My apologies, this post is very late. Internet was down for a week in the apartment in Brussels, and then time was scarce.
I’m taking advantage of my one-month stint in Brussels to travel to other exciting locales nearby. And luckily, I’m not traveling alone—J joined me on June 27, so I have a partner in exploring and eating. Excellent. Let’s get started, shall we?
We arrived in Amsterdam Friday night, and unfortunately didn’t have a chance to explore the city, since we had to go straight to our guest house a bit outside the center. We were starving, so after dropping off our things, we set out to see what food options were available in the cute suburb at 10 pm. Then we saw it, rising like an oasis before us—a “snack bar” serving pizza and kebab! The employees were sitting and relaxing at the two small tables in front, but they immediately ushered us in and handed us menus. It wasn’t until after we had ordered our food that we noticed the place technically closed at 10 o’clock, and now, at nearly 10:30, a guy was in the back preparing döner durum and shawarma for us. Man, I LOVE that guy. No pictures of the food, but I can tell you that I inhaled my döner wrap and J finished off a giant mound of shawarma and fries.
Saturday morning, our first official stop was the Albert Cuypmarkt, since I had read good things about the food available there. When we finally reached it, after walking across town, we were not disappointed. First stop was a cheese stand, where J blindly picked out a hard cheese called brokkelkaas, which apparently had been aged for three years. We immediately unwrapped it to try a bite, and it was AMAZING. Although it’s a hard cheese with a little bit of crunch to it (I have no idea what it’s called, but it’s like there’s little pockets of crystallized cheese), it tastes immensely creamy and slightly nutty. And something else too. It’s complex and wonderful. For the rest of the day, J was pulling the chunk out of his bag, peeling back the wrapper, and taking a bite, as if he was eating a sandwich. But there was no bread, no mustard, no meat to interfere—just pure, unadulterated cheese.
Soon after, I located my main reason for seeking out the marketplace—a fresh stroopwafel, warm from the iron. The two waffles seemed thinner and crisper than in packaged stroopwafels, and the taste of cinnamon was much more pronounced. The molten syrup in the middle slowly slid to the bottom (since I was holding it vertically), so that the last few bites were tooth-achingly sweet, but still sooo good. I could barely focus on my surroundings as I enjoyed the treat I’d been so eagerly anticipating.
We also drank a few Heinekens. Big surprise, right? It was always on tap and the cheapest option. We laughed at the fact that a kleine (small) beer was 25 cl and a groot (large) beer is 50 cl, since in Estonia 50 cl is standard, and sometimes you have the option of ordering a large 1-L mug :-D.
On Sunday we took a trip to the grocery store to purchase some Dutch snacks to bring back with us. I craved something sweet, so I picked up a package of two round, slightly domed cookies with almonds on them from the bakery section. They were awesome—the slightly browned, firm edges tasted like a cookie-type pie crust, and the center was extremely soft and moist and tasted like almonds. There had to be some marzipan in there somewhere. After doing some research, I’m pretty sure what we ate was gevulde koek, or a shortbread cake filled with almond paste. Fortunately, the recipe appears quite simple… I may have to add these to my repertoire.
Overall, I gotta say that the snacks we had in Amsterdam outshone the sit-down meals (pancakes, sushi). The meals weren’t bad, but the snacks were more memorable, maybe because we were able to enjoy them while we wandering around, getting to know the iconic city.