vrijdag 29 november 2013

Vork en Mes - low food miles restaurant in Hoofdorp, mostly veggie food and not expensive.

Vork en Mes
Paviljoenlaan 1
Tel 023 5572963

My husband had his birthday yesterday and I wanted to surprise him with a slightly different lunch. We have three small children and don't get out that often!  I am vegetarian and he isn't, but he likes vegetaraian food. Where we are in Breda there is no veggie restaurant unfortunately, so when i heard the follwing chef on the radio, my ears pricked up.

I few weeks ago I was listening to Radio 1 in the car and heard a really interesting interview with Jon Karpathios, the owner of a restaurant in Hoofdorp.

Now,  that isn't that spectacular in itself but I was heartened and interested in his thoughts regarding locally grown food and knowing where your meat is coming from - and being in touch with nature by eating only what is in season. 

We are all so used to seeing strawberries all year round, seeing our demand for all year veggies fulfilled by faraway places such as Peru or Kenya. I am never too sure whether that is good or not but what I do know is flying all those veggies around the world creates a large contribution surely to the increase in CO2.

It has to be better to eat locally, thinking of our food miles and keeping in touch with the seasons. 

The menu is dictated by what is available in their gardens at the time. And they also work with local farms to provide their meat. 

The drive to the restaurant in straightforward - not far from Haarlem and not far at all from the motorway. The drive down a what looks like derelict plot only adds to the surpise as you appear in a carpark next to a lake and a park. The restaurant building is on the river and it has a wrap-around terrave where children and even your dog will be happy in the drier days. 

We were welcomed, they were expecting us and we were given the menu. What an exciting list of winter vegetables! Joeri and I chose a few smaller dishes to share. We only had the vegetable dishes and there were actually only a few meat dishes. Also some pasta dishes but I was interested in what they were going to do with the veggies. 

WOW! How can anyone make just vegetables taste so good? We were not disappointed at all, one dish was a beautiful mixture of winter veggies: beatroot, parsnips, carrots - just delicious! 

 We had:
Seizoensgroenten op verschillende manieren bereid, hangop met olijven en walnoten poeder
Tarte Tatin van ui met groene kool en komijnekaas
Brioche crouton met paddestoelen, uienjam en noten 

The three dishes were enough for a lunch, but we of course followed the meal off with a desert: Joeri had awhite chocolate pannacotta, grapesoup and chocolate mousse and I had carrot cake with walnuts, yoghurt icecream and caramel sauce.

We finished off with a coffee and left very happy. I even received an email the day after asking if I had enjoyed my visit and if I had any further ideas to improve. How many restaurants do that?

We had a lovely lunch, and I can imagine it is also a great place for dinner. Well done to Jon Karpathios whose concept is badly needed - we do need to think about where I food is coming from, we do need to be closer to nature and eat in season and there is no need that any of this needs to be expensive. 

I also have the cookbook now, so we can practice at home. Although I doubt that we will get anywhere close to the fabulous tastes we had yesterday.

donderdag 21 november 2013

You can tell a lot about people by the sort of rubbish they throw away...

I have just dropped my youngest one off at peuterspeelzaal (playschool). Over the last few days more and more boxes have been accumulating around certain houses. 

Sofie and I walk past them today - today must be pick up day because there are mountains of boxes and other stuff outside of some people's houses.

I am not uber green: I wish I could do more: I want to insulate our house because that is the first thing you should do - don't waste energy in the first place. We recycle, we re-use, we repair. 

I stupidly thought after hearing for years within Nottingham City Council about how fantastic the Dutch are at biking everywhere that they are too environmentally minded. But I am slowly seeing that Dutch society is not that green.

One indication: I am walking past houses and looking enviously at their rubbish. Almost all of it could be used again by someone with a screwdriver or someone that has little money or doesn't mind re-using. 

I see a pink balance bike; I see the biggest box of coloured wooden bricks that I have ever seen; I see 6 black plastic garden chairs (OK, not that fashionable but if you have no garden chairs at all, they are better than nothing!), two lovely tapestry cushions, boxes of shoes, chest of drawers, boxes of books!! All scattered around different houses: so it wasn;t just one thoughtless family: it was all of them. 

There were obviously items waiting to be collected that couldn't be repaired so I have less problem seeing them go to our district heating, removing what metal that can be recycled and then burning the rest to provide heat for a good part of Breda. 

I moaned about it to the husband when I got back. He was unusually still home at 9am. He stated that don't be silly, they come round with a wagon and take what can be recycled or re-used first. No, they do not. I have seen this massacre happening before.

The same bin lorry that takes our weekly recycling and household rubbish away comes down the street ( or one very similar) and takes the 'rubbish'away. The staff will pick up each of those items -re-usable, repairable or not - and will throw each one of them into the crusher where they will be crushed. 

This is not only a waste of money but also adding to the unneccessary pile of rubbish and creaping carbon footprint of all of us.Each thing that could be re-used or recycled that is thrown away, means that those are then not available for someone else or to be made into something else - which inevitably leads to more resource use. 

So along with not doing enough to reduce energy waste/use here in our area (it may be the same elsewhere in the Netherlands), the local council seems not to be doing anything about encouraging re-use or discouraging throwing away reusable goods. The service to pick up items from your house is free, regardless of what you are throwing away.

Happily at least I walked past some of those houses to pick my daughter up; the balance bike was gone, as were the tapestry cushions: someone was doing a little bit of re-using of their own it seems, well done!

woensdag 20 november 2013

Veggie Alternatives Review

I thought a review of the meat alternatives would be useful. This is the review of just sausage type foods from Albert Hein and Jumbo.

Albert Hein:

Vege hotdog type sausages:

Positive:  states to boil but I find they become huge, to I prefer to fry them for a few minutes. They are versatile. They can be eaten just as a sausage, or put in a tomato pasta sauce or in a bun. They are quite tasty and not spicy so can easily be eaten by my kids. 

Negative: there is a taste but they are not that tasty - but again, hotdogs aren't that flavoursome anyway, are they? If they become a staple in your weekly shopping, they can become boring after a while!

Albert Hein Bradworst: I also fry these sausages. 

Positive:They are thicker than the hotdog. I find that they have much more flavour than the hotdog, so better for me than for the kids. They are versatile but can more easily be eaten as just a sausage with potatoes or in your weekend morning fry-up! 

Negative: Their texture is a little strange, bit airy but the tatste is good. 

Jumbo - knakworst

Type of hotdog, they look like a hotdog and have a good texture. But they have a strong flavour and because of that, my children do not like them. i don't mind them but because of their strong flavour they are better eaten alone and not in a sauce as they can't accompany a sauce as well as the plain veggie hotdogs. 

Jumbo - frikandel: looks like a rough sausage! It isn't technically a sausage but sort of looks like one. The texture is more crumbly and it has a nice flavour, this is best eaten as its meat equivalent with chips! My kids don't like the texture but I do! Nice for occassionallly making frites-night more interesting. 


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