It’s no surprise that Rotterdam reached number eight on the Top 10 Cities for 2014 list and hit 10th place in the New York Times list of 52 Places to Go in 2014. It is a vibrant, dynamic city that keeps reinventing itself and never fails to amaze visitors with new and hidden gems found behind its changing skyline.
There is plenty to see and do in Rotterdam, for all ages and interests: for the animal lover Blijdorp Zoo provides a great day out spent amongst furry and feathery friends, the art fanatic will love the (modern) art exhibitions in the numerous museums such as Kunsthal or the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the foodies will want to be seen in the bars, restaurants, and cafes along the Witte de Withstraat and getting to the top of the Euromast will prove to be a great way to view the whole city and beyond.
Rotterdam is also home to numerous festivals throughout the year: the International Film Festival, Port of Rotterdam North Sea Jazz, and De Parade theatre festival, therefore it’s no surprise that the list of festivals just got longer this year with a new addition: the Piccalilli Food Camp.
Piccalilli Food Camp uses the beloved “recipe” of similar food(-truck) festivals: take a large open space, add plenty of colourful food trucks that cater for all tastes and diets, and season with local DJs and singer songwriters.
The festival promised to be the biggest terrace in the city… and it didn’t disappoint. Over 750 indoor and outdoor seats, and 30 food trucks filled the Museumpark in Rotterdam on the last weekend of May. The line-up included trucks that sold the usual suspects, such as burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, while also serving delicacies such as Peruvian sweet potato pie with cream cheese and Argentinean blood sausage with chimmichurri.
Food festivals tend to be overwhelming for the first time festival-goer: everything looks and smells delicious and the more adventurous ones want to try out a little bit of everything. Therefore, it is best to go with a group of friends with whom you can share several dishes. However, if you’re on your own it’s worth following your nose and joining the longest queues.
Our small but enthusiastic group of friends was determined to try as many dishes as possible (to be able to report on the event as accurately as possible, of course) and I’m happy to share that we succeeded: juicy pulled pork burger from Grill ‘n Smoke, Gazpacho served like a lovely summer dessert from Dertien, healthy falafel and orange smoothies from Puzzles, less healthy but equally delicious hot dogs from Dik, Vet & Lekker, and the aforementioned juicy Argentinean blood sausage from Choripan. The ultimate crowd-favourite of the day however was the Pom Kip Surinamese dish from Pom Bar which ticked all the right boxes of great comfort food: a thick slightly sweet chicken stew, served with a spicy chutney-like sauce, cucumbers, and rice. Deciding upon the best sweet snacks at the festival, the group was unanimous: De Pofferij stole our hearts with their absolutely divine poffertjes – small crepes, served with plenty of butter, powdered sugar, strawberries, and whipped cream.
Regulars at the Dutch music festival scene will likely be familiar with some of the food trucks such as Buskruid and Grill ‘n Smoke, and no doubt that the other trucks will also start appearing at festivals across the country.
Food festivals are a dime a dozen these days, however, what made Piccalilli a great event was the amazing selection of food, the friendly Rotterdammers, DJs/ musicians maintaining the laid back vibe, and the glorious sun. It really felt like a gigantic neighborhood barbecue where the host managed to pull out all the stops.