Last week we were in Amsterdam with my father, my Aunt Connie, and Aunt Lori. It was my first time in the Netherlands, and it did not disappoint! It’s such a magical, beautiful place…despite the massive amount of tourists and bikes! No joke, there are 800,000 people living in Amsterdam and 1 million bikes. While this blog post will focus mostly on what we ate (!) we did do some of the go-to tourist stuff like the Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt), the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, a canal dinner cruise, and even the XtraCold IceBar.
I highly recommend walking through the flower market, and perhaps picking up a bag of tulip bulbs to plant at home, and you have to see Van Gogh and Anne Frank. The food on the dinner cruise was less than appetizing, so do a cruise without food. The IceBar is well, an experience. Coming from Chicago, it actually didn’t feel so cold (it was 9°C).
We stayed at an Airbnb at Herengracht 361 — a perfect location right in the heart of the city center. Note: “Gracht” translates to “canal.” Here’s the view from our living room window:
On our first night in town, we had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant called Mashua. I had the cau cau de mariscos, or seafood prepared in mashed yellow peppers with homemade fish broth, fresh mint, diced potato and carrot, and rice. Yum!
For Dutch pancakes (because you can’t NOT have pancakes while in the Netherlands!) we went to The Happy Pig where they specialize in the rolled pancake. They have sweet and savory options and I opted for a bit of both — wheat pancake with fresh banana and strawberries with bacon and maple syrup. Major YUM!
On our second evening, Robert and I enjoyed the Dutch Flower Power 5-course menu at de culinaire werkplaats. Here is a description of the dishes, followed by photos:
SNEAK PREVIEW | homemade flatbread + asparagus topping
FLOWER BOMB | roses, lavender, almond
FLOWER ARRANGEMENT | cauliflower, beans, spices, fresh herbs
SPRING GARDEN “KEUKENHOF” | vitelotte noir, root vegetables, tomato
GLASS HOUSE | vanilla, pumpkin, dark chocolate
We sampled Dutch “bar bites” at a restaurant recommended by our landlord and down the street from our house, Herengracht Restaurant & Bar. The Dutch really love their croquettes, but I must admit that I wasn’t a huge fan. However, I will eat all of the samosas and cheese sticks. 🙂
I stumbled upon Lotti’s while doing a little Amsterdam restaurant research, and knew I had to make a visit for breakfast. Lotti’s was located just a couple of canals from our house inside The Hoxton Hotel. It’s such a cute and cozy place — I wish I had time to go back and curl up with a book and a cup of tea. I had the Lotti’s Benedict with avocado, smoked salmon, two poached eggs, hollandaise, and caviar.
For me, the absolute highlight of our trip was the Hungry Birds Street Food Tour, which I learned about on the Kaffee und Kuchen blog (thank you, Meredith!) We met up with Rachel, our “Mother Bird,” at 10:30am and spent the following 4.5 hours walking the city and making stops to sample food. Seriously, is there a better way to spend a day?? Rachel was so full of energy and so passionate about Amsterdam and food — it was contagious!
The first stop on our tour was Toko Ramee, an Indonesian/Asian specialty food shop with a food counter. We sampled two things: a Pastel (similar to an empanada) filled with vermicelli noodles, beef, hard boiled egg, and some wonderful spices, and Spekkoek, or Indonesian layer cake with cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and anise. Ours had 12 layers!
Our next stop (and my favorite stop) was Tjin’s Toko, an international grocery and Surinamese meal takeaway store located just off the Albert Cuyp Market, Europe’s longest daytime market. We had a Surinamese Chicken Sandwich with a very spicy sauce!
Then, we made our way into the market to sample seafood. We had Kibbeling, or fried cod, served with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and garlic sauce and Herring with raw onion and pickles.
Our next stop at the market was sweet. We had Poffertjes, or small fluffy pancakes with butter and powdered sugar.
Before leaving the market we picked up a Stroopwafel at Original Stroopwafels. A stroopwafel or “syrup waffle” is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough filled with a caramel-like syrup.
After leaving the market we made our way over to Klaver 4, a popular lunch spot and for good reason. As white asparagus is currently in season (April-June), we had a white asparagus soup and a white asparagus quiche.
We then headed over to the famous Vleminckx Sausmeesters for french fries, one of my favorite things! They serve up Belgian fries that are fried twice so they are extra crispy, and you can choose from 28 different sauces. I went with Rachel’s recommendation, the Oorlog Mix, with mayonnaise, satay sauce, and raw onion.
Last but certainly not least, we walked over to Dutch Delicacy – De Mannen Van Kaas, a huge cheese shop modeled after Eataly. We tasted five different types of cheese (one with cumin, one with truffle, goat, and two types award-winning gouda). Not only was the cheese tasty, they have an amazing bakery and gift shop.
With happy hearts and full bellies, we bid farewell to Rachel and went home to nap. I really can’t say enough good things about the Hungry Birds Street Food Tour. If you’re in Amsterdam, DO IT. It’s the perfect way to see, experience, and eat your way through the city. Without our Mother Bird, Rachel, we never would have seen some areas of the city and found all of the hidden food gems. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
After eating such delicious seafood at the market, we wanted more. Rachel recommended The Seafood Bar which most definitely satisfied our craving. We went to the location on Spui and Robert and I shared the Fruits de Mer or “Seafood Bar,” a combination of cold crustaceans and shellfish including mussels, cockles, scallop, razor clams, periwinkles, amandes, north sea crab, seaweed salad, prawns, langoustines, lobster, snow crab, and oysters.
Until next time, Amsterdam. ♥