On Saturday Michiel and I went to Taste of Amsterdam (another food festival with a completely different vibe to Rollende Keukens.) This was a place for restaurants to really show off their signature dishes to people, and to get more people through their doors in the future. There was also a food market with different stands and people selling different things. The stand I was the most excited about was called AEG Cooking Club which was a cooking session where you got to prepare the food yourself, and then eat it.
Michiel and I signed up straight away since we were told it was likely to be extremely popular judging by the previous few days. We were told that the next session was fully booked and we could sign up for the 2.15pm class so we went off to enjoy a free glass of champers! I was so excited that we arrived at 2pm (I made Michiel sit outside and wait there, so we could be there on time!)
The kitchen was split into two halves. One side was preparing the meat, and the other were preparing the veggies. We weren’t quite early enough because we ended up on the side preparing the vegetables, which I didn’t really mind as Michiel maintained that he wasn’t very good at cooking (I know better though, he can cook, he’s actually very good). The recipe was for calves cheek with langoustines, fennel, spinach and apple.
All of our ingredients were in front of us, and Michiel had to start by chopping up the fennel, which was apparently no easy task. One of the chefs came over and told him to chop it smaller! Once it was cut he had to put it into the oven for 10 minutes. My job was to cut the apple into matchsticks. Then we prepared a herb oil to go on top of the langoustines. We had to prepare the chervil, chives and basil by cutting them up and putting them into some oil and balsamic vinegar. We seasoned it and tasted it. It was good.
Halfway through they noticed that Michiel had forgotten to put the fennel into the oven with the bottom half of the tray which was designed to steam it, so they put that in quickly in the hope that in the time we had left (about two minutes) that it would work. It didn’t, but you can still eat fennel raw (or partially cooked) so it was ok.
We took our ingredients over to the workbench opposite us and joined up with the people who had been cooking the langoustines and calves cheek to construct our dishes. It was quite funny, the people opposite us had put everything onto the plate without making it pretty so one of the chefs came over and gave us a demonstration of how it’s really done.
Then we got to have a go ourselves so we put the fennel on top of the spinach, the apple on top of that, the calves cheek on top of that, a salad leaf on top, and finally the langoustine. We added the herb oil and watercress and then we got to eat our lovely creations, and they really were lovely.
At the end we were told that we could keep our aprons (which made me a bit giddy) and then were invited to their VIP area for a free glass of wine!
I really enjoyed this cooking session, and the festival was also fantastic. We tried so much food, and came away with new ideas for cooking, and places to go and eat. I also bought 400g of cheddar with a jar of onion marmalade as I miss cheddar a lot, even though the Dutch are massive cheese heads, I haven’t really seen cheddar in the supermarket anywhere. (On a completely unrelated side note, if anyone knows anywhere I can buy Heinz salad cream in Amsterdam, please PLEASE let me know. I will be forever in your debt)
For more pictures from Taste of Amsterdam 2012 please click here