Rice Dreams: The Indonesian Rijsttafel
A “seat at the table with a view of the world” is our favorite motto at Entertaining Company. And, as I have mentioned before, one of the great joys of having a catering business with cultural bent is being paid to continually research unique approaches to super flavorful foods and presentations.
On Sunday night, from my seat at a charming pop up Indonesian/Rijsttafel dinner with the fabulous Andersonville restaurant, Vincent as our host, I experienced how the Dutch brought back an exotic abundance from their Indonesian colonies and created a banquet style meal called the Rijsttafel or “Rice Table”. Who knew!?
At a classic Rijsttafel, the bounty of 300 regional ethnic groups is mirrored in a dizzying presentation of rice plus up to 40 small tasting portions. From our seats in Chicago we sampled hot, sweet, cool and hot of Kentang Balado (diced potato in spicy chile sauce), Bai Semu (bits of pork in a sweet soy sauce), Rending Daging (pieces of beef in spicy coconut curry) , Atjar Atjar (pickled mixed vegetables) and Gado Gado (salad of cabbage, bean sprouts, cucumbers, green beans and tofu with warm peanut sauce) just to name a few.
Beyond the heaping bowl of rice, a total of 13 small plates of tasty spiced food was laid before us for sharing, oohing and ahing and enjoying.
For my entertaining brethren who are seeking a communal, multi-layered, boldly-spiced, entertaining experience, the Rijsttafel is my new favorite “perfect solution” and I am absolutely obsessed with the idea of creating one for a client immediately. With the entire event centered around rice, it’s certainly an affordable party to throw…but with all of the spices and unique combinations your event will still be completely transportive…perfect.
For those of you who want to learn more and perhaps recreate this experience for your next adventure in entertaining, I recommend that you visit The Spice House for exotic ingredients like Black Lampong Peppercorns and Indonesian ground cinnamon “Korintje”. Online there’s a world of Indonesian condiments to be found — sambals and hot sauces and more — just start searching! And the entire other-worldly experience can be set off with a marvelous farm table rented from Tablescapes, along with an array small bowls and a pitcher of Dutch beer plus a group of guests ready to EXPERIENCE some bold flavors is all in the mix.