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June’s Pure Market in Den Haag

by on June 6, 2010
 

Let me be the first to caution you today: ‘Don’t believe everything you hear’. Go ahead, make an effort and find out the truth for yourself.

Take me for example: when I first moved to the Netherlands, many a joke was told of stodgy, farmer’s food – potatoes, meat and veg was the described staple and of course I looked no further. People spoke of the gastro delights of French neighbours and the sweet tooth of the Dutch. Of course, I laughed along, till I discovered my first Dutch cookbook (in English) and said to myself, not bad.

Since then, I’ve attended various foodie events in the Netherlands, stumbled upon amazing produce in markets from Leiden to the Hague and eaten out at many a fine restaurant (Michelin star ones included)!

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I’ll be honest, if it hadn’t been for Lisa, a foodie, who found me and shared the details for the event, I would have been none the wiser. And I would have missed out….a lot! Thank you Lisa, it was lovely to meet you and I’m looking forward to going on haunts and jaunts this summer!

IMG_7459 So, off I went, three kids hanging to my coat tails on what began as a sunny day…and ended up wet. As usual. If someone tells you about Dutch weather, ignore my opening sentence – believe them and prepare yourself for 4 seasons, on almost any given day! It didn’t deter us though, we had fun.

De Pure Market is new to the Hague, this being its second ‘show’ here. In Amsterdam though, its been on for a couple of years and happens every last Sunday of the month.

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The focus is on ambachtelijk &  lekker which translates from the Dutch as artisan & delicious – good quality, original and sometimes traditional.This market wasn’t particularly large, probably about 40 stalls selling produce from bread to sausages, baked goods and even pottery.

My first stop was at an amazing French stall, with beautiful bottles of sirop, jars of candied Vervieine (Lemon Verbana) and morels.

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Finally, I knew what Verveine equated to. See, I’ve seen the plant at Sligro a couple of times but couldn’t get the translation. Anyhow, today I learnt and if that was all I benefited of the day, it was well worth it. I bought some morels, which weren’t at all cheap but having had them recently at a Michelin star restaurant, with a white wine sauce and quail, I’ve been desperate to lay my hands on some. 60 grams cost me 50 cents shy of 30 euros!

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Oh well, they will be so worth it, I just know.

IMG_7420Moving on swiftly, one of my favourite stalls was the salt room, which was full of an astounding variety of salts, from the regular Maldon to Himalayan and Fleur de Sel.

IMG_7422My eyes were assaulted with flower salt and Sapphire salt from Iran and many more. In the end, I bought a small sack of Sel de Guérande – greyish coarse sea salt which the owner of the stall described as soft and tasting of the sea. For me, it will form the basis of making finishing salts which I’ve been longing to do since I made citrus salts.

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I bought some sausage from a wonderful stall, after sampling a few…too many.

IMG_7451All the sausages were French, sourced from the Auvergne region and the Alps. I am hoping to serve slivers with a butternut squash risotto tomorrow, with some of those morels. I’ll try to save you a photo. I tried…but I couldn’t.

We sampled some Berkshire sausages, seasoned Italian style with sun dried tomatoes and herbs.

IMG_7495We then proceeded to buy sarnies, served with Mayo and rocket on delicious sourdough bread. When it comes to sourdough, I’m not an enthusiast. This was different, it had the texture and the refined flavours of ‘aged’ yeast breads but none of the strong, pungent  ‘odour’ of sourdough at its worst (to me!) Which got me thinking that sourdough might not be a bad thing to experiment with. I’m hoping that before year end, I should have attempted at least one starter and one successful loaf – aim low and achieve is my motto.

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Of course, there was an abundance of baked goods. Cupcakes, sold on a hanging holder, round a young girls neck.

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Chocolate cakes, which daughter #1 devoured with mini jar after mini jar of raspberry sauce. And yes, I have promised to make her a jug load soon.

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I saw but didn’t try the rhubarb tiramisu, not because of the colour but because since I made tiramisu myself, at home…..none of the ones I’ve had at supposedly great Italian restaurants come close. So I left it well alone…..

IMG_7509I did sample a sliver of the orange cake, and brought some home for the husband. His verdict – ‘just there’.

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By far my favourite stall was the herb and flower shop. Almost every herb imaginable was present in pots – you had the various basils of this world and the sages and the thymes. I saw and bought borage and lemon verbana, to add to my lemon melisse and mint in my small herb garden.

IMG_7464There were wonderful shops with pies, olives and olive oils.

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I love the hanging boards, they remind me of chunks of beef being air-dried. Weird but true. I got some olives with orange and fennel, fruity and fragrant.

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The seller was obviously passionate about his produce. As were all the stall holders we came across. Apparently, he left his job as a chef to start his olive business. Talk about passion. And I say that because yes being a chef is hard work, but so is running your own business. Good on him, and on us I say, one day we will get to where we desire.

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It was a fun, wet and enlightening day – I came home laden with maple butter, some expensive but delicious courgette and bacon sourdough bread, pure olive oil and some jam. I have to say a big thank you to Lisa, ’cause not only did she introduce me to an array of new produce(rs), she also brought me some fantastic ebooks on food. I mean ,what are the chances of me making friends with a gourmet who is within a few kilometres radius….and whom I can actually see and spend time exploring with?

Take care and enjoy the start of another week. Love XXX

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