A taste of Amsterdam (part II)
Insatiable foodie Paola Duque-Westbeek braves the unseasonable weather to hunt out more goodies through the streets of Amsterdam.
I awake on a somewhat dreary Saturday morning. It’s market day but the weather just doesn’t seem to be cooperating. Should I do my shopping at my local market or go through with my plans and head out to Amsterdam?
I hate to let the weather dictate my day, so I leave it for what it is and head out for Amsterdam armed with an umbrella. After all, I simply need to have some jamon Serrano and come to think of it, my garlic oil could also do with a refill.
Today my adventure starts at Meeuwig & Zn. where I will buy garlic oil. As soon as I enter the shop, I am confronted with huge barrels carrying an impressive variety of the finest oils, most purchased directly from small- scale farmers in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. This alone makes the shop appealing to me. I am all for supporting farmers who love their trade and put all of their effort into creating an exquisite product. That is why you can almost taste the care and attention in the freshly- tapped bottles of oil purchased here.
Moutarde violette de Brive
Besides exquisite olive oils, the shop also carries nut oils, pumpkin seed oil, grapeseed oil, Japanese sesame oil and even hemp oil, just to name a few. You will also find vinegars and mustards. And speaking of mustards! I am particularly keen on their moutarde violette de Brive- a product popular during the belle époque. The mustard owes its vibrant purple hue to fact that it is mixed with grape must, giving it a characteristic fruitiness and making it less sharp than most mustards. This jar with its pretty 19th century label would look perfect in a picnic basket destined for a romantic outdoor lunch…
I purchase a bottle of baked garlic oil- gorgeous over a bowl of piping-hot, whole-grain spaghetti dressed with nothing more than a little chilli and some freshly grated parmesan. My garlic oil is also used to finish off soups as well as in dressings and marinades, but for those in need of inspiration, check out the Meeuwig & Zn. website for some wonderful recipes, or have a look through Manfred Meeuwig’s own book, Olijfolie, 24 wereldse recepten.
Next stop is Hollandaluz. Perhaps it’s because of my Spanish roots, but I immediately feel at home as I enter the beautifully decorated shop. The bright colours of the hand-painted Andalusian tiles and the traditional Spanish music speak to me, bring back memories. I order my jamon Serrano, in Spanish of course, but Mariangeles, the friendly shop owner first cuts me a delicate slice before getting to work on my order. I comment on how appetising the ham looks and we also chat about her Dulce de Membrillo. The thick, rosy-orange quince jelly is traditionally served with Manchego cheese which provides a deliciously salty contrast to the sweetness of the jelly.
Hanging above Mariangeles, I notice link after link of beautiful chorizos and immediately start to consider making a tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette). I ask Mariangeles to show me the best chorizos for this purpose and, without hesitation; she shows me some fresh, plump links of chorizo de guisar made by Titos Bolivar. I haven’t tasted them yet, but their colour and smell alone tell me that I am in for a treat!
Any tapas party would be incomplete without chorizo, and no better place to plan one than at Hollandaluz. Their impressive product list features everything from aceitunas (Spanish olives) to calamares en su tinta (squid in its own ink), and the best thing is that they are more than willing to help you with the planning. Not only do they offer menu suggestions but if you place your order two days in advance, they will make sure everything is ready for you fresh on the day you need it.
Before I leave, Mariangeles once again tempts me with a piece of pan Gallego (Spanish bread), fresh from the oven and drizzled with olive oil. This is exactly what you can expect at these types of shops; people who love what they sell, who are delighted to let you taste their products. I pop the bread into my mouth and decide to take one of these irresistible loaves home as well.
A few stops later, I find myself staring through the window of a quaint looking pastry shop- J.G. Beune. My mouth is watering as I ogle the most amazing creations- cakes, cookies, bonbons! Anything to drive the sugar fanatic mad! I am still wondering whether or not to even go in. Let me loose in here and I’ll walk out with enough sweet treats to throw me into a sugar-induced coma! My good intentions evaporate as soon as I spot the huge chocolate covered Dutch éclairs- Bossche Bollen!
For chocoholics, Unlimited Delicious is another dangerously tempting address. You can find any type of chocolates imaginable here- examples include rosemary sea salt, cassis, orange cloves, wasabi with Tahiti vanilla, star anise, smoked black tea and my personal favourite- pink peppercorns! These tiny bite- size morsels are made with the very exclusive Valrhona chocolate- classified as one of the best in the world. It is no wonder that top restaurants turn to Unlimited Delicious for their chocolate supply. Besides chocolates, the shop also offers beautiful cakes and pastries which you can enjoy at home or in their small café.
I am not here to indulge today though, but rather to get some more information about their workshops. Unlimited Delicious offers a bonbon workshop, a patisserie workshop and a desserts dinner workshop where you can learn to make unusual creations such as chocolate- orange soup with gingerbread croutons! Imagine serving that to your guests!
