For my first outside-of-France voyage so far, I spent the first week of fall break in Amsterdam. Not only did I see this trip as a vacation and adventure but also as a time to break-free of mindless snacking, baguettes, pastries and other devilish treats. God laughs when you’re busy making plans…
Some may not come to Amsterdam to eat, but boy did we eat. Within an hour of arriving, Sarah, Megan and I found a hot stroopwafel stand at a nearby market. For those of you unfamiliar with stroopwafels, they’re thin waffle sandwiches filled with ooey gooey caramel.
Forget macarons. Forget crepes. Forget eclairs. My new favorite sweet treat is undoubtedly the stroopwafel. Hot off the griddle or packaged on the supermarket shelf, the chewy, cinnamon-y, cookie-like dessert is mind-blowingly good.
Our first memorable meal in Amsterdam was lunch at Toastable. We had no intention of stopping to sit down for lunch but couldn’t resist the adorable entrance. Just steps down from the street lay a bright and inviting coffee shop screams cozy escape from the cold. If I had my computer, it would’ve been an ideal spot for blogging. We started with coffees only to be lured into the restaurant’s popular toasted sandwiches. We walked away in a delightful sandwich coma.
Hearing English spoken around Amsterdam was music to our ears and spotting some American favorites was a blessing to our bellies. As we set out each day, we always passed by Village Bagels. After several mornings of resisting, we finally gave in. I almost cried tears of joy when I saw everything bagels and chive cream cheese on the menu. Even though the bagels were about ½ the size of bagels back home, they hit the nostalgia-for-America spot.
If you’re visiting Amsterdam, I highly suggest you purchase a Holland Pass. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of how it works, but essentially it saves you money on sites and museums around the city. We cashed in one of our discounts on a cheese tasting at Reypenaer – an authentic Dutch cheese maker.
With a group of 15 or so, we were led to the basement of the Reypenaer cheese shop for the tasting. This included a sampling of six cheeses and glasses of white, red and Port wines. Our guide educated us about the process of traditional cheese making and how Reypenaer achieves its distinctive taste using old-school techniques. At each table, we were given a chart to fill out as we went along, noting favorable wine pairings, flavors, textures, etc. At the end of it, we each received a certificate deeming us “official cheese experts”. If you like cheese, this is definitely something fun and different to do while in Amsterdam.
On our first day, we passed by a crowded falafel place. I stopped in for a light snack only to find my dream come true – a falafel bar. Kind of like Chipotle or Willy’s, Maoz provides a bar of toppings for your pita. The exciting twist at Maoz is that YOU fill your own pita. I stuffed mine with as many fillings as I could including fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, Mediterranean sauces and feta. As I’m writing this, I just discovered that Maoz has locations across the world so I suggest you find the one closest to you.
There was no food research done for this trip – our meals were led completely by our stomachs. One night we craved Thai food, while the other we chose Indian. On our last night in Amsterdam we feasted on nachos at a nearby Irish pub. If I could do it again, I’d be sure to try Indonesian food because the country was once a Dutch colony and has a large culinary presence around the city. After asking for Dutch food suggestions, we learned that there is no such thing. Stroop wafels can count as our Dutch food experience, right?
When in doubt, be adventurous and wander the streets of Amsterdam in between checking out the sites. Chances are you’ll find something delicious and different to satisfy your palette.
- Toastable, Singel 441 Sous, Amsterdam
- Village Bagels, Vijzelstraat 137 Amsterdam
- Reypenaer Cheese Shop, Singel 182, 1015 AJ Amsterdam
- Maoz – several locations