The trip to Holland or “Hannibal Lecter ate my Dad”.


Yes, the Dutch all live in windmills. The one on the right is Stefan’s.

A series of comments a few months ago on Stefan Gourmet’s blog led to the Wife and I packing our bags and traveling to Amsterdam for a long weekend. It was a leap of faith and a step into the unknown.

I have been struggling with this post for a couple of reasons.

Reason number one revolves around the fact that while on the first International Blog Quest, I was not doing the cooking but doing a lot of eating, drinking fine wines and taking photographs of Stefan doing the cooking, not eating a lot and not drinking his fair share of the fine wines. So for me to do a cooking post here would be a little disingenuous to the huge effort, generosity and talent displayed by Stefan.

Reason number two is tied up with a phone call I got from eldest daughter while the Wife and I were watching Stefan prepare yet another gastronomic feast. The conversation went something like this:

Travelling Father: Hi Love, what’s up?

Home bird Daughter: What’s up? What’s up? You and Mom disappear off to a foreign country to meet up with some guy you only know over the internet.

TF: But, it’s Stefan, you know, from Stefan Gourmet…

HD (interrupting): Then you don’t ring to let us know you are OK. I could have seen the headline in the paper “Hannibal Lecter ate my Dad”. Why didn’t you ring? Why did you not ring? It’s so irresponsible of you….

It was like one of my own speeches of yesteryear coming back to haunt me. I did my best to placate her and to assure her that both the Wife and I were having the best possible time. I didn’t think it was the time to get into the detail of the Friday evening meal of Sous Vide Sea Bass served with a Herb Salad followed by Ravioli with ChgoJohn’s stuffing followed by 48 Hour Sous Vide Wagyu Flank Steak with Spinach Tart and Beef Reduction followed by Stefan’s take on Putney Farm’s “Best Brownies Ever” served with a Creme Anglaise. I did not tell her about the wonderful wines that we had. Each carefully selected to be a perfect match for the relevant course.

If she had fretted for one more day before calling, I would have avoided telling her about the Saturday evening menu too. That included Smoked Scallops served on a bed of Red Pepper and Basil followed by a Richard McGary inspired Sous Vide Lobster served on Couscous followed by yet more of the wonderful brownies. And yes, once again, every course perfectly matched with fine wines.

Everybody in Holland wears only wooden shoes. We stoppe in on Saturday to collect a new pair for Stefan.

Everybody in Holland wears only wooden shoes. We stopped in on Saturday to collect a new pair for Stefan.

As I was holding the camera, I will show a small selection of the photos. Be warned, the lobster shots are not for the faint of heart or the fans of Homer Simpson’s Pinchey.

Given that part of the dining was inspired by Richard McGary, the erstwhile king of the ‘pouring shot’ I feel a few such images are appropriate.

Cous Cous

Pouring shot number one. The couscous being added to the clarified butter.

Lobster stock

Stefan extracts the last drop of concentrated lobster stock.

Cous Cous

Pouring shot number three. Highly concentrated lobster stock being added to the couscous.


Peas be with you, as the priest said to the farmer.

Squeezing a lemon

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Stefan went to the trouble of getting a wild lemon.

Warning for the weak and easily offended. The lobster shots are next!

Believe it or not, this is meant to be one of the most humane ways of dispatching a lobster.

Believe it or not, this is meant to be one of the most humane ways of dispatching a lobster.


At least it was the lobster getting it in the neck and not me. I am less sure about daughter’s Hannibal concerns now that I look at the picture.

You will have to pop over to Stefan’s blog to let him show you the amazing culinary art he performed to entertain and sustain us. It was a very special weekend despite the daughterly concerns.

Sous vide lobster served on a bed of cous couse. Now you just have to go see the recipe.

Sous vide lobster served on a bed of couscous. Now you just have to go see the recipe.

Who’s next to house, feed, water and entertain the Wife and myself for our next trip on the International Blog Quest? Whoever it is, you have a hard act to follow. Thank you Stefan.

Footnote: Just in case there is any doubt about who is king of the pouring shot, here’s a small sample from last Saturday’s collection.Pouring

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  • What a nice adventure you and your wife had. Looks like your daughter worry’s a lot about you two. How loving of her.

    Great post, nice photos. And I love lobster even more.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Chef Randall

  • That looks like you had an amazing time!
    I’m sure I read somewhere that the USA has a higher proportion of serial killers than anywhere else, though Rutger Hauer did make a very good psycho in the Hitcher and a couple of other movies… 😉

  • This first visit of a ‘blogging buddy’ (using terminology introduced by ChgoJohn) was as a lot of fun and certainly not the last if it’s up to us! Thanks Conor and Sharon for making the trip, for your great company and Conor for your lovely photography. We had a blast and can’t wait for the next episode of Food Blogging Without Boundaries aka International Blog Quest. Perhaps the way to Tipperary is not so long after all…

  • P.S. I forgive you for portraying me as a wooden shoe wearing mill dweller (at least you didn’t take a photograph of me with my finger in a dike — levee for American readers) and your daughter for suspecting me of being Hannibal Lecter 😉

  • Great post. Great photos. Looks like a great time was had by all. Baby Lady is jealous of your pouring shots – they are fantastic. I’m jealous we couldn’t make the trip over the pond to enjoy the experience. I’m sure there will be another day. 🙂

    • Hi Richard, It was great gas. I certainly am looking forward to inflicting herself and myself on as many people around the world as possible. There is always a welcome mat out for yourself and Baby Lady here.

