By Sharmin de Vries.
Amsterdam, the city that never sleeps, the city of sin, well that is, if the large droves of uncouth British men flocking to the city for a ‘stag do’, are anything to go by. Women behind windows in the infamous red light district posing for passers by like meat on sticks, weed pouring out of every cafe that is supposed to sell ‘coffee.’
Why else would it be called a ‘coffee shop.’ So with this blog post I intend to debunk some of the most common myths attached to my hometown.
Nah, who am I kidding, all of the above is true and then some. Although, major crack downs are taking place. Amsterdam, however, is so much more, it has, amongst other things, a UNESCO protected canal belt with beautiful, historic canal houses, world renowned museums, quaint pubs and good food. I’d like to think of myself as a culinary savvy person, okay a foodie, but I prefer not to use that term because it seem to conjure up images of people stuffing their faces and pigging out instead of someone who likes to educate the pallet, such as myself, of course…
Amsterdam is a true multicultural blaze and as such boasts restaurants from all over the world. Granted, it’s not New York or London, but it still has pretty much everything on offer.
First stop, a visit to a restaurant serving Dutch grub. I am talking stodgy mashed potato mixed with a leafy vegetable and a smoked sausage on top, or a dish called hete bliksem ( hot lightning) which consists of boiled potatoes and green apples, served with syrup and tossed with diced pieces of bacon. Are you salivating at the thought yet? Thought so…in all seriousness though, these dishes are perfect in winter and provide the right antidote against the cold.
A development I really applaud is the increasing number of ecologically-friendly and organic establishments rapidly taking shape in the city. One such hotspot is the infamous organic farmers’ market Noordermarkt. Every Saturday, farmers from all over the country flock to Amsterdam to showcase their local produce. Selling a dizzying array of fine organic cheeses, more types of spelt bread than I can remember, homemade pastries, fresh salsa’s and the like and fruit and vegetables bursting with more colour than Lady Gaga on a night out, this true celebration of ‘real’ food is not to be missed.
My absolute favourite restaurant in Amsterdam and perhaps in the whole world, yes there I said it, high expectations now, is the Japanese restaurant Yamazotoat hotel Okura. Not often have I deemed a meal a true spiritual experience, one that makes you feel like you are having an epiphany after each course.
Yamazato is the only Japanese restaurant in Europe to have been awarded an all important Michelin star. If I told you the multiple course menu I had the first time I ate here consisted of such things like egg yolk sushi with smoked salmon, grilled scallop with egg yolk sauce, sashimi of tuna, sea bream and summer lobster served in an igloo and grilled fillet of beef and aubergine with Dengaku Miso sauce, would it make you drool?
Make you want to hop on the first flight to Amsterdam? Thought so… I did leave out one minor detail… you may have to break the bank to eat here. Totally worth it though.
I could write volumes on this subject but really, you should come to Amsterdam and experience all that this city has to offer on a plate for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the fine dining experiences, whether cheap and cheerful or fully upscale, you can have that do NOT involve space cake.
Sharmin’s Blog: Brandnewcravings
Photograph of Sharmin ©Sharmin de Vries.