Now last week, was a bit of a long post..and after a week of skiing in the Czech Republic, I’m rather worn out, so I’ll just give you the barest of literature, and let the pictures speak for themselves!
WHAT IS DUTCH FOOD?
Dutch food, otherwise known as Nederlandse keuken, consists of the food traditions and practices, from the Netherlands!
Now it’s really confusing trying to explain what the difference between Holland and the Netherlands is, so I’ll let this hilarious video explain it for you!
Sadly, Holland, like Germany, is not really known for it’s excellent variety of food.
Traditionally, Dutch food is considered to be somewhat of the simple and straightforward variety with lots of vegetables, and very little meat. In short, quite rustic!
However, due to the influence of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies, and a contemporary international mix, Dutch food has become more interesting, more diverse, and far healthier, with sprinkles of stodge during the cold winter months!
Take a look below:
DUTCH FOOD AND WAFFLES: WHAT TO EAT IN HOLLAND!
A Dutch breakfast is typically Continental in style and usually consists of a wide variety of cold cuts, cheeses and sweet toppings; such as chocolate spread, treacle, otherwise known as stroop, peanut butter and apple butter!
There is also a wide variety of whole grain bread as well as Dutch bread, with sunflower or pumpkin seeds, rye bread, a Frisian version of white bread known as suikerbrood, or otherwise known as white bread with lumps of sugar mixed in. Eeek!
Kerststol – a traditional Dutch Christmas bread made out of dough, sugar, dried fruits, almond paste and currants, and Ontbijtkoek or peperkoek – a Dutch spiced gingerbread type of cake often served at breakfast, with a thick layer of butter on top!
In fact, a breakfast of everything that you could ever desire!
Cost: €4.99 – €22.00
You can find a wide variety of snacks all over Holland.
They tend to range from french fries to mini pancakes. The deep-fried battered codfish, whiting or cod cheeks from the North Sea above is known as Kibbeling, and often served with a mayonnaise-based garlic, remoulade, or tartar sauce, as well as a variety of different seafood sauces!
We bought ours from a seafood stand in Zaandam, where all manner of herring and seafood is sold.
And very nice they were too!
Most of the snacks are quite greasy, but nice and cheap.
Ranging from mini burgers to croquettes!
And when in Rome, do as the Dutch do and use a vending machine!
However, make sure that you use a “restaurant-bar” rather than at the train station, as you can be sure that the replacements are always fresh. There were queues of respectable people using these very same “restaurant-bars,” so no need to fear if they’re alright. They’re alright!
And make sure that you have the correct change, ‘cos you won’t get your money back if you don’t!
Cost: €1.50 – €7:00
If you were to ask most people which food items remind them of Holland, as in Switzerland, most people would say cheese!
The Dutch have been making cheese since 800 B.C. and some say, that Holland is the largest cheese exporter in the world!
With an average of 21 kilograms per year per person, we can say the Dutch love their own cheese.
In fact, Dutch people eat cheese for breakfast, cheese on sandwiches, cheese for lunch, cheese as a snack, and cheese for supper served with mustard, and a lovely glass of Dutch beer!
The Dutch are very famous for their cheeses ranging from semi-hard or hard cheeses such as Gouda, Edam, and Leyden, and as such, the five (5) most traditional cheese markets in Holland can be found in Alkmaar, Edam, Hoorn, Gouda and Woerden.
In fact, you can still see how cheese merchants do business, much as they have done, for more than 600 years! And of course, “Old Amsterdam” cheese which you can get all over Amsterdam!
A typical Dutch way of making cheese is to blend in herbs or spices during the first stage of the production process, such as in cheeses with cloves (Friesian Clove), cumin (Leyden cheese), Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle, and even cheese with nettles!
Cheese in Holland is exciting!
Cost: €1.50 – €..whatever!
Traditionally a Dutch dinner would have potatoes with a large portion of vegetables and a small portion of meat with gravy, or a potato and vegetable stew.
