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2019/07/01 7 Course Tasting Menu at de Silveren Spiegel in Amsterdam
π 2019-07-01 01:01 in Dining
While in Amsterdam, I found a very nice restaurant Yves Van Der Hoff, a young 24 year old chef with much talent.

We got their 7 course tasting menu (skipping the cheese in the 8 course option), and the dishes were quite nice. The price was quite reasonable considering that this easily rivaled michelin star restaurants we've eaten at.
The only thing they could easily improve is having a fancier wine pairing option. The one they had was well priced but also pretty basic wines. They could offer a more expensive pairing option with older and better wines.













2019/06/27 Luminosity Beach Festival at Bloemendaal an Zee
π 2019-06-27 01:01 in Clubbing
I had known about Luminosity for a little while, technically if I had gotten my shit together, I could have gone last year, but it was a bit too late then, so I made sure this year happened. Sadly, this year was not nearly as much as the previous years: it used to be 4 days with 12H a day, but the city council responsible for that part of the beach actually decided that it was too loud and put a reverse curfew on the festival. This was apparently not to inconvenience a few people on the beach who could literally have walked 2mn away in either direction if they didn't like the sound. Sigh...
As a result of this BS, the event was only allowed to start at 15:00, but it gets worse, even then they were not allowed to use any sound until 17:00. Sadly, that meant the first 2 hours were literally sound you could barely hear and a mostly a waste for the DJs that were playing. It kind of broke my heart to see Thrillseekers do a 3H set from 14:00 to 17:00 one day where you couldn't hear the sound :(
This is obviously not Luminosity's fault, but it effectively removed around 5H per day, or 20H total. Hopefully they get to handle that for next year, or the event is going to be much lesser than it used to be
I talked to some DJs who got sets cancelled or were forced to play with virtually no sound, and they were not happy either

the sound booth guy was tired of everyone asking why you could barely hear any music
the sound booth guy was tired of everyone asking why you could barely hear any music

That said, there were plenty of DJs still. I couldn't help myself and take a few pictures. It actually took a while before I got a clue, I could have gotten many more pictures if I had tried harder, but I had been wanting to talk to PvD and get a picture with him for so long since I've been listening to his music for over 20 years and that this alone was awesome. Sadly I missed Ferry Corsten due to a time conflict. Oh well, maybe another time:

Cold Blue
Cold Blue

Craig Connelly, I'm a big fan of his tracks
Craig Connelly, I'm a big fan of his tracks

Paul Van Dyk, after so many years!
Paul Van Dyk, after so many years!

Matt Darey, that brings me way back. He also did a great classics set
Matt Darey, that brings me way back. He also did a great classics set

Thrillseekers
Thrillseekers

Cosmic Gate
Cosmic Gate

That being said, despite the 20H that were effectively missing, it would have still been a stellar event, but sadly they were 3 big problems in my book:

  • As I just learned the day after getting home, the city council, on top of putting heavy schedule and sound restrictions on the event, also apparently put heavy security restrictions, to the point that they went overboard with security and denied me use of my led outfit during the last 3 days of the event "for security reasons"
  • the security was not correctly prioritizing their threats (to be fair, that's actually hard to do, and even with proper training, not everyone does a great job making the right calls), and convinced themselves that the wires in my outfit could be used to injure others, when shoe laces would honestly do the same.
  • the "you must buy our overpriced bottled water, which we'll sell you without bottle caps". This is so petty... Just charge what you need to charge on the tickets and let people hydrate as they need to. If only one person ends up in the hospital or worse due to dehydration, that is not worth it. Insomniac got the clue, Lumi not yet.
  • The security company they used freaked out on day #2 when a different guy at the entrance saw my light outfit and the wires that it needs to run. In his head wires = bad = terrorist = fear. He actually said he worried about ISIS. OMG... It was downhill from there, people trying to justify the decision all the way where they agreed that I wasn't a risk, but someone could rip out the wires from my outfit and use them to strangle someone else, or something. This is the saddest I've ever heard, especially because the event security was so sad to start with. For their own sake, I'm not going to reveal the huge security holes I found when I got annoyed at this (I have security training) but generally the perimeter was a joke. You could literally smuggle anything you wanted in, including weapons. The thing is that people didn't do it because they were happy to pay for the event, like I was, and honestly trance events is not really where you find weapons or fights to start with. Good thing that no one tried to use their shoe laces to strangle others or we'd have to get in without shoelaces or shoes next time... (and in case you were wondering, I spent non trivial effort to make sure my outfit would not injure others even if they banged into me while dancing).

