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I have to say that I really enjoyed all of the food we ate in Amsterdam. We had one stated mission to find raw herring, but apart from that we just stopped to eat when the mood struck and ordered whatever seemed interesting.

On our first night, we went for ease and ate down the street from our hotel at Burger Bar. I was really surprised at how good this place was. The burgers were akin to the fancy $10 burgers you can get around here at upscale bars, but without the posh setting. Price was about the same and well worth it. The patty was thick, juicy, and flavorful; I found myself craving one when we were far, far away in Copenhagen. The “small” burger was huge, and two of us could easily have split an order of fries rather than getting one each. I highly recommend this spot for a reasonably priced and satisfying take-out meal.

Burger bar

Burger Bar

On our next adventure out, I had to order the panenkoek (plural = panenkoeken), which was offered with a variety of savory toppings. I chose ham and cheese. I’ve no idea what kind of cheese is shown in the photo of my lunch below, only that it was good. The pancake is the size of a full-sized plate and has the consistency of a very thick crepe, more eggy than cakey like an American pancake. It’s a texture that some folks might not like, I suppose, but I love eggy, gummy things.


The syrup they offered was interesting, a lot less sweet than we’d have in the states. The flavor was sort of like molasses, but with a hint of yeastiness not unlike Marmite or Vegemite. It was almost savory, rather than sweet, or somewhere in between. I bought a bottle at a corner store to bring back home (Van Glise original flavor), though apparently you can buy it here at the Dutch grocer Holland’s Best. But who knew?

JC had an open-faced sandwich, which is the norm for sandwich presentation in the Netherlands. Typically, it’s a very thick slice of bread, topped and often grilled to melt the cheese. My favorite was the brie-and-pear which also had arugula, walnuts, and a cured ham product on top. The bread was drizzled with a little bit of honey, too. Scrumptious!


Brie, pear, and ham sandwich.

All of the bread we ate, from the burger bun to the sandwiches, was simply to die for, fresh and soft, with crunchy-but-not-dangerous crust. (I hate hard crusts that shred the roof of my mouth.) I can easily say that I have never had such consistently wonderful bread in my life. The buns at Burger Bar made our American counterparts seem stale and just plain lazy by comparison. Sigh.

And then there was the herring adventure. Or, as they say in the Netherlands, “har-ring.” John’s already posted photos of our first score, the whole, raw fish (at the bottom of the page), which was served with finely chopped onions. There’s also a snapshot of one day’s breakfast, a pastry-wrapped sausage, which was a giant Dutch pig-in-a-blanket. Spicy.

A few days later, our herring thoughts turned to the pickled type. We found a fish stand right near the flower market and got one of these:

Pickled herring.

Pickled herring.

Pickled herring, served in slices with onions.

Pickled herring, served in slices, with onions.

Back on the desserty front (or maybe it’s breakfast?), I finally broke down and got a frosted waffle. This would have been fresher and better in the morning, I think. We got ours at night, so it was a little hard, more like a cookie than a waffle in texture. But I still liked the taste experience. Mine was chocolate and banana frosted.

Frosted waffles

Last, but certainly not least, was the airport. I don’t think I’ve ever raved about airport food, but I guess there has to be a first for everything. This patient woman below made both panenkoeken and poffertjes to order. Poffertjes are those tiny round pancakes on the left. They’re made from the same panenkoek batter but cooked in shaped molds. They seem very labor-intensive, and I had to wait several minutes for my serving. It was, however, well worth the wait, and I ate them with butter, powdered sugar, and a very, very thick syrup.

Airport kitchen

Because the cakes were tiny and our flight was a long, direct shot to SFO, I also got a sandwich, my last one of the trip. This one had lox and salad on it, served on another slice of delicious bread.

Airport breakfast.

The coffee was also quite good all around, though we rarely found what Americans would call “drip coffee” available. Most coffee places served made-to-order espresso-based drinks, and even the café creme I had at the airport was excellent. But once in a while I just wanted a cup of the familiar, “thin,” voluminous beverage I’m used to, instead of an Americano. Don’t take that as a complaint, just a comment. The only true complaint I have is that cream was nowhere to be found, only milk or (worse) non-dairy creamers. There’s a funny story from Copenhagen on that subject, but it’ll have to wait for next time.


From → Food, Travel

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