Vegetable stews are often served with side dishes such as rodekool met appeltjes, otherwise known as red cabbage with apples, or rode bieten, otherwise known as beetroot!
They are also served with pickles, including augurken, otherwise known as gherkins, or zilveruitjes, otherwise known as cocktail onions!
One of the most popular traditional Dutch foods would be stamppot, otherwise known as mashed potatoes with a variety of mashed vegetables!
Or how about this rather wonderful meal of venison steak?
Cost: €12.00 – €20.00
The most popular Dutch dessert is that of the stroopwafel, otherwise known as a waffle!
It’s not any old waffle of course, as the stroopwafel originated from the town of Gouda, and was first made during the late 18th or early 19th century!
It was said that a baker invented the Dutch waffle by using leftovers from the bakery, such as breadcrumbs, and sweetening it with syrup.
Dutch waffles – the stroopwafel – is made from baked batter and sliced horizontally. Two thin layers of the waffle are filled with special sweet and sticky syrup, otherwise known as the stroop, and put in between.
Occasionally, crushed hazelnuts are mixed with the stroop, and the dough is also spiced with cinnamon.
We also had a Dutch speciality known as vla or vlaai!
The word vla was first documented in the 13th century and originally referred to any custard-like substance covering a cake, or any other baked good. The word vlaai is related and has since come to refer to a type of pie filled with either fruit, custard, rhubarb or rice pudding!
The vlaai we had was a sort of mini custard pie, served with whipped cream, and tasty ice-cream!
Cost: €3.00 – €6.50
Try Dutch beer!
Cost: €3.50 – €5.00
That’s it for now.
See you next week!
DUTCH FOOD AND WAFFLES: WHAT TO EAT IN HOLLAND!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the marvellous Dutch food that we tasted and happily consumed, are my very own!
I’ll be at the Bistro France Mediatournee 2017 on 07.02.17.
Zaandam has a population of around 72,597 and is extremely famous for a place called Zaanse Schans.
What’s that, when it’s at home?
Well, the Zaanse Schans is a unique part of the Netherlands, filled with wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops. It’s also an inspiration of Monet who painted 25 works of art, one of the most popular Dutch attractions of the Netherlands, and an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH)!
It was the anchor of the Dutch Golden Age and a region known for its food industry and combined innovational skills. From windmills to steam engines, to entire factories and to the preserved industrial heritage of contemporary Holland. The Zaanse Schans was always an important working class industrial town producing linseed oil, paint, snuff, mustard, and paper. And also a living museum platform that shows visitors what it was like living in 18th and 19th century Holland.
At the Zaanse Schans you can stroll past the Bakery Museum and enjoy the smell of fresh bread, or take a look at the warehouse where clogs are made. You can pop into the cheese factory, the pewter foundry, or go into the various traditional windmills.
You can also do what the Dutch do, and go on the cycle trail of Monet, eat waffles and pancakes, browse through the crafts and handiwork, eat cheese, or simply go sailing.
The Zaanse Schans also has a marvellous collection of well-preserved houses, characteristic private residences, museums, and historic windmills!
Our journey from Berlin took just 8.5 hours with a stop-over and 6.5 hours, without! But of course, you can just as easily fly into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol which from most European countries, takes less than 2 hours, and is a destination flown by many major airlines around the world.
If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as Eurolines, or MeinFernbus FlixBus also land in Amsterdam. But do be aware that the Amsterdam Bus station is in Amsterdam Sloterdijk, and although 5 minutes away by train, is still going to cost you €3.20 (+chip card) to get to Amsterdam-Centraal, as it’s in the suburban area! Also, if you arrive at 03:00 then you have a bit of a wait, as the last train leaves at 01:22, and the first one leaves at 05:41!
And the shops at the train station are closed!
