Thursday 21 May 2015

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Don’t go hungry.

I thought that after last year, this, at least, would have been obvious. Looking back, I had no reason to try again. It was hell; how Armageddon would look if it started in the Westergasfabriek. Smoke, chaos and writhing bodies surrounded by debris. It could only be worse this time, I thought. I could write about how bad it all was, I thought. I went —

— hungry —

— the state in which you’d think would be appropriate, freshly arrived at a food festival, ready to try all the things you ordinarily wouldn’t because they’re not ordinarily available to you; and here they all are, cheap, interesting and tasty. There you’d go, weaving in and out of all the nicely spaced trucks, couple euros here, a bite there. Just like in winter time when you wonder where all the couples who run the oliebollen (a type of Dutch doughnut) stalls go the rest of the year, you’d wonder where all these people – the people that run the food trucks – go. Maybe they’re the ones that run the Christmas markets. You’d wonder because you only ever see them at festivals, and each time in different combinations. And you just wished one of them would have the peace of soul to open up in bricks and mortar, maybe in noord somewhere, somewhere offbeat. It would just be a small place, somewhere they could keep experimenting with interesting dishes. Because they’d always be cooking different stuff, they’d always be attracting different people. The mix would mean our restaurant friends wouldn’t miss the road too much, they’d have the variety they crave right at home. In a way though, you’d understand if they chose a truck over their own place: it means less infrastructure, more freedom to try what you like, to tweak and change. You only have to buy as much stock as you can fit in your truck so you can try different things until you get it right. And you’ve only got the counter standing in front of you and your customer so, with their feedback, you’d get it right pretty soon. And if you don’t, you can change. No stock, see?

Still hungry.

Friday 8 May 2015

Who's afraid of natural wine?

Indie lives on but has traded its skinny jeans for an organic vineyard, its Pete Doherty for a lack of sulphates and its guitars for a handpicked harvest. And how refreshing. I’m talking about natural wines being the indie kids of wines: dressed down and talking back.

Where there was pomp and circumstance in the wine world, there’s now humour (just look at their labels: from Quentin Tarintino-esque gore-core, Brutal to Sauvé de la Cisterne with two men cleaning cisterns). Where there was full-bodied, meal-in-a-glass wines, we’re getting acquainted with a bit of bubble and spice. A nose of fruit is being substituted for the smell of something wild: earth, animals and last week’s turning leftovers. We’re learning to drink red wine in the sun on a hot day and we’re beginning to accept red wines that look like rosé and rosé’s that reminds us of lemonade. We’re sucking down minerals instead of butter and wondering how, despite it tasting bubbly, we can’t for the life of us see any bubbles nor, for that matter, see through to the other side of glass.

Thursday 7 May 2015

God would drive a Citroën

It’s a sound owned by the action movies: that of cars screeching around a bend in a covered garage. Not necessarily a sound you’d associate with a night out, much less a great night at a restaurant. But this is the sound, and it was so convincingly out of a movie, that I'm finding I start my stories with.

I found out about Citroën via Rijsel and so considered the place already blessed by the cooking gods that so often seem to look beyond Amsterdam. Another blessing was the lack of PR, website and Facebook page and the rumour that this was the golden child of Hotel de Goudfazant. Fast forward to the night itself and did I mention the screeching cars?
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