At Saturday’s market figs were on offer, 10 figs for 3 euro. Best price all year. I love the dusky rich colour of figs, their distinctive flavour that can go either sweet or savoury. One of my favourite holiday memories is of standing under an ancient, spreading fig tree in Molise (south Italy) and eating fresh ripe figs warmed by the sun. Every summer I want to recreate that flavour memory so I couldn’t resist. One of my favourite ways to eat figs is fresh in a salad with a creamy goat’s cheese. The rich sweetness of the figs is a perfect foil for the sharpness of the cheese. But this time I wanted to go sweet, so I poached them in a sweet wine with some spices and honey. I’ve also used a solution of honey, water and a few drops of orange water for a non-alcoholic version.
My mix this time was 200 ml of “half sweet” wine, about two teaspoons of honey, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and one or two star anise thrown in. I heated the poaching mix and dropped in the semi-quartered the figs. I cooked them until soft – be careful, they disintegrate easily so don’t stir and do watch them. Spoon the poaching mix over the figs as they cook.
I served them still warm with good thick Greek yoghurt.
A rather nice thing happened at the market on Saturday, I purchased my vegetables as usual, and as I paid I was offered some baby asparagus. They were past their best, or as the stall keeper tactfully put it “you need to use them soon”. I did, I made this soup yesterday which contains no lilypads but plenty of asparagus. When I saw the colour match with the table cloth I couldn’t resist the name.
I based the recipe on one I found on the BBC food site. It worked out well, it’s full of flavour without tasting too strongly of asparagus.
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
- 200g asparagus roughly chopped
- 1 medium sized potato, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4-5 sprigs of oregano, leaves only
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 150 ml double cream
- good olive oil to drizzle
- crusty bread to serve
- Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, add the leek, asparagus, potato, and oregano saute for about 4 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock, add more water if the vegetables aren’t covered.
- Bring to the boil then reduce heat to simmer until all vegetables are cooked.
- Take off the heat, blend with a wand blender until smooth. Add cream and blend again
- Return to heat, add salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve pour into bowls, drizzle some good olive oil on the top and serve crusty bread on the side.
If you don’t want to serve it straight away, or want to store some of the soup, I would reserve the cream until you re-heat the soup just before serving. I didn’t test it but the soup mixture without cream should freeze fairly well.
If a vegan version is needed skip the butter but double the cooking oil, and add an extra potato and a little more stock or water. The potato does give the soup a creamy texture.
It’s an Italian concept and was originally known as “caffè sospeso“. The idea is that when you buy a coffee you buy a second one for someone else, someone less fortunate who will come to the cafe later in the day. Snopes declares it true and has collected some stories of it in action.
In Dutch it’s known as “uitgestelde koffie”, which literally means “deferred coffee”. Here’s how to say it in Dutch, although in Amsterdam you can probably get away with saying it in English.
Obviously it only works if the cafe is ready to take part. There are cafes in Amsterdam that do take part;
Dragon’s Delight Tolstraat 200
Cafe Pollux Prins Hendrikkade 121
Koffiebar Maling (in the public library, on Roelof Hartplein)
Bagels & Beans De Clercqstraat 22hs
Mezzo IJssalon Dapperplein 36
Cafe Toussaint Bosboom Toussaintstraat 26
Eetlokaal LT Javastraat 116a (uitgestelde soep = deferred soep)
These are the ones I found via an internet search – if you know of others please let me know in the comments.
This weekend it’s the “Rollende Keukens” which translates as rolling kitchens, or as my friend calls them “Roach Coaches”. Yeah, she doesn’t work in marketing any more. It’s a food festival with music held every year up at the Westergasfabriek. It was pretty crowded – but gezellig. I went up there on Saturday evening for a walking dinner; Cajun potato, barbecue chicken and fresh lemonade. Followed by icecream for a walk through the park. Very gezellig.
The tall table
Queue for Cajun potatoes
The biggest toasted sandwich maker in the world
(Sorry about the slightly soft-focus effect, I think I got some grease on the camera lens.)
Today is the New Food Market on Haarlemmerdijk/Harlemmerstraat, all the local restaurants and food places put out stalls with a huge range of snacks from all over the world. All I can say is; yum.
candy from Papabubble
frozen yoghurt from Bonkers
Chess as a team sport
the raspberry tart
Pata negra from Ibericus
it’s a dog’s life
There’s a new supermarket in my neighbourhood, in addition to two Albert Heijns and a Jumbo. Marqt opened yesterday on Harlemmerstraat . I went there tonight – to research.
Their market positioning is quality; with a large range of products I haven’t seen in the other supermarkets, and many biological products available. They also have a range of upmarket prepared meals, the lentil casserole I tried tonight (all in the interests of research obviously) was fantastic. I notice a range of fresh pastas, a selection of “home-made” soups, a real fish counter and a range of gluten-free products (including pasta). I also saw various luxury food products I haven’t seen in other supermarkets.
But the most astonishing of all, after the rather vacant service I usually get at Albert Heijn supermarkets, was the friendly professional staff. Real people who know the produce and can talk about it (at least at the fish counter and the cheese bar).
There is a price difference, so I suspect this is not going to completely replace my weekend shop at the market, or my forays into the other supermarkets.
But it’s a welcome change. Almost like the supermarkets I’m used to.
Marqt is at Harlemmerstraat 165, opening hours are 9am-9pm Monday – Saturday, 10am-8pm Sunday.
I couldn’t resist the cherries, but I’m glad I didn’t buy too many – these are ready to eat right now.