My aunt Evie knows how to throw a great party. As a kid I made sure I never missed one. You could play, chat or whatever you felt like doing. Partygoers only had one obligation: to drink and eat as much as you could. She always served risolles, Dutch-Indonesian macaroni, cheese sticks and daging blado, a quite spicy beef dish from Manado, the Indonesian city where she was born. A couple of weeks I had a déjà-vu at lovely Bersama, a new Indonesian shop/takeaway/mini restaurant. Behind the counter I saw a look-a-like of my aunt’s daging blado, only without the fried potatoes – better from a ‘carb’s point of view’. I tried it and, man, did I order a winner: slightly dry beef, very well seasoned with garlic, onions, ginger and chilli peppers. And guess what? The cook is from Manado just like my aunt! Love the way he cooks. Try also the sticky rice filled with minced chicken or the gado gado, vegetables with peanut sauce, preferably eaten with a portion of chicken satay or the gently spiced Javanese beef balls. If you’re lucky you’ll find the small flower-shaped steamed pandan cakes with grated coconut on top too: very pretty, so exotic. Great to share with your darling(s).
Daging blado, 100 g €2.10
Bilderdijkstraat 116, West
+31 (0) 20 233 23 81
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-9pm, Sunday noon-9pm
‘How come you didn’t visit Van Velze’s yet?’ This question was asked four times by different foodies before this lazy person finally hit the road and cycled the long way – 30 minutes – to this patisserie and chocolatier. I ordered three types of dark chocolates, ate them and became an instant fan. The one with smoked almond, caramel and nougat was like an ultra refined version of a Snickers, while the one with port and cranberries was incredibly rich; fruity and slightly sour at the same time. The third one was a well seasoned ‘mama’, showing off sesame and cardamon. A dark chocolate troika to die for! The cocoa used by the owners, Robbert van Velze and his Irish partner Deborah Kilroy, is delivered by an organic plantation in Costa Rica, one Robbert regularly visits. This Costa Rican cocoa is certified by the Rainforest Alliance. By choosing this ingredient Van Velze’s supports environmental, economic and social sustainability. Go and get your package of guilt-free chocolate today.
Dark chocolates, one, €1.00
Eerste Oosterparkstraat 7, East
+31 (0) 20 337 41 25
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm
I bet I’ve told you over and over that my Dutch-Indonesian mother is the best cook alive. But I’m pretty sure that I haven’t told you about her exquisite ajam opor, pieces of chicken soaking in a mild coconut sauce containing lemongrass, lime leaves, roasted candlenuts, ginger and lots of other ingredients. Unfortunately I can’t not properly copy-paste her recipe – missing her magic touch, I suppose – but fortunately I found someone who does a much better job. Where? At Taste of Life! The cook of this Indonesian and Malaysian restaurant and takeaway makes an ajam opor that equals my mother’s: elegantly spiced, succulent meat, a satiny sauce. Inside this modest and friendly place it’s all about authentic food made with dedication. Why don’t you take time to try one of the many rice tables, including the ajam opor? If you savour it in a mindful way, it’s far more relaxing than yoga, trust me.
Taste of Life
Ajam opor, one portion, €15.95
Rijnstraat 51, South (Rivierenbuurt)
+31 (0) 20 644 77 86
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 5pm-10pm
Isn’t Schatje Patatje by far the funniest snack bar name on earth? In Holland you call someone a ‘schatje patatje’ when this person is so cute that you want to transform him or her into a fried potato and, well eh, eat this person. Anyway, the two owners, Sophie and Toon, sell an unique snack: fries made of sweet potato. A sweet potato isn’t a potato, but a vegetable. Since it has more vitamins and fibres than a potato it’s healthier. The sweet potatoes are fried in organic vegetable oil and sprinkled with sea salt. All the sauces are home-made and free of additives. Add the sheep yoghurt tzatziki, beetroot hummus or, my favourite, the dip based on grilled paprika and roasted almonds. In the near future Sophie and Toon will extend their menu of veggie fries. They will probably introduce fried carrot, pumpkin or parsnip. Luckily, they will keep on frying sweet potatoes too: long, firm, delicious fries with a paper-thin crispy skin. Eat them, forget about the frying process, and pretend they are as healthy as kiwis.
Sweet potato fries, one portion, €4.00 + €0.80 (sauce)
Ferdinand Bolstraat 48, Zuid (De Pijp)
Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday noon-10pm, Thursday noon-1am, Friday-Saturday noon-1.30am, Sunday noon-10pm
Mondaine is the cutest coffee bar at the not so cute Overtoom. It looks small, but upstairs there’s plenty of room to chill with one of the many types of chai or a cup of Italian coffee (Buscaglione). Pair it with cupcakes, chocolates, carrot cake or, even better, the chocolate brownie with caramel. First it gets syrupy, then it gets moist. A mouth full of chocolate. This babe is bloody rich. Impossible to resist and making you longing for more. Luckily, Mondaine is within walking distance of the Vondelpark. So if you really feel guilty about all the sugar you had today, you might want to go for a long walk. While in action you could analyse the lyrics of that famous Donna Summer song, MacArthur Park: ‘Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it ’cause it took so long to bake it.’ (Say WHAT, Donna?)
Chocolate brownie with caramel, one, €2.75
Overtoom 85, West
+31 (0) 20 755 78 48
Opening hours: Monday 10am-Friday 8am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-7pm