Taste of Tomatoes

Food festival season is in full swing and, once again, a good friend arranged tickets to the Taste of Amsterdam. At one of the booths you could win tomatoes by taking a picture for promotion on social media. so…

We have tomatoes!


As you can guess we had a theme for dinner.

Tomato and beet salad – inspired by Martha Steward’s recipe but after cooking the beets in the oven I quickly threw them into a pan with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sage. Letting them cool down before plating them with sliced tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and basil.

Mini tomato tarts – Using a lactose-free crust of oil, flour, rosemary and almond milk I slow roasted the tomatoes in the oven for an hour.

Lamb chops with tomato sauce – toss tomatoes, garlic, anchovies and rosemary in a pan to make a simple sauce on grilled lamb chops.

Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwiches – no explanation needed since the name says it all!

Gazpacho – onion, bell pepper and tomatoes are roasted in the oven before pureeing with cucumber, garlic, chili pepper, parsley, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Don’t forget to sieve the puree before serving.



Taste of Amsterdam 2014

I have incredibly kind friends when they found out I wanted to go to taste of Amsterdam even if it meant going it alone he arranged tickets for all of us from his work and they joined me! Thank you so much Sander and Roelien!
I have a food festival strategy which involves first a thorough review of the booklet containing the dishes served then narrowing this down to the ones I think sounds really interesting or special and then just leaving a few options open for ‘maybe’ since I will never be able to try all of them. Unfortunatly there was no booklet at all! Even worse there was also no app! I think I missed some really good opportunities without having a route or game plan.
I had fonder memories of this food festival from 3 years ago, some of my expectations of the big name ‘famous’ Dutch chefs were too high and I was happily surprised by the new or unknown to me restaurants. The Dutch also have a Masterchef television program where amateur chefs compete. Two of the three jury members had their restaurants presented at the Taste of Amsterdam and these were really quite disappointing. I also found the new trend to finish off a dish, throw some puffed quinoa on top.
Here are some tasted good but not the best of the day
Grilled King crab “Yakatori style” With Dutch sour, cream of kaffir lime and summer herbs from Luté

Grilled King crab “Yakatori style”  with a cream of kaffir lime and summer herbs


Black Angus beef with hazelnuts and celery root

Black Angus beef with hazelnuts and celery root


Duck served with a pea cream, chioggia biet, truffle potatoes and a conac jus

Duck served with a pea cream, chioggia biet, truffle potatoes and a conac jus


Canelé with pineapple

Canelé with pineapple

And the ones below were the best. The restaurant Screaming Beans was awesome! so delicious and beautifully prepared plates. This is what I wanted from the whole event.


North Sea crab salad with green apple, lime, cucumber avocado cream and toast

North Sea crab salad with green apple, lime, cucumber avocado cream and toast

Tartaar of shoulder tender  accompanied with parmesan cheese, bacon vinaigrette, lettuce, cocktail onions, toast and egg yolk

Tartaar of shoulder tender accompanied with parmesan cheese, bacon vinaigrette, lettuce, cocktail onions, toast and egg yolk

So good!

Cinema Culinair

I had a really fun food experience not too long ago, cinema culinair. Hosted at Bird in Rotterdam, a Jazz podium and restaurant. The idea is to watch a movie and and eat/drink the same food at the same time as it is shown on screen. They started out as a neighborhood get together, now Bird (tries to) plan this once a month.

I was really curious how this whole thing would work, the food, the timing with the movie. Would we be getting/drinking everything shown in the movie or would they make a choice. How accurate will the food be in comparison to the film?

I got tickets to watch the movie Sideways, set in Napa Valley, California. The original event description did give a few hints at the menu (roughly 4 courses) and 4 half glasses of wine during the film.

We started out with wedding cake, although not quite the same cake since we ended up with a lemon merengue pie and in the film was lemon cake, but the second chocolate cake was then the ‘ same’ as the movie. The second dish was a greasy spoon breakfast, scrambled eggs with french toast and bacon. There after came a pork medallion with potatoes in a wasabi dressing, a soup with cheddar cheese. The next dish was a spareribs with corn bread and red cabbage and finally a very very sad hamburger patty and onion ring.

The breakfast and pork medallions were really very tasty. These were also the more happy moments in the film as well. What I found to be notable was the hamburger patty and inion ring. In that moment of the film it was quite heartbreaking and the food actually reflected this. An overdone hamburger patty with a few cold onion rings and a swig of wine from a paper cup. I am hoping that the ‘bad’ last meal was intentional since it fit very well with the emotion of the film at that moment.

The timing wasn’t perfect but considering they have 40 people to serve just at the right moment must be a challenge. I would almost prefer that they served a few minutes too early so that everyone could eat with in time with the film.

I suppose you could call this the ultimate dinner and a movie combo.