      • Thanks, Conor, but I must warn you to hide the hen if we make it across the pond. Baby Lady’s roosters have their eyes on her.

  • I am glad you weren’t eaten and turned into a purse. The food looks awesome!

    • He has raised the culinary bar and I am glea I was there to see it raised.

      • No doubt. The food looked awesome and your photography is spectacular! I am working with a little point-and-shoot right now. Boy do I envy being able to take decent photos. Of course, I still have the same skills, so no help for me there – LOL!

        • Trust me, it’s the camera, not the klutz (who can’t even spell) behind the lens.

  • Effin awesome. Magic idea. Love what you guys have done here!

    • I plan to do more and there is a welcome here any time you want to come up to the top half of the world. It could be fun and we need the tourist dollars here in Ireland.

  • Maybe you could stop by Australia some time…

    • The Wife is planning a trip at present. Break out the barbie!

  • I seem to have lost you in the blogosphere so I’m going to de-follow and then re-follow you. I just read Stefan’s post re this lobster thing and I noted there, and I’ll note it here, that you have a very fancy looking flash on that there camera of your’s (from the pic in the previous post) – I’m guessing that might be assisting the somewhat superb action shots? P.S many of us out here would love to have a go at that lobster but are too squeamish to try (Squeamish relating to the wife’s reaction, not the fate of the crustacean)

    • I noticed the follow and was surprised. Then I thought you might have an alter ego or something. The trip was fun. It is interesting taking the pics without the cooking pressure. Yes, the flash was a big help. On the lobster, it’s hard to not feel for the chap. Tasty all the same…

      • Thats it I’m getting myself one of those flashes. I need some retail therapy anyway….

        • Great idea. Pick up a lobster or two on the way home. You can knife them, boil them and then use them to placate the other half.

          Unless there’s a flaw in that plan?

          • there is a flaw but I won’t dwell on it here

  • Looks like you are all having a ball, your daughter needs to follow your blog for reassurance. BTW agree – the best way to despatch lobster. The lobster dish is beautifully ‘executed’ 🙂

  • I am aware of the sous vide technique, but it was used to quite an extent for the weekend meals: does the time taken and the method truly make such a big difference [asked by the obviously ignorant one!] ?

  • Such fun! You’re welcome to come here—though, as Mad Dog notes, we do have lots of serial killers in the US.

    • I’ll have to think about that one. It would be a long way to travel for a plate of food, just to be dismembered and buried by the roadside.

      I do not mean that. It was my daughter who started this. Not me!

  • Fabulous pictures! I like how you captured motion – not easy to do!!

    • Thanks Bernice, more luck than skill.

  • Couscous and lobster, must try this combination. Nice pouring shots. And I, too, remember giving my parents an earful when they ‘disappeared’ on us for a few days. HD’s harangue brought a smile to my face 🙂

    • Thanks Sanjiv, It did for me too, only much later.

  • A little piece of heaven for me and a thoroughly enjoyable read (the Hollywood-esqe lobster action shot was an exhibition in timing!). Just added “Sous Vide Machine” to my kitchen wishlist….

  • Sounds like everyone had a great time …well … except for the lobster. He did give his all, though, for your party. They’re very giving that way. So, is Stefan, I imagine, but in an entirely different way. I’m sure he’s as good a host as you were guests.

  • I can fully relate to your daughter’s concerns, because I’ve been doing the same with my own parents lately. Must be quite liberating (for a parent) when the tables turn. Regardless … I’m very happy to hear that Hannibal Lecter did not eat you and the Wife. Those are some amazing action shots, your Highness. That’s not luck, but pure talent. Poor Pinchy, but I’m sure you toasted his amazing life several times during that meal.

    • Hi Tommy, We toasted his amazing death.

  • Can’t wait until the wheel turns full circle here and I can torture my children with worry – something to look forward to! Photography is stunning as always Conor and looks like you’d an amazing experience. The Irish Mammy in me is always drawn to what else is going on in the picture and I’m noticing beyond shiny shiny hob, work surfaces, pots, utensils etc. I think I’ll go and clean my kitchen 🙂 Sheila

    • You can come over here and clean mine if you like. Blogging Daughter is recreating Fondant Fancies. She is not the neatest cook in the world.

  • Super photography Conor. Exceptional pictures of exceptional food and blogging.

    • Thanks Nicole. Great seeing you this morning. You should not be a stranger. If you find yourself around Sandyford any day, the kettle will be on.

  • Conor, that splatter as the knife went through the lobster — enough said 🙂 Love all your photos as always!

    • Thanks Danny, that was luck, for me, not the lobster.

  • Wonderful pouring shots! I need to get out of this country to travel to new and different places…maybe one day I will be in your neck of the woods!

    • Hi Barb, the welcoming committee has been formed and the flags are out.

  • I laughed as I read the opening to your post. We were invited to travel to a blogger’s home that we had never met, have dinner, spend the night and go out on their boat with them the next day. My husband said he would have loved to have seen her husband’s face when my blogging friend said she was inviting a couple for the weekend and the only thing she knew about them was that she cooks good and likes to travel. The two of them entertained us royally…it was a memorable stay. 🙂 The whole experience of your first International Blog Quest sounds fantastic. Stefan’s cooking and your photos all accompanied by great wine…what a wonderful experience.

    • Thank you Karen, Stefan really pushed the culinary boat out for us. It was a risk ( for all of us ) but it paid off very well.

  • You may get some Italian visitors, because I think I may have just published the first ever blog post in any blog in Italian that links to you 🙂

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