Ok, so I’m a little behind on my blogging. I hate to make excuses, but a lot has been happening here at Nerdsong central, and big life changes are in the works, so I haven’t had as much time to cook and/or write lately. I’m hoping to remedy this situation by posting shorter, less loquacious posts. Everyone who knows me is probably saying “yeah, good luck with that” right about now. We’ll just have to see how it goes.
I never did get around to posting about my Cookbook Challenge for Chloe’s Kitchen, but seeing as I ended up trying to cram three days of cooking into one, and didn’t end up getting any pictures, I may give that one a do-over.
Today, in keeping with the not-having-as-much-time-to-cook theme, I’m posting about a recent trip to Rotterdam and the amazing food I had there. Some of my PPK buds had been there recently to check out a few vegan-friendly places, Heavenly Cupcakes, and De Oude Plek, but sadly I had to work that day. The exhibit, The Road to Van Eyck, at the Boijmans van Beuningnen Museum gave me a good excuse to brave the snow and check them out myself.
Because of the snow, the trains were on an emergency schedule, so getting there took me a lot longer than I had anticipated. By the time I got to Heavenly Cupcakes, I was cold and hungry and the warm, cozy, well-lit interior called out to me like an oasis in a desert. The friendly owner greeted me as soon as I came in and we started chatting about the weather, the neighborhood, and the dearth (and growth) of vegan options in The Netherlands. Then came the difficult part; deciding which of the flavors of the beautiful cupcakes on display I wanted to try. I eventually went for Chai Spice and Red Velvet with a soy latte. Oh my lord, so good! Delicately flavored, just sweet enough, and with the perfect crumb. I had a hard time tearing myself away without trying the other flavors, so I decided to take four more to go – Chocolate Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry, and Walnut Caramel – and split them with a colleague at an informal meeting the next day. They kept well, and each flavor lived up to the quality of the ones I’d eaten in the cafe itself. Add to that, the friendliness of the cafe owner, and the lovely atmosphere, and Heavenly Cupcakes is worth a visit.
Because of the weather-related delays, I only got to spend one hour at the exhibition before closing time, but I’m glad I went. If you ever get the chance to see Jan van Eyck’s Annunciation in person, do it! Stunning. I realize that not everyone is as enamored of Early Netherlandish Painting as I am, but still. It’s a true masterpiece.
Knowing it would take me a while to get home, I debated skipping the extra trip out to De Oude Plek, but I’m so glad I went! This is a vegetarian Chinese restaurant specialized in mock meats. They can pretty much make any dish vegan if you ask them to not use eggs. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to things like the omelette dishes.) I ordered the wonton soup and “chicken” in a spicy sauce. The soup was perfect. It’s been years since I’ve had wonton soup, and these wontons, filled with mock minced meat, really recalled the wontons I remember eating at the Chinese buffet down the street from where I grew up. The broth was nicely flavored and not too salty, with pieces of cabbage and green onions rounding it out.
The main dish was also fantastic. The seitan chicken was fried to perfection, and had a great bite to it. (I hate using that word, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it.) It was stir fried with onions, red and green pepper, bamboo shoots, and, unfortunately mushrooms. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, so I ended up leaving those (and feeling guilty towards the chef), but I can’t fault the restaurant for this. I should have asked. My only complaint about the dish is that the spicy sauce, while flavorful, was not really as spicy as I’d hoped (although they did bring me sambal which I liberally added to my plate). I attribute this to Dutch Chinese restaurants being mainly Cantonese influenced with some Dutch-Indonesian dishes thrown in for good measure. When I think spicy, I think Szechuan spicy, so there’s bound to be some disappointment. Despite this minor complaint, though, I have found myself hankering for my meal since that evening and looking for an excuse to go back there. Oh, how I wish a place like De Oude Plek existed closer to where I live.
I’ll wind this down by saying that those friends who laughed at the idea that I could reign in my loquaciousness now deserve a cupcake for being right. Luckily, I know a great place to get some.