As a highly committed and self-admitted foodie I am always on the hunt for new and innovative culinary experiences. Naturally, festivals that have food as their main attraction play a large role in that, and, luckily, these happen to be popping up all over the place around the Netherlands.
I have had my hungry (literally) eye on this particular food festival since I first heard word of its appearance in the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam. I mean; ‘food trucks & soul vibes’ – two concepts that promise great things in their combination. Alas, I was too late to attend and therefore hungrily (again, literally) anticipated its upcoming happening in Noordwijk aan Zee. Yet again, another series of unfortunate events prevented me from attending, so I hoped, and regularly stalked my social media event pages, for a Food Soul Festival closer to my vicinity. At last, the food gods had mercy and sent their trucks in the direction of Zoetermeer, where I swore to myself I would attend or never forgive myself. Perhaps a little over-dramatic in hindsight but everyone has to set their own priorities, and I can now say with confidence: I regret nothing.
Of course, just as any reasonable person would, I decided not to set any expectations before tasting the food. However, it was difficult to contain excitement when approaching the location, as the sound of old-school rock’n’roll and the scent of hot coals filled the air. The site was perfect; having settled on the Marseillepad directly alongside the grote Dobbe, the scenery allowed guests to enjoy their food while sitting by the water, gazing onto idyllic, green islands and watching the sun set behind the pond. It may have been slightly crowded considering the food trucks were arranged down a narrow, winding street, but that only enhanced the so desired neighbourhood-party atmosphere that we look for at a food festival.
Driven by curiosity I decided to scope out the venue while waiting for my dining companions to arrive. With a Weizen beer in one hand and my camera phone in the other, I strolled down the buzzing street, surrounded by satisfied, smiling faces and full bellies. Of the 19 food trucks that had lined themselves up, one was more creatively and elaborately decorated than the next, almost imitating the scene of a summer fair where each game booth is competing for the passerby’s attention. Food choices ranged from classic creperie (Crepe Centraal) to entirely cheese centred specialties (Just say Cheese), epic burger varieties (STACKS aka Smoking Roaster), stew on a bun (De Filostoof) and fresh pizza from a wood oven (Wood Pizza). While it soon became clear that this place was a carnivore’s paradise, there were naturally also options to cater to vegetarian- or any other needs for that matter; one particular truck for example had fully committed itself to cutting men’s hair (Salon le Barber) – a little less appetizing, but hipster enough nonetheless.
However, the food truck that caught my eye above all was Bulls and Dogs which served gourmet hot-dogs on a pretzel bun and inevitably became the first meal destination of the evening. With the intention of being able to try a little bit of everything at the festival, the group made the strategic decision of sharing whatever was ordered. Therefore, one soy-based vegetarian dog with a topping of hummus and popcorn made the round, as well as one lamb dog topped with harissa sauce and parsley. Both hot-dog combinations sourced a symphony of “uuuhs”, “aaaahs”, and “mmmmhs” from its consumers, which certainly did not end there. Flavour explosions continued at De Pieper Mobiel with their patatas bravas, at Kok au Van and their grilled chicken tortilla, at the Just say Cheese truck and their cheese and Serrano ham grilled ciabatta, and concluded at a pop-up photobooth/silent disco that served hot waffles on a stick, drizzled with melted chocolate and powdered sugar. All of this could be accompanied by a beverage of your choice, whether it be various types of beer (Radler, Weizen, Pils), wines, or deliciously fruity cocktails. I believe it safe to say that Food Soul Festival Zoetermeer is an array of some of the finest food trucks the Netherlands has to offer.
If all the inspired flavour combinations and heavenly smells won’t transport you into a state of utter bliss, the chilled and laid back ambience will, enhanced by soul and rock’n’roll music playing in the background, handpicked by a bearded DJ spinning records on his transformed tractor.
Food Soul Festival is what its name promises: a coming together of the most creative and tasty variations on classic street and comfort food, accompanied by an atmosphere that allows you to relax, lay back and enjoy the simplicity of good, honest food. I for one will most definitely mark my calendar for next year’s event, regardless of it’s location, and I can only strongly encourage you to do the same. But as I said… priorities.