Back at the start of January I travelled to Amsterdam with a friend for a quick weekend away, after the chaos of the Christmas festivities. A trip that included walking around the freezing city for 8 whole hours and copious amounts of free cheese (yes, FREE!) You can read my top tips for visiting the city and how to get free cheese, here.
As with everywhere I visit, food is always at the centre of my trip. The first meal we had in Amsterdam was at a Turkish restaurant called Ali Ocakbaşı ,with pretty damn terrible service but delicious food. Sitting in the window with a flickering, red candle smoking between us, it took us almost 15 minutes to order our food. Now, we were in no hurry of course, but when everyone else around us was getting seemingly great service and prompt responses, the ominous finger wave signaling ‘one moment’ just seemed to never end. Opting for a traditional Turkish Pide and some fries by food arrived promptly. My friend however, opting for a lamb dish, had to wait an additional ten minutes after mine arrived. My side of fries then arrived several minutes after my friend’s dish, by which time I had finished my Pide and was left unimpressed needing to have my fries as my dessert, even though the food itself was delicious. Asking for the bill was also a feat in itself, which resulted in an argument with the finger signalling waiter who was attempting to split our bill 50% each despite telling him the amounts (all round numbers) of how we wanted to split it. Granted if his English had been poor his confusion may have been understandable, but he was fluent and the ‘Why though?’ I got when we said how we wanted to split it was the icing on a very soggy bottomed cake that evening. (Evidently, my friend owed me some money and was paying me back by paying the larger part of the bill – not that this was anything to do with the waiter). Needless to say we left no tips in this place.
As we explored the streets of the Dutch capital on the Friday evening, the aromas of weed and waffles were evident at every turn. We actually waited until Saturday morning to sample some waffles and crepes for breakfast. Picking Sweetella for our sweet treats, I opted for a simple nutella crepe filled with mini Smarties and vanilla ice cream and my friend selected a waffle with nutella, broken up pieces of Kinder Bueno and vanilla ice cream. Evidently, we did come to need the extra sugar as we went on to spend eight hours walking around Amsterdam exploring every little street.
Before heading back to our hotel exhausted, we stopped at an Italian bistro for dinner. A fairly mediocre place, both dishes lacked any substantial flavours with the waiter advising that they had no condiments (at all, not even salt), they did not provide knives for customer unless they bought the steak (like, seriously) and water was not a drinks option here, even though tap water in Holland is some of the cleanest in the world. A very strange place, Pasta Pasta gave us a pretty disappointing dinner but given how tired we were, we just wanted something warm to eat, and again the food was okay – very simple and just a tad overpriced.
Honorable mention must go out to the stroopwaffles here, which we never officially stopped for as I am not a big fan of them. The churros always smelled divine, especially the Nutella smothered ones my friend ordered. Donuts, macrons, muffins and assorted candy are also readily available. One of my favourites however would need to be the free cheeses on offer all around the city.
Now on to what we have all been waiting for. The free cheese. You can’t walk far in Amsterdam without passing a cheese shop or cheese museum or cheese factory or something similar. Some of them are obviously very crowded (usually the ones on corners of the streets) but if you go in to one when passing, free cheese samples are passed out abundantly. If you engage in some cheesy conversation, usually about cows or goats or the type of flavour you like in a cheese, they will give you even more, all for free. Obviously in the hope that you will buy something, most of the places are happy to chat for several minutes, in that time offering you as many baby cheeses as you can manage to talk about. From pesto flavoured cheddar to garlicy Gouda, try as many as you can.
I was pretty underwhelmed by the food in Amsterdam all in all, even though there were some good opportunities for the ole Gram. Have you visited Amsterdam before? What did you think of the food/sweets?