Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Coffee In Amsterdam

Coffee In Amsterdam

Coffee in Amsterdam

If you know Amsterdam, even a little, you’ll know the Amsterdammer loves their coffee. No business or social meeting, no discussion, no task can begin without a “bakkie” (cup of coffee).  They can be quite particular about it too, which was surprising to me, as I had always associated the coffee culture with more southern European countries.  But, the Dutch are one of the largest consumers of coffee in the world.  On all those lists of statistics they usually come in about third place.  Tea seems to have more or less by passed the Dutch,  so don’t whatever you do order tea when you’re out – it’s just not, well, just not up to scratch.

It all starts hundreds of years ago and is down to economics that meant the Dutch were responsible for coffee being spread over the globe.

Originally, coffee was found in Kaffa, a province of Ethiopia, from there it was cultivated in the Yemen.  The Yemeni realised it’s value and banned further spread of the plants and so, showing where there’s a will there’s a way, the always enterprising Dutch took not the plants, but the beans to India.  At that time, much of the country was in the hands of the Dutch and they founded the first Dutch coffee farms there.

From India, in 1699, the Dutch via their formidable trading company, the VOC, took coffee to Batavia (now Jakarta) and became the largest supplier of coffee in Europe.

Drinking a cup of coffee in Amsterdam is done from early morning to late at night.  It’s just as acceptable to order a coffee at 3am in a dive bar on your way home after a heavy night out as it is to grab a cup on your way to work in the morning.

One of the worst culinary offences you can commit against a Dutch person is to offer them a bad or mediocre cup of coffee.  They are all experts, they all have their own specific taste and their own favourite places to have a ‘bakkie’ when out in town.  Although, I have to say it is quite difficult to get a ‘bad’ cup of coffee in Amsterdam (unless of course you go to one of those international chains), I wanted to share some of my favourite spots with you anyway.  They are all excellent coffee makers, but my personal criteria for a good coffee stop is atmosphere, authenticity and of course that they offer tasty treats to enjoy with, after or before your coffee.

There’s just one thing I feel I should bring to your attention, my coffee recommendations should not be confused with ‘Coffee Shops’.  These are establishments where ok, you might be able to get a coffee, but, there’s probably a little extra something in there – I’m sure you know what I mean.

My Favourite Coffee In Amsterdam

Coffee In Amsterdam

De Jaren: A converted bank building in the centre of the city with one of the best terraces – right on the water.  Yotam Ottolenghi used to frequent this restaurant when he was a student in Amsterdam.

Coffee In Amsterdam

Café De Bazel : This café is part of the Stadsarchief (city Archives) and is a great little oasis away from the city when it just gets too busy.  There’s lots to discover in the archive building as well as coffee.

Coffee In Amsterdam

Concerto : I could live here.  This is a record shop, yes, I have used the old term because they still sell records, vinyl I think the youths call it.  They have little concerts and they have a coffee area.  My hideout on a rainy day.

Coffee In Amsterdam

Zuivere Coffee, Utrechtsestraat 39 (no website) : Cute and quirky little place.  They’ve got a tiny gorgeous terrace out the back of the shop, which you’d never know from outside.

Coffee In Amsterdam

Ysbreker: This is practically an extension of my living room.  I’ve been going here for almost 20 years, it’s on my route to town, and honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Coffee In Amsterdam

Brazuca : Another neighbourhood coffee stop for me.  This is all about Brazilian coffee, freshly roasted – you can tell.

Coffee In Amsterdam

De Coffee Salon : A local Amsterdam chain, guaranteed a good brew.

Amsterdam Private Food Tours

If this has made you hungry for more, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best food the city has to offer.

Klaarenbeek Zorgboederij

klaarenbeek2

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

You know I like to tell you about my favourite places in Amsterdam to eat or drink, well this falls into that category, but it’s a bit different.

A ‘Zorgboederij’ is a small farm where people who may struggle to get into mainstream employment for physical or mental health reasons can find work.  They are helped and mentored by paid experts and volunteers.  Klaarenbeek Zorgboederij is a beautiful traditional Dutch style small holding.  It has a garden where you can pick your own berries and buy some seasonal vegetables – all organic.  They have a nursery so you can buy plants for your garden and they sell a selection of products like dishes, plates, scarves made by people who don’t necessarily work on the farm but have other talents.  You’ll find this all in the shop as well as sometimes delicious local honey and tasty jams.

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

From 1st May until 30th September you can enjoy a cup of tea with a sandwich or cake in the ‘Theetuin’ – tea garden.  And they have space for hire, a really beautiful location for parties or even business meetings.

