Flying ant powder


If you visit restaurant Pujol in Mexico City, like I did last month, you go there expecting two dishes: The four year old mole and the baby corn dusted with chicatana powder. Chicatanas are a type of flying ant that are harvested in Oaxaca for only a few days a year. Chef Olvera serves them ground up and mixed in with mayonnaise to serve as a coating for the baby corn.

My fear factor is very low for an insect dish. That is simply because I knew they ants would be ground up and unrecognizable, and also because I trust this famed chef. The corn was super soft and tender, and had a beautiful taste with the sauce, a definite highlight of the meal. The ants, as suspected were hard, if not impossible to distinguish. I couldn’t taste anything, and I could barely see anything safe for a few lonely specks of black.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 8


Four year old mole sauce


Sometimes you have to give yourself what you want, even if it’s a little costly. I had been wanting to dine at restaurant Pujol in Mexico City when I was there. Dish after dish arrived at my table and right after the main course was served came the chef’s signature mole dish.

Mole is a sauce often used to smother chicken in. It has loads of ingredients such as chilies, but may also include chocolate, which is unusual enough in its own right. This one was even more unusual because it was over 4 years old, 1502 days to be exact. The chef doesn’t clean out the pot after a day’s service, but uses the leftovers the next day to make more.

The sauce was served in combination with a fresh mole made on the day to highlight the difference, just the sauce and a tortilla for dipping. The old mole was simply incredible. Like an aged pouilly de fume wine, with all kinds of notes and undertones, especially smoky ones. The new mole in comparison was more like a Beaujolais.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 9

Coriander sorbet


A lot has been said already on my blog about savory sweets and desserts, especially those including salt or bacon. This trend has extended in the culinary world to using herbs and spices in desserts. This was especially evident in a pineapple and coriander dessert I had recently at Pujol, a restaurant which ranks among the top 20 in the world.

The dish consisted of two main components, a 16 hour roasted chunk of pineapple and a coriander sorbet. There was also some caramel and crystalized coriander for garnish. It was a match made in heaven. The sorbet was sweet from the sugar, and though it definitely tasted of coriander, it wasn’t savory. The pineapple was super tender, yet still maintained a bite. What a wonderful combination the two made. No wonder Pujol is so highly rated.

Fear Factor 2 / Taste Test – 9


Guava Juice


I don’t think I’ve ever eaten guava before, though I might have inadvertently had some in a tropical fruit salad. I guess that’s a future blog entry in the making. I have, however just finished a big can of guava juice from the import section of the supermarket.

For some reason I was expecting it to be sour, but it definitely wasn’t that. If anything it was sweet, but I had this odd feeling of picking up some meatiness. I know that might sound odd, but I have the same feelings about papaya. Therefore I’m going to make the assumption that a guava is similar to papaya. I guess I’ll have to try the actual fruit in order to find out. To be continued.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6


18 course dinner


I like throwing outrageous dinner parties every now and then. Once or twice a year I go for a multi course meal. I’ve done 13 and 14 course dinners based on the favors and cuisines of Italy, Spain and Holland. On New Year’s Day I prepared a lavish 18 course dinner to ring in the year 2018. All of this was inspired by the food of Japan. Some things didn’t work out that well, but in general the night was a huge success. It only took six hours to eat. Here’s the menu:


1 – Plum wine champagne cocktail with gold flakes & raw oyster with wasabi granita, ponzu and sushi ginger
2 – Tofu style buffalo mozzarella & truffled edamame & squid ink fried chicken
3 – Soy cured salmon tartare, wasabi avocado mousse, nori powder & crispy rice noodles
4 – Truffle oil and shii take chawanmushi
5 – Raw scallop, pickled daikon & salmon roe in miso broth
6 – Tuna tataki with wakame salad and truffle ponzu dressing on lotus crisp
7 – Monkfish liver dumpling with miso caramel & soy cured egg yolk
8 – Green tea soba with uni sauce & salmon roe
9 – Sake and saffron steamed clams & soy bean seaweed bread
10 – Lobster champagne tempura with saffron aioli
11 – Grilled eel & saffron rice bowl with raw quail egg
12 – Iberico pork tonkatsu slider on rice bun with curry sauce and cabbage slaw & okonomiyaki style sweet potato fries
13 – Wagyu steak with red wine soy sauce & truffled potato salad & miso glazed baby carrots & foie gras croquette
14 – Plum win and champagne shaved ice
15 – Yakult panna cotta with sakura flower in champagne jelly layer with soy bean cherry blossom cookie
16 – Green tea brownie with pickled plum ice-cream, crispy ginger, black sesame soy bean crumble on rice wine strawberry coulis
17 – Gold leaf luwak coffee mochi, fried banana, miso caramel & soy bean powder popcorn
18 – Green tea latte with green tea pop rocks, sushi ginger & shishimi truffles

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8



Foie gras ice cream


imageI recently had to go on a business trip to Shanghai, and that’s always a great opportunity for me to let my inner foodie loose. There are so many great restaurants both western and Chinese, and I managed to visit a few that were still on my to-do-list. There was one though I had been to before, but I just had to go back to .

