Last week I had a quick lunch at Stads Cafe Van Mechelen. It is around the corner from where I am staying in Amsterdam. The place seems to be busy every time I walk buy there. And after a very long time I had an absolutely delicious tosti. It is the most basic lunch I believe you can enjoy in Amsterdam. At Van Mechelen the tosti was basically perfect. The bread thick enough to actually be sufficient as a complete meal. The cheese melted - but not too much and enough cooked ham to really pack the sandwich. And then they served the espresso with a glass of water. A true enjoyment.
Last week we enjoyed a delicious, sweet and savory, high tea at the cute Gartine. Located in a small alley between the Kalverstraat and the Rokin, it only fits 24 people at any given time. Make sure to make a reservation about a week before for your tea. The service is friendly, the interior cozy and the food is divine (especially the lemon pie).
Check out Gartine online. And make sure it is part of your stay in Amsterdam.
The last few days in Amsterdam have been delightful. The city is buzzing with visitors for the Amsterdam Dance Event, the Amsterdam Marathon and the usual attractions. The weather has also been spectacular. Yesterday we enjoyed a full afternoon on a roof top terrace (yep - in October), complete with a baby dinosaur cake (there is an explanation for this), an extensive cheese platter and loads of pictures. So we have been touring the city and enjoying the amazing atmosphere. Here are some pictures of a city that blossoms when the sun shines.
This is the Begijnhof. A beautiful and serene inner garden close to the Spui. A lovely place.
Before flying to Curacao this week I had one more day in Amsterdam. And what better way to spend the afternoon than cherishing the beauty, art and renovation at the Rijksmuseum.
After an extensive renovation the museum opened again last year with a blast. I remember when it closed more than 10 years ago for this renovation. I was a student in Amsterdam then. It was such a delight to be back there.
This is the new entrance hall of the museum. Vast and light, it will lead you to the entrance of the galleries, the restaurant and the museum shop.
At the information desk there is a folder with a walking route especially designed so you can see the architectural delights of this building. It is certainly as impressive as some of the art in it. While you walk through the hall, take a moment to stand still and look up. Chances are you will be impressed.
This is one of the main attractions of course. The famous Rembrandt. It is not often you shall see it like this. When I was there people swarmed around it. Taking pictures and selfies. But if you stand in one place long enough, the people seem to disappear and all that is left is the light in the painting.
The library is one of the most impressive rooms in the museum. Leaving the main halls filled with chatter and laughter you enter the quite, serene library. A wondrous sight.
The Asian Pavilion - usually a bit more quiet than the other rooms, is a splendid space. I especially loved all the statues.
This being The Netherlands and its crown jewel of a museum there is an abundance of art depicting tulips of all kinds, in all mediums and from various centuries. You can imagine my happiness. The museum shop sells reproductions of some of the works - yep, you guessed it. I bought the one above. This is "Still life with flowers" by Hans Bollongier painted in 1639. And soon its reproduction will hang in my house.
Stepping out of the museum you are greeted by the bikers making their way through the arches. An everlasting symbol of the Rijksmuseum.
There are two other places in Amsterdam I'd like to share here. One is SLA and the other is the Oyster Club. Two places that at opposite sides of the F&B spectrum - but both quite interesting places to visit when you are in Amsterdam.
The first thing I noticed when I entered was the Tea Bar. A concept where you choose your own tea, grab all the accessories you need to make the tea and then head to your table. Fantastic.
I choose some fallafel, olives, black quinnoa and avocado with a mustard and olive oil dressing.
Drinking water is free. The pitchers include cucumber or mint to give an extra layer of flavour to the water.
And voila....our empty plates :)
At Sla they also sell cook books, organic wines and chocolate and other interesting stuff.
And the sweet scent of lavender is all around. Divine.
The photo above is from the roof at the Oyster Club. The interior design is simple, but with particular details that make all difference.
If there are two things I can recommend when you go there it is 1. have some oysters (seems obvious right) and 2. try some of the sushi. The spicy tuna roll is the perfect amount of tuna with a hint of a crunch and just enough rice to hold it all together. Pictured above is the soft shell crab roll with fresh avocado and wasabi mayo. Oh and the Oyster Club serves fresh wasabi - one of just five place in the Netherlands to do so.
So that is it for Amsterdam this time. My next stop is the chic and green city of Hamburg. Where the habour is the main attraction, tree filled parks on everywhere and where this weekend the weather will be amazing.
The Belhamel is a cozy and exquisite restaurant on the Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam. Set on the corner, with three bridges directly in view, it provides a perfect view of what you would expect from Amsterdam. The tourist boats continuously passing, bikers making their way along the tree lined canals and the delivery of fresh produce while you are having lunch make for a wonderful experience.
We started out with some jasmine green tea outside, enjoying the minor breeze and sporadic drizzle before it really started raining. If the weather is less than perfect, and any of the three tables on the first row inside are available reserve one of those. You will then still have a view of the canals while remaining dry in this remarkably pretty place.
For reservations call them +31 (0)206221095. They are located on Brouwersgracht 60.
We started the evening with a glass of prosecco and some bar food at Bluespoon Bar. A great combination and the service was wonderful. We then moved to Bluespoon Restaurant, a table with a perfect view of the garden and the open kitchen.
We shared the king crab and avocado salad. Seriously delicious. For the main course we had the monkfish and the sea bass. Great options. The sea bass was definitely the better choice though. The fact that the kitchen is completely open adds to the experience and the music is low enough to allow for loads of chatting (which of course we are experts at) yet it did provide a relaxed atmosphere.
The Andaz is located on the Prinsengracht 587. Call them at +31 20 523 1250 for reservations.
Today I went to one of my favourite bookshops, the Atheneum. A place with so many magazines and travels books I could spend hours there. I bought some great editions, the gentlewomen, Anthology, works that work and the Wallpaper guide to Hamburg.
From English, French, Japanese and Australian magazines Atheneum really carries them all. Visit the shop on the Spui or get any of the latest editions on their website.
Next month I will be heading across the Atlantic to Amsterdam once again for a few days (before heading on to Hamburg). And this time I am looking forward to a lunch at Sla. They opened a new location in my favourite neighbourhood on the Westerstraat. Am looking forward to trying the Korean Style Prawn salad and some of their delicious juices. I would love to see a place like this open in Curacao - maybe one day. For now I am just looking forward to this experience in Amsterdam.