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Hollandse Nieuwe in New York City

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From our correspondent Yolanda Gerritsen in New York City.

Herring lovers in and around New York can rejoice! Happy days are here again with the much-anticipated arrival of the 2011 First Catch Herring -- straight from Scheveningen. The 2011 Holland Herring Festival is now in full swing at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, the historic and classic establishment for fresh seafood aficionados in New York. In its cavernous rooms a special area has been reserved for herring enthusiasts right at the entrance. You can’t miss it: posters and a traditional Dutch ‘haring kar’ (herring cart) mark the area where you can indulge in the tasty morsels that most Dutchmen and other nationals eagerly look forward to every spring.

The 2011 Holland Herring Festival was officially opened by Dutch Consul General Gajus Scheltema, the Oyster Bar’s executive chef Sandy Ingber and General Manager Jonathan Young.

Mr. Scheltema, who will leave New York for a diplomatic post in Islamabad, performed one of his last official duties -- spreading Dutch Culture in New York -- with aplomb. He showed those present the proper, traditional Dutch way to eat a herring: holding it by its tail, tilting the head back and slowly letting it slide into the mouth, thus savoring its delicate, slight saltiness that recalls the waters of the North Sea where the fish was caught. Mr. Ingber, Mr. Young, and Consul General Scheltema, repeated this ritual and then declared the Holland Herring Festival officially open to the public.

For the past thirty years the Holland Herring Festival at the Oyster Bar has become a much-loved tradition every spring. When the first catch of ‘nieuwe haring’ is welcomed at the fishing-port of Scheveningen, the freshly caught delicacy is air-expressed directly to the Oyster Bar in New York. The quality of the first catch can vary from year to year, but this 2011 season the new herring is really delicious and executive chef Sandy Ingber called it “a top quality herring catch, perhaps the best in the history of the festival."

The Festival will last until Friday June 24. Herring filets, served at the Oyster Bar with chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped sweet onions and chives, are $ 7.00 a piece. In addition, the menu features “Dutch Martinis", made with Ketel One Vodka ($11.75) or with Bols Genever ($10.50).

Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal
Herring Festival through June 24
http://www.oysterbarny.com/

Vandaag -- genever and bitterballen in New York

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Tomorrow Vandaag, a genever bar with a Dutch theme, will open in the East Village in New York City.

Vandaag will serve Dutch snacks and food such as bitterballen and hete bliksem and will carry a large selection of genever cocktails and other drinks.

Dutch-inspired dishes
'Vandaag' is a Dutch word that means 'today'. Manager Brendan Spiro describes this a reference to the seasonality of the ingredients that are used on the menu.

Mr Spiro: "Nothing is fully traditional Dutch, but the food is inspired by Dutch and Danish dishes using a profile of locally sourced ingredients." An example of this is the burger, which is modeled after the Dutch slavink. Other Dutch items on the menu include stroopwafels and Frisian suikerbrood.

Genever
Genever has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. In September 2008 Bols, a Dutch genever producer, launched a new a marketing campaign targeting bartenders across the USA to establish Bols as an innovator in cocktail-making and to promote the genever drink.

Robert Simonson, a wine and spirits journalist, wrote for the New York Times Diner's Journal about genever:

Genevers (also spelled jenever) — from which the English word “gin” derives — are often aged. They are typically headier, more malty and sweeter than London dry style gins. Mixologists have recently embraced genever as a style of gin closer to the ones used by their storied 19th-century predecessors like Jerry Thomas. At Vandaag, the genevers will be served chilled and in the traditional tulip-shaped glasses found in Amsterdam’s genever bars. Filled to the lip, one traditionally bends over the glass for the first sip before taking the drink in hand.

This is the first Dutch bar to open in New York City after the closure of Danku in January this year (see our list with all restaurants, bakeries and stores in the United States).

Vandaag
103 Second Avenue (Sixth Street), East Village
New York, NY

75th Annual Verboort Sausage & Kraut Dinner

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This weekend was the 75th edition of the annual Verboort Sausage & Kraut dinner in Verboort, Oregon, about 25 miles west of Portland.

The festival is an annual fund-raiser for the Catholic school. The main event is the beer garden style meal, where for $15 you get all-you-can-eat homemade sausage, sauerkraut (zuurkool) and other dishes such mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, lemon and apple pie. Besides the feast people line up early in the morning for a chance to buy sausage and sauerkraut in bulk. Sales start at 9.00 am but the line forms as early at 3.30 am.

