With Sudafed in hand and a seasonably inappropriate fur coat on my back, the much anticipated Amsterdam adventure began with auspicious beginnings: Hannah convincing me that, yes, I would know if I had shattered my ear drum while in flight. In the midst of battling The World’s Most Dramatized Sinus Infection, it would seem a trip might not be the best of ideas. But Amsterdam – with its dazzling canals, streets filled with bicycles and gingerbread buildings – was exactly where I needed to be. And with the best food I have yet to experience, I have selected a top eight that does not even cover every delicious morsel we devoured. After all – who needs antibiotics when a good meal is the best medicine?
What I ate: Fries with andalousesaus & truffle mayo / fritesaus.
As a self-proclaimed sauce sensei, when I see a long line boasting fries coated with silky sauce, I’m there. And if its Manneken Pis, apparently I am there twice. As a woman of grand self awareness, I knew that with a list of 22 options, one sauce would not be enough. On our first adventure, I gandered for a combination of classic fritesaus and andalousesaus. The fritesaus’ clean flavor was welcoming of the andalousesaus’ more zingy acidity. And on the second night we ask – why is this night different from all other nights? Because we traded in fritesaus for truffle mayo and upped the ante on the fry game – with positive results. Some images are forever: Peachy andalousesaus melding with cream colored goodness. Plunging our forks into the cones of warm thick potato, we walked the darkening streets of Amsterdam as the red lights began to glow and the people flooded the bridges.
What I ate: Dolma, olive & avocado creme sandwich.
If you’re looking for good eats, set your searches away from restaurants and go straight to the source of authentic food done with care. Seek out the markets. I have similar emotions regarding markets as I do sauces. Overwhelming in their options and bustling in their crowds, markets bring you straight to the action of a city. Hard decisions on the savory front had to be made at Albert Cuyp: Would it be the spicy chicken or the smooth cheeses? As my anti-avocado stance wanes, I was intrigued by Hannah’s avocado creme sandwich. For only three euros, I watched as the man behind the counter married flavors I wouldn’t have imagined. While the rolling olives and thick dolma would appear to be impractical sandwich fillings, the avocado creme did a surprisingly strong job of holding the operation together. And once I got past my fear of a roaming olive, I was able to truly enjoy the melding of Mediterranean flavors as the garlicky olives and dolma melted into the creme.
What I ate: Nasi Goreng.
Rijstaffel is dutch for “rice table.” A traditionally Indonesian meal, rijstaffel embodies the indulgence that marked our Amsterdam experience. When asking my dear friend Jacob – an alum of the Amsterdam abroad adventure – for tips, this was at the top of his list. Emily had also received advice from her family to not only prioritize rijstaffel, but to do so at Sama Sebo. The elaborate meal has an equally imposing price tag to match on a student budget. Luckily, Emily discovered Sama Sebo’s less expensive lunch special and we were able to budget in this very distinctive meal.
I wish I could speak in more detail about the complex flavors and intricacies of each element. However, the meal coincided with a point in time when I somewhat lost my ability to taste due to the condition of my congestion. I will say this – what I could get my taste buds to pick up was exquisite. Sweet, fried bananas wrestled perfectly marinated chicken in a battle royale of flavor. When I eventually return to Amsterdam to live in a extravagant house boat – and maybe finally overcome my fear of bicycles – my first meal will be at Sama Sebo. Clear sinus, full stomach, can’t lose.
What I ate: Vege brekkie – poached eggs, grilled haloumi, avocado, breakfast potatoes, mushrooms, chili dip, toast & turmeric ginger latte.
I published an article for The Dish Madison’s website last semester about Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos. The piece took a look at the visual appeal of food – how we fall drool over videos, photos and media depicting food that will never reach our mouth. In this day and age, a restaurant’s success hinges on more than just an enticing aroma or a flawless bite. The ability to reign Instagram explore pages and viral food accounts plays a more powerful role than ever before. The dulling of the other senses I typically rely on for food allowed me to truly appreciate the beauty of our meal from a more aesthetic and visual perspective. Enter Bakers & Roasters. The vibrant gold of the turmeric ginger latte was not only the perfect remedy for my battered immune system, but also a simply gorgeous color reminiscent of the moon at its peak, harvest brilliance. The crimson chili dip glowed like embers against the charcoal marked haloumi – a meal as stunning as it was delicious. The brunch was a perfect reminder that sometimes a dish can be appreciated for its ocular beauty without the mediator of an iPhone camera. But because I am only a mere mortal, you can bet that the phone still ate first.
