Really you cant beat a carton of eggs for the gift that just keeps on giving. For a quick dinner the Broccoli Francese; some steamed broccoli (the last of the week veg) gets glued together with a grated Parm and pepper-enriched egg mixture. With some buttered toast and a wing and a prayer you have some dinner. Still the next morning more from the carton (along with some leftover reheated white rice) yielded breakfast to go. And for its final act, Luca folds the remaining eggs into a kitchen-sink egg sandwich. I have no idea what else is on that thing besides eggs but you can tell I've obviously passed on my scavenger gene to my sons!
Mussels are the national dish of Belgium and also ubiquitous in its neighboring country of Holland. Moules Frites is a dish of seasoned steamed mussels with a side of fries to dip in mayonnaise. And, don't call them french fries either in this part of the world. Apparently they did not originate there at all. Not only does Rose eat her mussels by using an old shell to pinch out the meat of a new one but she also stacks all her shells into a cool mussel shell sculpture.
As for the oysters--well, if you are an oyster lover then these oysters from the beds in Zealand Holland must be sampled if you get a chance. With a slightly piney essence, they are amazing.And did you know the Zealand gave the country of New Zealand its name!
The particular situation of Zealand, between rivers and sea, gives its water a particular brackish quality favourable to the growth of oysters and mussels. The capital of oyster culture is Yerseke, from where the Zealand seafood products are exported throughout Europe.
Our last couple days in Amsterdam means getting as much in as possible: flower market, flea market, fish market and herring stands,
For a city surrounded by water with the sea at close hand, its a place any fish lover dreams of. We were sent to the wonderful fish house Lucius
where amongst other deliciousness we got a small sole tutorial. A favorite all time fish, Dover Sole, is something I am reluctant to eat these days. Aside from its prohibitive price,
many areas of the world have shady fishing records endangering the health of this stock.
From the UK Guardian Fish site: “North Sea Dover or common sole stock is classified as healthy and harvested sustainably. Stocks in Skaggerak and Kattegat, the Eastern Channel and Celtic Sea are also healthy but the level of fishing pressure is considered too high or unknown. Stocks in the Western Channel and Biscay are below the minimum level recommended by scientists and harvested unsustainably.
Avoid eating fish caught in these areas, as well as south-west Ireland, where the state of the stock is unknown and catches the lowest on record. Dover sole from the Hastings Fleet trammel net fishery in the Eastern Channel is certified as an environmentally responsible fishery. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 28cm) and fish caught during the breeding season (April-June).
Meanwhile, back at dinner—three types of sole was offered to us: baby sole (the small one), Lemon Sole (the medium one) and the mighty Dover Sole (the large one).
Ruling out the baby, unsure of the lemon sole status and assured of the Dovers provenence, Rose and I shared the Dover.
Sad to say, this fish-- in all its superior elegance and good taste will not likely be on my plate again. But boy did we savor it while we could. It has a butter-sweet taste and superb texture halfway between soft and firm-fleshed. And, its easy to see how easy it is to fillet. There is no greater side than a simple sautéed or roasted potato and lightly steamed spinach.....well—the soul was fed by this sole! Next I’ll show you a little mussel trick and something from the original ‘Zealand’ (as in the original New Zealand).
We took a day trip (3 hours from Amsterdam) to the amazing medieval city of Bruges, a city as bustling as London in the 15th century filled with gilded architecture, canals, mussels, beer, chocolate and gorgeous northern light. It didn't take long to get our fist hit of chocolate--a modern take on the Belgium waffle--hot off the griddle and sandwich around glorious melted chocolate. We took in the Sunday flea market--where all the items were purchased by dealers from the surrounding old homes so the bric-a-brac was all completely local. I bought an old cookie tin with the Bruges city scape pressed in relief. Rose--an antique dealer in her day-- was in heaven.
Our meal was eaten at an old Bruges haunt serving classic old Bruges type dishes and delicious beer. Rose's Waterzooi--an old school staple--is really close to the French chicken fricasee (profiled in details in MSL October mag). And, no Belgium meal is complete without the world famous Frites (aka French fries but don't say that around these parts). The potatoes themselves are sweet/savory with a fantastic texture, fried to a crisp on the outside and served with mayonaise. The beer I had, a Triple Karmelit, tasted of coriander and citrus with a foamy topping as delicous as w lightly whipped meringue.
Another beautiful day of travels with mama Rosie.
The street market at Albert Cuyp, Amsterdams largest open air market has many really cool finds: fish, vegetables, fabrics, clothing, antiques and Dutch and ethnic street food (my favorite!!). This is the first time I've had proferrtjes; puffy little pancakes served piping hot off the griddle. The vendor Andre makes them at lightening speed, pouring the batter into little (perfectly seasoned) cast-iron divets, turning them then picking them up with a fork eight at at time. Awaiting the hot little heaven-cakes is a large slab of Dutch butter. As Andre says, "you think we have amazing cheese? The butter is just as good." Yikes, that's all my butter-loving mom, Rose, needed to hear.
A little powdered sugar and you are good to go. When I asked if we could get a few less in our order, andre promised he'd return our money if we didn't eat the whole thing. Now there is a confident cook! We helplessly ate them all, natch!