Tag Archives: Eating Out

Restaurant ‘La Vallade’ Amsterdam

Restaurant 'La Vallade' Amsterdam

Restaurant ‘La Vallade’ Amsterdam:

In 2017 I’ll have lived in Amsterdam for 20 years, 20 years!  And in the last couple I’ve noticed a pattern developing in my preferences for eating out.  I’ve been going back more and more often to the restaurants I discovered in my first years here.

Maybe it should worry me that I don’t feel the need to jump on every new eaterie that opens its doors, maybe I should be concerned I’m not the first to get out my smart phone and start snapping shots of it to plaster over social media, but, if I’m honest, that really isn’t my style.  After all there’s plenty of people talking (if only briefly) about the latest flash in the pan trendy place where style (and sometimes not even that) takes preference over substance, or the newest most tasteless must eat of the moment.  When it comes to food I prefer places that have earned their stripes.  Restaurants who do what they do well, cooks who care and understand good food and good eating.  And that’s probably why I go back to the same places again and again.  I go for quality and I want to enjoy my food.  This doesn’t mean that I have to go fine dining, in fact I’d rather not, I much prefer a more informal setting.

La Vallade epitomizes ‘my’ type of restaurant.  As the name suggests, the style is French, I’d say bistro, and it has a fixed menu. When you walk in you could be forgiven for thinking that the cosy little place has been plucked straight out of a French village with its quirky décor and warm atmosphere.  The 5 course menu costs 35,50 Euro and is prepared from fresh seasonal ingredients.  The chefs work on a rota, each day or two it’s somebody else’s turn, but they cook the same menu and I can honestly say of all the times I’ve been here, I’ve never had a bad experience, or even a mediocre one, it has been consistently very good.   Every Monday the menu is vegetarian, which as a meat eater I can confirm is just as delicious for a carnivore as a vegetarian.

I know a fixed menu isn’t for everyone, but I really love leaving the food choice to the chef.  You see, when people know you cook they tend to either stop inviting you to dinner or they get so stressed cooking for you that nobody enjoys the evening.  I wish they would just make something they love to eat and not get all tied up in new recipes with complicated techniques and unfamiliar ingredients, I don’t think I’m a food snob and enjoy nothing more than being cooked for.  Anyway, that’s one of the reasons I love La Vallade, I don’t need to decide on what to eat, I don’t need to decide on what to cook and I don’t even need to choose from a menu, so there’s no dilemma’s about what I might enjoy more or regrets when I see a fellow diner’s plate.

The menu changes regularly and with the season, but on my last visit this is how it went.

The Menu

Squid with Black Squid Ink Risotto and Seafood Bisque Sauce:  This was technically perfect.  The risotto was oozy and the squid was tender, the sauce sublime, everything seasoned exactly right.

Restaurant 'La Vallade' Amsterdam

Seasonal Salad:  A simple fresh salad with a light vinaigrette is exactly what you need to prepare you for the main event.  Sorry I don’t have a photo, but I got a bit greedy and ate it before I remembered to take a shot.

Roast Guinea Fowl with Dauphinoise Potatoes, Wild Spinach and Port Sauce:  The bird was tender and succulent, the potatoes creamy but light, the spinach gave freshness and the sauce gave a deep background note which brought the whole dish together.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this chef’s ability to bring out flavour.

Restaurant 'La Vallade' Amsterdam

The Cheese Course:  This has to be what I love the most about a French restaurant.  The always serve cheese.  No matter how simple the place is, no matter the price range, there will always be cheese, how civilised is that?   What was it Brillat de Savarin said?  ‘A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye’.   This cheese board was simple, with a couple of Dutch cheeses and a couple of French.  It didn’t follow the standard pattern (white, red, blue bacteria, goat/sheep and hard cheese) but the combination worked really well and it was served at room temperature (in my opinion the mark of a bad restaurant is to serve chilled cheese) and the brie was perfectly ripe.

Restaurant 'La Vallade' Amsterdam

Madeline with Rhubarb compote, Vanilla Mascarpone and Toffee Sauce:  The elements of this dessert were made very well, but the toffee sauce clashed a bit with the rest of the flavours.  I wouldn’t say it was bad by any means, in fact, I’m probably being very picky because I’d been so spoilt by the previous courses.

Restaurant 'La Vallade' Amsterdam

La Vallade,
Ringdijk 23,
1097 AB Amsterdam

Amsterdam Private Food Tours

If this has made you hungry for more, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best food the city has to offer.

Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon

Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon

Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon : Quick and Easy, Great for Brunch or Lunch.

Eating out is my favourite thing.  My second favourite thing is eating in.  This is kind of how this recipe for Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon Came about.  I was having lunch a couple of weeks ago in Riva, Amsterdam (I’m so lucky that they are like literally 100 paces from my front door), and my meal was distracting me from the company.  It was one of those perfect food moments, you know when what you are eating is exactly what you needed at that time.  Anyway, I just knew that I had to re-create this at home, but it wasn’t a standard ingredient combination.  With every mouthful I tried to dissect the flavours down to ingredient and proportion of ingredient.  It didn’t work there and then.  Took me a couple of days of daydreaming about the taste to deconstruct and reconstruct it.  This is the result, I think I hit the spot.

The Recipe

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10 minutes to bake the salmon

Ingredients for 4 Servings

For the Salmon
4 x salmon filets of about 150gr / 5 oz. each
Juice of one lemon
1 x tbsp of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Coleslaw
6 to 8 leaves of Chinese lettuce leaf, shredded
200gr / 7 oz. sweet corn
200gr / 7 oz. beansprouts
1 x courgette (zucchini), shredded or cut julienne
200gr / 7 oz. grated carrot
For the Dressing
2 x tbsp good quality mayonnaise (or 2 x tbsp mayonnaise and 2 x tbsp natural yogurt – this will give a sharper result)
4 x tbsp Japanese Mirin
3 x tsp wasabi paste (more if you want more of a kick)
Juice of one lime (About 2 x tbsps.)
4 x tbsp finely chopped chives
To Finish
An avocado, sliced and served on the side.
A tbsp per person of wakame (Japanese Seaweed Salad)
2 x limes quartered.

