Welcome to one of Europe's most progressive, and cosmopolitan cities. And really "progressive" is the most apt descrition to sum up Amsterdam. As I walked through the city I was always marveling at how efficient everything was, and how modern everything seemed, which seems a curious thought to have considering that the city was settled in the 12th century. But, truly, that is the juxtaposition of Amsterdam, the modern world blended seamlessly into an old world capitol.
Vondelpark (the city's largest park), or a tour of the Heineken Experience which is much much more than just a beer museum (although in my opinion a museum of beer would be more than enough to guarantee my attendance). The houses that line the canals in this area are absolutely stunning. Two of the oldest are wooden houses which date back to 1528, but the oldest structure in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (Old Church) which was consecrated in 1306.
|Musiekgebouw aan't IJ|
|Rossebuurt, also known as the Red Light District|
Virtually every conversation I have in regards to Amsterdam inevitably turns into a Q & A session regarding their legendary nightlife, infamous Red Light District, or progressive policies regarding the Narco-Tourism industry; so lets dispel some rumors, shall we? The Dutch have taken the approach that if you can't stop people from doing it, you might as well give them the means to do it in a safe, and controllable manner as opposed to wasting resources trying to enforce laws that have mixed results at best. Take for example prostitution, the "world's oldest profession". Rather than continue to throw women in prison for selling their own bodies, it made far more sense to give them a place to ply their trade that was safe for the women, and the general public, while minimizing any negative affect on the community. Hence the establishment of the "Rossebuurt" or red light district, where the girls will entice clients through their crimson lit windows, and pull the curtain shut when they are occupied.
|The Rookies Coffeeshop|
The Rookies which was very relaxed inside, I felt more like I was ordering a latte than a spliff. 3) How was the quality? The white widow is good, but it's not the kind of quality that you can't find in the States. I recommend spending the cash and getting the Blackberry Kush, or Amnesia Haze, but be careful, they pack a real punch.
|Kop Van Jut went from empty upon our arrival to completely full in 10 minutes|
As both a traveler and a foodie, I try not to view differences as "weird". I try to say that they're interesting, or unique, or eclectic, but in the case of Dutch snacks some of them are, lets face it, weird. Take for example the breakfast staple Broodje Hagelslag which is bread covered with butter and chocolate sprinkles (not dissimilar from the chocolate sprinkles you'd find on a cupcake). Another favorite snack are the Dutch cookies known as stroopwafels, which are caramel or maple syrup pressed between two small cookielike waffels.
Klene Zakkenrollers Zoute Drop, they are nothing short of divine!
One of the most popular lunch items in the Netherlands is a positively scrumptious deep fried meat paste called Kroketten. It has a wonderful crispy texture on the outside and a delicate, gooey middle. They are eaten either by themselves or cut down the middle and served on a piece of white bread as a kind of open faced sandwich. Either way they are usually accompanied with one of the many varieties of delicious Dutch mustard.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup hot milk
3/4 lbs leftover roast beef
1/2 onion (diced)
1 Tablespoon Ketjap manis
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs (beaten)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 cups bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying
Melt butter in saucepan, and add flour to make a light roux. Cook for about 3 minutes until the roux is starting to brown, slowly add in milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Place roast beef, thyme, ketjap manis, parsley, and pepper into a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape mixture into mixing bowl with roux and stir in well to make a thick paste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled.
Roll the Kroket mixture into small logs (should make about 24). Whisk together eggs and milk and set up a prep line of flour, egg mixture, then breadcrumbs. One by one, roll the Kroketten in the flour, then egg/milk, and finally the bread crumbs and set on a plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees and, working in batches, fry the Kroketten until golden brown. Serve with Dutch mustard.
|Flying Lotus at the Melkweg|
Melkweg to see up and coming electronic artist Flying Lotus (also known as Fly-Lo). As a venue the Melkweg (or Milky Way) is fantastic. The converted milk warehouse now contains a theater, a cinema, a photography exhibition, as well as the live music club. Flying Lotus' music may be recognizable to any of my friends familiar with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, where his music is used for many of the segues between clips. FlyLo churns out experimental beats that run the gamut between hypnotic and eclectic funk, to jazz fusion, while avoiding sounding too clubby. He has a sound that is smart and thought provoking. Check out his single "...And The World Laughs With You..." which features Radiohead's Thom Yorke.
Hans Dulfer perform at Cafe Alto. Cafe Alto is a romantic little club in the heart of Amsterdam's city center, and is perfectly suited for a lovely, jazz filled, date night. All the bars and clubs are relatively small, and fill up rather quickly. If you plan on making an evening of the performance I would suggest showing up early for a comfortable table, but the small clubs means that there are a lot of clubs to choose from, so barhopping from one to another to see what suits you best is also highly recommended.
It is also notable that the Dutch government heavily subsidizes the arts, meaning that performing arts such as the opera, symphony, ballet, and theater are all very inexpensive to attend. We attended a ballet performance at Zaantheater which was very good.
Gauw tot ziens iedereen!