Pree is the custom made ice-cream parlor where I previously tried truffle and Sichuan pepper ice-cream. I was in luck as this time around there were a few new flavors to try out. One of the more unusual ones that caught my attention was a foie gras gras and fig flavored one. Now I was pretty sure that foie and fig would make a great combination, but as a desert?

It turned out to be one of the best ice-cream I have ever had the pleasure of eating. As before the texture was divine, smooth and creamy. On first bite a big hit of alcohol warmed my whole inside. It was a sweet, raisin-like alcohol such as perhaps sherry or brandy. Foie gras mousse is often prepared with a fortified alcohol, so that does make sense. The fresh fig and the fig syrup added to the sweet profile, but where was the foe gras? Honestly I would never have guessed it was foie had I not known, even though there was an ever so slight savory undertone. Did I mind that? Not at all. It was still one of the best ice-creams of my life, and trust me I eat a lot of ice-cream in a year.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 9


Three Michelin starred meal


By reading this blog you should probably know that I like food. I like it a lot actually. I’m not picky either. I can enjoy street food just as much as a big fancy dinner. I’ve had the pleasure of having eaten at a handful of Michelin starred restaurants in The Netherlands and London, as well as some Bib Gourmand awarded restaurant across Europe. I have even been to a two Michelin starred restaurant not far from my parents’ house. I had not, however, been to a three starred restaurant. Those are usually just a bit outside my budget.

I was extremely excited when I found a three Michelin starred restaurant in Kyoto that serves lunch for as little as 45 dollars. The name of the place is Kikunoi. You might have even seen it on TV when David Change went for a visit. For lunch they served a bento box filled with small portion of little gems. It also comes with an appetizer, in my case chestnut tofu, a soup, a bowl of rice and some pickles.

As expected, I was blown away by the presentation and details of the food. Every item on the menu was fresh, seasonal and expertly cut. This chef showed some real knife skills. I was astounded at how pure and fresh everything tasted. In one single bite, you could easily pick up three f four distinct different flavors. I was not, unfortunately, blown away completely. For a three-starred meal you expect all the bells and whistles. You expect to eat something you couldn’t even imagine in your dreams. Instead this restaurant served a much more traditional meal. Very, very, very well done, but traditional none the less.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8


Green tea cocktail


At Cobra Lily in Shanghai, where I had the Chinese cheese starter, I also went for a slightly unusual cocktail. It was happy hour after all. This cocktail was a Japanese inspired affair with green tea syrup, midori – a Japanese melon liquor, and lots of gin. The cocktail was beautifully presented in an ice-cold cup along with a traditional bamboo green tea whisk.

The drink was covered by a thick layer of beaten egg white, very much like an Italian meringue. When eaten on its own it was just like eating meringue, but when mixed in with the rest it simply gave the drink a creamy texture. The taste wasn’t actually overly bitter from the green tea, neither did I taste much melon. It could really have been any gin based drink in there. I did love the presentation though.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test 8


Chinese cheese


It is a common myth that there is no such thing as Chinese cheese. Now, it’s definitely true that the Chinese don’t traditionally eat cheese. Even nowadays with the influx of western culture, they hardly touch this tasty substance. It actually makes sense if you think about it. People by nature are lactose intolerant. We only started eating cheese in Europe due to a lack of protein.

It is not true, however, that there is absolutely no cheese whatsoever. Some nomadic people on the outskirts of the country have so little produce that they need to maximize every food source they can. Some tribes in Inner Mongolia make a kind of rock hard candy out of milk that is dubbed as cheese, but there is one tribe in the southern province of Yunnan makes a “real” cheese out of goat’s milk called “rubing”.

It is a little like feta in the sense that is soft, yet doesn’t melt. It has a mild milky flavor just like mozzarella. I visited Yunnan before, and had it served almost like a caprese salad, along with some fresh tomato. On a recent trip to Shanghai I visited restaurant Cobra Lily where I had a starter of grilled rubing, served with a salad of mint and pomegranate. It was a great combination, that somehow reminded me of a Thai dish called “larb”.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 9


Curry leaf tempura


Last year I visited Colombo in Sri Lanka, and I had to visit a Japanese restaurant. Don’t worry I had plenty of local food and rice and curries, but this particular place made it to the top 50 best restaurants in Asia, and that made me curious. It turned out that “Nihonbashi” was indeed a great restaurant, and I still consider it among the best restaurants I have ever eaten at.

My partner and I ordered a wide array of smaller dishes to share including, of course, sushi and sashimi, but there were also a few more unusual items on the menu. One of those was a curry leaf tempura. Curry leaves are native to Sri Lanka and are an essential ingredient in making curries. Hence the name. Obviously.

Curry leaves are often sold dried, as they turn  bad quickly, but at Nihonbashi fresh leaves were used. They were served with a very light, but very crispy tempura batter. To be perfectly honest, I don’t recall any distinct flavors from the leaves. Perhaps the frying had dulled them down, or maybe they just aren’t very strong to begin with. I did find that the crackle of the tempura coating gave a wonderful texture, and made this a perfect snack to munch on.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 7