Sunday, May 13, 2007

Crazy Pianos, Scheveningen

Crazy Pianos by the boulevard at Scheveningen has talented pianists but so-so food.
Among the many many pubs along Scheveningen, Crazy Pianos is the only one that's got decent live music and is packed late at night.

Every evening there are pairs of keyboardists that entertain the audience by playing requests and making playful banter. It's amusing because the Dutch ask for some pretty strange songs and it's quite an experience to hear Tom Jones' Sex Bomb and the Theme From Baywatch being played on a piano.

My favorite performers are Kevin Owen from Canada and James Byron from UK. They're very good if they manage to finish a song but half the time they're clowning around and trying their hardest to get the audience to sing along.

The food is average but comes in huge portions so sharing is not such a bad idea. A three course dinner costs about EUR20 and I had the tuna appetizer, fried fish over pasta and a berry dessert thingie. Nothing fancy.

Conclusion:3.5/5 1110.50
Three and a half pawikan points. Minus points for those of us who can't speak Dutch because the performers are bilingual and switch between Dutch and English. It's free entrance before 9pm but the place fills up pretty quickly so if you decide to visit, come early.
To get here, take tram 9, alight at the Kurhaus stop and walk towards the beach. Crazy Pianos will be along the boulevard.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Reader's question: Who is ReviewsByP ?

A couple of days ago, Mich left me a message using the meebo chat widget (see the ChatWithP section on the bottom right):

"I've been visiting your blog for a while. Happened to chance upon it while googling for a review of 'The Garden Slug'. I'm very curious about what it is that you do? Are you in the hospitality industry? In the beginning, you seemed to be based in Singapore, and then we see you going all over the place. It's made me so curious."
Thanks for your comment Mich!

I was born, raised and schooled in the Philippines! No I am not in the hospitality industry. It's just that people from different parts of the world ask me to do funny things with their computers. This is the reason why I am able to bring you reviews from different places.

No I do not get paid for any of these reviews. I write mainly for the psychic income I get from people who comment.
For being so curious, here's a pawikan point for you!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Keukenhof, Leiden

photo by pIf paradise had a flower garden, it would look like Keukenhof.
I was a bit hesitant at first and thought that this was another one of those lousy tourist traps. What would a macho man (*cough cough*) like me do in a flower garden? Traipse among the daisies? Run around with a rose behind my ear?

Of course not. But I came really, really close.

It was so beautiful that I started to quota poetry! I realized how utterly useless these flowers were-- they were simply there to be admired. However R.W. Emerson knew what he was talking about when he said that "beauty is its own excuse for being".

photo by pThere's a real garden labyrinth with 10 foot tall shrubs as walls. (You would get lost if not for the watch tower in the middle of the gaden.) Comfy lounging chairs under the sun, cherry blossoms, a river with swans, a windmill, reflecting pools, playgrounds for children and lots and lots and lots of colorful flowers.

This place was engineered for photo-ops and cam whores would go crazy. If you can afford it, this is where all brides should have their photos taken.

P's Keukenhof Tips:

  • Buy the ticket online (EUR18) or at the Leiden Centraal train station to avoid the long lines.
  • Get there early and leave before 5:30pm to avoid the massively long queue at the bus stop. There is only one express bus that leaves Keukenhof for Leiden Centraal.
  • BUT, do stay until the park closes at 7:30 because this is the best light for taking photos. Don't worry about the looooong line at the bus because I've got a hot tip exclusively for the ReviewsByP readers...
  • There is an alternative bus stop 10 minutes away! Walk out of the Keukenhof, make a left and walk straight past the roundabout. Bus 57 on your left leaves every hour and terminates at the train station. Show your Keukenhof ticket and you get to ride for free! It's not an express so it takes a bit longer but it's not as stressful as standing in line. Take a nap and when you wake up, you'll be at Leiden Centraal.
Five pawikan points! Great for photographers, couples or families with kids. I'm going to gloss over the absurdly long lines at the toilet (BTW, toilets aren't free!) because there's so many pretty things to see here. This truly is the most beautiful that I've ever seen and will be the garden I will measure all other gardens.
photo by pphoto by p

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pepénero, Cape Town

Pepénero is modern, stylish and chic-- perfect for the after party.
I stumbled upon Pepénero on a quiet Friday night and when I stepped inside, I immediately felt expensive. White tablecloths, leather couches, dim lights and some beautiful beautiful lounge music was playing. Apparently this place mixes its own blend of South African chill out and a three CD set was for sale for ZAR500. Too expensive for me so I decided to just eat instead.

The food
I was a bit disappointed with their pasta. The asparagus risotto (ZAR80), prawn linguine (ZAR110) and meat ravioli (ZAR50) were ordinary and did not taste as good as the restaurant looked. Skip the Italian fare and have the meat instead-- I recommend the Fillet Pepénero coated with black pepper and mustard seeds (ZAR90). The pepper crust complemented the tender beef and went well with the Southern Right Pinotage (ZAR180).

Make sure you leave space for the sinful desserts. They've got the standard tiramisu (ZAR35) and crème brulée (ZAR35) but I highly recommend the chocolate filled banana beignets (ZAR40). (This beignet resembled a tiny donut with a sweet filling.) Yummy!

The service is excellent as I've come to expect in almost all the places I've been here in Cape Town. The staff is unobtrusive, attentive and they know their food and wine!

In the two times that I've been here, suffice to say that I was the only Asian in the room every time. At least on the occasions that I visited, most of the people were very well dressed and came in expensive cars. It doesn't have a snobbish vibe though and I did feel welcome just dressed in my sneakers and jeans. (But then again, I always say that true beauty is effortless. Mwehehe!)

Rating:4/5 0
Four pawikan points. I'd say that the mood, ambience and music outshined (outshone?) the food. Best to come here to chillax after the party or to have a couple of drinks with your date. Bonus points for their logo which would probably look good as a tattoo.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spiderman 3

I caught the national premiere of Spiderman 3 last night and the special effects can't make up for the lousy story and poor acting.

The good

  • Pay attention to the outstanding soundtrack by Christopher Young. This was the only thing keeping the show together.
  • I like how Peter Parker finds his mojo and becomes a poor imitation of Austin Powers. Oh yes watch for his fancy Tango!
  • Special effects are nice. Nothing fancy. The Sandman was a cross between Terminator 2 and Imhotep from The Mummy. Fight scenes? I was more impressed by the Matrix.
  • Ummm I guess that's it.
The bad
  • The story has no cohesion; no flow. The characters had no depth. Somehow I had this feeling that they had a bunch of cool special effects they wanted to show and tried to build a story around it.
  • The acting. Oh the acting makes me weep. Most of them wear the same expression all throughout the movie. I've seen better acting from the students of Singapore Polytechnic!
  • The movie is cheesy. Cheap dialogue, clichés, Spidey posing in front of a huge American flag, bending over a fallen friend as the sun rises in the background. Give me a break!
Conclusion:2/5 0
Two pawikan points. Bonus points for the audience who would burst out laughing at inappropriate moments because of the utter roll-your-eyes corniness of some of the scenes. I'd still tell you to watch it and see for yourself but I don't think it's worth queuing for.