Mushy, but Good

Tokoman in Amsterdam, NetherlandsThanks to its colonialist history, Surinamese cuisine is quite common in Amsterdam (the history of colonialism is pretty horrifying, but at the very least some good food came out of it.  So… glass half full?).

Pom Sandwich from Tokoman in Amsterdam, Netherlands

I’d heard good things about the pom sandwich at Tokoman — pom is basically a mash consisting of a sweet potato-esque root vegetable called arrowleaf elephant ear root, with pieces of chicken mixed in along with some spices.

It’s basically a mush sandwich, but it’s surprisingly good.  It’s sweet, with the unique spices adding some complexity, and the chicken adding substance.   The very fresh baguette was absolutely perfect, with the delicately crispy exterior adding a nice contrast to the soft filling.

The Heineken Experience

The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, NetherlandsRemember the Guinness Storehouse that I wrote about in Ireland?  Well, they have something in Amsterdam called the Heineken Experience that’s pretty much the exact same thing, but with Heineken instead of Guinness.

The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Like the Guinness one, it’s in a converted brewery, and you basically just walk around and look at various exhibits that tell you the history of the beer.

The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It has pretty much all of the faults of the Guinness tour (it’s all very surface level, with little to no insight on how they currently brew their beer), but it’s an engaging enough way to spend an hour or so.

The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The biggest issue is that it’s extremely crowded, and it doesn’t seem to be particularly well-designed; you’re often in tiny little rooms that wind up feeling a bit claustrophobic, especially at the beginning of the tour.

The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands

But of course, you do eventually get to drink some beer.  There’s the standard Heineken (which is quite refreshing), plus one called H41 which had a really in-your-face clove flavour.  It was interesting, though I don’t know if I’d ever want to drink it again.

The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands

McDonald’s Around the World: Netherlands Edition

McDonald's in Amsterdam, NetherlandsRemember my post about kroket, Amsterdam’s version of the croquette?  McDonald’s has their own version, and — of course — it’s called the McKroket.

McDonald's in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s actually surprisingly good.  Though the exterior doesn’t quite have the same satisfying crunch as the other versions I had, otherwise it’s quite comparable.  While the filling is maybe slightly too salty, it’s creamy and meaty and quite satisfying.

McDonald's in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s topped with a mustardy mayo sauce that suits it quite well; it’s one of the better things I’ve had in the many European McDonald’s I’ve visited so far.

Unusual (and Delicious) Apple Pie in Amsterdam

Winkel 43 in Amsterdam, NetherlandsApple pie purists would probably scoff at it, but the pie at a cafe called Winkel 43 in Amsterdam is pretty damn good.

It’s actually kind of like a cross between an apple cake and an apple pie.  The crust — which is cakey and shortbready — is nothing like a typical pie shell.  It’s dense and buttery, and it compliments the more familiar apple pie filling really well.

Apple Pie from Winkel 43 in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The filling is great too — the apples were nice and tender (apple pies with crunchy apples are where joy goes to die, and if you prefer it that way you’re wrong about apple pie and wrong about the way you live your life), and the flavour was right where it should be.  It’s sweet, with just a little bit of tartness to balance it out.

Topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream, it’s definitely one of the more memorable slices of pie I’ve had in a while.

Crunchy Fried Tubes in Amsterdam

Kroket from Eetsalon Van Dobben in Amsterdam, NetherlandsOne of the more popular foods in Amsterdam is a version of a croquette called kroket. It’s deep fried, with a very crunchy exterior and a creamy interior with chunks of beef. It’s really good.

Kroket from Eetsalon Van Dobben in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The first place I tried was a diner called Eetsalon Van Dobben. They serve the kroket on a pillowy-soft and fresh buttered roll, which works really well with the hearty, very crunchy croket.  Mustard is provided on the side, but I feel like its tasty enough that further ornamentation is unnecessary.

Kroket from Febo in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The second place was called Febo, which has an interesting layout in that it’s essentially a giant vending machine.  You find what you want, stick your coins in the slot above it, then open a little door to retrieve your food.  But there’s an actual kitchen and people replenishing the little food lockers throughout the day, so  it’s not like you’re eating stale food (the thing I got was  hot enough that it burned the inside of my mouth pretty thoroughly).

Kroket from Febo in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Though you can get a version in a bun, I went with just the fried tube on its own, which was similar to Eetsalon Van Dobben’s version, but with an even crunchier shell.

Kroket from Febo in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s a delicious fried tube of creamy, meaty goodness.  There’s really not much more to say about it than that.

So Many Bikes

Bikes in Amsterdam, NetherlandsI had heard that bikes were super popular in Amsterdam, but it’s one of those things that you don’t really understand until you’re actually here.

Bikes in Amsterdam, Netherlands

You have to constantly be on your guard, because if you stray even a little bit from the sidewalk, you’re going to be face-to-face with some bikes.  It’s pretty crazy.

Hauntingly Good Stroopwafels in Amsterdam

Original Stroopwafels in Amsterdam, NetherlandsI was already a pretty big fan of the stroopwafels you can get back home — the round, thin discs of crispy, chewy, caramel-filled waffles that usually come in a cellophane-wrapped pile of five or six.  They’re delicious.

But my stroopwafel love has been kicked to the next level, because I just had a freshly-made one in Amsterdam, and it was everything.  It was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long, long time.

Original Stroopwafels in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s no surprise that it’s great.  It’s basically a thin, slightly chewy and slightly crispy waffle encasing a very generous slathering of rich, gooey caramel.  When the guy gave it to me he warned me that I need to keep it horizontal as much as I could, because the caramel would leak out, and yeah.  There’s a lot of caramel in there.  It’s ridiculous.

Original Stroopwafels in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s so good.

You’d think it would be too sweet, but the pastry does a really great job of counterbalancing the sticky caramel.  And the caramel is so good — sometimes caramel can basically just taste like gooey sugar, but the caramel here has an addictively rich flavour.  It’s perfect.

As much as I liked the bagged version, I don’t know if I can ever go back.  Comparing fresh to bagged is like comparing Chips Ahoy to a freshly-baked homemade chocolate chip cookie.  They’re almost not even the same thing.

French Fry Amazingness in Amsterdam

Vleminckx Sausmeesters in Amsterdam, NetherlandsThere’s something about the simplicity of really well-prepared fries that’s kind of irresistible.  I mean, ultimately they’re just potato sticks, but that crispy/creamy contrast can’t be beat.

And the fries from Vleminckx Sausmeesters in Amsterdam are some of the best that I’ve had in a long while.  They’ve got that crispy/creamy thing going on in spades.  They’re lousy with it.

As you might imagine from the name, Vleminckx Sausmeesters is just as much about the sauces as it is about the fries; their most famous topping is called Oorlog Mix, which consists of mayonnaise, satay sauce, and diced onions.

Vleminckx Sausmeesters in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The mayo and the satay sauce is a pretty amazing combination, but the onions just kind of got in the way for me — but then I don’t like raw onions, so I probably should have seen that one coming.

I keep trying to understand the appeal of uncooked onion, and it keeps being pungent and gross.  Still, the fact that I enjoyed this as much as I did despite their foul presence tells you how good it was.

Also (and I didn’t get a picture of this, sadly) there was a group of pigeons that were just hanging out around the shop, and it very quickly became clear why: people would occasionally drop a fry, and within seconds of one hitting the ground they were on it.  For a few frantic seconds there’s an angry scrum of fluttering wings and mad pecking, and then the fry is gone and they wait for the next one.