Saturday, June 5, 2010

Delft, Fiori Zucca & Haring

I've finally arrived in Delft from Roma. The easyJet flight was delayed by an hour, I missed the Delft stop on the train, couldn't find a taxi in Delft and walked to the town square dragging my luggage. Finally took a bus to the uni where Yi lives and got off at the wrong stop. Walked all the way to her residence, feeling so miserable and sorry for myself. It's tough to be so far away from home and comfort. First thing I did was cooked a bowl of instant noodles with beef slices and a spring veg called postelein. Then got into bed for much needed sleep. The weather's perfect, cool and comfortable, unlike a month ago when I first came to Delft.

Woke up at 10 pm and the sun just went down. Dinner was whatever was available: spaghetti with tomato sauce and beef strips and something special: fiori di zucca fritti (deep fried zucchini flowers). In Rome, I wanted so much to try Roman specialties such as fried zucchini flowers, carciofo (artichokes) alla romano and the rare spring veg puntarelle but every restaurant I asked said it's officially summer after 1 June and these veggies are no longer available. Lucky for me, we went to the Piazza Testaccio yesterday and I found a stall that had the flowers. I bought a bunch for €1 and hand carried it to The Netherlands. At the baggage check point in the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, the lady who checked my bags saw the jar of white truffles salt and said it made tasty pasta and then when she saw the zucchini (courgettes) flowers, she told me to stuff them with mozzarella and something else. She turned to her colleague who didn't know the word in english too but I guessed it was anchovies because that often pairs with mozzarella. That this lady would tell me how to cook while checking my bags impressed me on the passion the Italians have for food.

Zucchini flowers, fiori zucca

Stuffed with buffulo mozzarella, anchovies, dipped in batter and fried.

EasyJet was super strict about hand luggage and my hangbag was considered an extra piece and I had to stuff it into my luggage. The flowers were compressed and wilted by the time I got here. Yi has rudimentary kitchen utensils. There's only cutlery and settings for 1 person. No flour too, so I made her borrow some (supermarket is closed plus she's working on her model) and she came back from next door with 1/4 cup of rice flour. I had to make do with whatever available. 

The fried fiori zucca were absolutely delicious cooked this way. Absolutely. Ask Yi, she gobbled 4 of the fried flowers within 30 seconds. The mozz, anchovies, flowers and batter were a perfect culinary match. What a simple and brilliant way to cook flowers! If I had ordinary flour, the fiori would turn out like tempura and would taste even better than absolutely delicious. Wow. I've decided that I'm going to plant my own zucchini for the flowers. I wish Hub is here to taste this. He's in London eating boring English food. 

I'm so tired from one month of intense travelling. I am going to bed now because I don't want to miss the Saturday market tomorrow. The main reason, other than enjoying the farmer's market, is that I have developed a liking for raw herrings dipped in chopped onions, a Dutch specialty. It doesn't matter that I have to stand in the square, throw my head back like a seagull and chomp at the fish dangled above my head. It's a little odd-tasting at first but when I was touring other parts of Europe, I suddenly craved for raw 'haring'.

Grab the herring by the tail, dip into chopped raw onions...


...hold the fish over your mouth and chomp.

The fish is cold, fishy, soft, slightly salty, smooth and tasty. Most of the bones have been removed except for the tail bones.


Plain Jane said...

love zuchini flowers but no comment on the..err..herring....glad u're enjoying ur trip ;-)

CK Ng said...

I still can remember the taste of the haring. Delicious!

Anonymous said...

We had various kinds of kuey teow last night at nam sing's home (take away from a nearby chinese restuarant) . After suffering from 2 weeks of "absolutely no chinese food but bread everyday", the kuey teow has really made my day. Nam Sing told me the Royal China at Queensway where I'm going to have dim sum lunch with my friends is one of the best in London. I hope you and yi were here.

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

Oh my goodness, I can't believe we were obsessing about zucchini flowers the same time. I looked for them EVERYWHERE in Crete. Asked at every restaurant, pored over their menus to find the darn thing, checked out the morning market, produce shops. I was elated when I saw a bunch right next to the bus stop just as I was about to hop on the bus. I think I overstuffed them with ricotta and my tempura batter was too thick. Otherwise, it was yummy!

Cubie said...

Was in Amsterdam last month and love the haring too :)

M said...

Brilliant! ditch hubbie 2 pay bills then continue scavenging all over Europe 4 anther month. Why didn’t I think of that! Then a little voice said “but you will have to, no, you definitely have to mortgage everything”. I may be green all over, but enjoy touring Europe virtually thru your blog. Not the herring bit though. My green skin should clear by the time we get to KK in July. Hopefully can hear you recount the experience in person; then I wouldn’t have to do Europe! My little voice again, “ Yah, you are an idiot!”. Ciao bella ! Zie je later.

Mike C.

tina said...

Good to know you are enjoying your tour. Are you coming by London again? Offer still open! ;-p

Anonymous said...

Wow! My husband's family are Dutch but I've never seen/heard them mention this raw herring snack. I'd try it but I don't think they would.

the lunch guy said...

your "food courage" is astounding!

looks good and fresh. i like mine sliced and mixed with diced green apples, onions, sour cream, fresh ground black pepper and garnished with a bit of dill weed. unlike good sashimi i can't seem to get it down "plain".

my mom used to grow a garden every spring in the States and she too was a fanatic for zucchini flowers. she would over plant them just to get the flowers. we would then have to think up all kinds of ways to cook the zux when they were ripe, or offer them by the bag full to friends.

she also grew tiger lily flowers, and those buds would go into soup.

if you ever go to the States you must let me know and i will introduce you to my mom, i think the two of you would really hit it off and have fun in the kitchen. right now it is berry season there, one of the best times to visit. when i called she was making berry tarts.

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