Welcome to a new week! As you may have read in my previous post, I visited restaurant Rembrandt in Amstelveen last Saturday and was quite positive about the experience. If it wasn’t forthe less-than-perfect location, I probably would have given it four stars. The food was absolutely delightful and the wine equally good.
I’ve decided to make the ‘Lunch Date Saturday’ a recurring feature on the blog. Therefore, I’ll be visiting interesting restaurants (if possible, new) for you every Saturday and reporting back here every Sunday. After many lunches out with my hubby at the weekend (something we both really look forward to!), I thought it would be nice to not only share photos through Instagram, but to also post full reviews here on my blog. Honest reviews. I am not being paid for this and even if I was, I have absolutely no interest in praising something I don’t really love. So don’t expect it to always be pretty!
With that, I’m happy to say that I have very high expectations for the resto I’ll be visiting this coming Saturday — also a newbie in the Dutch food scene and pretty damn cool from the buzz it’s creating!
Today’s post, however, isn’t about fancy restaurant food. It’s about an easy peasy dish that has saved me many a times from succumbing to take-out on days when I know my agenda is an absolute disaster. All it takes is a little bit of mixing and chopping in the morning and by dinnertime, presto! You’ve got yourself one heck of a good meal.
Enjoy and have an awesome week!
Raw Pasta Sauce for Busy Days
- 600g mixed sweet cherry tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 bunch of basil, leaves torn
- 3 tbsps capers
- 3 tbsps good olive oil
- 2 tbsps balsamic syrup
- fleur de sel
- freshly-cracked pepper
- mozzarella, torn into small chunks
- 250 g spaghetti
Mix everything except the mozzarella and the pasta in a large pan, place the lid on and leave the sauce to marinate out of the fridge for the whole day. When dinnertime rolls around, cook your pasta al dente. Add the mozzarella to the raw sauce and toss with the pasta. Serve in bowls with a good grinding of pepper.
One of my biggest passions is the art of the Dutch Golden Age. Especially Rembrandt. Every time I visit the Rijksmuseum I tell myself I will not cry when faced with one of my favorite paintings, The Jewish Bride (ca. 1665 – ca. 1669). Only to find myself with that funny sensation at the bottom of my throat within seconds of standing in front of it, hoping no one will notice my eyes as they well up. I just cannot help being overcome with emotion. Rembrandt managed to capture a peacefully intimate moment with strokes that are thick and make the painting appear almost three-dimensional. I once read that Vincent van Gogh would sometimes stare endlessly at the painting, especially admiring the detail in the two hands that lovingly touch and demand the viewer’s attention.
After hearing about the newly-opened restaurant named Rembrandt in Amstelveen, I knew I had to check it out. Not only did the name appeal to me (and the fact that they had chosen my favorite painting as a focal point of their interior), but the menu looked pretty good, too. I wanted to try the Dutch prawn salad, the Maas Rijn IJssel steak from the Lindenhoff with red wine sauce, the zuurkool stamppot (potato and sauerkraut mash) served with Brandt & Levie sausage, the cod with mustard sauce from Meeuwig & Zn. All names that will ring a bell with Dutch food lovers. Choosing was not going to be easy.
As we drove up to the restaurant, the first thing that caught my attention was its location. Unfortunately, it is not really in the center of town, nor is it in an area that’s very much inviting. In fact, it is surrounded by apartment complexes for senior citizens. I immediately wondered how this would affect the success of the restaurant in the long run. Would the food and service manage to rise above what could potentially pose a problem?
Upon arrival, we were cordially greeted by our hostess before choosing a cozy table for two next to one of the windows. You would think that in such a large space this would be difficult, but that certainly wasn’t the case. Our table was beautifully set with sturdy silverware, rustic linen napkins and water glasses reminiscent of the ones seen in Dutch 17th century paintings, the so-called roemer.
The interior features a huge open kitchen and is graciously decorated with warm color accents and touches of Dutch such as Delft blue and colored glass. The Rembrandt theme is present in the sketches that decorate doors, the books scattered about and of course, the majestic replica of The Jewish Bride.
We both decided to go for the menu of the day which kicked off with a mild and velvety broccoli soup served with a dollop of cream. The main was one of my favorite Dutch classics, rundersukade (meltingly stewed beef) accompanied by buttery mashed potatoes, red cabbage and a small pot of stewed pears. The meat was well cooked and succulent, and the gravy thick and aromatic. Both courses were washed down with a glass of their fruity Pinot Noir, uncomplicated and perfectly pleasing. For dessert I chose the cinnamon ice cream served with crisp wafers of honey and dark brown sugar, while Hans had a plate of Dutch cheeses presented with nut bread, thick apple syrup, fruit and walnuts. Compliments throughout for a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
I’m almost sorry to say that we were, in fact, the only lunch guests that afternoon. Our hostess told us they still needed work in their PR department. Considering the location of the restaurant, I’d be inclined to do that sooner than later.
