Favorite foods (Part 2)

This item appears on page 18 of the February 2022 issue.

Joaquin Ho of Orlando, Florida, asked, “What dishes or types of food have you enjoyed most on your travels, and what was it that you liked about each?” Subscribers dished out a few fond memories in last month’s issue. Here are a few more.

One of my favorite foods, a dish I must have every time I go to France, is a plateau de fruits de mer. Throughout France, seafood restaurants, particularly Alsatian ones, often feature this menu item.

A plateau de fruits de mer consists of three tiers of plates with shellfish arranged on beds of ice. Underneath will be small bowls of lemon slices, mignonette sauce, horseradish purée and mayonnaise. In the US, it is sometimes called a seafood tower.

I always order an assortment that includes at least most of the following shellfish, as translated here: homard (lobster), langoustine (spiny lobster), araignée de mer (spider crab), tourteau (large brown crab), palourde (clam), crevette grise (small shrimp), crevette rose (prawn), moule (mussel), huître (oyster), bulot (whelk), amande de mer (cockle) and bigorneau (periwinkle).

An array of utensils lays next to the plateau. The straight pins work well with the tiny cockles and periwinkles. A tiny fork is best for the whelks and maybe the oysters. The long hook pulls meat from crabs and parts of lobsters, with a seafood cracker for the larger parts.

Mussels, oysters and clams can be eaten the way I like to do it: straight from the shell, as if it were a spoon. Some people pull out a mussel with a pair of used shells, but that’s harder and time-consuming.

The tiny shrimp are eaten whole. For larger shrimp, I pull off the head, suck the juices from it, then pull the shell off the body. I like those with mayonnaise.

This dish can be quite pricey, so sometimes I eliminate the lobster. I particularly like the selections at Le Wepler (14 Place de Clichy, Paris; phone +33 1 45 22 53 24, www.wepler.com) and Bofinger (5-7 rue de la Bastille, Paris; phone +33 1 42 72 87 82, www.bofingerparis.com).

I can easily eat lobster, clams, oysters and, especially, shrimp in the US, but I haven’t found those other shellfish that make (for me) a complete plateau de fruits de mer.

Kitty Chen Dean
New York, NY



My grandson was studying abroad in Amsterdam in 2019, and my daughter and I enjoyed a food extravaganza while visiting him. We booked a private walking tour that took us to markets and food stalls.

We started with kroketten, deep-fried rolls with meat or veggies inside. These were purchased in a typical automat-like shop with vending machines.

Of course, next came cheese; the Gouda and Edam were amazing.

From there we went to a tiny Indonesian restaurant overflowing with Dutch clients. East Asian food is very popular in the Netherlands.

Next, of course, was the ubiquitous stroopwafel, a crisp waffle filled with a special sweet and sticky syrup, the “stroop.” These are sold everywhere.

Finally, there was drop, the Dutch licorice that is a mainstay of the Netherlands.

The next morning we ventured to a pancake house for pannenkoeken. These are almost pizza-like pancakes with all kinds of toppings — bacon, cheeses, jams and jellies. I had mine drenched in hazelnut chocolate syrup.

Of course, no one should leave Amsterdam without experiencing rijsttafel, Dutch for “rice table,” consisting of dishes brought back from Indonesia by Dutch traders centuries ago. A typical meal can be anywhere from 8 to 40 small plates of all kinds of food but heavily dependent on rice. Some dishes have a definite kick, so if you are not in love with really spicy foods, order carefully.

There are enough choices of rijsttafel to satisfy everyone. We had our meal at Sampurna (Singel 498S, Amsterdam; phone +31 20 625 32 64, www.sampurna.com), where reservations are a must.

I am so thankful that we were able to experience this wonderful city and all its delights.

Judith Beiner
Boca Raton, FL



One of the most pleasant travel pleasures for me was eating the food of Morocco. My husband, Bob, and I visited there in March 2017 on a trip with Road Scholar (Boston, MA; 800/454-5768, www.roadscholar.org) mostly focused on Fez and Marrakech.

From the very first meal, I was hooked. I loved almost everything I was served. They use lots of fruit roasted with their meats (in beautiful tagines), giving them such wonderful flavors.

The seasonings were unusual. The vegetables were roasted slowly with ras el hanout. This is typically a blend of over a dozen spices, which will be mixed in different proportions depending on who is making it. It is popular in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

When we came home, we bought a Moroccan cookbook (“Easy Tangine: Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-pot Cooking” by Ghillie Basan) as well as ras el hanout off of Amazon.com, then tried several dishes. (The brand of ras el hanout we’re currently using is from Zamouri Spices.)

When my book club had its annual potluck, which included spouses, I volunteered Bob to make the Moroccan roasted vegetables. It was rewarding to see how popular it was, especially with the men, who normally ignore vegetable dishes. Until the pandemic stopped our potluck dinners, it was a standard request that we furnish this dish.

Following is the recipe for the Moroccan roasted vegetables, taken from our first jar of ras el hanout:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 3-plus pounds (total) of carrots, beets, onion and sweet potatoes, cut in wedges, on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp ras el hanout. Cover with foil and roast for 50 minutes. Remove foil and roast another 10 minutes or until tender.

This served 12-15 people, so, for 4-6 people, reduce all quantities or serve the remainder as leftovers.

JoAnne Hungate
Tucson, AZ



We were starving.

It was my friend’s and my second day in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2017, and our driver had taken us to his favorite lunch stop. It didn’t have a name, and there was only one thing on the menu: pho.

Like hundreds of other pho shops in Vietnam, it was run by the cook, who oversaw her simple ingredients. She placed small pieces of cooked chicken into our bowls, covered them with cooked rice noodles and ladled delicious hot chicken broth over all.

The broth had been enriched with soy and fish sauces (and other secret ingredients). We were encouraged to add green onions, hot peppers and lime wedges. I drew a picture of the ingredients so I could try to make it at home.

The crowning touch to our experience came when our driver grabbed some scissors to snip our noodles, because he knew we would be uncomfortable slurping as he did.

The soup was so delicious and wonderfully filling that we asked to go back the next day. And the next.

Nancy McAfee
Pittsford, NY