In the Dutch capital I was fortunate enough to be coupled with the much-admired (by me and everyone else) Claudia Roden who's Book of Jewish Food just got a brand new Dutch edition. We gave a cookery demonstration and a talk at the Uilenburger synagogue and then had dinner at Toscanini, my favourite Amsterdam restaurant ever since I lived there in the mid 90’s. From all the marvellous dishes the lamb’s tongue with quail egg was the one I can’t let go of.
The next day Claudia and I signed books. I had to get out quickly, though, to have the famous herring sandwich sold in small stands along the canals. This was an everyday affair for me in the old days and it was (almost) as heavenly as I had remembered.
A man on a mission, I also had to taste the famous Dutch prawn croquettes from Holtkamp, probably the best bakery in Amsterdam. I was so determined to have them I got the book shop owner to call Holtkamp and reserve some for me. What can I say? I am obsessive. I got there, breathless, at 5-to-closing-time and received a perfectly packed bag with two boxes full of croquettes. As I was leaving the sales’ assistant, clearing down, just reminded me to “defrost them for five hours before you fry them”. My heart sank with agony: how, where and when. Reluctantly, very (!), I had to give the treasure to my Michael and Peter, living in Amsterdam, who sent me this the next morning:
Well, I was on my way to New York, which was some kind of consolation, but the pent-up frustration (plane food was bad, really bad) made me grab Noga, one of my oldest friends, as soon as I arrived and take her to momofuku ssam bar and milk bar next door for David Chang’s famous pork buns and cornflakes milk. Only after wiping my mouth with glee I was truly over the croquette trauma.
The next day I was on the Martha Stewart show cooking garlic tart and couscous live, in front of an audience. I was terrified to start with but the combination of American professionalism (nothing is left to chance, though I did manage to forget the onion in the couscous), Martha’s composure and having Noga and Tamar there turned this into some kind of fun/funny reunion.
Next on the agenda for the day was a book signing at
Williams Sonoma and terrific sushi at Takahachi in the East Village with Jeffrey and Thomas. Sake hangover the following morning felt like some kind of punishment, not sure what for. Perhaps greed?
On Tuesday I cooked aubergine at Bon Appetit and made sure my American publisher didn’t feel they brought me out here for nothing but the absolute highlight was dinner at Torrisi (Food? again?) with warm home-made mozzarella and a pork salad with radicchio and a few mysterious ingredients. My friend Keren was half asleep, I was full and also completely exhausted, but we were both grinning with silly joy when leaving the restaurant.
Just before flying back, I managed to squeeze in vegetable shopping at Union square market, followed by a couple of hours with NY Times journalist cooking Swiss chard cakes at her funky Brooklyn apartment before heading back to a very sunny London.