The annual Culiperslunch is an event where the Dutch culinary press is introduced to new food brands, where publishers present their new cookbook collections and where chefs show innovative skills and products. The lunch also serves as a vibrant meeting place for all culinary professionals in the Netherlands and thus provided me with much inspiration.
While this post is way too short to describe everything I experienced during this lunch last Monday, I will focus on the most interesting trends and products I encountered.
– Food boxes are in, that’s for sure. While the Dutch already successfully imported the concept of beauty boxes (based on American success Birchbox), the food box is a relative newcomer and seems to have won a steady place in the market pretty quickly. FoodWeLove surprises receivers with a wide and changing variety of high-end culinary products and inspiring ingredients. The idea is to really impress receivers with gourmet products that won’t be found in most other stores. HelloFresh delivers fresh, high quality ingredients to households to make healthy eating much more accessible for busy families and to simultaneously end the daily “what’s for dinner?”-debate.
– Sweet treats and olive oil form a perfect match. While you’d probably automatically reach for the butter when baking, it definitely worth considering olive oil for a change. Not only because of the oil’s known health benefits, but also because it gives an extra dimension to both taste and texture. During the lunch, I tasted cake made with olive oil and Jamaican pepper, and well-known pastry chef Hidde de Brabander treated us visitors to several luscious desserts with olive oil, like his delicious sweet macarons.
– In tough economic times, both consumers and culinary professionals welcome budget friendly alternatives that don’t compromise on quality or taste. Maybe that’s the reason for a new focus on plaice, an affordable (and sustainable) alternative to fish like cod. Or take molecular imitation caviar, that isn’t only a cheaper alternative to the endangered fish variety, but also delivers on taste.
– The Vegetarische Slager (Vegetarian Butcher) is a Dutch concept that’s been documented all over the world and has the support of well-respected chefs and journalist like Mark Bittman. Their vegetable meat and fish substitutes are almost identical to the original version and are high quality, tasty alternatives. The smoked eel salad I tasted is in my opinion not only similar to the “real thing”, but really a delicious product in itself. Creamy, with some gherkins for contrast and just the right amount of smokiness in the “eel”. The products show up in more and more supermarkets and I can wholeheartedly embrace the success of this concept.
– While the new cookbooks presented on the lunch showed a wide array of topics and cuisines, it seems the popularity of the Scandinavian cuisine in cookbooks definitely isn’t over yet. Expect Nordic diet books and Scandinavian thriller-authors-gone-cooking.
Also worth mentioning:
– the pitas from Nina Bakery: a delicious alternative to those dry, stale varieties and I definitely could see them as a trendy snack on festivals (especially with the current popularity of the Middle-Eastern cuisine, thanks to chefs like Ottolenghi).
– I’m personally more than happy to welcome the canned fish varieties from Bommels Conserven that leave most supermarket versions to shame and end my need to buy them abroad.
– the lunch made by caterer Madame Charlotte (below) featured the best of local ingredients, right to the bottle of Amsterdam tap water.