Lyon, Résidence Universitaire André Allix. At that place I ate my first éclair. My Brasilian friend Fabiano gave it to me: ‘Trish, close your eyes and have a bite.’ I did what I was told. The lightest, airiest pastry I had ever tasted, an icing of pure chocolate, custard-like cream with vanilla. Hallelujah! Who created this? Years later the éclairs of Betty Blue made me scream the H-word again. In this mini-museum, patisserie and coffee spot in one you’ll find two lovely bakers: Yvette and Clara. Yvette has been baking for the last six years at her coffee place T Eten en Drinken. Clara is an enthusiastic baker too. These ladies sure know how to make éclairs. This dough of these babies consists of butter, water, eggs and flour and is supposed to puff up in the oven until it’s eventually set by the heat. What you’ll find inside depends on your mood. When you’re feeling blue you just want your fillings to be fresh and fruity, don’t you? These three are an excellent choice: passion fruit with lime, coconut with mango and rosewater with mint. Guess Betty Blue would like them too. This name refers to Clara’s favourite film. It shows the mental decline of a beautiful and vibrant woman, played by Béatrice Dalle. It’s a superb, intense French movie. One to watch.
Fruity éclairs, €3.10 (1), €14.00 (5), €25.00 (10)
Snoekjessteeg 1-3, City Centre
+31 (0) 6 1677 03 75
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am-7pm
Even a brief encounter with Tamara Tantico will make your day. She wears her own creations: funky outfits made of sarongs and fabrics in vibrant colours. Tamara’s smile gives away a positive attitude towards life. Her curriculum vitae shows that she’s practical too. Trained as a fashion designer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, she works as a stylist and a visual artist. On one fine day she decided to turn her love for cooking into another source of income; her company De Lachende Pinda (The Smiling Peanut) was born. Tamara – half Dutch, half Dutch Indonesian – sells her organic Indo soul food on food markets all over The Netherlands. I met her on The NeighbourFood Market in Amsterdam-West where she offered me her signature dish: a Surinamese peanut soup with a Dutch-Indonesian twist of lemon grass, ginger, rawit (small red chili peppers) and, if requested, cilantro. Tasty, exotic, spicy. She blew me away with it. Tamara also serves this soup as a kick-off for the private dinners she organizes in her atelier in Amsterdam – 10 persons max. Can’t get enough of the peanut theme? Try her peanut butter with raisins and coconut. Loving this sweet, surprisingly creamy butter is well, uh, peanuts.
De Lachende Pinda
Peanut soup, half a liter, €8.50
NeighbourFood Market (Amsterdam-West) and other food markets in The Netherlands. Check her FB-page to check-out where and when.
+31 (0) 6 5195 93 06
Say ‘hi’ to a salad that’s like the nineties song ‘summer, summer, summertime. Time to sit back and unwind.’ A salad with a laid-back nature. The watermelon in particular evokes memories of sun, see and beaches. But there’s more than melon to this mix, in fact there is a whole list: cucumber, tomato, lettuce, fennel, feta cheese, herbs, almonds, red pepper and black lentils. Think freshness with a bite and a touch of salt. Pay attention to the nice rendezvous of fennel – love the sweet anise taste – and mint leaves. Liquid candy runs through this salad too: a vinaigrette of raspberry. You’ll find this masterpiece on the menu of Venkel, an organic salad bar and takeaway with a fresh interior full of natural elements (plants, wood). Each season the salad chefs compose various salads, but you can also create your own. Most ingredients of Venkel are delivered by farmers around Amsterdam. More local stuff: the honey made by Amsterdam bees near the Amstel. Buy a jar of it as a present. But whatever you do, don’t leave the place without a sip of the delicious home-made almond milk. Soothing in summer and winter alike.
Watermelon-lentils salad, one portion, €8.50
Albert Cuypstraat 22, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 772 31 98
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-9pm
My friend Bianca S has got style. Each time I think ‘yes, I am wearing the right clothes today’, my hope fades away the moment she walks in. Compared to her outfits my clothes are utterly boring. She wears the right colours, she has the right bag, the right shoes. When I walk through the Transvaal and Java area of Amsterdam, I feel a similar pain. I love my latest Nike sneakers to death, but most people there wear sneakers that are even cuter and more original. This emotion of not being cool enough doesn’t stop me from going there. Au contraire: one has to believe that things will be better one day. I go there to get inspired by the people on the streets and at the great food spots. One example: Rum Baba, a coffee shop that sells home-made savoury and sweet stuff in a ‘simply cool’ interior: a turquoise floor, vintage wooden furniture, nice murals. Swedish and Japanese jeans under the tables. Make sure you put a piece of the heavenly sweet potato pie on your table: a spiced ‘custard’ with a layer of mildly sour cream and cinnamon on a tender crust.
Sweet potato pie, one piece, €2.80
Pretoriusstraat 33, East (Transvaal)
+ 31 (0) 6 4348 02 92
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-6pm