Wednesday 18th January 2017.
When we arrived in Amsterdam our aeroplane drove over the dual carriageway along a sort of viaduct for aircraft. Like a bird of doom or Jimbo & The Jetsets. It was a long taxi to the terminal. Then another taxi to The Jordaan Suite, the one room B&B in the fancy Jordaan district: a maze of narrow streets bursting with boutique chic and shabby mystique banked by facades of tall Dutch gothic. We peeked in at uncurtained windows later on, glimpsed cavernous chandeliered rooms, the exposed beams of vast loft apartments. Meanwhile, the gnat-like persistence of the ubiquitous cyclists kept us dancing between pavements. Crossing the canal bridges you find them at rest these cycles, heaped like gnats with their wings plucked.
It was almost our first act in the new city, finding Ashoka (top-rated Indian on Trip Advisor). Before that we’d reserved Thursday’s canal cruise and hash cakes, that’s all. You could easily miss it trapped up steps to a multi-storey town house, the anonymous front door. The interior oozes Indian though. Well, Nepali/Indian, or so it claims – a fusion of styles I found little evidence of on the menu. Ostrich being the only novelty. Never put those in the same room before: majestic Nepal and the birdbrained ostrich. It’s surprisingly like braising steak.
“On a spice scale of 1 – 5 the madras is 6,” explained our friendly waiter. “And the vindaloo, 7?” I hazarded. “No, the vindaloo is 9.” The scale didn’t seem very helpfully calibrated in my opinion, but didn’t labour the point. Plumping instead for ostrich exotic, madras strength. Skippy went butter chicken. We forgot to ask about kangaroo. The ostrich dish and my chicken wing starter were the highlights. Along with the excellent garlic naan bread sliced into four neat triangles. I should add that the onion bhaji and poppodums, oddly enough, conformed with Parisienne techniques: remember those battered onion scraps?; the more brittle, spiced version of poppodum (with only two dips!).
We bigged it up in an indulgent finale of sherpa coffee (“Nepali organic coffee with khukuri rum and whipped cream” ), accompanied by those treasured, golden balls of Sir Gulab Jamun. While Skippy coughed the £98 bill including tip – it sticking somewhere in her throat momentarily – I hotfooted it to the smallest Indian toilet in the world.
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles