Amsterdam was in my top three cities of my euro-trip. I remember, one morning while walking to Waterlooplein Market, thinking about how much I fitted in. It is hard to explain. Amsterdam for me was a city, although so very different to Dublin, it was a city I could see myself living in even despite my serious lack of Dutch. I had a connection with the city and as I explored it alone – I didn’t feel like a tourist. It’s strange I know, like I said I can’t really explain it. All I know is this: Amsterdam wowed me and I returned there some months after for a EU conference and although there for work – The city still resonated with me like it did that summer.
You’ll take the West train. Just by the side of Amsterdam – Imagine Dragons.
There’s more to Amsterdam than the Red Light District. It’s a shame the city, to some, is reduced to stag nights and seedy sex shows. The city has a vibrant pub and restaurant scene and the museums and local markets are great and good value too. The famous coffee shops are worth a visit too – The Bulldog is popular with tourists, so much so there’s merch on offer. The Jolly Joker is another recommendation, I came across it by accident as it was close to my hostel. The staff are friendly and helpful with regards to the menu, the coffee is great too. The place has a relaxed and chilled atmosphere and it’s a great place to meet people. It’s a little small however, so crowding is to be expected but there’s plenty of seating outside looking out at the Waag, one of Amsterdam’s oldest (non-religious) buildings. Originally, the miniature castle acted as a city gate back in the 1600s and today, over the weekend, market stalls set up around it. I took a shot of it across the water, It has seven turrets in total and is all that remains of the middle age structure that walled the city.
With regards to food, you’ll be spoilt for choice. In most bars, small meatballs called Bitterballen (don’t worry they’re not bitter!) are served. They’re great with a beer and are beef or pork deep fat fried with breadcrumbs and come with mustard for dipping. It’s a great snack over drinks and extremely popular – you won’t have to look long to find them.
Another Dutch favorite is Stroopwafel or simply dutch waffles – if you have a sweet tooth, this gooey treat is heavenly. I’ve been told by Dutch friends they are best warmed with Tea or coffee. Place the waffle on top of the mug for a minute or two and let the steam heat the stroopwafel & then dig in. The dutch treat is two thin vanilla flavoured waffles stuck together with a sticky caramel – here’s a warning though: they’re bloody addictive.
Fish isn’t my thing but if you like seafood, you’d be mad to miss out on raw herring, another dutch favorite. For this scrap however I’ll post a quick recipe for Stamppot – which is pure comfort food and very similar to Bangers & Mash.
Stamppot – Sausages and Mash
Good quality sausages of your choice. Potatoes Onion Carrots Kale Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) Beef stock (for gravy) A cup of milk or cream Butter Parsley
- Peel the potatoes and place them into a pot of boiling water. Add a little salt and bring the spuds to a boil before letting them simmer on medium heat until softened.
- While potatoes are cooking, dice the onion, the carrots and kale finely.
- In a pan saute the onion, carrots and kale in butter or oil. Once soft, remove from the pan and leave aside to be used later.
- In a pan, fry the sausages.
- Once potatoes are cooked, strain the water out of the pot. With a masher, mash the potatoes.
- Add the softened vegetables to the mash.
- Add the cup of milk or cream (Ah go on be naughty) and a little butter. Mash potatoes again to remove lumps until creamy.
- In the pan with the cooked sausages add the beef stock to the pan over a low heat (this will lift the burnt/crispy bits on the bottom of the pan, which will add flavour). Let it bubble and thicken a little.
- Serve sausages atop the creamy mash and sauerkraut with gravy in a bowl & chop a little parsley to garnish. Dig in!
Note: I like potato skins, so I don’t peal my spuds but mash the potatoes through with the vegetables. The milk or cream makes for a creamy and delicious mash.
Sauerkraut can be found in most supermarkets. Just spoon a little from the jar and let the mash heat it through. If you don’t like pickled cabbage however you can leave it out but it is this element that makes it a Dutch favorite.
Waterlooplein Markt – Waterlooplein 2, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (I will make a post about this market sometime soon!)
The Bulldog Cafe – Oudezijds Voorburgwal 90, 1012 GJ Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The Jolly Joker – Nieuwmarkt 4, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
De Waag – Nieuwmarkt 4, Amsterdam center.