I was thinking about my most recent trip to Amsterdam the other day, which wasn't recent at all. It was in spring of 2010. How on earth have three years passed since then? Anyway, so despite it not exactly being a topical event, Amsterdam was a fantastic trip. It was meant to be Barcelona, but something had happened to prevent air travel. I can't remember now if it was British Airways striking or that Icelandic volcano throwing a tanty, but it resulted in us catching a train, a boat, and another train to our friends' place in Holland. They, being wonderful people, were more than happy to take us in for a long weekend of festivities.
A couple more friends were in town that weekend, so one night we met up with them and went foodhunting. We had one vegetarian, one semi-lapsed vegetarian, and two carnivores in our group, several tight budgets, and one fussy person who wanted to eat somewhere a bit nicer than average*. We wandered the streets, rejecting option after option , and getting snippier and snippier as we got hungrier and hungrier, until we happened upon Magic Soufflé Restaurant.
Magic Soufflé Restaurant was not its name. We didn't really take in its name, in too much of a hurry to sit down and eat. Inside, it was beautiful, with lots of natural wood and leafy green plants and intimate lighting, and - more importantly (maybe) - the food was incredible. The prix-fixe was ridiculously cheap - €25 or €30, I think, and we enjoyed some great starters (no idea what), some great desserts (no idea what) and some great mains (no idea what everyone else had, but I had an exceptionally amazing pea soufflé).
Afterwards, we raved about it to our local friends, describing it in as much detail as we could, but they had no idea what we were talking about. I don't know where Magic Soufflé Restaurant was located, what it is called, or even most of what we ate there. I have no photos. Were this a restaurant review, it could quite possibly be the worst restaurant review in the world.
It's not a review, though, it's an introduction, of the ridiculously wordy sort**. An introduction to my thoughts yesterday, which started in the normal place of 'what shall we have for dinner tonight?' and ended up in the totally not-normal place of 'I'm going to make a soufflé!'
I looked up a recipe online, and was comforted by the author stating that making a soufflé is easier than commonly suggested, and also by the fact that it had two cheeses in it. The ingredients were pretty straightforward - peas, cheese, milk, flour, gruyere, parmesan, eggs, etc. Totally no biggie. I had this.
What I did not have was a soufflé dish. I briefly contemplated buying one, but quickly came to the realisation that that could easily result in a never-to-be-used-again soufflé dish taking up valuable cupboard space in my little kitchen. Instead, I pulled out my smallest saucepan and checked the size. It had a 1.4L capacity and I needed a soufflé dish with 600ml capacity. That's close enough in my book.
Then I got to cooking, or as my husband now calls it, the phenomenal dishes disaster of 2013. I think I used every dish in my kitchen. Completely terrified of the idea of contaminating my egg whites and ruining the whole thing, I just grabbed a new utensil or bowl or pan for every single stage.
I feel now's a good time to point out that many, many stages of soufflé-assembly occur between the peas stage and putting it into the oven. I didn't take pictures of them, though, being too busy leaping about my small space, sweating profusely and dirtying dishes willy-nilly.
Once the soufflé was in the oven I sat down and relaxed as much as you can relax when there's a soufflé in your temperamental oven. So that is, not very. Every time the cat moved, or someone shouted in H1's television program, or our neighbours moved around in their apartments, I flinched.
After 25 minutes I crept downstairs and gently, slowly, quietly prepared two plates with salad leaves and dressing. I wouldn't go as far as to call it salad. After making the soufflé, the idea of even slicing a tomato was beyond me. And then, I switched off the oven, held my breath, and pulled out a near-perfect soufflé.
I was stoked. Stoked, I tell you. Gleefully, I quickly took my pictures and dished it up to a slightly-perplexed H1. After the work that went into it, I suspect he might have been expecting something a little more outwardly impressive.
But it was impressive, even if only to me. And most importantly, it tasted good. I highly recommend making one***!
I myself definitely intend to make another. In about a year, when I've fully recovered and own a proper soufflé dish.
*Um, that would be me.
**Me, ridiculously wordy? Never!
***Especially if you're a bit mad and a glutton for punishment.