Lowlands 2012

I  love living in the Netherlands. I could do with a little less rain on occasion but really if you want the green landscape and beautiful flowers you gotta have the rain. What I especially love about the Netherlands is that there is so much to do. I have already mentioned some of the culinary events that take place around the country and hopefully I will be able to share more of these in the future but the cultural and musical events are endless. One of my favorites is Lowlands.  A Camping Flight to Lowlands is a 3 day music festival hosting bands from all genres, stand-up comedy, street theatre, dance performances, and cinema. The festival has about 55,000 visitors.

Lowlands 2012 was hot! (awesome but also hot in temperature). We had the hottest weekend since 1994, between 35 and 40 degrees celsius without a cooling breeze. I used more than a bottle of sunscreen (SPF 70, yes it exists, in fact SPF 110 exists) in those 3 days. While I would have preferred 10 degrees cooler it was a fantastic weekend. Food and music…what more can you ask for (like a proper bed and shower in a hotel room maybe?) How about we settle for a wine bar?! (Once the sun went down I  frequently stopped by here on the way to the next band)



I was not particularly focused on getting pictures of food during this weekend but I can certainly tell you about how good the food was for a music festival. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen had a booth, there was a delicious stall with stone oven baked pizzas, Surnames food, fair trade food booth, pancakes, coffee houses and many many more.

Last but not least a fondue stand.


They served a creamy leek and dutch cheese fondue. Delicious.


While enjoying the lovely food I was also able to see several of my favorite bands like The XX, Mark Lanegan Band, Triggerfinger, Hot Chip  and if those names don’t ring any bells how about Foo Fighters closing off the festival. I can’t wait for next year, I was lucky enough to get tickets! They sold out within half an hour of going on sale .

Antwerpen Proeft 2013: culinary outdoor festival

Let the food festival season begin! It might have already begun but I have visited my first of the season two weekends ago, Antwerpen Proeft! And what a way to start.

A total of 27 restaurants, many with only one or two dishes featured. It was delicious. Making a selection of what to eat was the hard part. Eating what comes below was easy.

‘Painted’ pigs cheeks with quinoa, cucumber, avocado and dashi from Helsen


I directly translated the gelakte vakenswang because I thought it was funny to have painted pigs cheeks, I suppose that glazed pigs cheeks would be more appropriate of a translation. It was a very asian inspired dish with a strong presence of soy and salt. I was not expecting this but was really did enjoy it.


Fresh cheese, salty salade of asparagus and glasswort, young sea lavender, dried red beef, young herbs and flowers from La Chapelle co-owned by Sergio Herman and Nick Bril


From the description of the dish is a little hard to imagine the final outcome but this dish I was not going to pass up. Sergio Herman is a Dutch chef that has been awarded 3 michelin stars for his restaurant Oud Sluis. His most recent project is in collaboration with Nick Bril (head chef of Oud Sluis) is the opening of thier Antwerpse restaurant La Chapelle. You guessed it, the restaurant building is an old chapel.

The dish at Antwerpen Proeft did not disappoint. I don’t even have the words to describe the flavor, the complexity, the subtly of one aspect only to have the most intense flavor of another element. It not only looked beautiful but it tasted so so good.


Also exciting is that I managed to score myself one of the limited flyers being handed out. Talking a picture of my favorite homemade dish with the flyer will enter me in to win a table for two at the opening of La Chapelle. Now the tough part is figuring out what to make. I’m thinking something with raspberries.

Croquette of braised oxtail on a salad of mustard leaf, marinated asparagus and puffed quinoa with a dressing from mustard seed and pea mayonnaise from ‘T Leeuwekopke.



As you can see this looked wonderful and a neat idea to give the braised meat a bit of a crunch by creating a crust. I did not find the crust to really add a whole lot to the overall dish. I think it also made the meat a bit dry still I can’t complain about this one. What is not to love about braised meat.


Fries of sole with truffle mayonnaise from Haute Cookure


This sounded nicer than it turned out. Really all it was was fried fish fingers and the flavor of the fried fish overpowered the truffle mayo. Eh I cant say that it was bad to eat but after having a few of the other beautiful dishes above it just couldn’t compare. Also this is the point in the festival where we had a bit of wind and rain luckily for us it only lasted for the fish fingers and we could happily go further with only the threat of more rain to come for the rest of the afternoon.


Slow cooked Berkshire pork belly with a croquette of pigs head, marinated carrots and a cream of baby carrots and a sorbet of pickles from 12, Place du Marche


This was quite the interesting description and I do love pork belly so this had to be on my list to try. To my disappointment this was probably my least favorite dish of the afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, the pork belly was delicious the rest was difficult to wrap my head around. The carrots were a bit bland, the pigs head croquette filling was a bit runny, and the picked sorbet was made into the shape of a pigs head, which was a bit disturbing and the pickles were not really necessary for the flavor of the pork belly.

