Food Travel

24hr layover in Amsterdam

I still have a few more Barcelona posts, but I will save those for a another day.

When I booked Barcelona I realized that a layover in Amsterdam was in the cards for me. I was excited because Amsterdam to me means 2 things, rijsttafel and bitterballen (with some serious meandering in between).

No, my Amsterdam layover is nothing like Anthony Bourdain’s Layover with visits to “coffee shops” and exploration through the Red Light District, instead it would be filled walking the canals with breaks for some of Amsterdam’s culinary delights.

I remember being fond of Amsterdam when I visited  over 10 years ago for many things, including the fact that it was not only a great walking city, but a scenic one too. I love that it’s one of the most multicultural European cities I’ve ever visited and that everyone speaks English. And while people may not think of Amsterdam as a place for food lovers, there were a few things that I was introduced to on my first visit that I was excited to sample again.

With little over 24 hours in Amsterdam on my layover, I knew it would be difficult to get to everything on my “short” list, but I knew I was going to try!

3:30pm – Touch-down in AMS and a luxurious cab ride to the  lovely Hotel JL No76.

4:20pm - Yes I’m in Amsterdam, and not that I would, but I thought I’d report I’m still in the cab.

5:00pm – Check-in and off to wander the streets. The location of the hotel is very conveniently located in the Museum area which is close enough to everything while being far enough from the touristy crowds.

7:30pm - It was a lovely night and we enjoyed a nice stroll to the restaurant, working up an appetite for what we knew would be a humongous meal.  I did quite a bit of research to finally reserve at Restaurant Blauw, (thanks Erin for your help!). The restaurant was packed on a Monday night with locals, which is always a great sign.

One of the most unique dining experiences in Amsterdam is the Indonesian rijsttafel (rice table).  While I don’t usually seek Asian food if I’m not at home or travelling in Asia, after over a week of eating everything Spanish, I was really looking forward to this meal.  I remember my first rijstaffel experience as one of my favourite meals from my 5 week tour of Europe so long ago.

A rijsttafel, translated into rice table, is a cornucopia of Indonesian flavours served in this uniquely Dutch fashion.  It is a wonderful way to sample a wide variety of dishes in a single setting, but beware it’s a lot of food.

Yes, all these dishes for 2 people and shockingly, we ate most of it.

9:00pm – Rijstaffel… check!  Blauw was so much fun and my rijstaffel was as good as I hoped it would be.  As an added bonus after eating so much food, I had a lovely walk through Vondel Park as the sun was setting.
I wanted to end the evening in a nice bar sipping on a glass of genever, but unfortunately the staff at the hotel was unable to recommend anywhere other than the very touristy bars a few blocks away.  I set off to hopefully stumble upon somewhere special and enjoyed the sun setting into evening.
10:00pm- The lovely bar I found turned out to be attached to an Asian restaurant, so my dreamt about genever turned into a lychee martini. At least Vacation Sus doesn’t sweat the small stuff.
11:00pm - All tucked into a very comfy bed, happy in the knowledge that the in-room Nespresso coffee maker was set to brew a convenient cup for me first thing in the morning.
10:00am - I hit the streets to check out the Albert Cuyp Market.  I was in search of some fresh stroopwaffles, but was happy to find a herring stand.  While not on my “list” per se, it was a delicious addition.

I thought the herring was going to be pickled, but it wasn’t. This is my kind of breakfast!

Disappointed that the stroopwaffle man wasn’t there and that we were there too early to enjoy the frites, I wandered back towards the hotel past the Rijskmuseum only to see a stand that sold fresh stroopwaffles.  Of course I had to stop.

Stroopwafel = Hot crisp waffles sandwiching caramelly goodness

1:30pm – With only a few hours left in Amsterdam, I decided to spend it with a meal overlooking the canals.  I still hadn’t had my bitterballen fix so that was #1 on my agenda. I was happy because although my first choice Restaurant Walem was packed with locals lunching, they  had one lovely table available outside so I could soak up the sun.

When we sat down, I reminisced how the first time I ever tried Hoegaarden beer was on a sunny day in Amsterdam just like this one.  So of course…

It seemed like everyone around me was ordering an open-faced sandwich so I became a follower.

Carpaccio with arugula pesto, parmesan and pine nuts.

And of course I ordered the bitterballen.  What are bitterballen?  Well, they’re kind of like a small croquette, but the filling tasted more like a chicken pot pie, but with beef so when you bite into it, the filling oozes out.

Bitterballen = deep-fried nuggets of delightfulness = perfect beer snack.

Bitterballen… check!  With my Amsterdam food cravings tackled, it was time bid farewell to this beautiful city, with a happy stomach willing to return any time.

Restaurant Blauw - Amstelveenseweg 158-160, Amsterdam
Restaurant Walem - Keizersgracht 449, Amsterdam

2 thoughts on “24hr layover in Amsterdam

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