Writing about restaurants and books, wine and theater, art galleries and museums

Monthly Archives: July 2014

I spent the morning of the fourth day in Amsterdam doing my own walking tour of the Jordaan neighborhood, an old working class neighborhood that is now the equivalent to Amsterdam as what the Greenwich Village is to New York City.

I started out with breakfast of apple pie and coffee at Winkel’s:



There is a Saturday farmers market in the neighborhood. Much nicer things for sale as compared to the Albert Cuyps market I had been to the day before.



The neighborhood was mostly quiet residential streets with pretty old houses and some canals with nice houseboats.


One of the larger canals in the neighborhood:


A couple of houseboats:20140729-222131-80491376.jpg


Many houses have interesting carvings:






I learned that that you could push open certain doors and find common gardens behind them.









Lots of bikes and lace curtains:20140729-222435-80675754.jpg0



Night 3 in Amsterdam

I had one of those memorable meals that are so rare on my third night in Amsterdam. Gebr. Hartering restaurant offers a choice of a 6 or 9 course set menu. The extra 3 courses are a ribeye steak, a cheese course, and an extra dessert. I went with the six course option. I got there at 7:30 and didn’t leave until after 11. Three and a half hours of bliss.
Before the first course they brought me three mini pre-courses.

The first pre-course looks like someone had already eaten. It was a plate of fish bones–anchovy bones that have been fried and dusted with smoked pimenton. It tasted like whole anchovies.

The second pre-course was an Italian green pepper roasted with chive oil and flakes salt

The third pre-course was a red pepper roasted on a charcoal grill.

First course: salted cod with oil, leek ash and watercress.

Second course: lardo with arugula (from a nearby village), caramelized shallots, crispy capers, and peach infused oil.

Third course: shrimp croquette with lemon mayonnaise


The shrimp were the tiny Dutch ones I had the first night in the amuse bouche.

Fourth course: monkfish liver with wild mushrooms


The main course was a porchetta with leek coulis, endives, potatoes (also from a nearby village) and crispy pigs skin. It was a dish with some tang.


Dessert was a creme brûlée that was not too sweet and creamier than most.

This was truly a meal worth travelling for.

After breakfast of a coffee and a croissant at an outdoor café in the capital and nine Streets part of the Canal District, I headed to the Albert Cuyp outdoor market in the De Pijp neighborhood, a poorer neighborhood to the south.

The market had a lot of junk:


And plenty of food including fish, cheese and berries.




And even a food cart:


I stopped at Van Dobben, a cafe famous for their croquettes. I had a beef croquettes on bread.

Then I walked for a while and stopped at a herring stall for herring and pickles on a roll.


I headed to Rembrandt’s house

And learned about printmaking:

Next up the Old Church. There were odd art pieces by various artists all throughout the church in every little nook and cranny




One was a giant Jesus whose face was selfies anyone could upload:



I entered the old churchmaster’s offices. On the wall were the shields of many of the church masters. Most were elaborate. Why did Nicholaus get a hotdog for his coat of arms?

And inlaid in the ground just outside the church with no explanation is a hand groping a breast


Dinner that night was at Geb. Hartering. A separate post to come on how amazing it was.

Dinner day 2 of Amsterdam

I decided I had to try some Rifsttafel while I was in Amsterdam. My second night I headed to Tempo Doeloe restaurant.


Rifsttafel is a style of eating and type of cuisine that developed out of the Dutch living in colonized Indonesia.

There were two Rifsttafel options on the menu (not counting a vegetarian option). One was euro 32.50 and the other was euro 37.50. The menu stated that a minimum of two people could order the more expensive one. I asked if I could order the large one. The waitress tried to dissuade me from ordering the larger one she said it would be too many dishes and too much food. I proved her wrong. Later in the evening she said I did an impressive job.

They brought out 24 different items and two types of rice.

A plate of 5 cold items/accompaniments.

One skewer of satay (no photo)

A plate of nine non-spicy items.

And a plate of nine spicier items.

