Get creative with wine, and make that famous Russian salad yourself

Crisis makes creative. Wine and food bar Paskamer in De Pijp tried to sell wine on the sidewalk when the bar had to close, but the pliesies didn’t like that. Selling wine indoors was also not good, but selling wine with food was allowed, so homemade risotto was added at cost price (2.50 euros). Also smart is the initiative of owner Wouter Aalst to deliver suitable wine, if his guests are at home anyway. The delivery sommelier brings the wine order on a cool cargo bike, after you previously passed on your menu via app or telephone. And yes, you can buy a nice bottle of wine anywhere in the city, but we like to get advice and support local operators. So we put it to the test, make a star dinner at home and ask for suitable wines.

You can buy a nice bottle of wine anywhere in the city, but we like to get advice and support local owners

At six o’clock in the evening the delivery sommelier rings the bell, it is the owner himself with two chilled wines. “I am out of the box So don’t be alarmed: a dry, white Bordeaux (Clos des Lunes 2017, Domaine de Chevalier, France) that goes well with the salmon terrine with asparagus and tarragon mayonnaise, your starter, and with your goat cheese dessert.”

We hadn’t come up with this ourselves, white Bordeaux is something from ‘long ago’ and it also comes from the Sauternes, a region that we mainly associate with dessert wine. “For your main course, venison steak with smoked potato mousseline and honey tomatoes, I chose a wine from the New World (Idiom 2011, Bottega Family, South Africa), but made by an Italian: a blend of syrah, mourvèdre and a drop of viognier. I came up with this because of that honey tomato.” For example, we chat for fifteen minutes about wines and dishes, it is an instructive mini-lecture and later turns out to be correct. The wine choice is spot on, we have learned something and we pay the retail price of 35 euros for the wines. “That can never work out, can it?” we ask. Aalst’s answer speaks volumes: “I want to keep busy, keep in touch with my guests with something that Paskamer is good at: finding the right wine with the food.”

Lille: eating without fuss

Speaking of wine. In Rotisserie Lille, the place where we always lovingly submit to the wine advice of the sommelier on duty, they have been working overtime in recent months. The takeaway and delivery dinners sold like hot cakes. Lille makes food without fuss: grilled chickens, creamy Russian salad, Breton fish soup, Provencal vegetables and chocolate mousse. And that is exactly what is on their temporary menu. The wine has also been thought of: the divine cabernet franc from Anjou or the white blend from Costières de Nîmes can be taken home for less than two tens a bottle.

Famous Russian salad

At home we have been making the famous Lille Russian salad for years, it is a simple dish with a lot of effect.

Put candied peel (or rib steak, about 2 ounces) in half a liter of water with a bay leaf, a peeled onion in pieces and a clove. You let this meat cook for two hours and remove it from the pan, cool and cut it finely.

Let the stock simmer until it has a syrupy consistency, you can stir this through the mixture later. Meanwhile, boil two eggs in boiling water for 8 minutes, shock them briefly and then cool.

Thaw 60 grams of peas from the freezer, they do not need to be cooked. Cut 60 grams of carrot and 60 grams of potato into small cubes (the size of peas) and cook both in a small layer of salted water until al dente.

Mix the meat with the vegetables and make it with mayonnaise with some mustard (make your own or good from a jar) and salt and pepper. Do not use too much mayonnaise: the salad should be so firm that the Russian salad does not collapse.

Form a round salad on the plates. Peel the eggs, cut them in half and place half an egg on each salad. Cover with mayonnaise diluted with a little water and sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with lettuce leaves, gherkins and silver onions.

There is no more homely food than this.

Reviewer and journalist Rock Possel tests a restaurant in and around Amsterdam every week. Due to the corona measures, this section appears temporarily in an adjusted form.