Let me brag about my Dutch-Indonesian mother. She’s 85 now, but when she was younger she was god’s gift to the wadjan (wok). Her crispy fried chicken was one of her signature dishes. She rubbed the chicken thighs with a sweet-sour paste of tamarind, a fruit from the tamarind tree, before frying them. Another dish to die for: ajam opor, chicken in coconut milk flavoured with sereh (lemongrass). Such a refined taste, ideal to match with one of her vegetable dishes with a touch of ginger. Tamarind, sereh and ginger are essential to the cuisine that Dutch Indonesians brought to The Netherlands. They are linked to a period they refer to as tempo doeloe, those good old days. Looking for the ultimate finale of a Dutch-Indonesian dinner? Make it coffee with a selection – tamarind, sereh, ginger – of Puccini chocolates, the most prestigious chocolates in town and handmade by one of the 10 best chocolatiers of the world.
Tamarind, sereh and ginger bonbons, €1.95 each
Singel 184, City Centre (Jordaan). Other branches: check website
+31 (0) 20 42 78 341
Opening hours: Monday noon-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm, Sunday noon-6pm
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
In France I discovered the sensation of window shopping. French butchers, for example, are often hard to ignore. My favourite ones don’t just show superb meat, but have much more on display: mille-feuilles d’agneau (layers of puff pastry with lamb), velvety duck mousse, pistachio pâté en croûte and handsome meals. In Amsterdam you’ll find a museum like this in the Utrechtsestraat: Slagerij De Leeuw. A household name since 1966 and the place to go if you long for poulet de Bresse, lamb meat of the Dutch island of Texel and ‘all things wagyu’. Dried sausages, wagyu hamburgers and a salad based on this exclusive Japanese beef. Passing by without checking out the confit de canard or the sauerkraut Alsace-style is impossible. Focus on the Thai meatballs if you need a kick-off for a food fest: minced quality beef seasoned with chopped lemongrass, ginger, garlic and coriander. These old skool yet exotic beauties come with a mildly spiced chilli sauce. If you want some background information on these balls or any other product of De Leeuw, do ask. The staff is extremely helpful, friendly and passionate. Another asset of this butcher extraordinaire.
Slagerij De Leeuw
Thai meatballs, one, about €1.50
Utrechtsestraat 92, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 623 02 35
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 8am-5pm