    there were so many fences you could smuggle anything through. Thankfully it was only water and ice cream
    there were so many fences you could smuggle anything through. Thankfully it was only water and ice cream

    The only thing that kept us safe was that people came to have a good time, not to cause trouble (except maybe a handful of people who got a bit too drunk and became mean drunks), and honestly they should focus on that.

    Thankfully, and that's their biggest failure, their biggest external "threat" was really people trying to smuggle water in, or would you believe it, bottle caps (yes, bottle caps were actually forbidden, because they could be used to refill and close a bottle of water they were trying to force you to buy inside. I really saw a guy being detained by security at the entrance until he threw away both his empty bottle and then the bottle cap he was trying to keep). That's very petty.

    this did his best to beat the system and brought his own resealable bottle cap
    this did his best to beat the system and brought his own resealable bottle cap

    While I expect any festival to screen for weapons, even if this one had such a porous perimeter, the empty bottle and bottle cap stuff was just sad (food was of course also forbidden, but that's a bit more typical). The food options inside were pretty poor, but on the plus side, they allowed you to leave the event to buy food outside if you wanted to:

    people stood in line for 30 to 60mn on the first day to buy fake money
    people stood in line for 30 to 60mn on the first day to buy fake money

    which actually got devalued and of course becomes worthless at the end of the event
    which actually got devalued and of course becomes worthless at the end of the event

    and then you can spend it on limited food options
    and then you can spend it on limited food options

    Can't say I was a fan of this. They should allow contactless payment (phone or credit card) which is almost as fast and bypasses this silly token system, at least in addition to tokens. Inside they had 30-60mn lines at the token counters and no lines at the food/drink boths.

    Usually I don't rant like this, but between forcing people to pay almost $5 per 0.5L of water (make money on the ticket, not on water that creates so much plastic waste and kills our oceans), and banning my outfit on day 2 after all the trouble I went through to bring it in across the world, I was not a happy camper. That said, I had a few pictures from day #1 before I was considered such a risk, along with some of my friends from the San Francisco area (who were then all very disappointed to learn that luminosity banned my outfit on the next days):



    Ok, now that it's off my chest, back to the event. Despite the serious neutering that happened due to the city sound curfew, Lumi is still an event that's one of a kind. The sheer amount of DJs and producers that attended, was beyond impressive. To their credit, they also allow you to stand almost next to the DJ playing or behind him/her while he's playing and take great shots of the crowd. This is not something you can expect just about anywhere else. And on top of that, many DJs were more than happy to talk with their fans and pose for pictures (some were understandably harder to approach than others).

    also I saw people just climbing speakers and dancing on top when at the average festival, they'd be taken out within less than 1mn. I can actually found that refreshing :)
    also I saw people just climbing speakers and dancing on top when at the average festival, they'd be taken out within less than 1mn. I can actually found that refreshing :)

    no backstage pass required, I was just able to walk here
    no backstage pass required, I was just able to walk here

    Sadly, I'm still bitter about what they did to me, let's get back to the event, which was otherwise quite good despite the effective 20H+ missing compared to previous years.
    For starters, we were lucky with the weather, it was unseasonably warm, even borderline too warm on saturday (some other years, they had rain and most of the event is uncovered).

    you may notice the big dune that you'll find all the way around the Netherlands as a shield for the country that mostly under sea level
    you may notice the big dune that you'll find all the way around the Netherlands as a shield for the country that mostly under sea level

    the event was by the beach, and there was a fair amount of wind most days
    the event was by the beach, and there was a fair amount of wind most days

