Siamese Star Sausage

Nothing can beat the company of fish cookies, papaya salad and sticky rice with mango. That’s why I love Thai food markets so much. Last year I fell in love with a food market in Chiang Mai, North Thailand: Talat Thanin. Tropical fruit in abundance, huge bowls with red, green and yellow curries, stir-fries with mussels and the funky stuff this market is famous for. Such as small pancakes – in Dutch: poffertjes – filled with squid and  mayonnaise on top. The highlight of my visit to this market/Chiang Mai was my encounter with sai ua or Chiang Mai sausage. Minced pork meat, garlic, red chilli peppers, lemongrass, galangal (a kind of ginger). Three words: very well seasoned. This grilled sausage is the king of all Asian sausages. Two weeks ago I traced his royal highness at the Thai Food Café in Amsterdam, the relaxed, friendly and affordable enterprise of two Thai street food aficionados: Céderick and Steven. The sausage is less spicy than the original one, but is very, very tasty. It’s made according to the recipe they got from a Chiang Mai butcher. The appetizer is served with tomato chutney and tastes even better with Singha beer on the side.

Thai Food Café
Chiang Mai sausage, one portion, €4.00
Oranje Vrijstaatkade 66, East
+31 (0) 20 233 53 64
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 11am-1am, Friday-Saturday 11am-3am, Sunday 11am-1am

Bliss in a Bowl

foto-45FAVOCORMeet Billy! He’s the cute man in the kitchen. The one who chops and stir-fries with a smile. He used to be the cook of Little Thai Prince in Chinatown, but three years ago he opened his own restaurant and takeaway: Billy Thai. It’s hugely popular and this is why: excellent food, friendly service, a cosy decor. Orchids on the windowsill, candlelight, pictures of King Bhumibol, Queen Sirikit and our royal couple on the walls. Have a seat in Billy’s living room, inhale the scent of stir-fried basil, ginger and garlic and let him spoil you with a mix of duck, ginger and mushrooms, king prawns in garlic and pepper sauce or thalee samrod, prawns, squid and fish in a spicy, sweet-and-sour sauce. Get yourself a soup too: tom yam koeng. It has all the hot (red chillies) and sour (lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal) flavours you’d expect and much more. Love the prawns, coriander leaves and mushrooms with a bite. This soup brings back happy memories of the first time I had it. Bangkok, 1996, a food stall near Khao San Road. It was hot and humid, singer-starlet Sabrina sang Boys, Boys, Boys, the soup set my senses on fire. Love at first sight.

Billy Thai
Tom yam koeng, one, €6.00
Prinsengracht 358, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 330 42 20
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 4pm-11pm

Have a Ball

foto-2ACORIn 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