FOOD UNPLUGGED – eating and cycling in the Dutch “City of Taste”

Healthy innovation. Icoon's organic bread rolls baked in handy cone shapes, ready for filling.

A healthy innovation. Rolling kitchen Icoon’s organic bread rolls baked in handy cone shapes, ready for filling.

Many many thanks to Carla, herself no mean chef, for taking us to ‘Food Unplugged’, a festival which cunningly combined food, company, education, sustainability and cycling – all things we love – in one of the most attractive areas of the Netherlands.

For 2014, the town of Ede in Gelderland, population about 100,000, has been declared ‘Hoofdstad van de Smaak’ (Capital City of Taste) a tribute to its position on the edge of the Hoge Veluwe, the Netherlands’ largest national park, surrounded by small farms.

Here’s how the Food Unplugged festival worked…

Participants, about 400 of us, were asked to arrive in the morning, bringing basic ingredients from their local area. Inner-city Amsterdam not being a noted food production area, the best we could rustle up at short notice was an assortment of vegetables from (shock, horror) a local supermarket.

The table with the map of the Netherlands on it was groaning under the weight by lunchtime, with our offerings discreetly stripped of their plastic wrappers.

Local produce from all over the country.

Local produce from all over the country.

The ingredients were then handed over to a local chef, while we were fed by the ‘Rollende Keukens’ (Rolling Kitchens) – food stalls on wheels, serving hamburgers, cookies, coffee, the Icoon cones pictured above, and beer from the local boutique brewery.

Then it was roll up your sleeves time for practical food workshops. Mevrouw T enrolled for baking lessons with Edwin Klaasen of Desemenzo. He’s charismatic, enthusiastic and energetic, his baking class a thoroughly entertaining performance.

Celebrity baker Edwin Klaasen directs his team to prepare bread for the portable oven.

Celebrity baker Edwin Klaasen directs his team to prepare bread for the portable oven…

Enthusiastic amateurs do their best.

Enthusiastic amateurs do their best.

I joined the Fermentation workshop with expert Christian Weij. Lots of stuff we eat is fermented, I learned. All the good stuff – cheese, bread, beer, wine…

Our mini-course was about pickling vegetables. Fortunately I like sauerkraut, ‘zuurkool’ in Dutch. I have a colourful vegetable jar in the kitchen now. I understand I’m supposed to do something to it soon to stop it exploding.

Pickling in sea water.

Pickling in sea water.

Meanwhile there were lectures on buying and selling locally from food entrepreneur Willem Treep of Willem en Drees. They link local farmers to local outlets – an admirable enterprise and one which is becoming increasingly successful.

Then it was time for the uniquely Dutch part of the festival, the cycling. We all climbed aboard the buses that would take us to where a flotilla of rental bikes was waiting.

Food lovers, your bikes are waiting.

Food lovers, your bikes are ready.

And off we rode into the countryside, visiting local farmers, sampling and buying their produce. Our saddlebags were soon full.

Picking blueberries.

Picking blueberries.

The Veluwe winery is the next stop. Yes, there is cold-climate wine grown in Nederland. And it wasn't bad either.

The Veluwe winery is the next stop. Yes, there is cold-climate wine grown in Nederland. And it wasn’t bad either.

Finally we were delivered back to Ede, where in the field behind the former army barracks our chef had been doing his thing with our goodies.

It looked good before it was cooked. Now it's even better.

It looked impressive before it was cooked. Now it’s even better.

The local wine flowed, we chatted with our new friends and the food, needless to say, was fantastic.

'Gezellig', the Dutch call it.

‘Gezellig’, the Dutch call it.

It was truly an excellent event, which Ede should certainly repeat, even when it’s stopped being a taste capital! May the flavour of Ede be this good in 2015 and beyond.

Thanks to organiser Hans Steenbergen and the team at Food Inspiration, and thanks again Carla for finding it and bringing us there. To see the official short video CLICK HERE.

Plenty of ideas for things to do with these.

Plenty of ideas for things to do with these.

7 Comments

Filed under Cycling, Holland

7 responses to “FOOD UNPLUGGED – eating and cycling in the Dutch “City of Taste”

  1. Exactly your sort of thing, I would have thought, Debra. You’d even have enjoyed the gentle bike ride.

  2. A fascinating story! And those organic rolled bread-rolls looks absolutely delicious! Yumm… you’ve made me hungry…

  3. Rebecca

    I loved the part where you all got on bikes and visited the farmers in the countryside! i was in Amsterdam this Summer and on my Amsterdam cousin’s suggestion I visited the Noordermarkt, the organic Saturday market in Amsterdam. I wrote a blog post about it with lots of photos of the beautiful food and a video of the barrel grinder.

  4. Delicious food, cycling and a little bit of new knowledge. A great combination. Regards Peet

  5. Pingback: FOOD PHOTO TIPS – no, not from me, from a pro | Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

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