Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sweets on the Streets of Amsterdam - a very long post to wrap it all up!

As I've mentioned before, I inherited quite a sweet tooth from my mother's side of my family. While we ate lots of good savory food on this trip, many of the foods we went in search of were sweet, so pictures of chocolates and pastries certainly dominate. We had a jam packed bunch of days, and our 8 day trip turned into 12 due to the volcano in Iceland, so we got to do a bit more eating and walking than originally planned. This is a very long post, so if you just want to glance at the photos, or read snippets here and there, go for it!
So, on to the rest of the food on our trip to Holland:
Albert Cuypt Market:  a great daily (except sunday) open air market. Food, clothes, flowers, stuff. regular prices, not fancy, just fabulous.

Fresh Stroop Waffles at the market: check out my sister Kendra enjoying one!
French fries, typically served with mayo. we had ours with curry katsup, but dug in so fast we forgot to take a picture, sorry.

Ice Cream. Yscuypje:
A fabulous little ice cream/gelato spot on the canal Prinsengracht,  a block down from our hotel, so we sampled it quite a few times. A nice young guy opened the minimalist space 1 year ago and seems to be doing very well. He freezes everything fresh each day. This was yogurt ice cream with kirsch(cherry) syrup.

Now our search for chocolate was a serious preoccupation. A few months ago we visited my aunt Claire in Toronto when we traveled there for my cousins wedding. She had just returned from Brussels where her son and his family live doing international human rights work. She had about a dozen boxes of chocolate truffles from Belgium to share with the family. Each day she opened a new one, or sometimes two or three, and we sampled and discussed and sampled some more. This was an extraordinary and unique experience, as Belgium chocolate, if I were to generalize, is pretty much the best there is.  Since Holland is only a stones throw away, we figured we'd find some good stuff there too. I'd found a number of good spots mentioned online before we left, but we also stumbled across many little chocolate shops as we walked around the city. We had to bring some home to family and friends too. Somehow the search for good chocolate seemed to blind us to the need to take any pictures, so I have almost none of the actual bon bons, but I will say that out of all of them, the truffles from Puccinni Bonbonni were the best. Decadent, fluffy ganache, unusual flavors (anise, thyme, tamarind, pepper). Very good, not too rich, well balanced and delicious, although a bit large.

Indonesian, Rijsttafel (rice table):
Indonesia was a dutch colony. There are many restaurants around featuring Indonesian "rice table" meals. lots of little dishes with rice. Was good, not great, but worth the experience, and it was incredible how many words and foods my grandmother remembered after 60 years. 

Hip restaurant with kids playroom:
This large loft like restaurant had an entire room for kids to play in. They managed to walk the line between elegant, hip and playful quite well.  Food was good, not great, but the atmosphere was fabulous, and it made me really miss my kids and husband.
People continually recognized my Oma from the documentary about her and the Holocaust memorial that was on TV, and thanked her for her courage and strength during and after the war. It was really incredible how people all over Holland had seen this story of her life during the Holocaust. It makes you realize what some of the downfalls are to living in a country as large as the USA. The story of a WWII survivor would never have such a pervasive impact here.

Portuguese Synagogue: Amazing monument to what the jewish community in Amsterdam once was. Before the war there were 140,000 Dutch Jews in Holland, after, only about 30,000. Kids from a school group recognized my Oma as well, and she spoke to them a bit about the Holocaust.

Small plates restaurant called Envy. Very dark space, good food, very expensive, but beautiful refrigerators lining the whole side of the space (about 15 of them), all produce on display as art. Cool, but a little too precious.

Slow food pizza car:

Bikes everywhere!

Goodbye dinner
We were invited to an official dinner with Jet (pronounced Yet), the government minister who originally invited my grandmother and helped to make this whole project possible. Her department also sent Puck to Poland every three months to meet with the various governments involved in trying to create a better memorial at Sobibor, the Nazi death camp that my grandparents escaped from. It is the only camp where there was  a large and successful revolt and escape, but there is only a small monument there now, and no information to teach people about the history of the camp or the uprising. In the group picture are all the main people who helped make this project happen (I apologize that I don't know everyone's last name): Esmeralda from the national TV station NOS, Jet, Puck and another woman from the government, Ad Van Limpt the historian and author and also his publisher, and Dirk and Guido from the Westerbork Museum. An incredible group of people.

Flower fields:
How could we go to Holland in April and not see the flowers?! Off to Haarlem, to visit Puck, one of the amazing women from the Dutch Government who made this whole trip and project possible. She invited us to see the flowers and have lunch in her gorgeous home and garden. Very special.
A wonderful lunch at Puck's house overlooking her lovely garden with chickens wandering through.

 Aged Gouda and Gouda with Cumin which is everywhere in Holland, and my Oma's favorite.

So, this marks the end of my postings on the trip to Holland. There is so much more to say, but I think I gave a good glimpse into the food on the trip and a little of the content of the Holocaust remembrance as well.  Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below! Thanks for reading! -Tagan


  1. awesome job with this post!
    love you!,

  2. thanks K!!!! couldn't have done it without you!

  3. Tagan, your wonderful eye works not just for creating food but making lovely photographs too.
    Great post!

  4. wow Albert! thank you! coming from you, that is high praise!

  5. Dear Tagan,
    The blog is as fresh as an 'ijsje', as crisp as a 'stroopwafel' and as colorful as the 'tulpen' that came up the day after you left. Wonderful to see Holland and Amsterdam through your eyes!
    It was hard work for you sometimes too, but I'm glad you all enjoyed your stay so much.
    liefs, Esmeralda

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  7. I came across your blog and enjoyed reading it very much. I knew your Oma many years ago, I named my son after Emiltje...your Grandparents came to his Baptism. Please tell Selma that I say "hello", that I am still inspired and touched by her story. We lost touch many years ago...tell her my son has made a wonderful life for himself. After graduating from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta where he played basketball, he turned down the opportunity to play professional basketball and opted for a career in the art world. He lives in NYC working for the major museums. He is a wonderful artist and is in love with a terrific girl...I imagine they will be married someday. He is a kind, humble and loving man who is very proud to carry the name Emiltje. Please let your Oma know. Thank you, Susan