What I ate: Nutella filled cinnamon sugar donuts.
Lucy is our Parisian-for-the-semester sister and I therefore consider her an expert on all things bakery related. While Ice Bakery is not quite as refined as the French boulangerie, I trust Lucy’s baked good acumen. Owned by Nutella, Ice Bakery leaves you feeling dazzled in its stacks of candy dipped waffles, chocolate stuffed cupcakes and twirling frozen yogurt. Lucy insisted we try the donuts overflowing with lusty Nutella goodness and rolled in granular cinnamon sugar. This decision solidified her status in my heart as a queen of the bakery scene. Bonus points if you ask the bakers to warm up your donut for maximum creamy indulgence.
What I ate: Waffle with chocolate hazelnut sauce, banana & whipped cream.
Amsterdam is unique from a lot of the other cities I have visited in Europe because of its constant movement. There are no mid day lulls for a siesta or deserted streets on Sunday mornings. Taking a note from the city itself, no moment went without opportunity for a snack. Narrow streets boast windows bursting with colorful snacks: hot dogs saturated in melting cheese, flat stroopwaffels held together by sticky sauce and vending machines supplying hamburgers at the drop of a coin. And plenty of feathery, thick waffles. While I cannot remember the exact name of the shop, their waffle is far from forgetful. Because Nutella and bananas are my favorite crepe combination, I was curious to see how the combination would stack up when quite literally stacked up on a waffle. And while ice cream might be completely off the table for this lactose intolerant lady, when there is a whipped cream there is a way! With a draping of warm, gooey homemade chocolate hazelnut sauce, the waffle delivered the perfect bite.
What I ate: Nutella & banana pannekoek and apple, cheddar & bacon pannekoek.
Courtesy of Emily’s strong planning skills, most of our first day was booked with our must-see sights. Purchasing tickets in advance for the Anne Frank house was the best advice we had been given. On a more serious note, I highly recommend you do not leave Amsterdam without experiencing the Anne Frank House. The museum is incredibly well done – from the original bookshelf and diary pages to the exhibits sharing the Frank story. Moreover, any opportunity to bear witness to the stories of those perished is one that should be taken.
Prior to our time at the Anne Frank House, we committed to having an authentic dish for our first breakfast in Amsterdam. Pannekoek or dutch pancakes are giant, flat pancakes filled with whatever your heart could desire. And because my ventricles are rather mercurial in nature, my heart desired a little bit of salty and a little bit of chocolate. Thankfully, I have friends who are equally split in their cravings and willing to share. As aforementioned, I am always a fan of the Nutella + banana combination. But the winner in this battle of savory vs. sweet this round was the apple, cheddar + bacon combination. We’re not talking any old bacon. Think of the smokiest, thick slices of porky goodness possible. My mom would faint.
What I ate: Poffertjes with powdered sugar and butter.
One time in high school I sat eating what I assumed to be a creamy, herb cheese with a spoon only to discover I had really just consumed half a stick of really fancy butter. So when my fresh poffertjes – the dutch pancake’s mini, fluffy cousin – emerged with a pat of butter dripping down the side, there was not a moment of hesitation. The baby pancakes pack a surprising amount of heavenly air for their size. The test of a food’s pure deliciousness lies is in its ability to exist in simplicity. With just a smattering of powdered sugar and the notorious butter square, the poffertjes don’t need much else to be delicious. But if you’re feeling particularly risque, you can drizzle your tiny orbs with Nutella, stroop sauce or more sticky sweet toppings.
And the finale….
What I ate: Cheese. And lots of it!
If you have not gathered from this entire post – Nutella, creamy sauces, a pat of butter – I have very poor decision making skills for a body that cannot handle dairy. But if you say no to a museum dedicated to cheese, you are far crazier than me. Think of Bubba from Forrest Gump, but with cheese – truffle cheese, gouda cheese, pesto cheese, pink cheese, blue cheese, spicy cheese, creamy cheese, mild cheese, sharp cheese…our fellow lad on tour Rachel put it best: “The cheese museum changed my life!”