    They had 4 stages, 2 big one outdoors and 2 smaller ones indoors. Some days only had 3 stages running, other days, 4. Interestingly while the schedule changed quite a bit during the event, saturday and sunday had an extra unannounced stage, and when Solarstone was playing allegedly until midnight on friday, he didn't stop and no one kicked him out either :)

    Anyway, here are pictures from Day 1:




    my first time seeing Will Atkinson. Some DJs don't travel to the US
    my first time seeing Will Atkinson. Some DJs don't travel to the US

    4 Strings
    4 Strings





    haha, climb on top of speakers, no one cares :)
    haha, climb on top of speakers, no one cares :)

    sun took forever to set, it was only dark for 15mn before the 'day' was over
    sun took forever to set, it was only dark for 15mn before the 'day' was over

    sucks to be the laser guy when you can only use the lasers for such a short portion of the event
    sucks to be the laser guy when you can only use the lasers for such a short portion of the event

    Video of Day #1:

    This brings us to Day #2. That day John Askew played a 9H OTC set. I was joking that he was wearing a "weekend at bernie's" shirt just in case they had to prop him up, but he didn't need that, he just kept on going, awesome stamina:


    Markus Schultz
    Markus Schultz


    Jennifer came on day #2 and enjoyed some shade by the beach, where you could still hear the music
    Jennifer came on day #2 and enjoyed some shade by the beach, where you could still hear the music

    Gareth Emery
    Gareth Emery

    finally some darkness
    finally some darkness

    Solarstone finished the evening
    Solarstone finished the evening

    He finished past the event closing time, and no one complained :)
    He finished past the event closing time, and no one complained :)

    well said
    well said

    Video of Day #2:

    Saturday was Day #3, the warmest day of the festival:

    they added some big fans, as indoors was unbearably hot
    they added some big fans, as indoors was unbearably hot







    they had water cannons to make the temperature easier to bear
    they had water cannons to make the temperature easier to bear

    next was PvD
    next was PvD


    Video of Day #3:

    Sunday was Day #4 and the last day:

    I ran into Matt Darey, awesome. I thanked him for his stellar Gamemaster mix
    I ran into Matt Darey, awesome. I thanked him for his stellar Gamemaster mix

    Got to chat with goldenscan before their classics set, which was quite enjoyable
    Got to chat with goldenscan before their classics set, which was quite enjoyable

    thrillseekers did another set, he sure worked a lot and I sure didn't mind :)
    thrillseekers did another set, he sure worked a lot and I sure didn't mind :)

    Matt Darey took the classics deck and did a very enjoyable set too
    Matt Darey took the classics deck and did a very enjoyable set too


    Judge Jules
    Judge Jules

    Cosmic Gate
    Cosmic Gate

    Ferry Corsten was next
    Ferry Corsten was next



    Video of Day #4:

    And that was it for Luminosity, it ended at 23:00 on the 4th day (probably another city curfew).

    A few extra pictures. One plus of the festival is that you get sunsets. Day #2:



    Day #3:





    Jennifer came back to the beach to come watch the sunset on Day #4 with me:


    sadly it went to hide behind the clouds
    sadly it went to hide behind the clouds

    although it unexpected came back out a bit later when I tried to get a picture with Ferry (and failed)
    although it unexpected came back out a bit later when I tried to get a picture with Ferry (and failed)

    As for outfits, well, they weren't many. Outside of how I was treated, and the fact that most of the festival is during daylight hours (sunset was at 22:30), looks like Europeans aren't into fancy outfits as much in the US. Never mind totem poles, not seen a single one (although to be fair I have mixed feelings about totem poles as they totally block the view of the stage). That said there were at least some fun T-shirts:




    So that was that, with the security stuff that happened, sadly it was a bittersweet experience, but outside of these unnecessary actions, it was enjoyable and definitely interesting to experience. Now, if they can just stop the bottled water BS, reconsider their real security threats (if any), and fix the very damaging curfew from the city, hopefully next year will be better again.
    Lumi is definitely a event on its own: for the trance fans by the trance fans. The access you get to DJs, I have found nowhere else and I can only say thank you for that alone. Thanks to all the DJs/artists who came, and everyone who supported them and made the event happen.

