Vinegartart is on vacation and the focus, of course, is on food. Follow along on our culinary adventure over the next weeks.
The Netherlands is home to 91 Michelin star restaurants. While Dutch food is not top of mind in world cuisine it has, in recent years, been at the fore front of the new wave. Not unlike Dutch designers of functional items for the home, jewelry, architecture and art, Dutch cuisine is varied and interesting and making itself felt.
On the other hand, the Netherlands retains many of its’ food traditions. This morning found us at the Albert Cuypmarkt and having left without breakfast, we felt a stroopwaffle was in order.
The Stroopwafel, in its street form, is not the breakfast waffle loaded with maple syrup that we Canadians are so familiar. Rather, the Stroopwafel is a thin crisp wafer made on a flat griddle like a pancake. The Stroopwafel is made from flour, melted butter, milk, castor sugar, yeast and eggs. It is made with yeast while the north American version is made with baking powder. Each Stroopwafel consists of two waffles pasted together with a sugar syrup flavoured with brown sugar and cinnamon.
A Stroopwafel from a street vendor served hot off the iron can be had for 1 Euro. Hot they are soft, gooey and delicious. Cold the sugar syrup hardens up a little bit but they are still soft but not as gooey.
The Olieballon (oil ball) is a deep-fried dough ball served from Olieballon street vendors in November and December. New Year’s Eve is a special occasion where “olieballs” are served with champagne.
In the early morning, the Olieball vendors deep fry up the dough balls and pile them high ready for purchase. When ordered, the Olieballon is dredged in icing sugar and served on a paper napkin. We were lucky enough to enjoy our Olieballs hot from the deep fryer. The Olieballs are made from flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder. They can be had plain or with sultanas or currents. Still other variations might have pie spices and lemon rind.
After several hours viewing modern art, I usually find some sort of alcoholic beverage is in order. Stumbling out of the Stedeljk Museum on the verge of Stendal’s Syndrome, we notice the House of Bols has been strategically placed across from Museumplien. The venerable genever gin makers have won many design awards for the interior of the building. The exterior is a typical old Amsterdam building. The interior is an interactive maze complete with someone’s idea of hip and happening electronica. The corridors are black and the sniffing room is covered in what can only be described as fun house mirrors. One room has a continuous video loop of young cools dancing with Bols cocktails. Near the end of the informative interactive maze you are asked to pick a cocktail from interactive screen which gives you flavour profiles to choose from. If you prefer aromatic or fruity or simple or variations thereon, you touch the appropriate place on the screen and a drink recipe will appear. Is this the flavour profile you are interested in?
Armed with our drink recipes we head to the Bols Bar which looks like something out of any early James Bond movie. Two bartenders preside and the making of my drink becomes a performance with much flair and flourish. These are not just bartenders but rather they are performance artists. My drink is concocted and my bartender, using a glass syphon, tastes my drink for what I assume is quality control. It is then poured into a very large, frosty martini glass.
The drink is sublime. It is served with four squares of chocolate to complete the flavour profile.
Next Week – ITALY!