I’m a huge fan of Klaarenbeek Zorgboederij and I’d love it if you popped in next time you take a cycle out to Oudekerk.  If you don’t know the route, just head out along the Amstel river, along the Weesperzijde and you’ll be at Klaarenbeek in less than half an hour from the centre of Amsterdam.

Check out their website for more information.

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

Klaarenbeen Zorgboederij

Hoppa! Amsterdam Beers Under One Roof

Hoppa! Amsterdam Beers Under One Roof

Hoppa!  Amsterdam Beers Under One Roof:

I’ll not tell you how long it’s been since I was in the old Odeon building in Amsterdam, but I will say that I was still single, didn’t live in Amsterdam but in London and it was a ‘disco’ at the time.  Since then, much has changed for the city, for the Odeon and for myself.

One of the changes that Amsterdam has experienced is an explosion of microbreweries.  It’s always been a city associated with brewing, mostly lager style drinks – I don’t need to tell you about Heineken, and it had smaller breweries too which specialised in beer.  Nothing though, compared to now, it feels like every month or so I’m hearing about a new beer being brewed in Amsterdam.  So much so, I’m ashamed to say, that I started to notice I was rolling my eyes at the latest funky beer that we all just had to drink.  I realised that I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the choice, or the fact that some fantastic young entrepreneurs and beer enthusiasts were exploring their passion.  No, it was more that I kept thinking, ok, where can I get it?  Where can I taste it?  Jeez, I need to go way to the other side of town, again!  I went to some launches and beer tasting parties, but before I knew it I was chasing myself all over city to experience latest greatest Amsterdam beer.

Hoppa! Amsterdam Beers Under One Roof

I know, I have no right to complain but with so many other things to be eating, drinking and cooking, I’m sure you’ll understand, time is precious.  Then, I noticed Hoppa.  At first I skimmed past it, thinking it was another new brewery, but I was wrong.  Hoppa is a beer bar, not in the traditional Amsterdam sense (they are great, don’t get me wrong), but more in the sense of a tasting experience.  Hoppa is in its essence a simple idea, and you know what people say about simple ideas.  The Hoppa team have brought together all the Amsterdam brewed beers under one roof.  And what a roof – the museum like surroundings of this canal house is worth a visit in itself, even if you’re not here for one of the 45 beers.Coincidentally the building housed a brewery in one of its many past lives.

Hoppa! Amsterdam Beers Under One Roof

Walk up the marble steps and turn left into the area that houses Hoppa and you are greeted with a friendly introduction letting you know what you can expect and a knowledgeable explanation of the products.   You’ll find all your old favourites here, those great new brews and of course Hoppa has its own house beer, which I tried and thoroughly enjoyed – light and a tiny bit fruity is how I can best describe it.  As well as a comprehensive collection of Amsterdam beers which you can enjoy there, you can also take away what Hoppa call a ‘growler’.  The growler is a glass jug which they will fill for you with your favourite brew, drink with friends in the bar or take it away with you.  There is a nice little bonus that comes with Hoppa’s location and that is The Supper Club is upstairs, so if you get hungry, you don’t have far to go.

Hoppa! Amsterdam Beers Under One Roof

Thuis aan de Amstel – a home from home

 

Thuis aan de Amstel

Thuis aan de Amstel

‘At Home on the Amstel’, that’s what the name means.

The area where Thuis aan de Amstel is situated has a new name, the ‘Amstelkwartier’, and is in the rather rapid process of getting a new look.  Thuis aan de Amstel is in the middle of all this re-development in what used to be where the old gasworks was.  Most of the area has been flattened and is already being covered in new hotels and apartments.  All except a couple of buildings with (luckily) ‘monument’ status.  This means that they can’t be knocked down, in fact, they can’t be altered much at all, because of their distinct style or historical importance.  The building which has been known as ‘Thuis aan de Amstel’ since 2013 was the home of the directors of the gasworks and their families up until the 1960’s.

Thuis aan de Amstel

 

Needless to say the building is fantastic, still more or less in its original style (built between 1907 and 1913).  It’s open for breakfast through lunch, evening drinks and dinner.  Upstairs you’ll find rooms that have been set up as unique, quirky conference spaces where you can have meetings or workshops.  They use the building to display artists’ work and have live jazz music on Sunday afternoons.

Thuis aan de Amstel

The food always seems to be exactly what I’m looking for.  Lots of hearty salads and soups, pasta’s risotto’s as well as fish, meat and creative vegetarian options.  There are plenty of sandwiches, and you really must try the home baking.

