Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

Amsterdam showcase for Euro-Asian cuisine

Amsterdam, the Venice of the North and the origin of our English food words brandy, cole slaw, cookie, poffertjes, waffle and scone, sets a wonderful table of art, music and food for the lucky traveller to her historic venue.

Even though Heineken Beer and Edam and Gouda cheese (pronounced “how-dah” not “goo-dah,” are pop-ups in your mind, there are several gastronomic experiences that you must have on your next trip. Here you’ll find Pompadour, a patisserie, chocolaterie and tearoom better than anywhere else in Amsterdam.
Always on my “to do list” has been dinner at an Indonesian Rijstaffel (rice table).  Being a Dutch possession, many Indonesians have settled in the Netherlands and there have brought their native cuisine in what can be up to a 20-dish experience.  My choice was the intimate Puri Mas at Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 37-one block down from Leidseplein, turn right at McDonalds and go 80 meters on your left.  You’ll have a choice of a number of dishes, but you may enjoy nasi or bami goreng, satay and many other dishes with varying levels of heat.  The food was equaled by impeccable, doting service.

Jaimie Oliver, of Food Network fame, has his second restaurant 15 in
Amsterdam. Organic, seasonal and preferably local produce are used in the Mediterranean dishes.  15 has a very hip feel and sits on the River IJ, with a great terrace and view, about 100 meters from the Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam’s new concert venue which also includes its jazz venue called the Bimhuis.  The food here is consistently good and reasonably priced and serves lunch and dinner and has children’s cooking classes on Sunday when they have what is called late Sundays which is a brunch for the parents while the children take a class.  As is the case all over Amsterdam,  the diner is NEVER hurried out by the presentation of the check.  Your table is yours for the evening if you wish.  If a concert is in your plans, emphasize at the beginning and during your meal that your check must be presented by a set time.

I’ve saved the best for last.  Take tram #9 to the outskirts of town to Restaurant De Kas at Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3.  What once was a park that contained many greenhouses which the city eventually razed, you will now find a prudent investor’s vision of a greenhouse restaurant.  The restaurant glistens in its bucolic setting surrounded by water features, well manicured gardens and the textural dynamism of a remaining brick “silo” structure that sharply contrasts with the luminosity of the glass enclosed haven.  It is a respite from the incredible bustle of the city.  Listening to Executive Chef Ronald Kunis discuss his vision for the restaurant where they grow all of their own produce on site, outside in the gardens and at their farm outside of town, is almost a spiritual experience.  The ducks that he sources from France are not force fed and caged to fatten their livers for quick consumption.  (Some cities in the States have also disallowed this practice-Chicago for one)  They are running free, living a duck’s life.  Even the milk and cheese come from cows who rest on mattresses in the barn—they give more and better milk when they are relaxed.

Chef Kunis worked previously in the U.S. for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse ad Deborah Madison’s Greens, both in the San Francisco area, and at The Moosewood in Ithaca, New York.  I dined on a cold soup of barbecue roasted tomatoes with deep fried flower of zucchini, mashed eggplant and smoked sole with basil. This was followed by a salad of red and choggia beetroot with buffalo mozzzarella in green herb sauce.  Next a tart of marinated scallops and shallots preceded a succulent roasted duck breast with spicy caramel and mashed sweetpeas.  On the side was braised edive green and broad beans in veal jus and potatoes baked in cream and mint.  After a variety of cheeses with a compote of rhubarb, nuts and figs came a lemoncurd tart with a compote of house grapes and ice cream of blackbereries and verbena. The meal was spectacular and I only hope to return again.

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October 28, 2008
Volume 17, No. 44

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