Friday, January 1, 2016


Prinseneiland, Amsterdam, January 1, 2016—
ONLY OUR SECOND restaurant meal of the trip in Amsterdam — hard to believe. After last night's long night we relaxed today, then went out for a walk, and stopped in at a local place for a borrelen — Dutch for cocktail hour. The place was so cozy we decided to stay for dinner.

Very Dutch, traditional Dutch. Routine, no more; and definitely what I think of as HoReCa food. HoReCa — it stands for Hotel, Restaurant, Catering — is the industry more or less deliberately invented, then encouraged by the Dutch educational system to bring the Dutch hospitality industry in line with the resst of the civilized world, say thirty years ago.

So what I had was food based more or less on traditional Dutch cuisine, made with commercially developed versions of standard meats and vegetables, prepared using techniques geared toward speed and quantity. This sounds pretty awful if you're a Ghetto Gourmet, I know; but in fact in its place it's a reasonable approach, and well done it produces reasonable results.

I had — oh, let me reproduce the Dutch menu:

Gegaarde spitskool met Friese nagelkaas, crème van cannellini bonen en zuurdesem
Braised cabbage with matured cummincheese, cannellini beans and sourdough

Haantje met citroen, knoflook en tijm, geserveerd met groenten "bonne femme"
Roasted cockerel with vegetables "bonne femme"

Haagse modder met advocaat, kruidkoek en sinaasappelsorbet
Dutch style chocolate mousse, with gingerbead and orange sherbet

The first course was basically a Dutch bruschetta. Nagelkaas is aged Amsterdammer-style cheese — a hard cow's milk cheese — studded with cloves, and it's a favorite of ours. In this preparation it was grated rather fine over the bean purée, setting off the braised cabbage and thinly sliced red onion. I like it.

The chicken was a whole bird, small, a poussin I suppose, with good texture and sweet flavor, roasted on the spit and not at all dry or overcooked. The vegetables were small potatoes, mushrooms, little pearl onions, turned carrots, and a few small whole garlic cloves, all cooked nicely in butter. What can go wrong with such a concept?

Dessert: a thick, almost dry chocolate mousse, very like the marquise au chocolat my Companion used to make, served in a large old-fashioned glass, covered with thick sweetened cream and accompanied by an orange sherbet ice-cream cone drizzled generously with advocaat (basically a Dutch zabaglione). I thought I detected mango flavor, too. I'm sure the gingerbread was there, somehow, but I don't recall it. Cabbage

Morellino di Scansano by the glass
•De Gouden Reael, Zandhoek 14, Amsterdam; 020 623 3883
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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