Thuis aan de Amstel

The food, like the atmosphere is authentic, pure and honest.  Simple flavours that have been treated with care and speak for themselves – nothing fussy, just tasty.  They always hit the season on the head too.  Now, winter time, there are still lots of my favourite salads but with roast winter vegetables and berries.  And I’ve enjoyed their pea soup more than a few times – a Dutch winter classic slow cooked and nutritious, just what you need to set yourself up for a walk along a frosty Amstel river or to warm you after a bracing cycle.  In summer the glass doors at the front of the house are open and the terrace is in full use by cyclists, walkers, locals, rowers.

Thuis aan de Amstel

The food is as sunny as the garden terrace overlooking the river.  And, the garden isn’t just there for show – it’s been put to good use.  They grow lots of herbs and some vegetables which are of course used in their dishes.

Thuis aan de Amstel

There’s something really special about this place.  I think it must be a combination of the building, the location, the food, the atmosphere and the staff.  I can so easily sit there for hours, alone or with company.  It’s such an easy and pleasant place to be, to eat, to enjoy, to drink.  They couldn’t have chosen a more perfect name because it is indeed exactly like being ‘At Home on the Amstel.’

Thuis aan de Amstel

 

Dutch Oliebollen

Dutch Oliebollen

Dutch Oliebollen

New Year is all about ‘oliebollen’ here in Amsterdam.  Well, not completely, they do like a glass or several of something bubbly too.  And the ‘oliebol’ is not just popular in the Netherlands, but can be found in Belgium and in surrounding areas under different aliases.  During the winter months you’ll see stalls springing up all over the place selling ‘oliebollen’

‘Oliebol’, directly translated means ‘oil sphere’, not an appetizing description, I’ll give you that.  But for those of you who are familiar with the Dutch language you’ll know that their pragmatism and direct nature overtakes the need for any descriptions that may lean towards the poetic.  My advice would be to focus on the Dutch words and not think about what they mean in English.  If you’re not familiar with the ‘Oliebol’ the closest description I can think of is a doughnut, but without the hole in the middle.  The loose dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, salt and lukewarm milk or buttermilk.    Sometimes they are plain, sometimes raisins are added and sometimes apple.  The ones with apple are usually called ‘appelbeignets’.   Whatever your preference, they are best served warm and fresh from the deep fat fryer.  A snowy sprinkling of icing sugar tops them off perfectly.

Dutch Oliebollen

There are many stories as to the origin of the ‘oliebol’, but the most widely held is that it comes from the Germanic celebration of Yule.  A pagan winter festival that ran from 26 December to 6 January.  The belief was that many bad spirits roamed the earth during this period, but they could be appeased by offerings of food.  I can relate to that sentiment.  There’s nothing that’ll knock me out of a funk quicker than a sweet and sticky, warm and doughy product.  Anyway, the ‘oliebol’ seems to have had superpowers when it came to protecting yourself from these bad spirits.  Not only were they pleased with the tasty offerings, but the oil in which the ‘oliebol’ was fried made sure that the sword of Perchta (a particularly cranky goddess) slid right off you.  I love these kind of stories, of course I do, I’m from Scotland, our Hogmanay celebrations are steeped in all sorts of weird and wonderful traditions and rituals.  There’s another power the little oliebol poseses which my Scottishness appreciates, its ability to soak up lots of those New Year bubbles.  Seems like the ‘oliebol’ can repel all sorts of spirits.

So of course you’ll be wanting to know where you can get hold of these magical little treats.  Recommending a good spot can be a convoluted task.  The reason being is the Dutch have a national ‘Oliebollen’ test each year to find the best.  This is a bit of a Dutch obsession – they can’t help themselves but rate everything, they love nothing better than to give a number from one to ten. It can be anything, so if you visit the Netherlands, or have recently moved here, be prepared to rate any and all of your experiences in this way.  For example, you may get a question like ‘What did you think of the Van Gogh museum?’  Of course you can wax lyrical, but if you want to keep it succinct you can say ‘Yes, really great, I’d give it a 9 out of 10.’  Don’t worry, the Dutch don’t expect to get a 10 for anything, they like to have something to criticise.  So given this cultural quirk it’s no surprise food doesn’t escape.  They do this at various times during the year with various Dutch seasonal delicacies – you get used to it.  If you are in Amsterdam or anywhere in the Netherlands from about the beginning of December to mid-January, you’ll see ‘Oliebollen’ stalls start to spring up, but when it comes to oliebollen in Amsterdam, these are the places I buy from:

Hartog
Ruyschstraat 56,
1091 CE Amsterdam

Lanskroon
Singel 385,
1012 WL Amsterdam

Kuyt
Utrechtsestraat 109-111,
1017 VL Amsterdam

Dutch Oliebollen