Meet the Brigadeiros

The brigadeiro is a Brazilian born chocolate. The mere sound of the word brigadeiro makes Brazilians like my friend Fabiano from São Paulo drool. And right so. This sweetie, a.k.a. the Brazilian truffle, is extremely rich and creamy. It’s made from condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter and is covered with chocolate sprinkles. One bite and you’re hooked. Since the beginning of July this chocolate drug is available at Sweet Bob. The first brigadeiro brand in town is run by three Brazilians. They created the concept for their own brigadeiro shop in São Paulo and were determined to launch this in Amsterdam. ‘We just love the people, architecture and lifestyle of this city.’ During my first visit to their store they almost blew me away with their enthusiasm, Brazilian charm and their chocolates in dozens of flavours. The original brigadeiro, the milk chocolate one, is great, but don’t forget to try the other versions, such as the ones with dark chocolate, pistachio and coconut. They are made to match with the coffee they serve. Have I already told you they sell superb chocolate cake and a divine ice tea from Rio too? Sweet Bob is a place that really made my heart jump and I’m pretty sure it will make your heart skip a beat too.

Sweet Bob
Brigadeiros, one, €1.50 – €2.00
Brouwersgracht 113, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 6 26 38 78 24
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday noon-8am

Pisang & The Coconuts

Have you ever tried to find real Balinese food in Amsterdam? Bebek Bali (Balinese duck) for example. Or a juicy organic chicken ‘bathing’ in Balinese spices. Tricky, no? Well, let me introduce you to Dian Eka Suryani. This lady from Denpasar, Bali, will make your day with her looks – sparkling eyes, colourful sarong – and her exotic food. Her mother, grandma, aunts and the renowned chef Lonny Gerungan taught her how to cook and she picked it up perfectly. I met her on the groovy NeightbourFood Market in the Westerpark and fell for her jaja laklak and jaja pisang rai. She serves these delightful combination of mini coconut pancakes and coconut-banana bites with a brown sugar syrup. To get your own portion of candy, you have to track her down on an Amsterdam food market or book her catering company Enak Sekali. Dian and her Dutch partner dream of a place where they can organize workshops and dinners. Why don’t you have a look at their crowd funding proposition?

Enak Sekali
Jaja laklak and jaja pisang rai, one portion, €5.00
Food markets in Amsterdam (check FB)
+31 (0) 6 53 60 80 09

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

Puff Babies

foto-78CORLyon, 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.

Betty Blue
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

Brown Sugar Babes

foto-2FAVOI love the taste of gula djawa in the morning. This Javanese palm sugar with a deep brown colour tastes a bit like caramel, but is not as sweet as granulated sugar. One of my favourite breakfasts is ketan unti: sticky coconut rice with a topping of melted gula djawa and grated coconut. But what I like even more is (kue) dadar gulung: coconut pancakes made with a paste or juice of daun pandan, leaves of the aromatic pandanus plant. These green pancakes are filled with gula djawa and grated coconut. Sari Citra’s pancakes are not too thick and not too thin, but just perfect. This small Indonesian restaurant and takeaway has one of the best snack counters in town. Next to the snack section starts the meal area. Behind the display window you’ll find one ‘lost soul’: a jug of tjendol, a mix of cold coconut milk and gula djawa. This is one of the loveliest drinks on earth. Refreshing in summer and spring, soothing in winter and fall.

Sari Citra
Kue dadar gulung, one, €1.70
Ferdinand Bolstraat 52, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 675 41 02
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 2pm-9pm, Sunday 3pm-9pm

Cookies con Leche

FACVO 2Don’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


Ice, Ice Baby

Coconnut ice creamDoardi Gelato has plenty of tempting flavours to choose from: grandma’s cake, pistachio, white chocolate. But the moment I walk into this ice-cream parlour I get a tunnel vision. My eyes are set on that one precious flavour: coconut, a tropical dream full of flavour with a touch of sugar and lots of tiny fresh coconut flakes. The father of cute coco is Arnel, a 36 year old Filipino. About twelve years ago he made his first ice cream in the ice-cream parlour of his brother-in-law. He liked it so much that he decided to study at the IJscentrum in Wageningen, the Dutch birthplace of traditionally trained ice-cream professionals. Regular visits to ice-cream producers in Italy were part of his curriculum. In the back of his own shop near the lively Westerpark, he applies the (Italian) tricks he has learned to his own recipes. His ice cream is made of low-fat and whole milk and some whipped cream. Arnel prides himself on always using the best natural ingredients. ‘I won’t settle for less. The ice cream I sell, is the kind I want to eat myself.’ It ‘s obvious that he likes what he’s doing. ‘I am always surrounded by happy people. Ice cream is all about taste, emotion and fun.’

Doardi Gelato
Coconut ice cream, one scoop, €1.-
Van Limburg Stirumstraat 15, West (Westerpark)
+31 (0) 20 486 10 10
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday noon-9pm (ice-cream parlour is closed during the winter)