In addition to the freelance food, I had another distinctly Amsterdammy dining experience near the end of my trip, at a restaurant with an extremely limited menu. Lots of restaurants in Amsterdam serve just one thing each night, and you either like it or you don’t (though there’s usually a vegetarian option too). I hate the tyranny of choice, so I love these restaurants. All you control freaks out there: I can’t tell you how nice it is to sit back and just say, “Bring it.”
This particular restaurant was called CousCous Club, and it serves…couscous. Three kinds–with veg, with veg and a little meat, and with veg and a lot of meat. There are three kinds of dessert too. Two wines–red or white. Oh, and three cocktails–a touch that seems positively decadent. The couscous was good and cheap, and our server was extremely sweet, which doesn’t happen very often in Amsterdam.
I ate at another set-menu restaurant, Marius, earlier in the trip. I remember enjoying it immensely, but because I also drank all the suggested wines (mmm, Saumur!), I don’t remember any of the details. Damn–I hate when I do that. But thanks to Chef Kees anyway, and to Rod and Lieselotte, who spotted me cash, even though I was supposed to be treating them. I hate when I do that too.
Speaking of distinctly Amsterdammy food situations, it was Amsterdam where I first got the idea for a supper club, in 2000, I think it was. I met someone who was going around to other people’s houses and cooking big Indonesian dinners for whoever showed, for a flat amount per head.
Took me another year to implement it back in NYC, in the form of Operation Roving Gastronome. Took me another year to realize I couldn’t make it a money-earning endeavor, even though the Indonesian woman somehow had–Amsterdam can be a little magic when it comes to money.
Then it was another couple of years later that I wound up falling into another supper club situation, as mine and Tamara’s dinners got out of control. And another couple of years till the book deal… And tonight I ate cold pizza for dinner. I need to get the Amsterdam creative spirit back.