Sunday, 2 March 2014


Balloons and bunting
Daffodils and roses are already blooming in Amsterdam's quietly raffish Oude Pijp district (think Shoreditch with canals and bicycles rather than end-to-end traffic and crowds). Our gently aimless Saturday morning stroll past Sarphati Park is suddenly transformed: we have stumbled unexpectedly into the balloons and bunting of Bilder and De Clercq deli's first anniversary party, a celebration of their big new idea.  In business, the first year is when new ideas either wither and die, or put down roots for a robust future: it seems B&dC are well on their way, given the packed, good-natured support in the café and browsing the deli shelves.

The novel food stations
B&dC is not your usual deli: its USP, its new idea, is the "meal station". Across the store are a dozen or so of these separate stations, each dedicated to a particular dish, and each containing a recipe card and all the listed ingredients in appropriate quantities.  A cheerful assistant explains (while she dispenses anniversary snacks): choose your menu and then simply load up the ingredients which are laid out ready at the station and in its mini-freezer - and there are well-matched wines available to reduce decision making even further. Large, colourful images of plated up meals stand above each station to draw your eye and stimulate your culinary imagination - and your appetite. B&dC source as much as possible locally, though their recipe vision is international: Thailand and Indonesia, The Middle East and Singapore are represented in addition to Europe. 

The station for Thai Mussels
Each recipe card is designed for two, though it is easy to multiply up for a feast; it costs between €5 and €7 a head. So if you are in a hurry or haven't planned ahead, the hard part (ie: deciding what to cook and sourcing the ingredients) has already been done. Sounds like a brilliant idea!