microbes about to hit you a top-speed before your tip. While you’re there in India, make sure you follow some basic precautions and you won’t be one of the foreign travellers dropping like flies or taking up the toilet all day long.

1) Avoid the tap water by all costs.

Simple enough, right? Keep a bottle of water ever-ready for when thirst strikes and when brushing your teeth, don’t use the tap. When buying bottled water, make sure the cap is still sealed to avoid any Slumdog Millionaire-type mishaps. You know that ice in your drink? That’s likely made from tap water so request your cold beverages without it.

2) Go vegetarian, avoid meat.

India is a nation of vegetarians. If you’ve never tried going a whole day without some pork in your beans, start now. India food is flavourful, protein-ful and delicious. Contaminated meats are the main cause for gut rot, so avoid your curry with a side of lamb.

3) Fresh cheese is a no-no.

I know what you’re thinking…but! cheese is a humble host for microbes that will split you in two. Avoid cheese that hasn’t been cooked, for example parmesan over pasta. Pizza cheese should be fine, as is Paneer, a local Indian cheese used in curry.

4) Eat in upscale restaurants.

I know, pretty much the opposite of what I always preach on here… eat like a local, follow the local’s footsteps, bla, bla, bla… but really. This time I’m saying different. Eat at touristy restaurants because they usually have a good reputation, steady clientèle and are most importantly hygienic… or else they wouldn’t find themselves in the pages of Lonely Planet year after year. Street food is not for the weary… what the locals can handle may not be what you can handle.

5) Wash your hands and trust your gut.

Washing your hands regularly before eating is always a good place to start. If there is no soap/warm water available, use a disinfectant (something you should carry around with you). Since everyone’s system is different, in the end, the best advice is to trust how you feel. India is overwhelming, so just go with the flow. You might still get sick after following my advice to the tee, but you might not. Take it easy if you do, Gravol will be your best friend.

Do you have any of your own tips to share?

This photo is from jonrawlinson, Flickr Creative Commons.

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