Amsterdam has always been a stopover destination for me. Flying to Dubai, stopover at Schipol. Looking for cheap flights to New York? Fly through Schipol. Friends in the US always, always fly through Schipol on the way back to India for vacations. You get the drift. It was never a city to be visited. And especially when you are a management consultant, you may just end up working Monday to Thursday in Amsterdam or even worse, fly transit through Schipol in extreme cases of flight unavailability for your European work destination.
So when S suggested a weekend away in that city of De Wallen, my reaction was suspect! With nothing much to do on a bank holiday weekend, astronomical prices for any other destination in more exotic locales, we booked ourselves in for 3-day rendezvous in Amsterdam.
And oh what a treat it was! It was 3-day food fest in the midst of ambling through the narrow alleys of the city and traversing through the numerous bridges across the canals, possibly the paramount symbol of the city. Meal times were ignored and we just followed our noses and sights to whatever caught our fancy. Especially when one is bombarded by stores with names as such (see images below), the entire quirkiness of it made it one of the most ‘calorific’ holidays that I’ve ever embarked on.
Macaron parlours are a dime a dozen along the beautifully cobbled alleys of the city. The only comparison of the popularity of this sweet delicacy which comes to my Indian mind is that with the rosogolla’s (a sweet ball of pressed curd dipped in sugar syrup) craziness in Kolkata. Celebrations in Kolkata are incomplete without the ‘rosogolla’ and every cornet sweet worth their weight will sell this delicacy. Likewise for macarons in Amsterdam. Whilst this is a French pastry, I haven’t seen as many blatantly ‘macaron’ stores in Paris as I did in Amsterdam. Over the 3 days of my visit, the count of these delicacies devoured by us was immeasurable.
Being an ardent shopaholic, Espirit is a brand I’m familiar with. For apparel, handbags, accessories and sometimes even shoes. So when a restaurant screamed ‘Espirit’, S and I literally rushed in through the door at 11 am for brunch, lest the Sunday morning crowd filled up the small cafe and we are denied freshly cooked eggs (a must-have every Sunday morning!). The Omelette didn’t disappoint! It was at least made of 4 eggs, spicy and had onions and herbs in it – a definite take on the Indian omelette. The burger was standard. I think my GBK burgers here in London are still the best, so I’ll pass the next time I am in Espirit cafe.
Brunch – Variation of Indian Omlett
Right, so onto the Bagel Tapas. I must admit this was a first for me. Never tried something like this before, and wasn’t disappointed either. A bagel basket of different types of miniature bagels and the array of filings. The filings were delectable, varies across flavours like hummus, cream cheese, olives, guacamole, and so much more. You just walk up to the board and choose your desired filling and voila, the pretty picture below reaches your table in less than 10 minutes! Something to definitely check out when you are in that city.
The coffee in Amsterdam was mild. After coffee in Milan, Amsterdam is the next best for me. Unlike most coffee drinkers, my Indian heritage means I like my coffee to be mild, a single shot with lots of hot milk. London, unfortunately, hasn’t given me a single cafe which can make it my way. At most paces, I usually end up asking for a single shot of coffee to tone down the strength, but one shot alone can pull a punch! Possibly the only place which has come close with its single shot latte for me is Cafe Manon in Fleet Street near my place of work. But then again, I’m a minority; most people prefer their coffee to be strong and bitter. So it was a nice surprise that the single shot lattes in Amsterdam were mild enough to temper down the taste for me.
You can not have hot waffles and ice cream when you are in Amsterdam. Being neighbours to the Belgians, whilst they haven’t perfected the waffle, there are myriad cafes and temporary food carts which sell these – a definite must have! Cheese, egg pancakes, pancakes, apple strudel, Rookworst (a variation of the Bavarian sausage), the list was never-ending! Unfortunately, in the utterly salivating moments of devouring these foods, photographs were sometimes not the priority! When remembered, they were saved for this blog!
The food quest was endless, but definitely on the list was sampling some Indian curry in Amsterdam. Given my Indian heritage, I never leave a city without sampling the ‘desi’ (Hindi word for Indian) fare!
My predictions for the ‘desi’ fare were spot on for Amsterdam as well! The curry we had was bland, non-spicy and quite unimpressive. It was a dark narrow dimly lit Indian restaurant. Why, oh why do Indian restaurants in continental Europe seem to enjoy the darkness? When serving Indian food, spread the joy, spread the light that is the country of India. Somehow most curry houses I’ve been to in continental Europe have been dark and small. And the fare is usually put together for the uninitiated, folks who have not tasted the sheer audacity of taste and flavours of the curry that London can offer. Unfortunately, no city, absolutely no city in Europe can do the curry like the British. And the sheer availability of the curry is something I cherish from the bottom of my heart. I cannot comprehend my life without my corner curry house and the option to head into Central London for a good night of Michelin starred curry or fast food curry or pub night curry. The list is endless!
So ending this Amsterdam food post with the usual conclusion on my hunt for the perfect curry – London is king when it comes to curry!