A Meal Fit for a Queen, by Lauren
Queensday in Holland is one of the biggest and most celebrated holidays in the year. It’s the celebration of the Queen’s birthday and Amsterdammers take to the streets in Orange clothes, accessories, costumes, boats, decorations, etc. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. People put out their wares on the streets to sell, mark up bottles of water to 2.50 euro, sell a trip to the toilet for a euro, creating the world’s largest car boot sale and freemarket. Vondelpark turns into a kids theatre while the canals turn into a techno party lined with boats. Music thumps, people dance, booze flows freely. It’s just a huge party flowing throughout the city.
In anticipation of this Orange Fiesta, we held a special Queen’s day Getto-gether. The challenge in honor of this day was A Meal Fit for a Queen. (If you don’t know about these Ghetto-gethers, you can read about the last one HERE). Our amazing hosts for this feast were Harini Gokul and Eric Jewett who have the blog Living on a Canal documenting their adventures in Holland. Well their canal house was the perfect setting for a Queens day Ghetto-gether as the Keizergracht is one of the main canals that all the orange decorates boats float by. We embellished their home with orange flags, wore orange crowns and boas, and drank mimosas. It was a truly orange festive affair fit for a Queen.
When I came up with this idea, I was all set to expand my culinary skills into dessert making (which I usually avoid like the plague) and make an Apple Tart. It’s a dessert fit for a queen as Apple Pie is one of this countries most widely eaten desserts, but also has the classic American connotations to it as being All American and if we had royals in the US, surely they would eat that. But then my idea was derailed, as strangely, everyone at this particular Ghetto-gether wanted to make desserts, which never happens! So I had to switch to a plan B. We were short of savory main dishes and appetizers so I decided to do one of each. Remembering what a hit my slow cooked ribs had been with Chris and PJ, I decided to make those as a tribute to the royalty of the south – The King of Rock and Roll – Elvis! Elvis is from Memphis which is where my parents lived for 5 years and what I loved most about visiting them was eating BBQ. Memphis BBQ is all about the dry rub, so I made my own dry rub, smeared it all over the ribs, baked them in the oven for 15 minutes then put them in the slow cooker with some homemade Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce for 8hrs. (Click HERE for Recipe). Then since I’m now living in Holland I decided to pay a little homage to one of their most adored vegetables – witloaf. We in the US call it endive, and in the UK it’s often called chickory. But you can’t just serve endive to a Queen! It needs to be a special endive dish, so I carmelized the endive, then melted guyere over it, and added homemade breadcrumbs for a toasty top.
But what about everyone else? What was their interpretation of the theme? Well, I thought everyone really stepped up the game for this theme. It’s been the first time that guests paired wine with their dish, which really added to the classiness of the party! There were a few champagne inspired dishes such as Maria & Joseph’s Champagne risotto with an incredible story relating Champagne and Asparagus and the rice being used all related to a King and Queen. Jason from Jasonslovefood, whose first permanent restaurant is opening in June, made an awe-inspiring bejeweled Jumbo Prawns poached in champagne with lime duck egg sabyon, pomegranate syrup and a cucumber micro cress that was absolutely as good as it looked. And our host Harini did a refreshing play on scroppino with champagne and sherbert.
Aside from Champagne, a few people played off Asparagus being the Queen’s vegetable. Cecily who reviews restaurants around Amsterdam for her blog, Eat Amsterdam made a delicious Asparagus and Goat cheese Terrine while Karen and Herman brought White Asparagus eaten the traditional Dutch way with Ham, egg, potato and salmon. Cathy took royalty to a new level with Oysters in Puff Pastry while Virtti and Kedar took it back to their roots with a unique royal twist with an standout Biryini with a lamb meatballs filled with a quail egg surprise.
We had also had deserts that spanned the globe as a tribute to Queens with Olive from The Bees Knees Kitchen serving decadent Olive Oil cake with Mandarin Oranges to Pamela’s Fillipino Ginataang Halo Halo which is composed of sweet potatoes, purple yams, jackfruit, taro, tapioca pearls, glutinous rice balls and coconut cream, while Virtti and Kedar created an amazing Indian desert with carrots and edible silver leaves. And Grace and Pier brought it all back home with chocolate lava cakes paired with Heaven on Earth Dessert wine. If that’s not fit for a queen I’m not sure what is!
Pictures of Everyone’s Dishes!
Carmelized Endive with Guyere from Ottolenghi’s Plenty Cookbook:
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