Thursday, November 11, 2010


Zutphen, November 10—
A SIDE TRIP TO Zutphen today, an old Hanseatic port on the river IJssel, hardly twenty-five kilometers from Apeldoorn but a century or two removed to the eye. I've always loved the town for its compactness, tranquillity, and immense church, where the medieval library still has pre-Gutenberg books chained to the desks, and the devil's footprint in the floor.

We go to Zutphen for coffee or tea, too, at De Pelikaan, an ancient tea-importer with a cozy (gezellig) tea-room. Right across the street is an almost equally cozy old café-restaurant, and here we had a substantial lunch: Zutphense mosterdsoep and an uitsmijter.

The soup was first-rate: vegetable bouillon, cream, mustard, very thin-sliced red onion, finely clipped scallions. The trick is to put in enough mustard but not too much, and this trick is mastered here. The hot soup comes in two-handled bowls: everyone else ate politely with spoons; I lifted my bowl to my lips. Good bread and butter, too.

I wish I'd liked the uitsmijter as much. This should be an open-faced sandwich composed of cold sliced roast beef, thin-sliced boiled ham, and good Dutch Gouda-type cheese, with three eggs, fried sunny-side up, on top. Here, though, there were three individual slices of bread, no beef, over-cooked eggs, and the cheese was melted. Most revisionist. Some things have reached perfection and should never be revised.
Heineken from the tap
Gastenhuys de Klok, Pelikaanstraat 6, Zutphen; tel. +31 0575-517035

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