This is what it looked like in front of me:

Here is a list of what I had:

It was a lot of fun trying everything and figuring out which I like the most.
Some of the meat dishes had some sweetness to them in addition to their spices and flavorings. I tended to like those the most. They reminded me of the type of dishes I loved in Malaysia. In addition, there was a chicken liver dish that was terrific, the satay was great, and the vegetables, especially the ones in peanut sauce, were great too. There were a lot of distinctive flavors and I liked that I found actual cardamom pods and stars of anise in my dishes. The dish that was the spiciest was truly spicy. One of the cold dishes was grated coconut and peanuts. That could be sprinkled on any dish to cool it down or to add a different flavor to it.

Everyone who worked there was very nice. The meal ended with a glass of a liqueur called Sayah. It was described as an anise type drink. I don’t love the flavor of anise, but I liked this drink. It was slightly sweet and more then anise, I noted flavors of spices like cardamom and cinnamon.

After spending the morning changing hotels, I headed to the Rikjsmuseum.
My new hotel:

Here are some of the things that caught my eye at the museum.

A Vermeer:


A man:

What’s with the dead frog:

An odd seeing-eye dog by Rembrandt:

Another odd dog:

For some reason I was focused on odd animals:


Odd people too:
The afternoon was more somber with a visit to the Anne Frank House
20140726-063111-23471925.jpgEight people lived on the 3rd and 4th floors at the back of the building which otherwise housed a pectin (for making jam) distribution business. They were discovered after about two years. Only Anne Frank’s father survived.


I met an old friend for dinner. She happened to be in Amsterdam the same day–we had figured this out thanks to Facebook.

We ate at Restaurant Greetje, a restaurant that has revived old Dutch dishes in a new atmosphere.

Tourists don’t seem to eat Dutch food while they are in Amsterdam. There seem to be about three Argentine restaurants on each block.

But I’m a purist so no Argentine, Italian, Mexican, or French food for me while I am in Amsterdam.

We started with an amuse bouche which was a thin purée of cucumber and apple with tiny shrimp.


For our appetizers I had blood pudding and my friend had mustard soup. The soup was the winner of this pair of dishes.



We both went for the porkchops for our main course. The moist chops came with peas and truffled mashed potatoes and had a delicious sauce made with duck liver to pour over it.


Surprisingly the best choices on the wine list were Italian. I picked a Corvina which I thought went perfectly with the pork chops.

I arrived in Amsterdam early in the morning and headed straight to my hotel. No rest or shower for the weary. I had to wait till the afternoon for my room so I headed out into the streets early in the morning before most people had woken up.

Walked around the quiet Canal streets and then headed to the Van Gogh museum. Got there 15 minutes before they opened. I had a reservation for 2 PM that afternoon but I hoped to be checking into my room at that time.

The museum seemed run down and poorly lit but they’re doing work on one of the buildings so perhaps that’s why.

I saw lots of great Van Gogh paintings. Somewhere so familiar that I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen them in person before. Others, I definitely have not seen before.

An unlikely Van Gogh painting:


From there I moved on to the modern art museum, the Stedlijk.

They had works by well-known Dutch and non-Dutch artists and many Dutch artists I have never heard of.

While the works or heavy on abstraction, I was struck by two self-portraits that were side-by-side one by German Max Beckmann:


And another by Brit Stanley Spencer:


I’ve become a big fan of German artist Martin Kippenberger and they had quite a few of his works I hadn’t seen before. The museum had recently put on display three paintings of his from 1985 that I was not familiar with. They are three different buildings that all have narrow horizontal windows one is the Betty Ford clinic another is a present and another is a school. Guess which one this is:


Me and Rauschenberg:

After a night on the plane and a day in the museums, I headed back to the hotel to check in to my room.

My hotel (a great location but I checked out this morning–they put me in the sauna room, which I hadn’t requested):

After a quick shower, I then I headed off to meet a friend for drinks followed by dinner at Restaurant Greetje (separate post to come).