Tag Archives: Travel

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Amsterdam Terrasjes

There are certain pastimes in which all us Amsterdammers indulge, and no I’m not talking about that!

One of the most skills you need if you live here or are visiting and don’t want to stick out a mile as being a tourist, is how to pick a good ‘terrasje’ and how to behave when you have your spot.

First of all, what is a ‘terrasje’?  Well, it’s that area outside a restaurant, bar or café with seating – a pavement café or my favourite Scottish word, a ‘sitooterie’.

The first variable which will effect your choice of terrasje is the weather.  If it’s a bit chilly, you’ll want to be closer to the building, and of course you’ll be looking for nice big burning heaters.  Some of you may wish to go for the terrasje that provides blankets, but that’s not my stlyle, I don’t want to share a blanket with a stranger – well, not any more.

Then, there’s all sorts of things you might want to consider, location, atmosphere, service and of course top of my list is coffee, food and drinks.  And, for me I want a terrassje with some authenticity.  Don’t get me wrong,  I love my clients and tourists, but sometimes I want to feel like Amsterdam belongs to me (somebody wrote a song about Glasgow belonging … sorry, I digress).  You know, somewhere that I can flop in my chair, order a drink (in Dutch) and a good ‘borrelhapje’ (traditional Dutch snacks to go with drinks – it’s a huge thing here).  I don’t want to be served by someone who doesn’t speak Dutch, I don’t want to be presented with a list of snacks that include ‘nachos’ or some such other awful generic import.  I live in Amsterdam, I chose to be here, I chose this culture, so, I want to enjoy it.

Once you’ve decided what you want from your ‘terrasje’, you’ll be wanting to get a good seat, pole position if you will.  This might not be readily available, but that’s ok, the Dutch love to rearrange the furniture, so feel free to shift your chair out of the wind and into the sun.  Then you sit, if you are a regular, you won’t even need the menu.  When the  waiter drifts by order your coffee,  mint tea (a real Amsterdammer loves this) or ‘fluitje’ (smallest beer) or ‘vaasje’ (the next size up, almost a half pint).  We’ll all know you’re an out of towner if you order a ‘big beer’.  Then you need to decide what to eat – the classic is of course the ‘bitterballen’.  Deep fried ragout balls that everybody (I mean everybody) loves.  Or you can go with ‘ossesnworst’ – raw lightly spiced beef which you dip in Dutch mustard.  Or even play safe with some aged Dutch cheese.  And now, relax, enjoy the view, watch the people.  Take your time, there is no rush now, enjoy your snacks, drinks and of course the company.

 

Amsterdam Terrasjes

De Jaren

Right on the water’s edge, sophisticated and sophisticated.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Amstel Hotel

If you want something a bit more upmarket.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Marcella’s

At the edge of the canal – get chatting with the locals.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Girassol

Warm and friendly – a great summer spot, but can get busy.  During the day is best.  See my blog post for more information.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Ysbreker

Crème de la crème  of terassjes.  Local, quiet, good atmosphere.

Amsterdam Terrasjes Hoftuin

A little gem at the back of the Hermitage museum.  See my blog post for more information.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Magere Brug

Great views of the Amstel and the bridge from which it gets its name.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Thuis aan de Amstel

Friendly, local, and a bit of local history too.  See my blog post for more information.

Amsterdam Terrasjes

Vergulden Eeenhorn

Beautiful converted old farmhouse.  See my blog post for more information.

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.

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

 

French Food Pics

Just come back from a few days in France where I ran away to eat.

I couldn’t resist sharing my food pictures from the town of Arras.

Lobster, oysters, patisserie, steak tartare, foie gras, pot au feu and lots more …

French Food Pics

Vietnamese Restaurant Ô MAI in Amsterdam

VietnameseRembrandtplein

Ô MAI indeed – great food, great price, great location, great service.

I have some rules (I suppose I should call them criteria really when I recommend restaurants, bars, cafés in Amsterdam, or for that matter elsewhere.  One of them is that I tend not to recommend new places.  The main reason being is that there are so may websites out there that do that already and very often, sadly, most new food businesses don’t survive, so I mostly stick to places that have more of a reputation for survival as well as great food.  This time I’m making a bit of an exception.

I’ve never been to Vietnam.  I’ve skirted around it, Thailand, Laos, but never been.  So, I can’t say that I am an expert on the cuisine, however, I do know good food and I do know the principles of Vietnamese cooking.  I’ve been to Vietnamese restaurants, not that often, but often enough to know that most of them, over here in Europe tend to cater a bit too much to our tastes and our (generally uninformed) expectations, sometimes making things sweet or even creamy, adding familiar Chinese style creations to the menu.

This time, I felt like I was having a really authentic experience.  Light and fresh flavours prepared with care.  Great for lunch or dinner.

Try it for yourself: Ô MAI 

 

 

Shrimp and Avocado Florida Style Salad

 

FloridaSaladShrimp1 It may seem a bit crazy to be posting such a summer style salad in the depths of November.  But it’s always summer somewhere – even if it’s only in your kitchen!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes (to cook the shrimp)

Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings
The Shrimp
About 600gr of large tiger style shrimp (prawns/langoustine) peeled and cleaned
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
A pinch of dried chili flakes (optional)
1 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lime
Salt and Pepper

The Salad
The leaves of one medium sized Cos lettuce finely shredded
6/8 basil leaves chopped
200gr sweet corn
3 x spring onions (scallions) chopped finely
600gr fresh pineapple cut into small cubes
2 x avocados chopped into cubes
Salt and pepper

Avocado

The Dressing
3 x tbsp olive oil
3 x tbsp honey
Juice and zest of 3 limes

Method

  1. Firstly, to cook the shrimp, heat the olive oil in a pan and once hot add the shrimp crushed garlic and chili flakes. It is important to get the oil nice and hot (not smoking, just before that point) your shrimp should sizzle when added to the pan. Check the ‘back’ of the shrimp and when you see the colour change about half way up, turn them over. Do the same on the other side. This should only take a minute to two minutes maximum on both sides – otherwise you will get a rubbery result if you leave it too long. Squeeze over the lime juice – this too should bubble and reduce. Add a little salt and pepper, stir through, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients together, check for flavour, adjust if need be and set aside.
  3. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl except the avocado and the salt and pepper. Prepare the avocado as you are about to serve otherwise it will turn brown. Once it is covered in the lime dressing, this will slow down the oxidization process and it won’t go brown so easily.
  4. When you are ready to serve mix ¾ of the avocado through the salad and add the dressing. Toss everything together. Taste to see if you need any salt and pepper. Place your shrimp on top of the salad with the rest of the avocado and sprinkle/pour any residue from the pan over your salad in which you cooked the shrimp. This is great flavour, so you don’t want to lose it.

Tips and Variations

You can cook some bacon bits or pancetta with the shrimp for an extra punch of flavour.

  FlorSaladShrimp2