The tradition started in 1934 when 198 lbs of sausage were served to 150 diners. This year about 15 tons of sausage and over 2,000 pounds of homemade kraut -- more than 50 barrels -- were served to thousands of diners. Due to unforeseen circumstances your local correspondent could not attend in person but next year we will sample the sauerkraut and sausage for you.

All the ingredients are produced in Verboort (except the meat for the sausage). The smoked sausage is prepared by tens of volunteers in Verboort and consists of a mix of beef, pork and a secret spice blend. Sauerkraut with sausage is a popular winter dish in the Netherlands and sauerkraut features in many Dutch dishes, for example stamppot zuurkool, boiled potatoes mashed together with raw sauerkraut.

Verboort
The small farming community of Verboort was established by six Catholic families who traveled from the Netherlands to De Pere, Wisconsin and settled in Oregon in 1875. In the same year, Father William Verboort transferred from the diocese of Milwaukee to the Archdiocese of Oregon City. Upon arrival Father Verboort and the community built an informal school and a church. In 1876, Father Verboort and his parents died of fever and the community was named Verboort that same year.

Verboort Annual Dinner, organized by the Visitation Catholic Church
4285 NW Visitation Rd, Forest Grove, OR
http://www.verboort.org/

Corine's Cafe: bitterballen, kroketten and appeltaart in North Carolina

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Corine's Cafe, Mooresville, NC.Last week we visited Corine's Cafe in Mooresville, North Carolina, one of nearly 40 Dutch restaurants, bakeries and stores in the United States that we know of.

Corine's Cafe is located in Mooresville about 30 minutes north of Charlotte, NC. A sign with big red letters marks the spot: 'homestyle cooking with a touch of Dutch'.

Owner Corine Croxell is a Dutch native and her husband Dennis works for a NASCAR team. The cafe captures the family spirit by featuring orange Dutch flags and NASCAR racing memorabilia. The classic American dining room is decorated with 1950's bar chairs and a black and white tiled floor and the cafe was used to create a TV commercial with Dale Earnhardt Jr., a NASCAR racer.

A touch of Dutch
The frontpage of the menu has a picture of classic Dutch windmill and Dutch items on the menu include bitterballen, kroketten, Dutch pancakes, Dutch apple pie and home-made stroopwafels.

The waitress gave us a friendly warning: "the bitterballen and the kroketten are pretty much the same thing". She was right of course, and it was nice to warn us, but we ordered both anyway. The bitterballen are home-made and delicious. They're filled with chicken, parsley and spices. While their crust was a bit thinner than the mass produced ones in the Netherlands, they had a really nice bite to it. Of special note is the mustard used. Corine's Cafe use exactly the right type of mustard for bitterballen and kroketten -- spicy and not too sweet.

Mrs. Croxell is a hands-on manager and starts her day very early bake and prepare for breakfast. "I always have to train the American cooks on how exactly to prepare a pannenkoek", she said. Her lessons paid off -- the pancake was excellent.

We tried the cheese and bacon version and the structure of the pancake was classical Dutch: fluffy, with a great flavor and a little thinner than the American version. In the Netherlands pancakes are served in many different styles and flavors. While using fried bacon instead of smoked spek is definitely American it works out nicely and this is a true Dutch-American pancake.

Corine's Cafe, Mooresville, NC.Mrs. Croxell worked in a pancake house in the Netherlands. She has worked in restaurants from an early age and in August 2005 she started Corine's Cafe. Through the years she has brought many Dutch items from Holland to North Carolina to decorate the cafe; even the pen-holder at the register is a wooden shoe. Mrs. Croxell grew up in Waterland, a municipality just north of Amsterdam, and in the hallway there are a number of photographs of Marken and Monnickendam.

Corine's Cafe is a casual eatery with 225 seats and Mrs. Croxell said they are frequently full. Breakfast is especially popular. They have a lot of regular guests. The Dutch snacks are popular for lunch, for example the kroketten with French fries. The kroketten are also home-made and except for the size and shape are very similar to the bitterballen, as is the case in the Netherlands.

Dutch desserts
The stroopwafels, made one-by-one by Mrs. Croxell in a small waffle iron, are a real treat. They are different from store bought stroopwafels (a little crispier) and remind of the freshly baked stroopwafels on the markets in the Netherlands.

Finally, the apple pie is as Dutch as it gets -- this is the real thing. For a real 'Dutch treat' we had it heated up with a scoop of whip cream on top.

Corine's Cafe is definitely worth a visit. For a real European experience you could combine a visit with a trip to the Ikea a few miles away.

Corine's Cafe
559 E. Plaza Drive
Mooresville, NC
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