Bundle of Bamboo

It’s not the cheapest Indonesian spring roll in town, but it sure is the best. Chicken, tofu, bamboo shoots, cabbage and shrimps. Even writing about this filling makes me drool. Most spring rolls have an overkill of bean sprouts. Cheap yeah, but very boring. Bamboo shoots instead make up for a spring roll with a bite, one that’s tastier as well. Especially if you add small shrimps too. The spring roll I am talking about goes by the name lumpia speciaal. It’s made by the cook of my all-time favourite Indonesian shop and takeaway: Toko Ramee. I could eat this special spring roll for days in a row. Together with other Ramee-stuff, such as the famous lemper, sticky rice with a stuffing of shredded chicken. The fried pieces of tempeh with tamarind are an excellent alternative for potato crisps. And have I already told you about the hard-to-find dessert Ramee sells? Kue talam! A white-brown pudding combining salty coconut cream, gula djawa (Javanese palm sugar) and daun pandan (pandan leaves). If it’s something exotic you need, then this is definitely it!

Toko Ramee
Lumpia speciaal, one, €2.95
Ferdinand Bolstraat 74, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 662 20 25
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm

Pick this Pig

Don’t be fooled by the innocent looks of this flammkuchen. The thin crust of this Alsatian ‘pizza’ is covered with crème fraiche. So far so good, you might think. Yes, sure. But wait till you get to the tomato sauce. Ai, ai, caramba, who let the chilli peppers out? Hot, hot, hot. Sooo good. And there’s more devilish good stuff: bits of juicy pork with some fat and a full, slightly sweet taste. This pork neck shouts quality. It’s organic and comes from the region of Baambrugge, a village close to Amsterdam. My favourite flammkuchen is not to be missed for lunch and also recommended for dinner – as a starter, that is, well, at least in my case. Any time is a good time to visit restaurant and bar The Lobby. Love the French fish soup with grilled catfish for lunch too. For dinner put your hands up for the farm fowl with smoked bacon. The American pancakes, maple syrup and blueberries make waking up less painful. All this is served by welcoming and funny employees. They have cool looks, but lack the cool (arrogant) attitude. Yes!

The Lobby, situated in Hotel V
Flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza) with spicy pork, one, €10.50
Nes 49, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 758 52 75
Opening hours: Monday -Sunday 7am-1am

Orange Crush

foto-79FAVOThe orange pie of Caterina Tzoridou is a baklava-look-alike drenched in a delicious syrop of fresh orange juice, sugar and orange zest. Butter is nowhere to be found in this filo pastry pie. She uses a healthier substitute instead: Greek olive oil, the love of Caterina’s culinary life and the theme of Olivity, the shop/lunch spot she owns. This charming and helpful lady grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece, surrounded by avid cooks: her two grandmothers and her mother. Cooking started of as a game for her when she was a child. After a career as a translator she decide to devote her professional time to cooking. In the kitchen of Olivity she lets herself be inspired by the Greek and Mediterranean culinary tradition. The only fat she uses is Greek olive oil. Many of her delicacies don’t contain dairy or eggs, making them vegan-friendly and also suitable for lactose-intolerants. Some highlights of her repertoire – besides the orange pie: crumbled pie with feta cheese, coconut cake with syrup and yogurt-lime layer cake. On the shelves there is much more for sale: bags with lemon-poppy seed rings and jars with walnut-lavender cookies and different mustards – the one with oregano and thyme being my favourite.

Orange pie, one piece, €1.50
Overtoom 239, Old West
+31 (0) 6 4317 74 43
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm

What the Beef?

foto-78‘Hi mum, I had a croquette with rendang today.’ I wasn’t prepared for the Dutch-Indonesian Kalashnikov-effect that followed. ‘WHAT did you eat? OUR rendang in a croquette? How dare THEY to ruin this dish? Gila (insane).” For a split second I was intimidated by her rage. Then I chilled and thought to myself: c’mon, don’t shoot the messenger. Mum, let me get something straight: The ‘they’ in this case weren’t the Dutch, no, this croquette was invented by a Dutch-Indonesian cook. About six years ago he came up with the idea of putting this spicy beef stew in bitterballen (fried balls with bread crumbs). It became an instant hit. Years later he also stuffed a croquette with rendang. Now it’s the IT-dish on the lunch menu of its birthplace: Sing Sing, a trendy bar and restaurant where dishes of Asian-European descent reign. The rendangkroket is served with bread, chili-mustard and a sweet-sour cucumber-bean sprouts mix. Like any other croquette the contrast between the crispy crust and the ragout is a delight. But the filling of this  croquette is unlike any other fillings: thin ‘strings’ of beef, a hint of coconut, exotic spices. Love it.

Sing Sing
Bread with rendangkroket (2), €6.50
Cornelis Krusemanstraat 15, South
+31 (0) 20 470 44 75
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday noon-1am, Friday noon-3am, Saturday 4pm-3am, Sunday 4pm-1am, kitchen Monday-Sunday until 10.30pm

Beach Boys

foto-718CORDon’t you just love the beach? Bare feet in the sand, a dip in the water, good booze and food at your fingertips. The frittura di pesce (fried fishes) of il Pecorino would definitely fit in that setting. This trattoria and pizzeria with a huge terrace isn’t on the beach, but these fishes dressed in a thin, slightly salted crust have ‘beach’ written allover their juicy bodies. They come with the sweetest lemon you’ll ever find. Some juice dashes of this sun-drenched lemon wonderfully enhances the taste of the calamari, sardines and shrimps. A glass of the white house wine or an ice-cold Italian beer will take your mood to an even higher level. And so does the scent of pizzas coming straight out of the wood-fired oven – the one with sausage of Tuscany and grilled vegetables is very mama mia. On top of it Il Pecorino serves hard-to-find dishes too, such as a risotto with a bolognese sauce of duck and a farinata, a ‘chicken peas pancake’ with a topping of onion, black pepper and – here he is again – the tasty sausage of Tuscany.

il Pecorino
Frittura di pesce, one portion for two, €14.50
Van der Pekstraat 2, Noord
+31 (0) 20 737 15 11
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 5pm-11pm