Last 26 February, I had an opportunity to take part in the WijnSpijs Walking Tour across our beautiful Utrecht. The cloudy sky did not stop us from enjoying a flavorful afternoon – literally, as we savoured delicious food and wines at Utrecht’s finest restaurants. And figuratively, as we toured across the historical streets of the Utrecht Museum quarters….what a beautiful city Utrecht is!
Great bites, great wines
You could do the Wijnspijs Walking Tour individually or with a group of friends. Just follow the route that is predefined by the city of your choice. This culinary walking tour is organized almost every sunday in various cities in the Netherlands. You just need to select the date, city, and the restaurants you would like to start and end your tour. They will then send your predefined route to your home address, enabling you to join the walking tour at your own pace and with your preferred companions. During the tour, you will be welcomed at six restaurants across the city, where you can enjoy a small dish, paired with a glass of delicious wine. Now, that’s what we call a culinary discovery tour!
Gare du Sud (gesloten)
We started our tour at the recently opened Gare du Sud in the Oosterkade. At this French Bistro, we chose a table by the window. Then, a staff member greeted us and explained the wine and food pairing. We started with a ravioli filled with ricotta, with truffle sauce. The ravioli was steamed in a parchment paper packet in the oven (en papillote), and served with some citrusy fennel salad. This delicious meal was paired with a glass of light young red wine from France. A good combination, indeed! I asked our host to explained how the dish was being prepared and he happily complied. Isn’t that cool? I think I might just come here again for dinner.
Our second stop was restaurant Amerikana in the Catharijnesingel. I dined here awhile ago and really enjoyed it. Their Mac ’n Cheese with truffle and poached egg was absolutely brilliant! During the tour, we were also served the best dishes of their menu: slowcooked porkbelly with mangochutney, served with hashbrown and Madame Jeanette popcorn, and paired with a glass of red Zinfandel from Napa Valley. I got a bit carried away by the story about the wines, the dish and the pretty plate they used for serving that I started eating immediately, and forgot to take a picture. It was delicious! The staff also left the menu card on the table – enticing people to learn more about the rest of the menu, and tempting them to come back for more. I highly recommend this place!
We crossed the Catherijnesingel and the Oude Gracht, and made our way to De Rechtbank, the old courthouse in the Hamburgerstraat. It had been long time since I visited this restaurant and it was nice to be back. On our table, we found a small book, which lists all kinds of activities held at De Rechtbank throughout the year. Great stuff! At De Rechtbank, we had a glass of biological Italian white wine – a mix of local grapes and Chardonnay, which resulted a creamy and velvety Chardonnay with unusual fruity tones. Hmmmm…. Afterwards, we were served a bowl of fish soup with a springroll filled with crab. I enjoyed the dish, but it was the wine that made a lasting impression.
De Heeren van Leeuw
We walked through the scenic, historical Lange Nieuwstraat to the Twijnstraat, and took the stairs down to the canal towards our fourth stop: De Heeren van Leeuw. I never heard about this restaurant before and I found it a nice surprise. We were welcomed by the host, who then guided us to our table. He then served us a glass of wine, made of blue grapes. The winemakers removed the grape skin before pressing, our host explained. It was a special wine with mineral tones, but unfortunately a bit too sour to our taste. Then came the food; we had Coquilles St Jacques cooked in tomato sauce, with grilled courgette roll-ups and pearl barley. It was good, but not as exceptional as the dishes we had earlier.
The next destination was just a stroll away, located in the Twijnstraat. We walked up from the canal, through a narrow alley towards Zies, just at the side corner of the Ledig Erf. I never visited this place before. The place was reasonably packed and we were able to get a seat at a high-top bistro table. A staff member asked us how we experienced the walking tour and we had a small chat with her. She then elaborated on the white wine she was serving us, which comes from Gambellara, North Italy. It was fantastic! Then we had a plate of confit of rabbit in tuna-mayonnaise dressing, aside of a piece of raw tuna, creamed spinach, grilled paprika, and sweet-sour red onion. Again, I devoured the dish immediately and forgot to take a picture! What a great restaurant and what a delicious combination!
Speck Bar & Grill
We crossed the Ledig Erf and walked towards our last stop: Speck Bar & Grill, of the same owner as Gare du Sud and Firma Pickles in Drieharingenstraat. This restaurant has one of the coolest interiors in Utrecht (to my humble opinion… Haha…) It felt like walking into a huge butchery. There, we were served – unsurprisingly – a glass of red wine from South Africa, a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It had a smokey aroma with spicey, but soft, aftertaste. It was a perfect combination for the grilled flanksteak with onion compote and green-herbs mayonnaise served afterwards. A great eye-catcher was a neon-lighted cow ornament on top of the meat aging cabinet. It indicated which part of the meat was served on our table. A great end to our fabulous afternoon tour – and a memorable visit in Utrecht!
Tekst and photographs by Ria Geraets-Heijen, More than Mayo foodconcepts
More than Mayo foodconcepts nurtures your brain with creative and inspiring ‘food experiences’, an interactive concept with food as a means of communication, which help companies to express their message, vision or story.
Do you want to take part in WijnSpijs Walking Tour? Visit www.wijnspijs.nl