Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 random Amsterdam food experiences

Earlier this year, Mr M, two friends and I went to Amsterdam for a few days. I hadn't really researched much about the city and the only rough plan of action I had in mind was visiting the Van Gogh Museum and chilling out. And chilling out, in my book, means a few decent food treats must be included.

With the help of some local friends, here you have 5 random food experiences we really enjoyed - all for different reasons:

-Spicy Ethiopian 
In the Jordaan district we found a cool Ethiopian restaurant called Semhar and recommended by one of the guides the group had. The place was a fantastic discovery, offering authentic Ethiopian food in a simple and homely family-run restaurant. The whole group really enjoyed the spicy Ethiopian delights -both vegetarians and meat eaters- presented in huge platters, perfect for sharing.

-Say Poffertjes 
The Spaniards have churros, the French have pancakes and the Dutch batter-delicious cross between the two is poffertjes. They might look like Yorkshire puddings to go with your roast dinner but are infinitely more delicious and sweet. We found them at the Albert Cuypmarkt, after being recommended by our local friend, Isis. Nice and warm, sprinkled with sugar and a lump of tasty unsalted Dutch butter, this was street food heaven. We couldn't get enough.

After trying once, there was no way we were going to let this discovery go so easily: it was poffertjes every time we had the chance. We were even tempted to buy a poffertjes pan to take home. Because it sounds like 'cheese' we thought it would be the ideal word for picture taking...

-Street Haring
Being a big fan of Swedish and Polish herring I had to try the Dutch version. There were plenty of street vendors so we went for a herring roll to see if it lived up to expectations. Stuffed in a soft bun with onions and pickles, I thought it would be pretty much the same as the Scandinavian herring but I was wrong! It was slimy and felt and tasted a bit too raw for my taste buds. I finished the bun but after crossing it off my list, it will not be an experience I will be looking to repeat any time soon. We also tried the smoked eel, and while it didn't sound as pleasant, it was incredibly tasty. That is one definitely for your to-eat list, if you get a chance.

-Food with a view
Our Galician friend Lucia had studied a couple of tourist guides and had found plenty of interesting tips, including a lunch suggestion involving the city library, a few minutes walk from the Central Station. A library for lunch? Bizarre, we thought but we soon found out it had a decent choice of international food made on the spot at pretty decent prices. Its biggest attraction , however, was its great view of the city since it is on the top floor- if it wasn't for the fog!. Ok, so we didn't get to see much of the view but we could just about make it out.

-Cheese Tasting
 Reypenaer cheese makers have been selling cheese in Amsterdam for over one hundred years. Their shop organises tastings for keen cheese loving visitors, with your own 'expert in cheese tasting' certificate to take home at the end of it.

The tasting is a bit of a marketing gimmick but good fun all the same! you get to try some of the house's cheeses, from the chevre affine to the mature Reypener reserve, along with some wine; and mark each of them. And it will guarantee you will make a stop at the shop to take home some of their cheeses.