Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eating Our Way Through Amsterdam

We got back from our latest adventure when Matt immediately hopped a plane to California for work & I was struck down with one of those "I've been on trains & planes with a lot of other people" colds. There's not much cooking going on around here so, luckily I have trip photos to share with you.
I Amsterdam
When preparing for our trip to Amsterdam we read over & over again in books & online that Amsterdam was not a foodie city. We were told that Dutch food wasn't really anything special & that eating "ethnic" food was the way to go. Well, we certainly felt like we ended up eating very well in Amsterdam enjoying lots of different cuisines.

The one thing we knew we had to have was Indonesian Rijsttafel. Rijsttafel, which translates to "rice table" is the Dutch adaptation of an Indonesian feast called nasi padang. It consists of many side dishes served in small portions, accompanied by rice prepared in several different ways. Popular side dishes include egg rolls, sambals, satay, fish, fruit, vegetables, pickles, and nuts. While wandering around the city our first day we stumbled on Sama Semo on Hoofstraat near the museum district. Matt had remembered it being recommended in one of our books so we stopped in & made a reservation. Luckily, he did as the restaurant was lively & packed with locals when we showed up at 8pm.
Saba Semo
Our rijsttafel consisted of 23 dishes plus rice & noodles. From what I understand this is a small rijsttafel with 40 being a typical number of dishes. I can't imagine having more food than we did though!
(A side table is set up next to our table with hot plates on it then hot plates are also set down the center of our table to keep all the food warm.)
I expected a lot of spicy food but of all of these only one was too spicy for me. Half the time we weren't really sure what each dish was but this was really a super fun way to eat & try lots of new things.

I was craving some Italian one night & we ended up at Pasta e Basta. Now this place was quite an experience, totally cheesy & over the top but a great time. First of all their is the antipasto bar inside a grand piano...that is being played!
Piano Antipasta Bar
Then there is the fact the whole staff takes turns singing for you. Most of the songs were classic American easy listening & jazz though, we were treated to one opera aria. The best moment for me had to be when the manager preformed Spandau Ballet's "True" complete with dance moves throughout the restaurant, it was so Hugh Grant in "Music & Lyrics" I couldn't stop laughing. Ok, so the food here was really nothing to write home about, tasty but nothing special, but the restaurant was packed & everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Probably the best dinner we had in Amsterdam was at La Olivia, a busy Spanish restaurant in the high-end Jordaan neighborhood.
La Olivia had an actual tapas bar where you could go pick from lots of different tapas (almost all served on toast which I thought was interesting). They then plate up your choices & bring them to your table. You can eat the tapas as an appetizer to an entrée or as your whole meal. We decided to just eat tapas as our meal as they were so filling & it was fun to have some many different things. All of the food was excellent especially the fish dishes. The entrées here were actually quite expensive but we found our dinner of just the tapas was one of the cheapest we had the whole time there.

Our other dinner in Amsterdam was at De Duvel in the lively De Pijp neighborhood.
The restaurant seemed to be very hip & popular with a younger crowd. We were lucky it was a warm evening & we could enjoy dinner on the patio. The menu was very reasonable priced & changes every month. De Duvel calls their food fusion & I found the menu to be very similar to those you would find in a modern US restaurant, a little Asian, a little Italian & some good basic dishes. Matt & I both enjoyed some great beef dishes here.

I think we really liked the fact all the restaurants we went to seemed to be popular with the locals & not just aimed at tourists. We got lucky to get tables at most places without a reservation though if we had had our heart set on someplace I'd make sure to get one int he future.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at OR at then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.© 2007-2010 Kathy Lewinski


tamilyn said...

Sounds like you had a fun time and found some fun places!

Thistlemoon said...

That is certainly a lot of food! I had no idea that they had so much ethnic food in Amsterdam!

Recipe for Delicious said...

My jealousy knows no bounds.

Anonymous said...

Did you try the Dutch pancakes, which can be sweet or savory?

Rose said...

Oh how I love Holland. My mom is from there and your pictures bring back memories! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

kat said...

Anonymous - Yes, I did have a pancake one day for breakfast, so good.

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

Looks like you ate well! I love reading about places to eat in international cities.

Lori said...

It all looks like good eats. What a sampling of food. You two know how to do it right.

Lori said...

While I love your cooking, I will also take a travel picture any day! We got to have Rijsttafel when we were in Ubud-Bali. I loved it! Such a great variety. I think we only had 18 dishes. I was so stuffed, you all had to be with 23. I can't even imagine 40!

Stacey Snacks said...

Looks like a great trip!
Yummy bites!

PG said...

Wow -- the rijsttafel looks intense. I'm curious what the after picture looked like. Looks like a great trip!

Alicia Foodycat said...

More pictures please! I've never been to Amsterdam.

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