There is a bus that will take you into the city, but unless you have “business” in the wee hours of the morning, you won’t be able to check in anywhere. Hence, as soon as I got into Amsterdam at about 06:00, I found a nice hotel and had a cup of tea until it became light and decent enough for me to check into my hotel at the time!
Anyway, whichever way you arrive, you need to make your way to Amsterdam-Centraal.
Zaandam: The train runs twice an hour, is 2 stops away from Amsterdam, and takes just 13 -14 minutes, and costs €2.70 for a single ticket.
Zaandijk Zaanse Schans: The train runs twice an hour, is 4 stops away from Amsterdam, and takes just 18 -20 minutes, and costs €3.10 for a single ticket.
I was only there for literally a night and a day, but Zaandam definitely made an impression on me.
Zaandam is a place of historical interest, where people go about their normal everyday business even though there were Dutch houses everywhere. If you were to go to Pennsylvania in the US, it would be a bit like that. But normal!
The Zaanse Schans is charming and fun and the type of place very eager to welcome tourists and entertain you. With seven (7) houses turned into seven (7) museums: The Weavers House, the Cooperage, the Jisper House, Zaan Time Museum, Albert Heijn Museumshop, Bakery Museum. And loads of windmills. You just can’t go wrong!
The hotel has an impressive facade which has a sort of stacking feature so that it looks like a house made out of Lego!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam is a building with a lot of character, and surprisingly, it was not the only one. There were more such houses in the Zaan region!
How many times have you thought, ooooh this house looks lovely? Oh, and this one. And this one! I bet never!
It was such a pleasure on a cold, windy, freezing, rainy morning to wander around from one interesting building to another. And because windmills!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam is one of a kind and offers the best of tradition with modern-day comfort. The hotel’s green façade of traditional Zaan houses is a real eye-catcher, and the interiors of the hotel rooms reflect the rich history, traditional products, the pioneers of local craft industries, and the families who made the area world famous!
Yep! You probably won’t find this anywhere else!
We booked the Taste Deluxe Room with impressive colourful photographs on the wall. It also had a flat screen TV, a huge wardrobe large enough for a teenager to get into for fun…
But don’t do that, as we found it enormously difficult to open, in order to get him out again…!
There was a table, some fancy designer furniture, and lots of plug outlets.
There was a small fridge, a tin box of proper tea bags (oh yes!), milk, sugar and coffee.
The bathroom was huge with a bath tub and shower part that had a glass panel that didn’t really do the job, as you either had to keep your back to the wall, otherwise, there would be water everywhere.
And there was water. Everywhere!
We, of course, had an en-suite bathroom with bath gels and shampoo which I liked enormously, and at the end of a long day was awfully welcoming, plenty of fluffy towels, and free WiFi!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam also had a sauna, spa centre, and swimming pool which was packed with adults, and judging by the screams of laughter, having a merry old time!
It looked pretty nice though, as we had a sneak peek!
The lobby was really nice with comfy leather sofas, crisp daily newspapers and glossy magazines. There was also a sort of waterfall outside, and a river. And the view was pretty amazing!
Breakfast wasn’t included, so we decided to have dinner at the hotel instead.
It was delightful.
We had the hotels’ 3 course à la carte dinner for just €29.50 each (not including drinks). I’ll tell you all about that next week!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam can be booked from €126.00 per night, which for two (2) people would be €63.00 a pop, and an absolute Amsterdam bargain!
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Zaandam is pretty small so everywhere is walkable.
You could also cycle, take the bus, the train, or go horse-riding!
If you’re in Amsterdam proper, don’t forget to buy a public transport OV-chip card. Tickets can be got from ticket machines at the Centraal Station, or besides some of the tram stops. They can even be bought in the tram, the bus, and from newspaper shops! Once you enter the tram or bus, you scan your card. And on leaving, you scan the card again. It’s a little like an Oyster card in London.
