Touted as a restaurant serving “authentic Dutch food”, we tried Hap-Hmm which was located close to where we were staying in the Vondelpark area and is frequented by many locals. The Dutch must eat early (especially compared to the Italians and Spaniards who start eating after 8pm) since the hours of this restaurant are from 4:30-8:45, and the place was packed when we arrived just after 5pm. It is also closed on the weekend, so it must count on the after work crowd. We picked the house specialty of beef stew with vegetables, although we switched from the traditional boiled potato to roast potato. The meal was hearty but a bit bland and the vegetables overcooked for my taste. For me, the best part of the meal was my sparkling Nestea iced tea. I have never had fizzy iced tea before and really liked it.
Every time we visit a new city, we always check out the Mcdonalds to see what different items it might offer that reflect the local culture. In Amsterdam, instead of chicken nuggets, we found the McKibbeling – nuggets of white fish with tartar sauce. Because of this experience, I thought for days that kibbeling meant fish but eventually I realized it probably meant nugget since all further offerings were made of chicken and not fish. Wandering around the canal streets, we found a fish stand that was selling mackerel (makreel) sandwiches. Mackerel seems to be quite popular in Amsterdam and much less available in Toronto, so we decided to try a sandwich. We were not brave enough to try to Dutch tradition of eating a raw herring (haring), which is to be eaten by tilting your head back, holding the herring by its tail and letting the slippery raw fish then slide into your mouth.
The walls of the café in the Rijks museum contain the same red brick that covers the gorgeous exterior of this building. On display was one of the giant Delft porcelain flower vases that we had seen in the exhibition area, but this one had actual flowers in it, so we could better envision how they would have been used in the past. They also had a version of the eel soup that I regretted not ordering at De Belhamel, so I decided to redeem myself and get it here. This one was made with Abraham mustard, smoked eel, crispy fried potato and eel foam. It was really good with a strong mustard taste that I’ve never experienced before in a soup, but not quite as good as the gold standard one at De Belhamel. For my main course, I had another Holtkamp kroket on a bed of greens accompanied with a potato salad and piece of country bread.
When we were arranging our home swap, we agreed with our fellow exchanger that we would leave each other a sample of local chocolate. We chose a box of Dufflet’s chocolate covered pistachios, one of my favourites, and she left us a big bar of Tony’s Chocolonely Hazelnut milk chocolate. We fell in love with the rich, creamy, chocolatey taste of this bar and went out to buy another one from the Albert Heijn. Then in Marqt, we found an even larger selection of different varieties and had to get some for our ongoing travels to Ireland. We bought a dark chocolate with meringue and cherries, and a milk chocolate coffee crunch. Both were good, but I do miss our original hazelnut variety and hope to find some more at the Amsterdam airport on the way home.
This marks the end of the blogs for the Amsterdam leg of our trip… on to Ireland!