We didn’t cook all the time in Amsterdam. Even though Dutch food isn’t really well-regarded, we had no problem finding delicious food everywhere we went.
“American breakfast” at La Grotte on Haarlemmerstraat.
“English breakfast” at La Grotte.
The Dutch word for shop is winkel. Around the corner from our apartment is a shop named Winkel, so it’s a winkel called Winkel. Anyway, they are famous for having the best apple pie in Amsterdam. Dutch apple pie is more cake-like than American, with a sort of streusel-type filling.
At De Blaffende Vis, we always have one of their salads. It’s a pile of greens with roasted vegetables and a enormous scoop of fresh goat cheese. This time they had warmed the cheese and put it atop a big slice of black bread. I know that looks like a steak, but it’s bread. The warm cheese melted all over the salad like some creamy dressing from heaven.
Amstel beer, named for the Amstel river.
Salads at Burgermeester – a cole slaw with fresh fennel and an arugula salad with roasted vegetables and shaved Parmesan cheese.
An egg and truffle burger at Burgermeester. When the menu said egg, I thought that meant, you know, an egg. I didn’t realize they meant egg salad with bacon, and I would never have thought of putting egg salad on a burger, but it worked rather well.
The regular burger at Burgermeester with grilled onions.
Herring is a very big thing in the Netherlands. It looks raw but it’s been brined so it stays fresh.
There are several ways to eat it. This is the authentic way:
For Americans, they cut it into little pieces, cover it with minced onions, throw some sweet pickles on the side, and stick Dutch flag toothpicks into it. By the time I remembered to take a picture, we’d eaten most of it.
It is imperative that you follow the herring with a beer.
I’d like to take a moment now to remember the single worst thing I have ever been served on an airplane.
We flew on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) and overall the food was pretty good, especially if you are really hungry, as I was on the flight from Chicago to Copenhagen, when we were served some pot roast that was rather good. I mean, it’s not great, but you don’t fly for the food. You hope the food won’t give you salmonella and that it’ll be recognizable and reasonably edible.
This was on the flight from Copenhagen to San Francisco. I wish now that I had thought to take a photo of what we were handed, but I didn’t. However, I found this photo via Google search, and it looks much like what we had. The brand is Polarklamma and the wrapper has a cute little silhouette of a reindeer on it, and you might think that’s a charming translation of “delicious Norwegian sandwich wrap.” Apparently they do make a “delicious Norwegian sandwich wrap” with reindeer meat, but we didn’t get those.
Imagine, if you will, a maxi-pad, the kind with little dots all over it. Imagine this maxi-pad is wrapped around a thin slice of something you believe to be cheese. Imagine the maxi-pad and cheese are very, very cold. Not frozen, but very, very cold.
I took a bite, and then another bite. I chewed thoughtfully for some time – this was one tough maxi-pad – and finally asked my husband, “Do you think if we told the flight attendant that we promise to behave ourselves, that maybe we could have some real food?” I had the feeling the flight attendant was punishing us for something we’d said about price of everything in the Copenhagen airport.
I thought about what the people in business class might be eating. I was pretty sure it was not maxi-pad wraps.
We had lunch at a place called Deksels! on Haarlemmerdijk one day. That’s Deksels! with an exclamation point, for no apparent reason. Deksels! also operates a couple of very spendy kitchen shops.
I loved this presentation of very good bread with a salt and pepper cellar and some extremely good olive oil, all on an olivewood board.
The menu said creamy roasted parsnip soup. I think there was some pumpkin in there as well, with toasted cumin seeds and cilantro. This was one of the best soups I have ever had.
Buacatini carbonara. It was good but a bit salty, and I thought I could probably make a good version back in our apartment, which I did.
One day we took the metro to the Amsterdam Ikea, which is located quite some distance from the city center. It’s ENORMOUS. We had an excellent lunch including some of the best chicken soup ever. I was getting a cold at that point and it was so soothing to have a hot soup when I was not feeling great.
At one of the street markets there was a vendor selling Surinamese food, about which I know zero. But I ordered this chicken sandwich – it doesn’t look like much but it was flavored with a HOT curry.
About the fries: Amsterdam and Belgium make the best fries in the entire world. The place considered the best in Amsterdam is called Vlaamse Friteshuis and they have twenty kinds of toppings for fries. Mayonnaise is the normal sauce – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – but there are lots of other choices.
