Wednesday 15 April 2015

We have nitro brew coffee in Amsterdam, too

The whole of Instagram is talking about spring; so I’m going to start with summer, of jumping off boats, dinners outside and nitro brew coffee. Just another coffee name to show off to your friends? Well, yes if you think a coolly cascading, velvety, Guinness-like drink is not your thing.

Thanks to Adam, co-owner of Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters, Amsterdam will be able to get in on what the rest of the world’s probably already drinking if they want to look cool. And this summer, it’s nitro brew, coffee beans soaked for 16 hours, the keg, injected with nitrous oxide (70% nitrogen and 30% CO2) and forced out of a tap under a helluva lot of pressure to get that foamy head and creamy taste Guinness has its name all over.

Taste wise, Adam tells me that we can expect the viscosity of an espresso, but no acidity, and smooth, smooth, smooth. The Internet tells me that it’s so creamy, you’d be forgiven for thinking milk was added. So far so good.

And it gets better: Adam has also teamed up with Alphabet Brewing Company, a start-up microbrewery from Manchester, UK for a collaboration – Lot Sixty One Coffee, their beer, name: Crate Digger, a ‘coffee stout’, at 8.3% alcohol. Equally cold. Equally summer.

Lot Sixty One is on the Kinkerstraat 112, Amsterdam. I recommend it. 


Tuesday 14 April 2015

Pasta with anchovy and (lots) of garlic

Even my grandparents were taking leftovers home from Anthony’s. It’s the kind of Italian with the eternally grated Parmesan on the table next to the chilli flakes that could only have been chillies a very long time ago. “Cheap and cheery” the English say. Roll-out American-Italian.

The menus are laminated and everything has that ‘home-made red sauce’ taste. Except for a dish I have since developed cravings for – no room for marinara there. No room for anything, in fact, other than lots of garlic, olive oil and anchovies.

I always order (and make) it with linguini but my mom swears by angel hair. Since I've been making my own, or, more accurately, since I started adding lemon zest to anything I can, I've been adding lemon zest to lend the dish a little elegance (read: cut through some of the oil). But that’s ‘elegance’ in a narrow sense – in terms of stand-out, all encompassing elegance, this bowl of pasta has heaps of it in its simplest form.

  • 1 tin of anchovies packed in olive oil
  • 7-8 pieces of garlic
  • Pasta
  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan 
  • Salt and pepper

Bring a pan of well-salted water to the boil for your pasta. Heat a little oil in a heavy-based pan whilst you finely chop the garlic and anchovy fillets and then add to the oil. Take off heat once the garlic starts to brown.

Reserve a little of the pasta's cooking water and add a few tablespoons of this, along with the cooked pasta, to the pan with your garlic and anchovy. Divide between bowls and top with black pepper and parmesan. Try before you add any salt! 


Sunday 12 April 2015

Sir Hummus

They tell me they didn’t even announce the opening – just tore down the paper covering the windows, a gesture to their neighbourhood that they were open, that everyone was welcome. Six months later and you can still tune in to those local vibes: you’re sat on a corner, at the window, looking out whilst you scoop up your hummus. And you must look as charming as you feel because the people passing are smiling back.

And you’re smiling too because you have wonderful hummus in front of you, and where, really, can you just go somewhere for a bowl of hummus? And you enjoy the feeling that this is a place to eat really slowly, that it doesn’t matter that you’re alone, no one’s making a gimmick of it, that you’re not alone anyway; not really, because you’re at a neighbourhood place.

Friday 3 April 2015

Slow roast harissa chicken

There wasn’t enough room on a postcard for the harissa stories of Tunisia. Everywhere you went there would be harissa, homemade and slightly different to the one last night or that which caused the stain on your shirt at lunch. Some were hot, most bright red, others only barely to be glimpsed under fathoms of olive oil. All were to be soaked up by toasted bread.

At home we make our own version to accompany almost anything we eat with blackened lemons: from steak to lamb, bulgur wheat to dark greens. It can be made as spicy as you like, thick spoonfuls of red or, the more olive oil you add, more of a marinade. Or do what the postcards say: serve with hot garlic bread and dip.
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