I will say this right from the off. Sidney Schutte is a genius. Anyone who can deliver a 2 Michelin Star service from a tiny galley on a moving canal boat deserves every bit of credit there is. This is not to say of course, that Sidney is any less gifted in his kitchen at Librije’s Zusje his 2 Michelin star restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, because frankly that goes without saying.
This was, to say the least, something of a treat. The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam offers all its guests the opportunity of a private canal tour on a beautifully restored 1930 era boat, but to have Sidney on board serving me some gourmet snacks was an added bonus.
It was of course just the curtain raiser to the main event later that evening in Librije’s Zusje, tucked away in the basement of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam’s stunning property; six antique patrician houses holding hands along the UNESCO protected Herengracht or Gentlemen’s Canal.
Everything about this stunning hotel is steeped in style and historic charm and pre-dinner drinks in the Vault Bar was no exception. Once the former vault of a bank for wealthy locals, the original metal lockers still in evidence, it’s a cosy space where master mixologist Wilson weaved his magical cocktail spells and I was admittedly a very willing participant. In fact I was pretty proud of my own magical spells in making his cocktail disappear without a trace!
The main event beckoned, and walking in to the dining room of Librije’s Zusje evoked an air of gastronomic expectancy; pristine tablecloths, gleaming glassware and comfy yellow leather chairs. I was in for the long haul; a seven course chef’s menu with paired wine flights. Schutte has a reputation for combining fresh seasonal products with Asian influences from his many years in Hong Kong to produce “flavour bombs” and I was more than up for the challenge.
With a stellar couple of opening dishes which included Perle caviar with croutons, coffee, hazelenut and Oyster followed by mackerel, beetroot, smoked haddock liver and bay leaves, I was intrigued how wine waiter Flores would cope with such an array of flavours.
“it’s a true grape journey” he said “I spent a lot of time with Sidney testing and retesting wines until we were satisfied we’d found the right pairings”
“With that much research, I want to make sure I put it to good use” I replied “do I eat first and sip, or sip first and eat?”
Flores’ reply was infinitely wiser than my question.
“The wine always chases the food, never the other way around.”
So I was all ears when Flores prescribed the 2015 Verdicchio for the caviar and the 2014 Riesling for the mackerel both making each dish a delightful combination which worked perfectly for me.
Schutte’s food is nothing short of art on a plate. And in many cases on pieces of wood, or various other natural platter forms. The mackerel dish in particular was memorable; a thin slice of mackerel itself shaped into the visage of a fish surrounding the beetroot, sesame and liver innards.
Another course, another canvas.
Mieral Duck with orange, kombu (Japanese seaweed) duck tongue and capers. Sensory layers of flavours and colour, deliciously inventive and matched to perfection by a 2014 Syrah.
By now my taste buds had given up on trying to decipher what was from where, and simply decided to let me enjoy the journey.
Crispy egg crepe was next half rolled up in a Pedro Ximinez sherry base with tofu and shitake washed down with a 2014 Pedro Ximinez of course.
The final flourish presented a small delicate taco containing sweet corn, popcorn, butter jalapeno and lime. A perfect way to end a spectacular culinary feast. Given the style and elegance of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, you should by rights, expect nothing less. Yet, this was even by Waldorf Astoria standards an extraordinary experience on every level.
In a land famous for producing masterpieces, I’m pretty sure even Rembrandt and Van Gogh would have lined up and paid good money to experience Sidney Schutte’s particular works of art.
Tell me more about Librije’s Zusje
Chef’s menu €136 matching wines €75
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