If there’s one place I’d love to huddle up PERMANENTLY this cool cloudy festive season, it’s Vinkers Waffles at DIP. Completely on the other end of the world compared to my usual Karamas and Deiras of the city, but since it’s end of the year, I’m allowed a little poshy luxury.
Though posh is really not the right word for Vinkers. In fact it’s super tiny and somemight say even cramped, but every little inch of it feels quaint, cozy, homely, full of character, and...very orange.
And they make stroopwafels. You know the Dutch syrup waffles that you heat up until they’re all chewy and melty and oozing from the belly with rich viscous caramel?? Yep, they make them. FRESH.
So here’s a trick I learned from the foodie soul mate who introduced stroopwafels to me by lugging them all the way from Amsterdam to New York City a few years ago: ‘lid’ your coffee or hot chocolate with the stroopwafel so that the caramel innards melt up and get all gooey. I tried it, but the situation turned out to be anticlimactic because my hot chocolate wasn’t scorching enough to make the inner caramel gush out as liquidy lava. But the stroopwafels were still incredibly good, and one of the owners, Nathalie, was kind enough to give us an extra stroopwafel free because she didn't feel like the one we ordered would suffice for the four of us. Great call Nathalie, you were spot on right. You've won my tummy-heart.
(I was so obsessed with these waffles that I wrote about them twice in the same week. Here's The National article where I professed my love for stroopwafels.)
We also ordered turkey ham and egg on this angelically thin disc of a pancake.
The whole construction of the dish, the tender strips of turkey, the sheer sheets of omelette, both arranged in a carousel around the papery veil of a pancake...all of it was very delicate, almost ephemeral. To the point where I’d need to have one all to myself because splitting it four-ways (albeit with very special friends) meant that it was gone before I could pinpoint the taste. That said, while I was wishing there was more to barbarically gorge on, my other three, infinitely less gluttonous friends around the table absolutely loved the subtlety of the dish.
Now here was something that totally took me by surprise. The very unappetizing sounding Bitterbal (com’on, let your imagination stoop reeeeeaaaal low. There are no implications now, Santa’s already left you what he had to under the tree.)
The breaded meatballs broke apart to reveal a wonderfully flavoured paste of slow-cooked meat. It was the consistency of melted cheese, but with the savoury character of herbs and meat and butter, all melded together to give one smooth perfectly harmonious taste. The bitterbal didn’t require a dip at all—mustard or any other sort of condiment would totally overpower the subtle pasty insides. I won’t lie that I nearly fell apart at the price for 6 tiny meatballs (a price that I can’t remember now for the life of me)—but when Nathalie emerged from the kitchens and explained the art of slow-cooked labour behind the dish, my price alarms hushed down. This was her mother’s recipe, and I could see the passion for authenticity in her eyes. Which is not always enough to convince me about the price of a dish, but with these mushy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, perfectly seasoned globes of the deep-fryer universe on my plate, I was hard-pressed to whine longer than a minute or two.
And honestly, how cutely patriotic are those mini Netherlands flags poking out of the bitterbal?! CUUUTE.
Say hello to a very white and snowy plate of Poffertjes—mini pancakes—dusted with powdered sugar and hoisting more cutsey toothpick flags. (The next time I'm at a potluck dinner and I like a dish so much that I want it all to my greedy self, I'm going to pull out Frying Pan flags and just spear the dish all over with them. MINE. CONQUERED. HANDS OFF. (and of course, everyone will fall in line because no one, I mean no one, dare contests the territorial claim staked out by baby toothpick flags.)
(Okay I'm done talking about the flags. I promise.)
I’ve tried these babies at Global Village last year, and I have to say that adding a few dollops of Nutella can make this dish go from mmm… to HOLYCOWTHISISGOOD. Nutella makes everything better, so make sure you get Vinkers Waffles to throw that on there it is offered as an option on the menu.
And then, one of my all-time favourites executed oh so perfectly, was the home-made Apple Pie. Plump, bursting with cinnamon and raisins, and with a crust that was as rich and crumbly as shortbread.
There was a mamma’s touch to this pie, and I can gladly say that I polished off the plate after everyone else had put their forks down in overstuffed defeat and resignation. I can only imagine that vanilla ice cream melting through the warm crevices of the pie could make a sane foodie go wildly out of control—but thankfully, we didn’t have a chance to test that theory out on this pie. Something to test out on my next trip.
Cheese Fondue and grilled cheese Tosti’s are on the plan for that next trip too. As is the Dutch breakfast, with so many exotic words that it wins points just for sounding cool and different. I mean, how many restaurants in Dubai offer breakfast with Uitsmijter, Hagelslag, Applestroop and Ontbijkoek?! Really, how can anyone ordering an Ontbijkoek be anything BUT cool. The day I eat it, I’m going to get bragging rights for weeks on end. Oh yeah, so my latest addiction is Ontbijkoek, so dang good! or alternatively, I predict that the 2013 big foodie trend will 'out with the cupcakes, in with the Ontbijkoek'. [and leave it like that, as though EVERYONE in the world knows what an Ontbijkoek is and anyone who were to ask you what it means must be terribly ignorant. And so everyone walks away being like, wow, she really knows her exotic European foods. I want to be her.]
I’ll give it to Vinkers Waffles. They’ve managed to create something with character. Something that feels authentic and personal. The small, focused menu feels well-thought out. This wasn’t just a recipe dump of every possible food item one could make a profit on, nor was it a compromise between explorers looking for authentic Dutch eats and scaredy cats who run away when you throw bitterbal in their plates. Here’s to hoping that 2013 witnesses the birth of many more such food ventures that support off-the-beaten path food experiences, and that teach people about a unique and authentic set of ethnic specialties.
Folks, here’s where I’m supposed to get really sentimental about all the support and love and everything else you guys have graciously given this blog. Seriously, you guys are awesome. It takes a whole other genre of people to actually get my thoughts flying on the keyboard after a mind-clogging meal, and that genre of people is YOU. But I suck at getting soppy, so I’ll say a simple but very meaningful Thank You for being a reader in 2012, wish each of you a scrumptious festive season and New Year’s, and as always. leave it to my food photos to share some foodie lovin', from me to you.
Phone: +971 (4) 282-3464
Location: Next to the Marriot Courtyard Hotel in Dubai Investment Park