Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Amsterdam and Cheese and Wine Event

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Amsterdam last week. We were even luckier to have great weather, it was absolutely boiling most of the time. I wouldn't have thought I'd come back with an Amsterdam tan! Obviously I felt the need to blog about the lovely food I came across!

Didn't get a chance to eat here in De Taart Van Mijn Tante, never passed by at the right time, but it looked fabulous! Imagine kitsch to the extreme and triple it! They even have a bed and breakfast upstairs called Cake Under My Pillow - and you can get married in the cafe according to their website!! Imagine the amazing cake you could have!

Excuse the glare but how cute is this cake?!

And my ultimate cake - a big sugar skull! Wow! I'd never be able to eat it! These were right at the top of the shop, so many wonderful examples of their cake making.

After a wander round the Jordaan we wanted to stop for lunch and what better place to end up but a Dutch pancake house? Pancakes! (observe the exclamation mark) isn't huge but the pancakes sure were. La Mama had a spinach, goats cheese and pine nut pancakes which was delicious but pretty impossible to finish!

I had one with bacon to which I added lashings of syrup! There was an Australian couple who had a pancake pie each (cheese, spinach, ham, salad and tomato) and when the waiter asked if they would like the bill they asked for a dessert pancake - "but just to share!" Phew! There was also a young American couple who chose the American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and had obviously had exactly the same thing the previous day as the lovely waiter remembered them. With the bill came a cute wooden clog keyring as a present. Aw!

As with many places in Amsterdam, they were extremely proud of their ingredients and where they were sourced. Their flour came from one particular windmill and a lot of items on the menu were organic. Our hotel also served a lot of organic food for breakfast - even the food court in the airport were proud to sell local apples.

We ate in a beautiful cafe in the Handbag museum. A gorgeous, privately-owned museum and an equally gorgeous cafe for a light lunch. They also do an afternoon tea, which I can definitely imagine. We had a salmon sandwich and a raw beef sandwich. The bread was one of the nicest sourdoughs breads I've had. La Mama wasn't so sure of her raw beef. We were expecting really thin slices like carpaccio as in all the supermarkets, but what arrived was really thick slices which tasted a lot like pastrami but which was really soft in texture. I thought it was tasty so I just ate more for lunch! It was also very important that I realised my pear and strawberry juice was 'biological', I was told both on ordering and when it was served! It was delicious.

One of the places I wanted to visit before we arrived in Amsterdam was Burgermeester. Our hotel suggested it too so I was very hopeful. It wasn't just an ordinary burger joint, oh no! Again, the ingredients were all the best possible. There were even photos on the walls of the cows that were used to make the first burgers. Best not to look into their eyes too much as you chow down on your beefburger! The beef only came from the Blonde D'Aquitaine breed, a French breed "but Dutch citizens"! The different burger varities are seasonal and I think we were there at the start of a new menu. The great thing is you can choose 3 mini burgers for 11 euros so you can try different flavours rather than struggle to decide which one you want.

I had a Meester burger with beef, grilled vegetables and tarragon mayonnaise; an Italian chicken burger with pesto and wild spinach and a Broad bean falafel burger. All very lovely and I really need to make broad bean falafels at home as they were very impressive.

La Mama had a Lamb burger with red onion marmalade and a Royale Burger with beef, pancetta and get this - truffled egg! And the truffle was very visible, no stingy flavoured oil or anything. The 3rd burger was their special of the month which was a burger with white asparagus. This month's is a Sombrero burger with guacamole and jalapenos! So cool! They took an age to cook and there weren't many seats but this is definitely somewhere to try.

We also ate in the restaurant in the department store in De Bijenkorf which has become a lot smarter since we last went to Amsterdam. Lots of different food stations including salads, sandwiches, pizza (with a proper pizza oven), grilled meats and an amazing selection of freshly squeezed juices. We also ate at La Place which was similar to De Bijenkorf but was set out a lot more like a market and was very busy. Everything is cooked there and then. If you want fish they filet your chosen fish in front of you and cook it to your liking. The pizzas looked delicious but they also looked like they took hours to prepare as the chef was very, very careful in placing all the ingredients and seemed to add cheese after every layer!

I was so impressed with the food and I loved that they obviously cared so much about their ingredients. I can't wait to go back. The good weather and beautiful surroundings also helped!

At least after my holiday I had something to look forward to in Manchester. I had kindly been invited by Vive Le Cheese to a French cheese and wine evening at the Soup Kitchen last night. The proceedings were led by Phoebe Weller who talked us through 10 different cheeses, starting from a sweet Emmental to a Bleu d'Auvergne, with plenty in between. I think the Epoisses and the Comte were my favourites and it was nice to try a couple of cheeses I haven't had before.

A good time was had by all, a huge amount of cheese was consumed and a very reasonable amount of wine was drunk! I loved the little details like putting out bread, grapes and gherkins to cleanse our palates. Pheobe was really knowledgeable and it was so interesting to hear about the different cheese varieties and how they are produced.

We were very excited to get a goodie bag at the end of the night! There were loads of recipe ideas contained within, all involving a good deal of cheese of course! They look absolutely delicious and I'm looking forward to trying some out. We should definitely have more things like in Manchester, maybe a gourmet cake tasting?!

1 comment:

  1. Looks fab and I love the sound of a handbag museum!