Let’s talk about a great cake: the lemon polenta cake of food shop extraordinaire Bilder & De Clercq. Try a piece of this homemade cake. Love at first bite guaranteed. The lemon taste is perfectly balanced: not too sweet, not too sour, very fresh and pure. The cornmeal (polenta) gives the cake a grainy texture and turns it into a ‘cake light’: eating piece after piece is, well, a piece of cake. And have I already told you that the cake has a lovely scent and is a bit moist? This cake is one of the few ready-to-eat things in the shop. Most of the other food is ‘do it yourself’. Each week you are treated to fourteen new recipes. Think: coq au vin, a tajine of cauliflower and noodles with salmon and a ginger bouillon. The ingredients you need are stored in the shop and come in exactly the right amounts. Bye bye buying a whole bundle of cilantro if you only need two leaves. Last time I visited the store, there was a BBQ going on outside: grilled sausages of Brandt & Levie, bread, sauerkraut. Can a food shop get any better?
Bilder & De Clercq
Lemon polenta cake, one piece, €3.50
De Clercqstraat 44, West (second branch by the end of 2013: Ceintuurbaan)
+31 (0) 20 760 76 40
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8am-9.00pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-8pm
I once met an Indonesian who held a rice monologue. ‘In Jakarta we eat steamed rice, fried rice, brown rice, sticky rice …’ That voice, that rhythm, those lyrics. Really, how ‘lullaby’ can you get? But by the time I got really sleepy, he woke me up by reciting nasi kuning, nasi tim and nasi uduk. Nasi kuning, fragranced yellow rice with vegetables and meat, is one of my IT-dishes. Traditionally it’s eaten at celebrations. Especially when I have a flu I crave for nasi tim, rice steamed in chicken broth. Thumbs up for the mildly spiced coconut rice with lemongrass, a.k.a. nasi uduk. Each week I buy a portion of this rice at Toko Restu. The Indonesian women of this restaurant and takeaway serve nasi uduk with stir fried tempeh (fermented soybeans), a mix of grated coconut and bits of chicken, a piece of omelette and a patty of potato and minced meat. The small plastic box of Toko Restu is full of tasty surprises. Buy one for lunch or as a snack in between two meals. Hard-core rice foodies love to eat nasi uduk for breakfast.
Nasi uduk, one portion, €2.50
Kinkerstraat 374, West (Kinkerbuurt)
+31 (0) 20 689 39 94
Opening hours: Sunday 2pm-9pm, Monday-Saturday 4pm-9pm
They are only on the streets to annoy you: food deliverers on scooters and (wo)men on bakfietsen – huge ‘cradles’ on wheels with a stressed out person behind it, desperately biking to push the cradle forward. Don’t get the picture? Check De Fietsfabriek. Anyway, both groups are always driving much too fast (food types) or way too slow (cradle types). But there’s one food deliverer I would never give the evil eye: the one from Sugoi Sushi. If I long for my favourite Japanese snack deluxe, the soft shell temaki, I just call this sushi joint close by. While hoping that the food deliverer drives as fast as he can, which he always does. So what’s the fuss over the temaki? This hand roll includes one of my favourite things on earth: soft shell crab. The crab is fried and arrives lukewarm, just like the rice. Add to that a touch of chilli sauce, sweet Japanese mayonnaise, sesame seeds, cucumber and avocado and you’ve got quite some crispy, velvety and sticky bite. Feel like spending? Serve your friends a whole plate of this crab and pour some chilled quality sake in wine glasses.
Soft shell temaki, one, €5.25
Willemsstraat 95, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 20 422 98 92
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 2.30pm-9.30pm
Don’t blame it on Buenos Aires, blame it on me. I went to BA and didn’t like it. I visited Evita Perón and somehow managed to get lost on her graveyard. The ‘tango club thing’ didn’t work out either. I was seated front row on a table with champagne and one red rose. The tango guy who danced in front of me pretended to be in love with me, while he had ‘hell no, I only do this because you’re the only single here’ written all over his face. The next day I went for a gaucho tour en el campo. Loved the BBQ, but the horse riding … not so much. Back in BA I went to a bakery, ate an alfajor and scored an addiction. In Amsterdam I buy my freshly baked sandwich cookies with dulce de leche (milk caramel) at Melly’s Cookie Bar, a cosy place serving coffee, cookies and cakes. Melly’s alfajores come with dark chocolate, sugar lemon glace or coconut. Need to escape from another cold, rainy day? Why not trip on the coconut one, the alfajor de maicena? Your budget ticket to the tropics: exotic, smooth and lemon fresh.
Melly’s Cookie Bar
Alfajores de maicena, one, €2.00
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 137, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 423 47 97
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 10am-7pm