A collaboration vegan food box of Choux (Amsterdam) and De Nieuwe Winkel (Nijmegen).
Koen suggested De Nieuwe Winkel in October 2019 after reading a “tears of joy in the eyes of the reporter” review. Unfortunately, Nijmegen is a bit out of the way (about 120km from home), so DNW just remained on the lists of interesting restaurant to follow.
About the restaurant(s)
Emile van der Staak heads De Nieuwe Winkel (“DNW”) since the early 2010s, and the description of their cuisine is “Botanical Gastronomy”. Cooking with plants, herbs and flowers, preferably picked from their own “backyards” – like the Ketelbroek Food Forest, in Groesbeek or the Ommuurde Tuin in Renkum. DNW experiments with various methods of preservation and preparations of plants and pushes to get new and interesting flavours. Most recent accolades: 15/20 points and 2020 Vegetable dish of the Year award in Gault Millau, #96 in the 2020 Lekker 500 list and 1 plate in the 2020 Guide Michelin.
Given the above, the collaboration between Choux and DNW doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The resulting intensely flavoured and entirely vegan menu surely was.
About the foodbox
This time, the food box was a fixed 4-course menu (EUR 55), available at either restaurant and with wine pairings from their respective collections available upon pick-up. I picked up one bottle of red and white each for appetisers/dinner and a Poiré as an obvious pairing for the pear dessert from the Zuiver Wijnen assortment.
The bread and hummus were from DNW, but for the remainder, it was shared duties for the amuses, food, and friandises. The box itself and methodology were familiar to us; one menu, one leaflet with descriptions of general methodology; colour-coded containers and a lighthearted and informative Youtube instruction video; this time presented by both chefs. One oven tray, one small frying pan for the ramsons, one saucepan with water to reheat a sauce and salt (this time no #teringveelzout) was all we needed as kitchen equipment.
About the food
We noticed DNW’s creativity already with the bread and amuses. The oil from the Chinese Mahogany tree on the hummus had a smell and flavour reminiscent of fried onions. The fermentation used on the caramelised onions puree amped up its flavours to 11. Similarly inspired by the traditions found in various food cultures all over the world, the Indonesian-style main course featured an homemade tempeh made from quinoa (the best we had!). Choux’s dishes were delicious and the floral and herby notes of the poached pear were equally memorable.
The only (relative) niggle was the ratio between the salad and the woodland sunflower / sunchoke tartare. In our view, it should have been the other way round. Yummy as it was, but combined with the sunflower seed puree and the homemade hazelnut oil, it was all quite overpowering. We felt saturated already after half the portion and needed a long break to continue the menu. Nevertheless; it is about time to start planning a long weekend in the Nijmegen region…