Around the World: Amsterdam is for Foodies!
AMSTERDAM -- Even tourists who don’t think of themselves as foodies consider dining adventures to be vital ingredients for their travel itineraries, and are always hungry for recommendations of destination that provide the best, most memorable meals.
That’s why I’m surprised that more lists suggesting best cities for foodies don’t include Amsterdam among their top ranking destinations. Holland’s hub city is choc-a-bloc with culinary delights that give new meaning to the term ‘Dutch treat.’
When you dine around in Amsterdam, you’ll savor memories of your meals months after you return home and will want to share the good recollections with friends and family. Additionally, a well-designed Amsterdam dine around takes you to outer neighborhoods, so you really get to know the fascinating city and its high quality lifestyle.
Speaking of high quality lifestyle, if you’re lucky (and savvy) enough to be staying at the Volkshotel (Wibautstraat 150, Amsterdam East) – a uniquely designed hostelry and lively cultural hub set in the historic building that was the former headquarters of Amsterdam’s Volksrant newspaper -- start your dine around with breakfast at the rooftop restaurant, where you get a sumptuous buffet of meats, smoked and pickled fish, Dutch and French cheeses, raw and pickled veggies and variously prepared eggs, plus baked-in-house breads, deliciously crispy croissants and other delicious goodies. The buffet is definitely a gorge worthy way to start your day. And, on top of the eats, you get a great panoramic overview of the city before setting out to explore it.
Another super panoramic view is served up with a superb luncheon at Blue Amsterdam, located on the top floors of a stylish shopping complex at Winkelcentrum Kalverpassage, Singel 457, close to the Munt, a historic landmark in the center of town. Often, eateries with spectacular views offer less than spectacular food, but Blue is truly an exception. The menu is quite varied, but not very extensive and individual items aren’t expensive, so sample as much as you can -- just don’t miss the carrot soup, lentil salad and duck confit and black beans burger. And Blue’s fries are obligatory – so much better than those you’ll find in any of the many fast food frittes stands and bistros that are ubiquitous in Amsterdam. Blue also serves incredibly delicious lemonade, a great selection of teas, and superb coffee in your favorite style.
?Amsterdam is famous for repurposing of buildings – and so it is that the Molcho family, a family of restaurateurs, converted the old Citroen garage near Stadionplein (Oude South Amsterdam) into their sparkling modern NENI Amsterdam, where they serve their own special blend of Middle Eastern cuisines. Everything on the NENI menu is fabulous. Lunch is great, but dinner is greater! Best advice is to go with a group of people, so you can order everything and pass the plates. Most highly recommended: Avocado Green Beans, Brussells Sprouts Chips, Fried Cauliflower, Charcoal Roasted Eggplant and Nuriel’s Falafel for starters, followed by Haya’s Moroccan Fish (it’s sea bass), Slow Cooked Short Rib Sinya and Chicken Shawarma for mains, and one of each of the four listed deserts, including Ilan’s Chocolate Cake. You may find yourself so full that you waddle out of NENI, but the waddle is worth every mouthful. And, be sure to make a pre- or post-dining stop at Lemmonman, the companion bar that sits on the top floor of the former Citroen garage. Designer drinks to die for. If you feel that you can’t take it all in in one visit, dine at NENI two times. It’s that good! Cookbooks are available, but only in Dutch.
Just as Amsterdam conscientiously saves building from the scrap heap, so does it decidedly avoid wasting food. Instock Amsterdam (Czaar Peterstraat 21) specializes in rescuing food from the dumpster. The gourmet menu changes frequently to take advantage of supermarket surpluses and items that cannot, for one reason or another, be sold. So, on a Monday, Instock might make a superb curry from cauliflowers that were too small to sell at market and on Tuesday offer a BBQ platter featuring tuna that was still in the market’s frige on its “sell before date.” Supermarkets’ daily delivery of produce, meats, dairy products and baked goods provide inventive chefs with all they need to feed gourmands who love the Instock concept and presentation. The restaurant is a must for anyone – and that means everyone – who values nature’s bounty, loves to eat and embraces the need for sustainability.
As mentioned, dining at these essential Amsterdam eateries requires venturing forth to different neighborhoods. And there’s no better way to get around Amsterdam than with an I Amsterdam Card, which covers city-wide public transportation by metro, tram, bus and ferry, as well as free or discounted entry into some 70 museums, I Amsterdam City Cards are sold at the I Amsterdam Visitor Centre at Stationsplein (opposite Centraal Station), and in I Amsterdam Stores in Centraal Station and at Schipol Airport.
Bon appetite! Or, as they say in Dutch: Eet Smakelijk!