Amsterdam is not the city of cliché. Vaassen is the one of De Leest

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“The world will not be destroyed by an atomic bomb, as the newspapers say, but by laughter, an excess of banality that will transform reality into a really bad joke”.

(Carlo Ruiz Zafon)

 

If there is one thing that I hate is banality.

Bonjour Monsieur La Palisse.

Therefore I hate being obvious. Making zero to zero. Judging by already heard sentences or thoughts. Anyway I think that you already know this characteristic of mine.

At least if you are a faithful reader of this blog.

I like to get to the core of things. To see them, live them, touch them. Get my hands dirty if necessary.

I love perspectives and points of view. Try to tell life differently. In these years, one of the sentences that made me reflect the most is the famous “Think different” by Steve Jobs .

That’s why I do not accept clichés. Because I do not like a priori judgments. I feel that describing people, nations and cities by putting them in categories is both stuck and useless.

Amsterdam, for example. It is enough to mention its name to provide our interlocutors with a specific idea: sin and perdition. Nothing could be further from reality.

Amsterdam is “that” city. But not just “that”.

Amsterdam is culture. Freedom. It is living according to your own rhythms and tolerating others. It is about a few rules but well defined. To be respected. It is also restaurants. At the highest levels.

Well, not really Amsterdam. Vaassen, to be precise. A small town just a few kilometers away from the capital, where De Leest is located, the restaurant of chef Jacob Jan Boerma.

The restaurant is located in a residential neighborhood, nice but not suitable for the concept of high level restaurant. It is inside a marvelous single house, which has a kitchen and a living room on the ground floor, while in the upper floor there are a couple of rooms where you can stay overnight.

At the entrance the hall appears wide, spacious and comfortable. There are about twelve tables that can accommodate a maximum of 40 diners. Nine people work in the kitchen next to the Boerma chef. Few are youngsters: not even the shadow of interns.

At a first glance the restaurant seems very friendly, very essential. 

I choose the Flora and Fauna menu: it includes 5 courses, four of them are listed and explained. The fifth,  the dessert, is a surprise.

I get poured in my glass an Italian water: the Sole. Two different types of wines are then recommended: a white Schouwen-D®uiveland Gris (good flavor, fresh on the palate, with tones full of fruit such as lychee, peach and pear); and a red wine: Forcollà , the most personal wine produced so far by Rafa Cambra . It comes from a vine of about fifty years old, the Forcallat represents a native variety, by now almost disappeared.

While he fills my glass, the sommelier tells me how Boerma, several years before, worked for the KLM airline, preparing dishes and courses for first class customers.

The amuse bouche, made of seven courses, is a triumph of colors: the dishes are beautiful and you can eat with your eyes before eating with your mouth.

They serve me a teaspoon with a gelée of aromatic herbs, which melts on the tongue. Really exciting. Then a macaroon with a tuna tartar, a small bowl filled with jellied tomato juice, meant to be eaten with a waffle that resembles a crown. The taste of a pizza Margherita explodes into my mouth. Proust would be proud of me …

Let’s move on to the main courses: Mackerel, cucumber and oyster, a sort of tartare made of Mackerel and Oysters; Langoustine, combava and carrot: a prawn served with a foam whose fragrance could be smelled from a long distance. Excellent also the Turbot, Morrels and champignons: a rhombus with mushrooms. Although the champignon is a very simple mushroom with a very easy preparation, the staff of De Leest manages to give it that touch of genius that makes every nuance of flavor very appreciable.

I end the menu with a pigeon’s breast: if you already are a follower of mine, you know how many I’ve tasted. The one of chef Boerma is not bad but maybe too rare. Almost raw.

The dessert, however, satisfies me from every point of view: it begins with a pre-dessert made with strawberries, strawberry mousse with pistachio and a very soft strawberries mousse strawberry shaped.

Then a mango and basil ice-cream, served on a marvelous dish, with apple juice, mint reduction and a meringue snake shaped. Very good. The chocolate and mascarpone dessert, on the other hand, leaves me confused. Better the chocolate and blueberry tart, with a reduction of sour cherries, blueberry sauce and vanilla ice cream . The coffee and hazelnut ice-cream is also interesting.

I don’t even have the time to come back from the toilets (luckily normal) that chef Boerma comes to see me at the table. He is nice, friendly and talks a lot. In forty minutes he tells me about his origins, his beginnings, his sacrifices, his goals, his staff. One of them surprises me: “Have you already been to the best three-star restaurant in Netherland?” He smiles. He is not talking about his, of course. But of De Librije, where I

will be a guest soon. I pop my eyes: I would have never expected such a great sportiness. Not in Italy, at least…

I leave the restaurant satisfied and on the notebook I mark the vote: three beards.

 

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