Amsterdam

Ejo #75 – Drunk In….. Amsterdam 

Being my favourite place in the world, and one of my most frequently visited, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I’ve often found myself drunk* in this beautiful, vibrant, culturally stimulating, inviting and fun city. I guess the reason I haven’t written about it before in this series is that I have kind of wanted to keep these hidden gems private. But, in the spirit of sharing and an effort at magnanimity, behold as I lay bare just a few of our favourite corners of Amsterdam (surely you don’t expect me to give up ALL my secrets) places to get tipsy and places best experienced tipsy.

The Seafood Bar

For the last couple of years it’s become a tradition that the first meal we have after arriving in Amsterdam is at The Seafood Bar, located right next to Vondelpark. I can’t remember why or how that happened, but now I simply can’t imagine eating anywhere else on that first day. It’s become one of those things that gets me excited about an upcoming trip.

 

To me, The Seafood Bar = Amsterdam.

 

Bright and lively, it’s a place where you can get some fresh seafood cooked perfectly and served to you by attractive young waitstaff with a smile and a quip. For some reason we always get the same thing. A plate of 16 mixed oysters, fish and chips and a bottle of Ruinart champagne. Any time we’ve tried to stray from that formula we usually spend about 45 minutes trying to pick something else from the menu and then end up ordering the same thing anyway. And it’s not for lack of enticing options. Everything sounds (and looks) delicious. Maybe one of you could try something else from the menu and tell me about it.

 

I don’t eat much bread but I eat this bread. You would too.

 

Invariably, the best oysters are the local Tara’s. Fucking delicious.

 

Light and crisp batter is the signature. Delicious tartar a bonus.

 

Restaurant P. King

One of our favourite places to get a morning-after fry-up is P. King. It’s a pretty ordinary looking café that serves a pretty damn good version of Dutch brekky – ham and fried eggs smothered in melted cheese. We usually get the heart-starter version with added bacon because we’re on holiday and because we’re little piggies. We also like to get a morning after beer (because: see reasons already mentioned).

 

My concession to healthy eating? No bread.

Foam Gallery

I always like to inject a little culture into our drunken trips and on this occasion we visited the edgy Foam Gallery to check out an exhibition on the artist Francesca Woodman who killed herself at the tender young age of 22. Photographs weren’t allowed but I managed to sneak a couple in for you.

She was doing nude self-portraits from the age of thirteen.

 

An exhibition so captivating I wanted to take it home with me..

Foodhallen

I have a theory that any city worth living in has a a foodmarket, a collection of eateries and drinkeries all under one roof where you can spend an entire afternoon grazing and nibbling and sipping and slurping your way through all the stores before stumbling home for a well earned nap. Amsterdam’s version is located just outside the four canal belt but well worth the “trek”. Just like the city itself it is small but perfectly formed and worth exploring every nook and cranny. Below are some of the highlights.

 

Bitterballen are a Dutch staple.

 

More incredible oysters, with Champagne.

 

Spanish style gintonics. Each gin is served with different aromatics.

 

The most delicious cheese toasti in existence. Cheese, onion, leek, spring onion. Perfection.

 

So unnecessary and yet so necessary. Zabaglione canoli.

Screaming Beans

Best coffee in Amsterdam. That is all.

Cappuccino.

 

 

Best espresso I’ve ever had.

 

Cosy café to bunker down in when you get hit by a sudden hailstorm.

Pazzi Slow Food Pizza

It’s all in the name here. You WILL have to wait for a table (there’s only seating for about ten) but it’s well worth it. When you’re seated in the little alcove, bumping shoulders with strangers as you reach for your last slice of pizza and take a sip of your Tuscan red, you’ll feel like you’ve somehow been transported to Italy. Delizioso.


Laurierboom

Amsterdam is littered with old-fashioned pub style drinking holes called bruine cafés, or brown cafés. They are warm, cosy, friendly and usually serve a great variety of beers. They’re not trendy places (nor are they trying to be) and the bar is as likely to be propped up by a small group of elderly gentlemen sharing a joke as it is by a younger couple playing checkers. A brown bar isn’t a place for drunken revelry but more for quiet enjoyment and if that’s what you’re after you are more than welcomed to join in. My favourite is Laurierboom in the Jordaan. We always try to drop in for a game of backgammon and a beer.

A very serious game of backgammon.

 

An even more serious game of chess.

 

* Drunk in this instance suggests to say joyfully inebriated. I don’t really advocate or enjoy the kind of drunk that is sometimes associated with Amsterdam.

Ejo #34 – TEEC: Day 25 (The Best Of…)

BEST COFFEE
AMSTERDAM
Latei
http://www.latei.net/

BERLIN
The Barn
http://thebarn.de/

MÜNCHEN
Bar Centrale
http://www.bar-centrale.com/

BEST BAR
BERLIN
Zyankali
http://www.zyankali.de/

Zyankali (apparently) means cyanide in German. There were razor blades and barbed wire set in resin on the toilet seat, spiders under glass for the bar top, beakers, Bunsen burners and test tubes behind the bar. The cocktails were amazing, and delicious and the place was warm and inviting. Highly recommended!!!