Aside from that, for anyone who doubts that beauty of the simplicity in the Dutch kitchen, or thinks that the Netherlands has nothing to offer foodwise, a visit to this restaurant is in order. Rembrandt idolatry is, of course, not a prerequisite.
I’ve been having a rather slow morning today. A well-deserved one, though, which started with a bowl of oatmeal, beauty tutorials on YouTube (yes, I do like to watch those every once in a while) and a strong ristretto. The to-do list is pretty big right now, but I’m not feeling the least bit guilty about this little indulgence. In fact, I should make it a habit! I’m pretty precise when it comes to sticking to the agenda of the day, but really, I think this chick needs to loosen up!
So, what’s on my mind this Friday? A lot! From finishing an article on Dutch meat croquettes to happy anticipation for things like the mailman delivering a set of make-up brushes any minute now to a few very cool press events that I have coming up within the next weeks. I’ve been ignoring those more than I’d like due to a serious lack of time, but I’ve decided I simply need to make the time to show my face at these happenings a lot more often!
I’m still busy with the appetizer recipe production for Vriendin, and as soon as I hit ‘post’ for this blog, that’ll be the first thing on my agenda: writing the next eight recipes and trying them out tonight. By the way, those of you in the Netherlands, might want to check out this week’s issue (nr. 42) where you’ll find six of my quick and easy stew recipes, perfect for those days when you come home from work in need of serious comfort food that doesn’t require hours of cooking.
And speaking of recipes, a few weeks ago hubby surprised me with Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book, Plenty More. My goodness am I pleased with it! The book features colorful and flavorific vegetarian recipes with stunning ingredient combinations and gorgeous photography. This week we tried the root veg mash with shallots braised in red wine. All I can say (with my hand on my heart and as a serious Francophile!) is that it gave even the best boeuf bourguignon I’ve ever had a run for its money. Holy sweet lord!
It’s going to be a busy weekend again with shooting a new food video (cupcakes!) and checking out a new restaurant tomorrow (very excited about that as it combines an awesome menu with one of my other biggest passions). Curious? Stop by Sunday for the full review!
For now, I wish you all a happy weekend. Open a bottle of something wonderful tonight… just because!
It’s Friday which means tomorrow is lunch date day with hubby — something I really look forward to after what can sometimes be a long work week! Like this past one, for example. I pretty much worked until 9PM yesterday researching and writing a rough outline for my upcoming trip to Groningen this Sunday. If you read DUTCH, now you know what’s coming up in our Jan/Feb 2015 travel section! And speaking of DUTCH, the final issue of 2014 went to print earlier this week, and I can’t wait to hold the finished product again. It’s like having a baby every two months! OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it is quite exciting to take part in the process of making a magazine from start to finish!
Anyhow, back to that lunch. Not really sure where we will be headed this week. Last weekend we enjoyed an outdoor lunch at the waterside terrace of Graaf Floris V in Muiden. I was actually a little iffy about going there because of some of the bad reviews, but decided to give it a shot anyway. Mainly because of its beautiful location. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed. Only a little stuffed after a mega-huge seafood salad with smoked salmon, Dutch North Sea shrimp, tuna and smoked IJsselmeer eel! The wine and service were pretty decent, too.
The weeks before, however, we had been hanging out at Paisan in Hilversum, which is seriously a real treat. They have an awesome wine list with plenty of choices by the glass and the food is clean, bright and healthy. The kitchen is Med/Middle-Eastern-style with a good variety of pastas, seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes. I also love their appetizer platters. Last time we started by sharing the vegetarian one which had tasty little nibbles such as olives, fried polenta, lusciously dressed veggies, an aubergine roll and cheese.
Another favorite restaurant is Bel Ami in Bussum (surprise, surprise says the Francophile!). I’ve never been disappointed in their exceptional kitchen and service. Again, an excellent wine list and a steak tartare that’s to die for! This summer they had a heavenly pasta vongole which I washed down with champagne. My. God.
But where to tomorrow?? No idea!
What I do know is that I’m starting the day with a proper stick-to-the-ribs breakfast. I’m a very good girl most of the time, so I especially enjoy the naughty stuff when I do have it! I’m thinking scrambled eggs, bacon and either a stack of pancakes or buttermilk waffles. Sounds good, no?
For now though, there’s still a whole workday ahead of me and a to-do list that includes reviewing a book, writing a calendar of events, working on recipes for a holiday menu in Vriendin (and actually testing part of them later on), cleaning the house, planning menus for next week and attacking my messy closet (or at least attempting to start that horrendous task!).
Have a great weekend!