Photos by Nomi Abeliovich
Move your mouse to either end of the slide show to view photos of the food available in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam's local food scene seems to have little to do with the city's status as a top tourist destination. Yet local and seasonal specialties are interwoven with below-then-mediocre eateries aimed at the tourist high tide that constantly washes over the city. Here are some places worth trying:
Biologische Noordermarkt: The rich selection of organic breads, dairy products, meat, fruit, and vegetables in Amsterdam's organic market is the best place to experience the seasons and the quality of local produce. Stock up on for a picnic in the park, or in the likely scenario of rain, the living room. Open on Saturdays.
Located inside a windmill, Brouwerij' t IJ offers a tasting menu of the organic, unfiltered, un-pasteurized and top-fermented beers produced on the premises for 4.50 Euro. There is also free a tour of the brewery every Friday (check the Web site for more information).
On the site of a medieval beer-brewing monastery for virtuous and fallen women today stands De Bekeerde Suster, the conversion sister brewery. Located in the heart of the red-light district, the brewery offers a large selection of beers from around the world alongside beers brewed on the premises using traditional medieval recipes.
The beer traditionally brewed by Trappist monks to support their abbey is known as Trappist beer. Today, Trappist beer is produced in small quantities within the walls of only 7 remaining Trappist brewery/abbeys, and despite the lack of advertising it remains highly sought after. A good place to sample the beers and a plate of Trappist cheese is in one of the best local beer bars, Gollem.
Freshly made local food is scattered round the streets of Amsterdam. Much of the street food is either fried or covered in butter--or both. (Herring is an exception.) It's a wonderfully naughty treat. Keep a look out for vendors in central junctions, busy intersections and at markets.
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Herring is sold in trailers around the city. The fish is gutted and cleaned straight from the net with only the pancreas left intact, as it provides the enzymes needed for curing. It is then salted for several days, resulting in a silky smooth and lightly salted fish. Sliced into bite-sized pieces, the herring is sprinkled with raw onion and paired with a pickled gherkin. The Dutch flag gives the finishing touch, and doubles as a fork. A true local culinary highlight.
Patat, re-fried French fries, served with peanut sauce and the classic mayonnaise squirted on top, are an equally famous Dutch specialty.
Poffertjes are Dutch miniature pancake pillows. Traditionally they are covered with powdered sugar and served with butter.
Local tearooms are a great place to start the day, stop for a snack, a light lunch, or afternoon tea.
On Mondays and Tuesdays Gartine restaurant-tearoom is closed as Kirsten and Willem-Jan Hendriks work in their small farm on the outskirts of Amsterdam. For the rest of the week they serve their produce alongside products from Slow Food's Ark of Taste as well as eggs from the Adopt a Chicken foundation. All the food prepared here is local, organic and seasonal, and changes accordingly. The Hendriks are also antique collectors, so the tableware and artifacts add to the intimacy. Open for breakfast, lunch, and tea. A reservation is recommended, as there are few tables.
De Bakkerswinkel is a small chain of bakery-tearooms specializing in traditional bread and pastries as well as seasonal hearty light food.
De tart van m'n tante is a Konditorei, café, and B&B near the Albert Cuyp market with brightly colored décor and unusual cakes.
Stientjes is a Dutch lunchroom that specializes in local nostalgia. The pastries, homemade cooking, and specialty products are all based on traditional recipes using local ingredients. Inside, the décor is both tranquil and vibrant as large Vermeer prints and utensils chandeliers hang in an otherwise traditional bakery space. Open till high tea, you can try the specialty suikerbrood, though you might as well try the entire pastry selection, available in sample portions.
Hartog's bakery opened in 1896 and hence is a local institution. The locals come here for the breads made with wholemeal flour ground in their own mill, without preservatives or other additives. You can choose a bread and filling of your choice at their sandwich shop around the corner where you can also take a coffee break. The seating area is literally inside the bakery, so you can enjoy an aged Beemster cheese sandwich while overlooking the making of speculaas, traditional Dutch spice biscuits.
A cross-section of the former Dutch colony Suriname reveals an extremely diverse population resulting in a confusing variety of Surinamese restaurants that specialize in Chinese, Indian, or African cuisines. Surinamese roti is a popular take-out dish in the Netherlands and significant in the local food culture. Albina is a Surinamese-Chinese restaurant located at Albert Cuypstraat 69 and arguably serves the best roti in town. Less then 5 euros buys a plate with the most wonderfully cooked lamb, chicken, or vegetable curry, potatoes, a boiled egg, and the roti bread; all the comforts of a homemade meal that tastes of a place far, far away.
Bird's Thai snack bar is, as the name suggests, a small snack bar that serves excellent and inexpensive Thai food. The intimate eatery is shared between the diners and the kitchen space and I can only wish you the best of luck in finding a free seat and recommend you try the Thom Kha Gai.
Don't forget to purchase the dangerously addictive stroopwafels; two waffles glued together with a layer of butter caramel syrup were made to be had with morning coffee. Consider yourself warned and highly recommended.