I know, it’s kinda gross but hey, i think deep down you really wanted to see it!

BEST SIT DOWN DINNER
AMSTERDAM
In De Keuken
http://www.indekeuken.com/

Best meal in Amsterdam. Relaxed environment but really top quality dishes. This was the unbelievably good peach dessert. In contention for best dessert ever.

BERLIN
Lorenz Adlon
http://www.lorenzadlon-esszimmer.de/en/mission

BERLIN – HONORABLE MENTION
Baldon Sur Mer
No website.

This place had room for 19 guests. It’s tiny, but the food is world class. Nina, the sommelier, was a delight, charming us with her friendliness and wine choices to match the six delicious courses. Only just pipped at the post by Lorenz Adlon (though it only cost 20%).

MÜNCHEN
Tantris
http://www.tantris.de/home.php

MOST FUN EVENT
AMSTERDAM
House Of Bols Tour
http://www.houseofbols.com

BERLIN
Berlin Festival
http://www.berlinfestival.de/?lang=en

MÜNCHEN
Oktoberfest
http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/

BEST QUOTE
AMSTERDAM
“I speak English, I just don’t want to help you”

BEST FAST FOOD
BERLIN
Mustafa’s Döner Kebap
http://mustafas.de/

BERLIN – HONORABLE MENTION
Curry 36
http://www.curry36.de/

SOOOOOOOO much better than it looks. And so good at the end of a big night. Berlin, thank you for the best currywurst!!

BEST DECISION
AMSTERDAM
Catching up with Claire, Ben, Kevin and Rachel

The Amstergang: Claire, Ben, David, Rachel, Kevin (and me, of course)!!!

AMSTERDAM – HONORABLE MENTION
To get my hair cut
http://www.lysandro.nl/en/about-us/about-us/

BERLIN
To wait in line for Döner at Mustafa’s

MÜNCHEN
To wear a dirndl to Oktoberfest

BEST WEATHER
AMSTERDAM
The day we left

BERLIN
The day we left

MÜNCHEN
The day we left

Ejo #34 – TEEC: Day 19 (What I’ll Miss About Amsterdam)

THE BIKES
The bikes are everywhere. Amsterdam is super bicycle friendly and you need to develop an extra sense for them when walking out and about in the city. Cyclists have right of way (pretty well at all times, even when you wouldn’t think so) so they tend to be a little assertive in exercising that right. You don’t want to mess with an Amsterdammer zipping along on her bicycle. You would lose that fight. But the city wouldn’t be nearly as charming without all those bikes. Apparently, close to 60% of all trips in the inner city are made on bicycle. In fact the whole country is mad for them. Watch out if you’re taking a stroll between 8-9am. Two million bicycles are estimated to be on the roads during morning peak hour.

Look out! You have to check for bikes in both directions before crossing the street. Even a one way street!

Bike parking madness. Most people buy ordinary, dull bikes to deter the many bike thiefs out there. Nothing fancy for the Amsterdammers. Though I’ve got my eye on that pretty red bike there.

Feel like parking your bike in the middle of the pavement? Go right ahead. I guess we’ll just walk around!!!

A few of the many, many bikes available to rent. No, we haven’t ever ridden in Amsterdam (so far)! Maybe next time I’ll muster up the courage. Maybe do a bit of training first!!!

STROOPWAFELS
So, remember back on Day 14 where I talked about how everyone is addicted to crack? No? Let me remind you. We were with friends, discussing what food (or drink) we considered to be our “crack”. In other words, what food can you simply not live without? For what consumable would you be willing to take hostages?? Or, if you are a recovering crackhead, what grub can you not touch with a five foot pole in the fear that it will trigger a binge of epic proportions?? For me, I can’t go near chocolate or bread. But the crack that I do allow myself to indulge in is the stroopwafel. A stroopwafel (for the uninitiated) is composed of two thin, chewy, round waffles smeared with thick caramel and squeezed together. I don’t think I need to go into any more detail about it. I think we are all in agreement that this must be the most delicious confection known to man (thank goodness only available in Amsterdam – if you know of anywhere else, PLEASE don’t tell me).

OMG! That is all.

THE LIGHT
Amsterdam is the furthest north I’ve ever been in the world and this might explain the gorgeous luminosity of the light here. It is crisp, clean, clear, fresh and beautiful. And I just want to gulp it down as a powerful antidote to the hazy, cloudy, thick, sandy, gluggy atmosphere of Dubai. But as well as the glorious natural light which bathes the city, there is a time of day, every evening, just as twilight starts to lose the battle against darkness, when a warm, inviting, golden glow starts to emanate from the inside. Most of the houses in Amsterdam, and particularly the canal houses, have huge windows (probably to let in that gorgeous light I’m talking about). And in the evenings, when the chill and darkness settle in, there is nothing more welcoming and heartwarming than walking through the streets taking in that gorgeous glow.

The spectacularly clear morning light streaming in through our bedroom window.

Warm light #1

Warm light #2. Don’t you just wish you were in there with a roaring fire and a nice bottle of red wine laughing at all the people outside wishing they were inside… I’m sure that’s what they’re doing!

There’s lots more I’ll miss. It’s a beautiful place.