One might never assume that a former nursery school hidden deep in the polders of Zeelandic-Flanders could possibly house a palace of modern gastronomy like the De Kromme Watergang; one that would be quite at home in a city like London or New York. Yet the cuisine on offer at Chef Edwin Vinke’s two-star restaurant focuses entirely on produce from the surrounding sea, rivers and freshwater lakes and marshes. We can also add one other element to his specific list of ingredients: the fresh vegetables and herbs grown in his very own kitchen garden, De Zilte Hof. This piece of land comprises multiple hectares, and a greenhouse where Edwin experiments with cultivating plants in locally-sourced silt-rich soil and waters them with the region’s seawater (hence the name for his garden: zilt). The results from the greenhouse are spectacular, as are his homemade vegetable and herb juices. In fact, salt and sugar are banished from his kitchen: “We actually only use seawater and for sweetness, we use natural honey from Zeeland or we use Palatinose. It’s not because I want everything to be healthy, it’s because everything simply tastes better!” Is there room for veal on Edwin’s menu? “Absolutely, because it’s an ideal meat to combine with silty produce.
Bring the veal bouillon with seawater and cognac to the boil. Add pepper, celery and lovage and turn down the heat. Poach the sweetbreads (rinsed) in the bouillon for 30 minutes at 90°C/195°F. Take the sweetbreads out of the liquid, leave to cool, then clean and cut into cubes. Coat the sweetbreads à la minute with flour and fry in a generous amount of oil until crunchy and golden brown. Open the scallop shells, rinse well and pat dry. Sauté à la minute in a drizzle of olive and walnut oil until golden brown on both sides. Season with white pepper and cut in half.
For the bavarois, beat the powdered egg white and gelatin with the juice and ladle the cream through it. Pipe into the desired moulds and freeze. For the ice cream, mix all of the ingredients well. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and whisk. Mix the ingredients for the crème and pour into a squeezable bottle before setting it to one side. Divide the mussels and the sweetbreads on a plank. Pipe drops of the crème and add the bavarois and ice cream. Finish off with different salad leaves and flowers.
300g veal sweetbreads, 1l veal bouillon, 500ml seawater, 500ml cognac, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 large bunch of celery, 1 bunch of lovage, 6 large scallops, walnut oil, baby salad leaves (mizuna, lettuce, rucola, purslane), edible flowers (pansies, rucola, marshmallow, lemon gem marigolds), silt-grown shoots (daikon, radish, spinach, tatsoi, cabbage).
For the lettuce bavarois
250g juice of lettuce and thick chives, 2 dstspn white wine vinegar, 12g powdered egg white, 20g gel vegetal (Sosa), 100g cream.
For the mizuna ice cream
250g mizuna juice, 100g milk, 100g whipped cream, 25g milk powder, Palatinose.
For the Savora crème
100g Savora mustard, 50g crème fraîche, pinch of curry, few drops of lime juice.
Bring the veal bouillion with the seawater and the cognac to the boil. Add pepper, celery and lovage, then reduce the heat. Poach the veal eye round in the liquid for approximately 45 minutes at 75°C/165°F. Remove from the hot liquid, leave to cool and cut into thin slices using a meat slicer. Peel the Jerusalem artichokes, cook in seawater and blend into a smooth puree using a blender. Add more liquid if necessary. Pass the puree through a sieve and season to taste. Just before serving, open the cockles and season with olive oil and freshlyground pepper. Dress the rolls of veal with dots of artichoke puree, cockles and the foam on a plate. Edwin likes to garnish this dish with sprouts and baby leaves that he has cultivated in silty conditions, like baby spinach, pak-choi, radish and mizuna. This is accompanied by algae like sea lettuce, codium (seaweed) and gooseberry sea squirt. He also serves it with sea vegetables grown in the marshes such as Mediterranean saltbush, marsh samphire, seagrass, and annual seablite.
Bring the bouillon with seawater and cognac to the boil. Add pepper, celery and lovage and lower the temperature to 75°C/165°F. Poach the veal cheeks in the bouillon for 150 to 180 minutes. Remove from the liquid, leave to cool, clean and cut into squares. Reduce some of the liquid and glaze the cheeks à la minute with a knob of butter. Sieve the liquid and heat to 60°C/140°F and cook the calamari (cleaned) in it for 90 minutes. Remove the tentacles and deep fry à la minute until nice and crunchy. Slice part of the body into thin rings and the rest into small cubes. Reduce a third of the liquid by three quarters and add some cream. Drop the rings in and thicken with egg yolk. Press and fry the cubed calamari on a plancha. For the sauce, reduce the rest of the liquid by two thirds, add cream, squid ink, lard and vinegar, and thicken.
Clean and peel the stick of celery, then finely-slice into long strips (julienne). Pickle these in white wine vinegar then cook the celery trimmings in strong veal bouillon. Process in a blender until smooth, rub through a sieve and season to taste. Fry the guanciale (bacon) on the plancha until crisp. Pour some sauce in a dish and place the glazed veal cheeks, plancha-fried calamari, and julienne celery on top. Put a drop of celery cream next to it and pipe some extra crème on the edge of the dish. Garnish with the algae, julienne celery, deep-fried tentacles and the crispy guanciale.
2 veal cheeks, 2 cuttlefish (or calamari), 1l veal bouillon, 500ml seawater, 500ml cognac, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 bunch of celery, 1 bunch of lovage, 1 egg yolk, 100ml cream, 1 tsp squid ink, 3 dstspn lard, 1 dstspn vinegar, 4 slices guanciale (Italian, unsmoked jowl bacon), 1 stick of celery, 500ml strong veal bouillon, white wine vinegar, baby leaves grown in silty conditions, algae.