Kalinka

Unfortunately it appears this restaurant is no longer in business…. 🙁

As we wandered around the Leidseplein, my friends from Spain were looking for something different to eat. So when they suggested we look into this Russian restaurant, I was psyched to try anything. And given the new American/Russian amity as evidenced by the Bush/Putin lovefest, it seemed like it was time to see what the Russians have to offer on the culinary scene these days. The menu looked way more inviting than a Texas barbecue, that’s for sure!

The once decadent, and now charming Czarist decor is inviting, with attractive pinstripe wallpaper and turn of the century lamps. It’s the kind of place, a few years ago, where you’d expect the Russian couple at the next table to be KGB agents discussing spy secrets. Of course today it would be the same couple, now with the Russian Mafia, talking about business secrets.

We started off with some Russian beers in half liter bottles, that were very hearty and full of flavor. Some of our appetizers were superb. The chicken soup in a creamy saffron base was outstanding! I ordered the fried potato shoes stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, served with a wonderfully rich cream sauce. Those two appetizers along with the constantly refilling bread basket could make a meal right there. But the fish soup didn’t measure up.

Lamb Tiblisi

After our second round of beers, the main course arrived. My friends had the Lamb Tiblisi and said it was excellent. I ordered the Chicken Kiev, which I figured would be a safe bet, but unfortunately it was the loser of the evening as it was dry and tough. It certainly didn’t have the freshness of the other dishes.

By the time we were on our third round of beers, the musical portion of the evening’s entertainment had arrived. A Russian duo consisting of male keyboardist and a very sexy platinum blond diva serenaded us with tunes like Besame (which of course my Spanish friends loved!), and other 80s hits. They were actually pretty good!

The bill came to 300 guilders for four, (no dessert) and considering that we each had appetizers and over a liter of beer, I’d say the prices were quite reasonable.

Korte Leidsedwarstraat 49a
Amsterdam 1017
Phone: 020

Bachzaal

The Bachzaal is a medium-sized concert hall in Amsterdam-Zuid.
When I used to live on Beethovenstraat, I loved to pop down to the Bachzaal, a few blocks away, to get my fill of classical music. I’ll never forget one striking performance by a music professor playing Scriabin so intensely, I developed a great fondness for the composer.
The Bachzaal is a venue where music students hold recitals and occassionally professional musicians come to play. Most events are free, and it’s unlikely the place will be crowded, so you can enjoy fine classical music without all the commercialism.
The hall gets its name from the Bachstraat, where the room is located. Architect Piet Vorkink (1878-1960) designed the ingenious complex in 1930, of which the Bachzaal is part. The building, where musicians for the Concertgebouw Orchestra were initially trained, is an important semi-public building, of which only a few have been built in the Netherlands.

Book Traffic

Unfortunately this bookstore has been closed permanently, a historical post for posterity.

The first time I visited Book Traffic (it had another name back then), I scored a great book about the 1960s that I used as a reference in writing my own book. Low and behold, a recent visit and I scored another great one from the 60s, that I wished I had before.

I love browsing through their science fiction section because they have so many books to choose from, and since they’re used, the price is right! They also have lots of other subjects including art and photography, philosophy and spirituality, etc. Plan on spending some time there on your first visit getting acquainted with the selection and the people who work there.

They also have books in Dutch (of course!), and they’re open on Sunday. Nice place to stop if you’re in the area or walking through the Jordaan.

Hours: Monday – Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 11am-6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Leliegracht 50
Amsterdam 1015
Phone: 020-620-4690