Pickled Scottish salmon with asparagus, mustard ice cream, a blini of sweet potato, soya gel, and a poached quail egg from Mijn Keuken


It was a piece of art. Not only did it look gorgeous on the plate but the flavors beautifully balanced and the little surprises of each ingredient. I fell in love with the blini and mustard ice cream and the soy gel and and the salmon and well just about everything on this plate.




Orange. This is all you really need to know about Queensday. The Dutch national holiday celebrating the queen and royal family is all about the orange. This year, the queen announced that she will be handing the crown to her son. From now on we will have Kingsday. The inauguration of the king made this Queensday extra special, so special that grocery stores and brands created products just for this momentous occasion.

Anyone want to make a pot kings soup? A box of only orange ingredients like carrots, orange paprika and an orange , including a recipe to make this orange soup.

Kings soup

How about a kings burger? hamburger with an orange crust

Kings burger

One of my favorites was the kings cream puffs covered in orange with eyes and a crown on top.

Kings cream puff

Even my beloved Delicious magazine was in full orange. Ok, I bought orange flowers too.

orange flowers


Preuvenemint Maastricht 2012

Part 2 of the food festivals of the 2012 summer, Maastricht. I had extremely high hopes for this one. While many cities, small and large, in the Netherlands host culinary festivals there are only a hand full that are well-known. This maybe good PR or just the fact that they are larger cities means they will also attract a large crowd.  A few years ago I went to the culinary festival in Amsterdam.  This has to be the best one I have visited ever. The set up was amazing, the food was delicious, the only downfall of the event was that it seemed a bit elitist and quite a few of the people had an air of self-importance. Good thing I wasn’t there for the company but for the food and they did deliver on that.

Perhaps my level of expectation for Preuvenemint Maasricht was too high and while I am not saying that all of it was bad it just didn’t live up to my expectations. When I go to culinary festivals I hope to find food that inspires me, challenges the way I think of flavor and combinations. I do not need an ice cream stand or the usual sandwiches found on any cafe menu.  Here are a few of the highlights and good parts of the Prevenemint Maastricht…

First off they had an app! I love it when events have mobile apps I can preplan my tasting. Of course while I am there I will still try whatever catches my eye. What would be great in an app is to have an option to save your favorites or to mark the dishes/stalls on the plan.

One of the stalls was of Restaurant Vivendum


Pork cheeks topped with potato and Jerusalem artichoke puree on toasted bread. This was rich and hearty. The pork was oh so tender.

Restaurant Tout a Fait


Braised beef shoulder with a crunchy langoustine. This dish was also very well done. Although I do have to admit that I have a soft spot for any long and slow cooked meat.


Rillets from steamed mackerel with a sauce from sweet and sour paprika and a sorbet of cucumber. Loved the idea of this dish, personally the paprika element overpowered the entire dish which was a shame.

A day of eating and drinking can never really be bad so despite my disappointment in the overall event it with nonetheless an enjoyable. And by taking the 2 and half hour train ride to Maastricht meant we could also enjoy the wine and champagne pairings with the dishes.

Leiden Culinair 2012

The first of the foodie festivals this past summer was Leiden Culinaire. With the rainy summer we had the weather was pretty decent. Only one short rain shower to have us scrambling for cover. Oh how I love food fairs. I make it a point to visit the food festivals I have not been to before. The 2012 summer plans were Leiden, Maastricht and Tilburg and perhaps Rotterdam in the autumn. Unfortunately Dordt op je Bord had been cancelled because of lack of sponsorship so I made do without. Hopefully they will manage to get it organized for 2013.

Leiden culinair was great fun. Most of the food was delicious. Some was just not edible.


On the short walk into town I caught the first couple minutes of a boat race in the canal.


Tortellone con caprino e limone and Tortellone radicchio e speck ( Tortellinni’s filled with goats cheese with a lemon tomato and sage sauce and Tortellinni’s filled with radicchio and bacon in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce with walnuts)

I have to says the radicchio tortellinni was the best. Since I am not a blue cheese fan I skipped eating the blocks of cheese and the sauce was only very lightly flavored by the blue cheese. The other tortellinni was good but lacked flavor. I wouldn’t have known there was goats cheese in it.

Veal with a parsnip purée and bayleaf sauce.

This one was delightful. I suppose I have gone a bit parsnip crazy lately. I love the sweet earthy flavor. Fantastic roasted, puréed, fried or just as a creamy soup. The Sweat earthy flavor of the parsnip puree complimented the veal beautifully.

Vegetarian coquille made from Jerusalem artichoke with a cream of confit carrot, caviar and seaweed and oysters with a cheesy sauce

The food looked delicious and the creativity is much appreciated. The flavor was horrible, I just  couldn’t finish these.

I had many more mini dishes to try sometime I forgot to take a picture others didn’t look the best but were tasty none the less.

The little champagne car we normally see at the Rotterdam kunsthal kookt event was also in Leiden. How could I  pass this up. Cheers!

Finally in the midst of eating and drink some colorful ladies showed up. I am not sure of they were hired for the event or just happened to be out on the town.