food | 17 February 2016
If you are thinking about becoming a food blogger in the Netherlands, now is definitely a good time to join. First of all, there’s a constantly evolving food scene in Amsterdam. If you visited the city five years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to find a lot of good and affordable restaurants. That has certainly changed.
Second, there’s an amazing food blogging community in place. When I started photographing and writing about food, I was one of the new kids and there weren’t many food bloggers yet. Today, there are more than a handful of food bloggers (and growing). And that has resulted in great initiatives organized by the food community to give food bloggers a better understanding of the food world.
For this event, we were invited to Hoofdstad Brasserie, one of the Hotel L’Europe’s restaurants run by Executive Chef Richard van Oostenbrugge. It’s becoming quite the trend for Michelin star chefs to start a more affordable restaurant in a more casual setting and this is Van Oostenbrugge’s interpretation of laid-back yet refined.
Inside the kitchen of Hoofdstad Brasserie it was surprisingly peaceful. But then, my only knowledge about how kitchens are run comes from what I’ve seen on Top Chef, Master Chef and Master Chef: The Professionals. At every working station was a chef either preparing for dinner service or plating for our tasting (it’s not a food post if we can’t also sample the menu – I know, tough blogger life). Sous chef Alex Haupt was busy preparing our starters: a dish highlighting dutch shrimps, served with a crustacean cream and a fennel salad. Next, a beef tar tar with sour cream, served with a potato & celeriac crumble and topped off with grated foie gras. Then, cured cod with a dashi dressing and sesame.
And then this beauty: a crab salad on toast served with a poached egg and caviar. Are we drooling yet?
Poached salmon with a beetroot confit
Beef steak with a carrot puree, goats yoghurt and oxtail sauce
Crispy duck breast with a quince puree, cavolo nero and smoked chestnut.
Chicken breast with truffle under the skin, cabbage, mushrooms and Albufera sauce
The finishing touches are added on the table to ensure the best serving. It also added a little theatricality.
Then came the best part: the desserts. For the desserts, we were invited to take a look inside the dessert kitchen. We were led down a small corridor into the basement where a small but sizable kitchen was set up. Two of the dishes were prepared for us already: the cacao bean made with a Manjari chocolate mousse, served with a dark chocolate crumble. Next, the ‘mandarin’, a mandarin mousse (with a tangy filling!) served on a coffee cake. If there’s anything Van Oostenbrugge is known for, it’s his signature dessert dishes where fruits are being transformed into stunning desserts. I mean, ever seen his apple dish?
For the last dish, we walk over to the station where the (in)famous pêche melba is made. A chef places a tray of scoops of peach sorbet onto a foot. The white balls are shaped like a peach and are first spray painted with a yellow food coloring and then orange and red. Another signature! The sorbets are served resting on an almond paste.