Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dutch treat

Chocolate sprinkles on bread, a typical breakfast or teatime snack. Children are often allowed one sweet, one savoury (mostly Edam or Gouda cheese) sandwich. 
Holland contains the worlds tallest people. In my hotel, the shower was fixed so high, the water had virtually evaporated to a mere sprinkle by the time it got to me, a little English/Italian hobbit.  On my arrival, looking for somewhere to hang my clothes, I concluded that, strangely, there was nowhere. Later that night in bed, gazing upwards, I noted a lofty clothes rail with hangers, only inches from the ceiling. I would have needed a small stepladder to use it. The bathroom mirrors, the usual culprit of irritations to the vertically challenged, were at a normal height, I could actually see my face reflected back at me, rather than just the top of my head. "Ah yes" said the hotel's events manager "we lowered those, but now our Dutch customers are complaining they have to stoop to look in the mirror".
Fabled as a land of giants wearing clogs, the lowlands were bathed in a opalescent Vermeer light so thick that my flight was delayed. I was invited to the Dutch cookbook awards, now in it's sixth year, organised by Fusina Verloop, to talk about my book Supper Club; recipes and notes from the Underground Restaurant to be published in Dutch on November 16th.
The event took place in Eindhoven, a couple of hours away from Amsterdam at the stunning location of an old Phillips factory, where there is now a fashionable restaurant called Radio Royaal. This building has been beautifully converted, retaining machinery and architectural details, furnished with vintage bric-a-brac and a chessboard tiled floor, like a large scale Dutch interior.

I was joined by Terry Hope Romero, vegan cookbook author of many titles, one of the best known is 'Vegan cupcakes take over the world' who gave a demonstration of how to make vegan pumpkin cheesecake. Also a Swiss Italian chef, Pietro Leeman who must be the only Hare Krishna Michelin-starred chef in the world,  talked about his vegetarian cookbook. Vegan and Vegetarian food are still fairly new in Holland so there was an emphasis on authors that specialise in this type of cuisine. We were interviewed by a Dutch chef and illustrator, Yvette Van Boven, author of gorgeous cook book series 'Home Made', now available in English, but as there was only one mike, it ended up in a comic struggle of who could grab the mike longest. I think I won.
Top Left: Terry Hope Romero, standing next to manga graffiti that looked just like her! Top Right: Kookkaravaantje, one of the winners of the Dutch Cookbook of the year; Bottom Right: Pietro Leeman, in classic Hare Krishna colours; Bottom Left: winner of the Gourmand Illustrated book of the year 
Top Left: This young lady made a fascinating cookbook not only about vegetables but from vegetables, the paper was vegetable and fruit based. She's only made two copies. Bottom Left: I went to North Amsterdam, an up and coming area, the Williamsburg of Amsterdam, where we ate apple cake at Neef Louis cafe, part of a second hand furniture warehouse. Bottom Right: Journalist and food trend analyst, Marjan Ippel of @Talkinfood, who showed me around
Views of Radio Royaal restaurant in Eindhoven
Radio Royaal restaurant
Radio Royaal restaurant: Top Right: flammkuchen, a thin crispy pizza; Bottom Right: Potato croquettes, another typically Dutch dish. 

Slicing cheese thinly is very important to the Dutch.
Top left: how to drink genever, or Dutch gin, a juniper based spirit that is very smooth. The glass is filled right to the top and you have to bend down to sip it. Top Right: a salted herring brodtje from a stall on a bridge; Bottom Right: liquorice, both salty and sweet are popular; Bottom Left: chips with mayonnaise in a cone.
Cafe scene; canal house boats, a DAF car, bicycles. 


  1. In New Zealand we have hundreds and thousands on buttered bread. It's a traditional children's party food, not an after school snack, but I wonder if it was brought over by the Dutch. Maybe they're also the reason there are so many tall people in NZ (there are a lot of Dutch. And Dutch cheese).

    I love your photos on this post.

  2. Loved the food on my trips to the Netherlands. From home cooking such as cauliflower in white sauce sprinkled with nutmeg through to the kroketten, bani and nasi fritters in the coin operated "automatiek" snack stands. Oh - and bottles of the ultra rich Chocomel drink. And bottles of evaporated "Koffiemelk" especially for cofffee.

    Dutch breakfasts are special. When you look at the fare, it seems like a meal you could eat in a rush. But that mix - assorted breads, sliced cheeses, meats, a medium boiled egg, plus the sweet options, takes time to assemble. It's a meal designed to be eaten sat down in company, talking as it is shared.

    Oh - in case you don't already know, those little chocolate sprinkles are widely known as "Muisjes" - or little mice. Think it may refer to what mice do rather than the actual animal.

  3. YES you definitely won! hahaha. Looks like you sure had a great time in Amsterdam. Wow, what a lovely blog post.
    Was really nice meeting you,
    X Yvette

  4. great pictures - and Croquettes!


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