Friday, November 30, 2012

The Netherlands - Interesting LIDL Goods

Groceries shops are my best friends. The Netherlands is the fourth country I've ever settled for at least 3 months, and based on my personal experience and interest, groceries shops are the core of a country's food culture.

There are 5 supermarkets / groceries store chains that I know around Wageningen and Ede: Albert Heijn, C1000, LIDL, Aldi and Hoogvliet. Albert Heijn generally has more food varieties, and sometimes with a Bonuskaart (a card that lets you accumulate points and get discounts on certain products) you can get really cheap meats (before the 'best before' date, of course). Both LIDL and Aldi are German, but somehow from the information I gathered from people who have been living in the Netherlands for quite some time, these German stores sell the cheapest goods.

LIDL is particularly interesting to me even though it is quite far from where I live right now. Well, by far, I mean 15 minutes cycling. By location, C1000 is much closer (3 minutes cycling including waiting for traffic lights). While C1000 offers a great variety of alcoholic drinks, which are of many university students' interest, the prices tend to be a little high. By far, LIDL sells the cheapest goods with acceptable qualities. And sometimes you get unique stuffs too. Like these decorating sauces:

There are three kinds of sauces: a combination of three types of mustards, white truffle and wasabi soy sauce. Each bottle is sold for 1.45 euros. As a person who cares a lot about food presentation (unless someone cooks it for me - then I won't complain how bad the food looks like as long as they taste nice), these look very interesting to me. I've been decorating my plates with tomato ketchup whenever I have spare time preparing breakfast ever since I moved to Wageningen to live because my campus is only 3 minutes by bike. 

These were rolled omelet with cut cocktail sausage and blanched broccoli. This is probably not a typical Dutch breakfast. I'm not sure if this is a breakfast menu in any parts of the world. To me, there is no distinction between breakfast food or lunch food or dinner food or snack food. As long as my stomach can handle it and I'm in the mood for the food, I'll eat it. The whole prep time was about 15 minutes. I felt sad destroying my art as I ate it, but at the same time, I felt happier eating food that is presented nicely. It's weird, but it's my hobby.

Final product of using the decoration sauces I just used? This:

Smoked salmon on cottage cheese with 3 sauces and garnish. I got the smoked salmon and the cottage cheese from LIDL as well, and they were actually in a package, together with the black toothpicks.

The sauces actually taste pretty good. The mustard sauce was kind of sweet and mild. It's those type of mustard sauce you'd find on hotdogs. Definitely not the kind of high grade mustards you'd get from specialty cheese shops, but it's color and texture is perfect for decorating your plate.

The white truffle sauce is rich in truffle aroma, and if you compare it with real truffles of course this would be low in comparison, but you can definitely taste and smell the truffle flavor in this sauce. I'm not too familiar with truffle flavors because truffles are generally very expensive, and I treat truffle as an ultra fancy food. Actually, to be honest, truffle sauces has this offensive ammonia-like smell that I don't really like the first time I tried it. However, that smell is actually quite addicting and pleasant at low amount. I've grown to like the smell of truffle :)

The wasabi soy sauce is actually my least favorite because I grow up consuming soy sauce and I have a strong preference on soy sauce. The soy sauce used here is actually sweet soy sauce, and surprisingly this sweet soy sauce is the closest to the authentic Indonesian sweet soy sauce. I never like any sweet soy sauce produced in the Netherlands. They taste funny, and somehow I think they are overcaramelized. I don't really taste the wasabi in this sauce, it's really mild. But this is actually a pretty well-balanced sauce, and I think this goes well with many appetizers.

The sauces are very easy to squeeze, and the viscosity is just perfect for decoration. It doesn't break off easily in the middle, and controlling the volume squeezed out doesn't take a lot of time to learn.

I tried eating the salmon and cheese with three sauces at the same time, and it actually tasted pretty good. Kind of sweet, tangy, sour, earthy, salty, savory, astringent... it's a good balance, I'd say. I'm still thinking of ways to use these decorative sauces, but sometimes it's hard to decorate Asian food with these sauces (I cook better Asian food than Western food, except for omelets, if you count that as Western food). There is usually not a lot of free space on the plate, and we don't really use neither mustards nor truffle.

I'll see what I can do about them :P


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