3 Days in Amsterdam - An Ode to Food
As I was writing these blogs, I figured that I could see a theme developing as I was writing. Each country that we had been in taught me some lessons (as the silly American that I am!) and so I just simply assumed that I would write about some lessons that Amsterdam taught me. And, I mean, I could. If you’ve ever watched The League, there’s certain parts of my brain that will eternally scream, “FOREVER UNCLEANNNNNN!” in a Rodney Ruxin voice. (Kendall, am I right?)
Full disclosure: I just sat and giggled for about five minutes watching that Youtube clip.
But, the more that I thought about the things that I wanted to write about regarding Amsterdam, the more I kept coming back to the food that I ate and how much I loved it. It might be that I was some PTSD from the lack of food that I ate while I was in France (American user error, I assure you), but I was thoroughly enjoying the wide variety of food that I ate while in Amsterdam.
But, I could spend a bunch of time telling you that I completely wussed out in going into any coffee shops (I’m going to tell you all it was for marathon reasons, but mostly, I’m a giant wimp), I didn’t see any live sex shows in the Red Light District (forever uncleannnnn), and I didn’t bring home any uniquely unusable condoms from the Condomerie, much to the sadness of most of my friends. I’d also probably tell you that I would put those things on a to-do list of the city and then go take a really long shower and possibly also get a tetanus shot for good measure.
The real gem of my trip to Amsterdam was the variety of meals that we ate. You would think that after my huge pot of mussels in Bruges that I wouldn’t be so keen to indulge in more seafood, but it’s easily one of my favorite foods.
I always ask people what their favorite foods are. I feel that you have two kinds: foods that you could eat every day for the rest of your life and special foods that you love on occasion. For me, easily one of my top foods are oysters and I seek them out every where I go. And Amsterdam did not disappoint!
Our first night, the concierge gave us a recommendation for a seafood bar called, literally, The Seafood Bar. Kendall and I were in heaven and it was so hard to make just one choice for what to order. We started with a variety platter of oysters, 8 total - 2 from four various regions. Amazing! We finally decided on a cold seafood platter that included: King Crab legs, smoked salmon, mussels, prawns and a variety of other fish, shrimp and shellfish. It was an incredible smorgasbord of tasty noms from the sea! One of my favorite things of our entire dinner (if I could pick just one!) was my Bloody Mary - coming topped with an oyster! Be still my heart!
On our second night, we headed to a Trip Advisor find, a small no-reservations restaurant called Van Kerkwijk, tucked back into an alley of one of the main streets of Amsterdam. It was one of those restaurants that if you weren’t looking for it, you might walk right by it. The entire restaurant was very small, with approximately 10 tables and a small bar. The menu at VK was small, pre-planned each day. As we sat down, we weren’t even handed menus, the server simply told us our options and we chose!
This was hands-down my favorite meal of the entire trip. For starters, we had a variety of mousse (Kendall, fish. For me, bleu cheese) that were absolutely incredible. The bleu cheese mousse was topped with bacon wrapped dates, which was phenomenal. I’d still highly contend that that might have been my favorite dish of the entire trip as well!
We finished the meal with an amazing caramel dessert - just another sticky sweet piece of awesome from this meal! Even better, even with a bottle of wine, our dinner was beyond affordable. In fact, it was less than 70 euro. Easily the cheapest dinner meal that we had.
We finished our final night in Amsterdam with our “Thanksgiving” dinner at a French bistro called Cafe Caron. It was a recommendation from another traveler that we met in Bruge - a lady traveling almost our exact trip, but in reverse. And, if you can believe, she was from Chicago, so we were able to talk about some familiar city memories! The world can be so small sometimes.
I felt as though Cafe Caron was the perfect finish to our time on our European adventure, a wraparound back to our first days in Paris. Cafe Caron’s menu was simple as well, a choice of three for each phase of the meal. We had oysters as well, for one last time, before we headed back to the United States.
This was just another example of a fabulous meal in Amsterdam. The French-themed meals included fish slivers (cod?) with pea and roe, as well as a venison steak and small whole bird (I’d like to think this made for a fitting Thanksgiving dinner meal!).
Even though we had large dinners most nights, I have to give credit to some of the amazing cafes and small meals that we had. We had our first bitterballen (little fried veal croquettes) at Cafe de Pels and as well as a few Dutch pints. Safe to say, I love bitterballen and it’s one of my favorite “street” foods that we had while traveling.
We also had an adorable and very “American” style breakfast brunch at Cafe George. It was an easy morning, late-lunch kind of place and I was very happy to have some fresh fruit and yogurt. At this point in the trip, my stomach had been bothering me (likely from hours of flying) so it was the perfect light and sweet breakfast.
I also can’t say enough good things about the Hotel Andaz, both their staff and their lounge. Even though we never ate at the restaurant in the hotel, the staff was able to give us some great recommendations in and around the city that were amazing! And, even better, every day from 5-7pm, they offered a wine happy hour, which we took full advantage of as we planned our nightly reservations!