Fries with Hannibal sauce:
Regulier saus assortiment
1. Mayo (frietsaus 35 %)
2. Zaanse Mayonaise (mustard mayonnaise)
5. Satesaus (Indonesian peanut sauce)
6. Sambal (indonesian hot chili sauce)
7. Joppiesaus (a Dutch curry mayonnaise)
8. Piccalilly (a sweet mustard & pickle sauce)
9. Appelmoes (applesauce)
10. Speciaal ketchup
(dubbel portie saus)
11. Speciaal curry
(dubbel portie saus)
12. Oorlog (mayo, raw onions and Indonesian sate sauce)
(dubbel portie saus)
Belgisch saus assortiment
1. Belgische mayonaise
2. Citroen mayonaise (lemon mayonnaise)
3. Samuraisaus (sambal and mayonnaise)
4. Americainesaus (tomatoes, garlic, cayenne)
5. Tartaarsaus (tartar sauce)
6. Andalousesaus (mayonnaise with tomato paste and peppers)
7. Hannibalsaus (spicy tomato & mayonnaise)
8. Hawaisaus (curry and pineapple)
9. Coctailsaus (cocktail sauce)
11. Groene pepersaus (green pepper sauce)
12. Knoflooksaus (garlic sauce)
13. Mosterd (mustard)
14. Hotshotsaus (hot sauce)
16. Gele curry (yellow curry)
There’s a chain of coffee purveyors called Bagel and Beans. Their coffee is delicious – actually, all the coffee I’ve ever had in Amsterdam was far more delicious than anything I’ve ever had in the US. But we’d never tried their bagels. This was an “oatie” oat bagel with hummus and sundried tomatoes. It was sublime.
At Noordermarkt, there are two brothers who sell impossibly delicious sandwiches, cassoulet, and split pea soup every Saturday. They’re kind of goofy and sing half-remembered songs – we refer to them as The Rocky Raccoon Brothers. This is probably not the place to describe how we almost got on their bad side by making a joke, so I won’t mention it. We patched it all up before we left.
They heat the ham, sausage, and sauerkraut together in a giant frying pan.
I call this the Naughty Sausage Sandwich.
Did you read, “Eat, Pray, Love”? I know a lot of people hated it, but I love it, and I really love this description of when Liz Gilbert and her friend Sofie go to Naples to eat pizza.
“… these pies we have just ordered – one for each of us – are making us lose our minds… I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she’s having a metaphysical crisis about it, she’s begging me, “Why do they even bother trying to make pizza in Stockholm? Why do we even bother eating food at all in Stockholm?…
“Holy of holies!… On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance….Sofie and I each order another pie – another whole pizza each – and Sofie tries to pull herself togethre, but really, the pizza is so good we can barely cope.”
So. La Perla. This place has THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. When we first started going there a few years ago, it was a very tiny space with a few chairs and a couple of long bars across the wall that you might be able to grab a spot at so you could eat your pizza on them, but more likely you’d have to sit outside on the curb or take the pizza with you. When you see people sitting on the sidewalk eating pizza and there’s a line out the door, you just know it’s got to be amazingly fabulous.
Now they’ve bought the old cafe across the street and turned it into a high-tech but earthy dining room. The pizza is still made across the street in a wood-fired oven. Somehow they have worked out a great system to get the pizza over to the dining room.
We ate there three times – once at the bar; twice we made reservations (you HAVE to have a reservation) for a table.
The olives they bring you when you sit down – the green ones taste like butter. Yes.
Carciofo – tomato, buffalo mozzarella, artichokes, olives, capers and garlic
Calabrese di Spilinga· tomato, buffalo mozzarella, ‘nduja (a powerful Salami), origano and spicy oil
prosciutto san daniele · tomato, buffalo mozzarella, san daniele ham, rocket, parmigiano reggiano DOP
Porchetta di Ariccia – from Lazio · tomato, buffalo mozzarella, rocket and brick oven roasted pig from Ariccia
Puttanesca – tomato, buffalo mozzarella, tender anchovies, olives, capers and garlic
Quattro formaggi – tomato, buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola, taleggio, parmigiano reggiano DOP
I missed taking a photo of the margherita pizza – that was our first night in Amsterdam and I had left my camera in the car back in California and hadn’t yet bought a replacement . But after all these pizzas, we agreed the best two were the puttanesca and the margherita (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil olive oil). Basic stuff. So amazing.
I also missed photos of the great Turkish food we ate. But I think there may be another Amsterdam food post coming soon….