This time around, I’m writing about the family-friendly Amsterdam.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam is a small capital city in Europe. It’s one of those places steeped in history and glory.
Indeed, as a 12th century fishing hamlet, it’s done rather well as a naval trading giant in the 17th century hunting for spoils and riches, before Britain came and took away such treasures as New Amsterdam (from Amsterdam in Holland), that later relegated to New York (from York in England). We also know of the conflicts and tribulations that Amsterdam had to go through in order to keep the water at bay, and the canals safe.
Did you know that:
Only 834,713 people actually live in Amsterdam and more than 3.6 million tourists visit every year!
There are 881,000 bicycles
2,500 barges or houseboats
8,863 historical 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings
23 paintings by Rembrandt
207 paintings by Van Gogh
And 8 windmills!
DAY ONE (1) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER
Put luggage away as quickly as possible:
Checking in for most hotels is usually between 13:00 – 14:00 so if you’re not driving, put your luggage in the train station locker for efficiency and speed! For 24 hours, it costs between €7.00 – €10. We had just arrived by overnight train from Berlin, so it was well worth not lugging things around..!
Feed your teenager:
Before we were going to do anything at all, I took my son to a restaurant that I knew, that served an English breakfast for under €5.00! He opted for an Italian breakfast instead, and ending up licking his chops at mine!
It’s always a good thing to get a local viewpoint of a place or city, and the best way to do so is on a walking tour:
Our walking tour was great for learning all about how Dutch people live and the alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam, which even included walking through the red-light district at 12:00 in the afternoon!
Funnily enough it wasn’t this that got my teenager blushing and flustered.
After all, a lot of the red light places in Amsterdam are blended into the community, with one red-light street situation right next to a kindergarten, and opposite a church! And as for Germany, prostitution is legal and well, you know, nude or Freikörperkultur beaches abound throughout Germany. All quite normal and family-friendly!
It was this.
Our walking tour group gathered around to take photographs of various types, sizes and flavours, whilst my teenager and I wandered further away and talked about the weather.
Neither of us quite knew where to look!
Bump into cheese. And eat it:
You surely can’t be in Holland if you don’t try some of their best famous cheese!
If you love cheese, you can pretty much go into any of the cheese shops and get to know all about the flavours, aroma, and quality of an enormous range of cheese.
It’s been around since 1967 and specialises in more than 100 different kinds of organic cheese from cheese markets in Northern Holland, as well as other equipment!
That’s right. Amsterdam has a museum. For Cheese!
It’s free to go in, and they give you a little tour and some info so that you can experience the unique flavor of the best cheeses in Holland, and nibble away at many varieties of free cubes of cheese and sauces to taste!
The last time I was there, I was so impressed that I bought some Dutch waffles and biscuits, some very, very, very Old Amsterdam Cheese, for – The Music Producer – who is a connoisseur.
Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. Mmm.
How can anyone, lest of all teenagers, resist?!
Take a leisurely stroll, and walk in and out of little back streets, and on the river-side:
Start from Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square, and then explore. Just remind your teenagers to watch their bags as the area is packed with tourists, as well as pick-pockets. Think Leicester Square (London), Times Square (New York), or Alexanderplatz (Berlin).
Damrak is crowded and there’s loads of weird people and strange shops. You might not like it, but your teenager will! And for obvious reasons, you wouldn’t want them to be there alone. So take a deep breath and go with them…!
The picture above shows the Waag or traditional weighing house and is a 15th-century building on the Nieuwmarkt Square in Amsterdam.
It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam, and also served as a guildhall, a museum, a fire station and anatomical theatre, and now a restaurant!
The Waag is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam and can even be seen in Rembrandt’s 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp!
Somehow, I always seem to be in Holland in the winter!
One year, we actually walked across part of the Northern Sea, and people’s yachts and boats were frozen!
Thankfully, Amsterdam isn’t that extreme so merely ice-skating will have to do! The ICE*Amsterdam presents a unique ice skating experience on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, where your teenager can not only do some nifty ice-skating, but curling and ice hockey too!
