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Double Dutch: Indonesian cuisine at the Holland Festival

May 26, 2009 |  9:28 am

SDC10094  SDC10118

Sunday's Holland Festival wasn’t underattended, but it was and certainly still is underappreciated. That’s in part because the 20th annual iteration of the festival was again a misnomer — the event was dedicated much more to Indonesian street food than it was to Dutch delicacies. 

It was strangely fitting, then, that the Holland Festival was set up at Police Officers Association Park in Long Beach, a curious space that doubles as a training facility for the LBPD (firing range included) that’s carved out of the land between the Long Beach Towne Centre and El Dorado Park. 

There was a Dutch presence at the entrance — crisp fries loaded into paper cones, herring hauled in all the way from the Netherlands and an endless supply of Heineken — but the majority of the food was of Indonesian origin. In fact, most of the vendors were actually regulars of Duarte’s Pondok Kaki Lima, the pop-up Indonesian food fair that sets up behind the Duarte Inn every Saturday. 

One such Pondok Kaki Lima staple was Ambrosius, whose sate babi — pork skewers lacquered with a sweet, dark char — drew constant crowds. The line never relented, but it never ended in disappointment, either. 

Other stalls, like that of Duarte’s Chicky BBQ, represented the mobile arms of local restaurants. And along with those bigger tents came a larger array of dishes, including perkedel (finely spiced potato croquettes), soto betawi (a Jakarta-style beef soup) and the ubiquitous nasi bungkus. Beyond beer, the various venders also offered drinks like rozenstroop (an iced rose syrup-based beverage) and durian shakes. 

First-time festivalgoers — one woman traveled all the way from Wisconsin — had to seek out spots on the grass as those who had been before came prepared: Some brought foldable chairs, others brought blankets and the truly experienced set up tents in which to eat in peace. But everyone ended up wandering elsewhere, be it to the stage of cover bands or over to the speed skating information booth for yet another Dutch tradition. 

-- Miles Clements