    2019/06/24 De Poezenboot, Cat Boat, in Amsterdam
    π 2019-06-24 01:01 in Cats
    That was not quite a cat café, but a no kill shelter in Amsterdam that happens to be on a house boat. To help pay for their bills, they allow visitors a few hours every week, and it's pretty popular with long waits outside:










    2019/06/24 7 Course Tasting Menu at de Silveren Spiegel in Amsterdam
    π 2019-06-24 01:01 in Dining
    While in Amsterdam, I found a very nice restaurant Yves Van Der Hoff, a young 24 year old chef with much talent.

    We got their 7 course tasting menu (skipping the cheese in the 8 course option), and the dishes were quite nice. The price was quite reasonable considering that this easily rivaled michelin star restaurants we've eaten at.
    The only thing they could easily improve is having a fancier wine pairing option. The one they had was well priced but also pretty basic wines. They could offer a more expensive pairing option with older and better wines.













    2019/06/20 75th Anniversary Dinner with my Dad at Hélène Darroze in Paris
    π 2019-06-20 01:01 in Dining
    This was our 4th time there. The first time was best as she was not too well known yet. That was mid 2000's. By the 2nd time, the prices had more or less doubled and by the 3rth time in 2014, her prices had stayed quite high, but the service had gone way down, to embarassing levels.

    Thankfully for this 4th time, the service was back to where it should have been. The base menu price stayed in the expensive range, they finally stopped forcing you to buy pointless bottled water for prices higher than good wines by offering filtered water if you asked enough, but they sure upsold you a lot on drinks with no price at all. They didn't even publish the price of the wine pairing...

    The nice surprise is that we got the chef's table by the kitchen and were greeted by Hélène who was working there that day, and took a few pictures with us).
    The meal itself was great and my dad was very happy to get pictures with Hélène, so that worked out great as a 75th BD dinner :)
























    they didn't have 1944, for my dad's birth year, but they had 1941
    they didn't have 1944, for my dad's birth year, but they had 1941




    2019/06/14 A Day at the Beach on Hwy 1
    π 2019-06-14 01:01 in Public
    While most people go to Santa Cruz (hwy 17) or Half Moon Bay (hwy 92), I figured it would be fun to spend a day at the beach for Jennifer who loves looking at tidepool, and me who doesn't a fun curvy road to get there :)

    We got to skyline towards Alice's Restaurant, and then 84/pescadero to Hwy 1, a fun road. We ended up by the best BBQ restaurant on Hwy1, which is to say that it was ok and had no competition :)



    Then we went to the beach for a few trails and looked for tide pools:





    oister catcher
    oister catcher





    We then drove up the coast in look for other beaches:






    interesting rocks
    interesting rocks



    After around 5H at the beach, it was time to drive home. pescadero, skyline, pagemill. Nice roads. Jennifer was a good sport given that she doesn't much enjoy twisty road driving :)

    See more images for A Day at the Beach on Hwy 1
    2019/06/10 Skyline to the Sea Loop
    π 2019-06-10 01:01 in Cars
    It has been so long since our last drive, I really needed that. It was fun despite my being a bit tired.











    See more images for Skyline to the Sea Loop
    2019/06/08 Simon Patterson vs John Askew at Mezzanine
    π 2019-06-08 01:01 in Clubbing
    Another night in the city, more tunes, more dancing :)







    2019/06/07 Hike from Hidden Villa Towards Black Mountain with Johannes
    π 2019-06-07 01:01 in Hiking
    Johannes nicely invited me for a hike around the hills. We didn't quite have the time to make it up to the top of Black Mountain before running out of daylight, but we still went pretty high and had a good view before having to turn back
    ] ]





















    2019/06/01 Sunnyvale Art and Wine Festival
    π 2019-06-01 01:01 in Public
    It was Sunnyvale's turn to have their festival, so we biked there, and here are a few pictures:


























    See more images for Sunnyvale Art and Wine Festival

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