With the smell of chocolate still lingering around me, I head to the market. The first stop today is De Sterregaard- a stall carrying a wide variety of apples. I come here especially for their Topaz apples- one of my most delicious addictions. The hard bite and slight sourness of these aromatic little fruits make them completely irresistible! I order my week’s worth and head on to the next stall, Kwikstaart, for my vegetables. Today I am after some mushrooms and leeks for my savoury clafoutis (see photo above right), some Brussels sprouts to accompany Sunday dinner and the usual kilo of carrots and endive.
Because I am also a little bit of a health-nut, I cannot live without a pantry full of pulses- all sorts of beans, chickpeas and my absolute favourite- lentils. Cees’ kraam carries everything for the macrobiotic, gluten- free or additive free diet. They also have a selection of Japanese specialty products and a variety of flours which are freshly ground and weighed for you. I buy a bag of the dark-green, somewhat marbled and very tasty Puy lentils. Especially in the colder months, I enjoy serving lentil casseroles at least once a week and for this purpose, only Puy lentils fit the bill.
Parsley and chive goat cheese
As I walk over to Wolverlei for my parsley and chives goats’cheese, I am quite pleased to see that the clouds are breaking away letting through just the merest bit of sunshine. The stall is famous for their exquisite goats’ cheese made according to traditional French recipe. Wolverlei has its origins is Friesland where in the late 80’s a one-of-a-kind goat farm was started. They now offer many exciting varieties such as Chèvre truffel (made with grated black truffle), Ezelspeper (a spicy goats’ cheese bathed in Vieux Marc Bourgogne and ripened with savoury and rosemary), Chèvre au Calva à l'estragon (marinated in Calvados and tarragon) and of course their specialty, Banon (a delicate yet outspoken cheese which is wrapped in chestnut leaves soaked in eau de vie). Their cheeses are wonderful served as part of a classic cheese platter, crumbled into salads or smothered on hot, grilled bread.
Today I am purchasing most of my meat at Natuurslagerij Rob Rijks. First, I order some lightly spiced Merguez sausages- the perfect accompaniment to my Puy lentil casserole. My plan is to simply grill them and then plop them on top of my lentils once they are done. Absolutely decadent and quite healthy to boot! Rob Rijks also offers the best of the best when it comes to poultry- even the chicken wings are plump and full of tender meat! I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s dinner- Hans is making his famous lemony chicken wings!
One of my favourite Dutch foods is Gelderse rookworst (Dutch sausage). I adore them just as a snack, served with a good dollop of grainy Dutch mustard. Rookworst is also an integral part of the Dutch kitchen and is usually served with traditional winter food such as stamppot (potato and vegetable mash). Today I am buying some thick, succulent rookworst at Lombok, not for a stamppot, but for my savoury clafoutis- my lifesaving recipe after a busy work day.
My journey has come to an end, my stomach is rumbling and I am feeling slightly famished. I haven’t had anything since breakfast (with the exception of the samples from the shopkeepers) and I am in serious need of some sustenance before making my way back home. It doesn’t take long to decide what today’s lunch will be- a slice of apple pie and a glass of red wine at Café Winkel. I sip my wine at the pleasantly crowded bar and begin to think about tonight’s dinner. Today I am all for a ‘bits and pieces’ meal- a loaf of pan Gallego, my beautiful jamon Serrano, a variety of cheeses and a jar of moutarde de violette- all accompanied by a green salad dressed with a garlicky vinaigrette and of course, a bottle of red wine. Perfect!
- Shopping at farmers’ markets and delicatessens may seem expensive but with a little planning, it’s not as pricy as you might think. First of all, make an inventory of what you already have in your fridge/ pantry. Is there anything that needs to be used up? What needs to be re-stocked? With this in mind, you can plan menus for the next couple of days and then make a shopping list for any ingredients you’ll need.
- Don’t forget that eating seasonally is always best. Not only are fruits and vegetables at their prime but they’re also much cheaper!
- Eat less meat and indulge in good- quality/organic meat once or twice a week instead. Once you taste real meat, you’ll never want to buy the mediocre stuff they sell at supermarkets again.
Interested in learning more about good food? Come and join me on one of my culinary walks through Amsterdam! I also offer personal cooking lessons, theme lessons and expat lunches aimed to introduce newcomers to the traditional Dutch kitchen: Mijn Zoete Leven.
Here are the links for the places covered in this article:
And, if you’re curious about clafoutis, here’s the recipe! Think of this as a crustless quiche. Serve it with a green salad and a bottle of red wine.
-2 tbsps olive oil
-500g leeks, white part only, sliced
-500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
-1 Dutch rookworst cut in small pieces
-1 tbsp grainy Dutch mustard (Groninger mosterd)
-100g freshly- grated Dutch Boerenkaas
-salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly oil a 25cm quiche pan.
- Heat one tbsp of the oil and sauté the leeks for five minutes. Transfer to the quiche pan, add the other tbsp of oil to your hot pan and sauté the mushrooms 3-5 minutes. Transfer them to the quiche pan as well.
- Add the sausage to the vegetables.
- Beat the eggs, flour, mustard, cheese, milk and salt and pepper. Pour this over the veggies and the sausage and bake for approximately 40 minutes.
Note: The clafoutis will deflate as it cools.
For more information on Paola and culinary delights visit Paola's blog."
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