Amsterdam, October 18, 2016—
AN EASY FLIGHT over the Alps brought us back to my favorite airport, Schiphol; a quick Dutch train took us to Zaandam for an afternoon with friends we hadn't seen for years; then Krijn drove us to Barentzstraat where we dined at our favorite Amsterdam restaurant with the chef's parents, with whom we'd just recently toured Liguria.
Marius: such a cozy dining room; such a pleasing, simple but inspired menu; such masterful technique in the kitchen. The only problem we had was entirely my fault: in the confusion of departure I forgot to bring along the menu.
The menu at Marius is a single sheet of paper announcing the antipasto (present when you're seated), three first courses (one of which, vitello tonnato, is always present), three second courses, or the Grande Bouillabaise (which, containing schaaldieren as the Dutch call crustacea, is off limits for me).
(Schaaldieren: an interesting word. Dutch translates the English "shellfish" with its own word schaalvis, a cognate; schaaldieren then is literally "shellanimals" or perhaps "scaleanimals". I wish English would stop using the ambiguous word "shellfish," which too often applies to everything from periwinkles to lobsters.)
I started with a delicious serving of cod with artichokes, beets, and greens, in a fine olive-oil based salsa verde.
From there, the échine and épaule du porc, varkenrug en -schouder I think: I'm not sure what pork spine would be in English. (The menu is entirely in Dutch, and in the chef's handwriting, making my visual memory even less reliable this morning.)
This came with a mix of corn kernels and small potato dice; apple may have been present; I was too busy talking and enjoying to take notes, and write this next morning. The pork was tender and succulent, and the bed of celery-root puree gave a fine textural contrast.
Dessert: hangop. Hangop is a kind of fresh cheese, an old Dutch farm wife product: you hang up a cloth bag filled with cream (or in this case cream and yoghurt blended, I think) over the sink for a day or so, and flavor the resulting product (the one in the bag, not the product that's dripped away) with raisins, little dice of candied fruit, perhaps citrus peel, and so forth. This is a delicious thing, very delicious. Of course Dutch dairy products are remarkable.
Roussette de Savoie, Altesse, vintage? (full-bodied yet light and fresh, delightful)
Pinot nero, Bottega Vinai (Trentino), 2014 (wonderful fruit, smooth and pleasant, almost rich)
Marius, Barentszstraat 173, Amsterdam; +31 20 422 78 80