You can’t do this every year though as the ice rink is only open from 18.11.16 – 05.02.17, and temperatures have to drop to -4°C or below, for four (4) consecutive nights, to produce ice thick enough to skate on. And it did!
In fact, while we were there, Amsterdam was freezing cold!
The waterside tells you such a lot about a place and it’s people. The buildings, the bridges, and the houseboats. The dykes and the street corners where condemned criminals were once hanged for all to see.
The rivers are so exquisite that the canals in Amsterdam have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fancy that!
Or if you’re short on cash, hop on the free public ferry service behind the Centraal train Station and set sail for NDSM-wharf, a derelict shipyard turned avant-garde arts community.
Check out the recycled-junk sculptures, graffiti artists roaming the streets and giant wooden tiki head watching over it all.
It goes to Amsterdam-Noord. There are various routes, but the most common ones are the short ferry to Buiksloterweg (roughly every 10 minutes) and the long ferry (every half hour) to the NDSM Wharf. You can get more information about the destinations, the routes and an interactive map here!
In Europe, we love our bikes and use them, and you can’t go far wrong if you want to ride your bicycle in Amsterdam! Even Dutch Royalty are known to go about on their very own bicycles as Amsterdam is enormously flat and quite honestly, was designed very much with 17th century horses and carts in mind!
Visit a museum:
Amsterdam has a variety of really great museums. All which would give your teenager something to do. And if it’s cold, wet and rainy.
All the better.
The best museums / attractions to visit with a teenager are the following:
The Amsterdam Museum
The Van Gogh Museum
The Ann Frank House Museum
The Rembrandt House Museum
The Joods Historisch Museum or the Jewish Historical Museum
The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or The Museum of Bags and Purses
The Museum Willet-Holthuysen
Het Grachtenhuis or The Museum of the Canals
The Woonbootmuseum or the Houseboat Museum
The Heineken Experience
The Amsterdam Dungeon
Body Worlds Amsterdam
And the Amsterdam Light Festival
We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, and only managed to get to the two (2) museums below:
The Amsterdam Museum:
I was very eager to visit the Amsterdam Museum as it focuses on the story and history of Amsterdam through a large number of masterpieces, such as an aerial map from the Middle Ages, Breitner’s The Dam, and lots of interactive material and images that you could touch, see, listen to, use, read, and experience.
I love museums where you don’t have to treat things like delicate treasures, and can really get to grips with “using” the items!
An audio guide is provided so that you can do your own self-guided tour, in a variety of popular languages. And it’s free of charge, which I greatly appreciated!
Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it.
And if you’re short of time, or don’t feel like doing anything too “heavy” the interactive Amsterdam DNA exhibition, can be “done” in just one (1) hour!
Cost: Adults: €12.50. Students: €10.00. Children 5-18: €6.50. Under 4: Free of charge.
The Rijksmuseum is the iconic museum of the Netherlands.
The Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection was presented via going on a journey through the ages, and a sense of beauty and of time.
In 80 galleries, 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. And even though The Tall Young Gentleman is just 14 years old, he really enjoyed the Rembrandt art and imaginary mythical creatures, and was upset when after just 2 hours, it was time to leave!
Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it and Night Watch alone was amazing!
Cost: Adults: €17.50. European Youth Card Holders (EYCA) / Students: €8.75. Under 18: Free of charge!
My blog is not about what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look deep enough you’ll see that it’s all about what’s different, the other, the edge. It’s also all rather tongue-in-cheek!
And Amsterdam is a perfect example. It’s a lovely quaint city with an exposed diverse edge. It’s cosmopolitan, and at the same time Dutch in style. It’s romantic and beautiful, but tolerant and diverse. It’s rich and lively, but quiet and authentic. It’s charming and also like any other capital city, beautifully flawed.