Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Okay, this is pretty much the most awesome city I have ever visited, even in spite of the weather totally shitting out on us and actually, literally, shitting out ON us.

The Dutch have a word called gezellig which means "cozy," and that's exactly how I would describe Amsterdam. It is so cozy and accessible and empirically beautiful that I'm STUNNED that most tourists spend the majority of their time wandering the city zooted out of their minds. I mean, no shame in your game if you want to toke up in a beautiful city that's progressive enough to let you do it legally, but I have to say that the "coffeeshops" seem to LEAST reflect what is MOST appealling about Amsterdam. For one, you are more likely to run into tourists in a coffeeshop than any other sort of establishment, and I didn't spend over $500 on a plane ticket so that I could have a really kind time with dreadlocked, white, Americans.

I spent that money so that I could eat some G.D. Dutch food!

I think I finally did.

After picking up my oldest brother at the airport early this morning, breakfast was the first thing on all three of our agendas. So after walking in the cold rain for about an hour, we finally found a gezellig cafe in an antique bazarre run entirely by Dutch retirees. The table next to ours was a foursome of octogenarian Dutch men who I imagined were WWII veterans and recent widowers. This was clearly a locals' place, so I felt good about it, and it didn't disappoint. I ordered the Dutch version of a Croque Monsieur, and it was DELIGHTFUL. Melted cheese on meat + fresh whole wheat baguette = a recipe more delicious than equations are a cliched means to describe good stuff.


That and a cappuccino gave me a new perspective on Dutch cuisine, and I will say that once again the older crowd knows how to eat better than the younger. Then again, I am a ninety-year-old woman who lives for The Early Bird Special, so what do I know? The answer is EVERYTHING.

Because the weather was so nasty my brothers and I kept looking for excuses to go inside. We made a reluctant trip to the Heineken Brewery, which was actually totally awesome! Totally awesome if you like immersive and incessant advertising! I guess I do, because I had a really good time, even though the three FREE Heinekens that were included in the admission price were 100% gross.

Maybe that's why they have to GIVE them away for free -- the beer is NOT GOOD! It's so not good I didn't even finish my last little glass. I am also proud to announce that my brothers and I REFUSED the FREE GIFT: a little Heineken pint glass. The guy's head literally exploded when all three of us were like, "No thanks. We just don't want to carry it around. You can keep it." Kapow: Dutch grey matter all over the coat-check.

After the brewery tour we shmied around the city, stopping in and out of cafes for our fifth or sixth cappuccino or hot chocolate. And then we got really tired and cold, so we headed back to Den Haag for Indonesian food, which I DEMANDED we eat tonight, and I am not sorry I did. We had the Rice Table, which is a prix fixe FEAST that completely got the best of us. Three piggish Americans could not finish the 19 dishes on offer, each one as distinct as it was delicious. There were sweet satays, bright, pickled vegetable salads, light curries, spicy boiled eggs, sweet and salty soy meats, crunchy sambals, and, of course, the requisite fluffy rice. Oh man was it ever good, but holy moly was it ever filling! Was it ever Dutch? Uh...Not really. No.

But I remain undeterred. Tomorrow is Herring/Pancake day! I look forward to it with an open heart, mind, and -- most importantly -- mouth.


Blogger Keir said...

You think you had breakfast at an antique bizarre. That's bizarre.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...

please try Cafe Bern while you're there. It's fondue which I'm not sure if that's official Dutch Food, but it's always full of locals and they have great belgian beer on tap and the bread for the fondue is fantastic. It's super cheap too.

Cafe Bern
Nieuwmarkt 9
It is right at the Nieuwmarkt square behind the Red Light District

Phone: 020-6220034

9:58 AM  
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