Farmer’s markets are one of my favorite places to visit when traveling, oohing and aahing over all the delicious produce. Actually, I love them even when I’m not on the move. They’re like window shopping on the high street, but then for food lovers.
Every Saturday at the Noordermarkt in Amsterdam you can find a lovely organic farmer’s market, with your pick of organic fruits, veggies, cheese and bread. And now that the season of mushrooms and pumpkins is upon us, seas of deep browns and oranges are overflowing the stalls. A definite feast for the eyes. Really, the only downside to this market is that it’s packed with people and that the prices surely are above your usual ‘high street’ level..
You can also find some nice stalls with non-food items, such as second-hand books and Dutch antiques. When I was still living in the Netherlands, I used to visit the Noordermarkt early on Monday mornings when all the stalls are filled with vintage clothing, bric-a-brac, fabrics & notions. It’s a great time spent rummaging about and a definite plus is that the city is still so quiet and asleep, something which doesn’t happen very often in Amsterdam.
A little confession: I’ve never really warmed much to the capital of my home country. It seems almost blasphemous to mention it around my Dutch friends, but here it is. Oof, and boy, does it feel good to get it out in the open. Amsterdam always just seemed too pretentious to me. I simply felt it lacked the energy of truly big cities in Europe and also lacked the charm of many smaller towns in our country. Go, go visit Delft, Maastricht, Utrecht, Groningen!
If my week in one of the nicest neighborhoods of the city wouldn’t change my feelings, I decided that was that. It simply would never work between me and this city. But, and I’m sure you see where this is going, one week is all it took to win me over. If I were feeling a bit petty, I’d use the ‘but I just spent months on a different continent & I was feeling nostalgic’ excuse, but that would not be fair to this lovely diverse town.
So still in Amsterdam, we headed out west. We took advantage of the lovely weather (always playing such a big role in such a little rainy country) and got seated outside at Restaurant Freud.
Freud’s goal is not only to serve tasty local, seasonal (and mainly organic) food, but mostly to motivate their employees and help them out of their isolation. Everybody, from those doing groceries and the cooks to the waiters, has a psychiatric background and at Freud they all do their best to give us eaters a great evening.
|“Restaurant Freud is different from ordinary”|
A great initiative that has been around since 2007, but what about the food I hear you say? You have a choice between their three-course menu or pick and choose your dish from their regular menu. I picked the charcuterie, duck breast and we all shared their chocolate cake for dessert. The food was good, the accompanying wine very decent and the chocolate cake heavenly. So heavenly, we gobbled it down before I could even get my camera out. Oops!
If you’re around this part of town, looking for honest food and a slightly different evening out than usual, do visit Freud. And in case you’re hungry earlier on the day, across the street Freud also runs a breakfast/lunch room.
I’m pretty sure the weather in the Netherlands was so delightfully good just for our visit back home, or at least that’s what I’d like to tell myself after months of rainy season in the Congo… I felt so lucky to have caught just that last bit of summer, and very lucky to have been staying at our friends who live in one of the Negen Straatjes, or Nine Streets, an adorable neighborhood in the centre of Amsterdam, dotted with lovely coffee places, restaurants and little boutiques.
With this post we’re moving on though, to an old neighborhood of Amsterdam: de Jordaan. Perhaps I was hit by a stroke of home sickness or by the sun, but I simply adored it here and immediately imagined myself living in one of these cute small houses…
Can you already imagine yourself living here? And do you adore these windows as much as I do? But let’s not get carried away. Let’s talk about food. And then get carried away.
Below the menu of La Trattoria Di Donna Sofia, located in the middle of this great neighborhood, and I can tell you all we ate tasted as good as it looks written down. The wine came from Sicily which we chose just for nostalgic reasons (and the waiter from Italy judging by his lively Italian accent).
It’s a small, cozy restaurant with a small menu. Moreover, Donna Sofia serves great authentic food. Eating together with my vegetarian hubby, we ordered a vegetarian antipasti and one with king prawns. The grilled and fried vegetables with ricotta and mozzarella cheese were perfectly prepared with all flavors deliciously coming to their full advantage. My favorite by far though was the antipasti with mozzarella, fresh basil, spinach, pesto and king prawns. All favorite and comfortable flavors, but still refreshing and new in this mix. So good!
For my primi I chose mafaldine pasta out of the oven with egg plants, which was again a simple, honest dish and very well executed. We also had the spaghetti with tiny octopuses, which was perhaps a bit too simple to my taste (not photographed). After all this we were so stuffed we didn’t get to try their secondi, although what I saw around me looked equally comforting and delicious as what we had just devoured.
|And who’s that dining here as well??|
Sadly, Donna Sofia was out of our dessert of choice and so we decided to get ice cream across the street. Our waiter even told us it was a better choice (!?). It definitely was in fact, people were even lining up to get their dairy fix (which I’ve hardly ever seen here in the Netherlands by the way, it seems lining up for good food is much more a Northern American thing). It turns out IJsfabriek Monte Pelmo is quite famous for its ice cream. Rightly so, I thoroughly enjoyed their rich chocolate & coffee flavors. All meal is well that ends well, I’d say!
Every time I come across my favorite local foods, well, sweets I get a bit nostalgic and I just have to have them. No different this time around. Poffertjes, loosely translated as little puffs, are tiny pancakes which you pair with icing sugar, butter and preferably a splash of liqueur (I chose one creatively called ‘brides tears’, a liqueur with aniseed and orange zest). You can find poffertjes at fancy fairs, festivals and basically any outdoor event in summer and winter. Yum!
Here a few bites to get a taste of what ‘home’ is to me. Let’s start and finish with lots of mini pancake goodness.
Living in a country with an amazing reputation when it comes to their cuisine, it’s easy to forget the trusty food from back home which has served me so well for years. However, leaving for my home country shortly, I can’t wait to get my hands on a hot stroopwafel. Don’t confuse these caramel waffles with their Belgian cousins, but they are equally delicious. Caramel waffles are even popular internationally, and I’ve noticed them in several countries at a certain large coffee chain. When in the Netherlands, my advice for the best stroopwafel experience is to keep an eye out for a waffle stand out on the streets and treat yourself to a warm, soft but crunchy, crumbling waffle. Alternatively, when you happen to stumble into a package of waffles somewhere, quickly rush home and put your waffle in the microwave for 5 seconds and you come very close to that lovely fresh waffle experience.