When it comes to pastry it’s hard to beat the French, but in the southern part of The Netherlands (Limburg) you’ll find some serious sweet stuff. Good for us Zoet & Hartig, a cosy tearoom/lunch spot at the Haarlemmerdijk, brought the pastry of patisserie Peter Lemmens from Gronsveld to Amsterdam. Count on jaw-dropping views when entering Zoet & Hartig: tower-like cakes filled with chocolate, meringue, mocha cream and chantilly – you have to see them to believe it – and of course vlaaien, those quintessential flat tarts Limburg is famous for. Vlaaien excel in simplicity and are filled with fruit, such as apple, apricot and gooseberries. My favourite version is the one with rice. More precisely: a vlaai with a mildly sweet rice pudding and sweet, juicy cherries on top. Try a piece at Zoet & Hartig and have a talk with the funny owners, who are passionate about the products they offer, not only about the sweet stuff (pasty, handmade chocolates of Chocolate Company) but also about the savoury goodies (Italian-style sandwiches, wraps). An essential stop while shopping in the Haarlemmerbuurt.
Zoet & Hartig Vlaai with rice and cherries, one whole pie, €23.60
Haarlemmerdijk 158, City Centre (Haarlemmerbuurt)
+31 (0) 20 767 04 34
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 11am-5.30pm
Some think it’s cuckoo to put rice in your soup. Well, people from Suriname and my fellow Dutch Indonesians completely disagree. My family pops rice in every soup; in green pea soup, in brown bean soup. A scoop of rice turns a soepie into A Meal. Home-made chicken soup is manna to sick souls. When I was feverish my mother used to serve me saoto ajam (chicken soup), with rice of course. To Dutch Indonesians saoto is the holy grail of soups. The broth of this Javanese soup is powerful, but the flavours of lemon grass, lime leaves, koenjit (turmeric) and ginger make the soup fresh and elegant too. It’s usually served with chopped celery, fried onions, beans sprouts and boiled eggs. Close to where I live is a great Surinamese-Javanese takeaway, Warung SuriKitchen, where I buy my chicken satay and rich saoto mama-style. Based on broth of a real chicken – no way, chicken fillet – including the right spices and the sides the soup deserves. Try it with the yellow paste of Madame Jeanette peppers. It’s about as evil as it looks like.
Warung SuriKitchen Saoto ajam, one big portion, €4.50
Tweede Nassaustraat 38, West (Westerpark)
+31 (0) 20 475 10 21
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 3pm-10pm
Don’t you just love fresh mango? Sweet, velvety, juicy. Au naturel, turned into ice cream. With mango you can’t go wrong. Combine, for example, slices of mango with sticky rice drenched in coconut milk. De-li-cious. Rice and mango are made to match. That explains why sushi with mango is good too. Some weeks ago a food stylist I’ve worked with raved about Sushi Day. ‘Unlike similar places the chefs at Sushi Day roll and fill the sushi the moment you order. It’s always super fresh.’ I visited the place and, yes, he was right: it’s as fresh as it gets. Danny, the chatty and friendly owner of this takeaway and delivery, is passionate about his products and clients. ‘Most of my regulars are women. A good thing! Women are usually more critical than men.’ The sushi is made by his wife and two other experienced cooks. His wife learned the art of sushi making in several Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong. Wondering what sushi to buy? Let the sunshine in and order the ebi mango roll! Silky soft textures of avocado and mango, prawns with a bite, slightly salty tobiko (flying fish roe) and compact, soft rice. This bite evokes memories of sun, tropical beaches and azure blue seas.