Method To Bake the Salmon

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
  2. Place aluminium foil in a roasting tray. Use enough foil so that you can wrap the fish in it loosely. Place the fish on the foil. Drizzle over the oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle over the salt and the pepper.
  3. Cover your fish with the foil, making a loose parcel.
  4. Place the tray in the oven and allow to bake for 7 to 12 minutes. The cooking time will not only depend on your oven, but also on how thick the salmon filets are. You can bake the salmon in advance as it should be served at room temperature.

To Make the Coleslaw and Dressing

  1. Mix the dressing ingredients, except for the chives, together in a bowl. I find the best way to do this is with a metal whisk. Then stir in the chives. Check for flavouring and adjust if you wish. Set aside.
  2. Place the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
  3. When you are ready to serve pour over the dressing and toss through until evenly mixed.
  4. Serve with the salmon on the top of your salad and the spoonful of wakame on top of the salmon and a few slices of avocado and a wedge of lime on the side.

Tips and Variations 

  • I often use a mandolin to slice the courgette (zucchini), and carrot, but you can also use a vegetable peeler or just slice with a knife into long matchsticks – if you have the patience.
  • You can make wakame yourself, but I buy it ready made.
  • Remember, if you are using the avocado, open it at the last minute or it will become brown.

Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon

A Taste of Amsterdam

Phew!  It’s been so busy lately with Amsterdam Culinary  Tasting Tours!  I’m really pleased that I’ve been getting so many bookings this summer.  And, as always I’ve met some really great people.  I have a little breathing space today, so I thought I’d put together a little gallery of the sights and flavour of Amsterdam this summer…… just a little taster….

Oh yeah, if you want to book:

Tours by Locals (Easier if you are based outside the Netherlands)

Contact me directly  on karen@thecookingcoach.eu (easier if you are based in the Netherlands)

Karen

May 9, 2014

Just opened this week!   ‘Thuis Aan De Amstel’ is a great addition to the growing list of fantastic restaurants and bars popping up along the banks of the river Amstel.  This building was originally a family home for managers and directors of the ‘Zuidergasfabriek’ (gas works).  I am so glad that it has been given a new lease of life in amongst the modern developments.  So, if you fancy enjoying drinks and food on the banks of the Amstel, I reckon you need to be quick as this one is set to be a hot spot!

images

Aan de amstel

Recipe for Roast Butternut Squash, Red Onion and Chickpea Salad

ButternutChickpeaSalad

A week or so ago, after I had finished a culinary tour, I decided to treat myself to a healthy, if late, lunch.  I decided to head to Vinnie’s Deli. I’d seen it many times, walked passed, and promised myself a visit.  So today would be the day.  I was greeted by a display of colourful salads, boy, if I  wasn’t hungry before I came in,  I was now!  I opted for this salad.  Loved it, and of course went straight home to re-create it.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

The preparation of the salad and salad dressing can be done during time that the veggies are roasting.  This means that your total ‘active’ time is roughly 20 minutes.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings

For the Roast Vegetables
1 x medium sized butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into small bite-sized chunks.
2 x red peppers, de-seeded and also chopped into small bite-sized squares.
2 x red onions, chopped into small bite sized pieces
1 x tbsp olive oil
A good grind of black pepper
Salt to taste

Butternut Squash and Red Onion

Butternut Squash and Red Onion

Dressing
Juice and zest of a lemon
1 x clove of garlic (raw) grated finely
1 x tbsp of honey
2 x tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper (more if you want more of a kick of heat)
2 x tsp all spice (piment) powder
2 x tsp of paprika powder
A pinch of salt

The Salad
2 x tins of chickpeas (400gr / 14 oz.) drained and rinsed
3 x spring onions (scallions) chopped finely
A handful of fresh mint leaves chopped finely
A large handful of fresh flat leaved parsley chopped finely
Optional – some feta cheese

Method 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Place the vegetables for roasting, the oil and the black pepper (not salt as this can make your veggies watery instead of giving them a crispy, caramalised finish) into a roasting tin, mix through with your hands to coat everything in the oil.  Place in the oven until they are cooked through, softened, but not mushy, and have taken on some colour.  This can take anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes depending on the size you have cut your veggies and also each oven is slightly different, making cooking times variable.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, mix up the ingredients for the salad dressing and set aside.  This will be a thick, gloopy dressing, but it coats everything nicely!
  4. Also whilst you wait on the vegetables, mix up the salad ingredients in your serving bowl.
  5. When the vegetables have been roasted, remove from the oven, add a little salt, mix through check for seasoning, and pour into your salad bowl with the salad ingredients, add the dressing and stir through, firmly, but carefully.  You want to coat everything evenly with as least tosses as possible without being so rough that you mush everything together.
  6. Sprinkle some feta over as you serve should you wish.

Tips and Variations

  • This works really well with puy lentils instead of chickpeas.
  • You can allow your vegetables to cool if you wish before mixing them into your salad, but I feel that the heat releases more flavour in the herbs and spices.
  • This salad can be served warm or at room temperature.  It keeps really well in the fridge for a few days.
  • I like to serve it with roast chicken or with lamb chops.
  • If I have leftovers, I like to eat this salad on its own for lunch.  I also like to chop some rucola (rocket) leaves through the salad.
Roast Butternut Squash

Roast Butternut Squash