Amsterdam is for lovers!

Greetings! I'm back from a hiatus forced by a circumstantial triumvirate of lost camera, lost appetite, and Berliner work hijinx. Now that the summertime is almost over I will return from my hideaways on instagram and twitter and resume my occasional posting of vegan food experiments and discoveries from wherever I happen to be posted in Europe. This week? Amsterdam!

Literally every time you tell someone you live in Europe the first thing they want to know is whether you've been to Amsterdam (or more specifically, smoked pot in Amsterdam.) Not being particularly into a) drugs or b) hordes of stoned tourists, I was never really keen to visit the city, despite reports that it is "soooo cute!" So when we got invited there for the wedding of two friends, I was looking forward but did not hold out high hopes for falling in love with the city.

But I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong. Amsterdam is awesome! And compared to Berlin I don't even think the drug/ tourist/ party equation is a major part of the appeal. What's far more compelling is the fact that the city is entirely navigable by bike and is filled with water, gardens, and parks- meaning you don't have to spend your time in one small "tourist district" to enjoy the sights. Amsterdam's charms are well distributed.

It didn't hurt that we had absolutely gorgeous weather while we were there. Amsterdam is probably best seen meandering through narrow streets on a rented bike (recycled rentals is central and boasts the cheapest rentals in town at 5 euros a day). Along the way your are fairly sure to find a good place to drink beer, listen to live music, or lie around in the park- and repeating these 3 activities in between meals is as good a way to spend a vacation as I can think of. Maybe punctuated with a visit to the recently reopened Rijksmuseum to check out the Dutch masters, or to Anne Frank's home for a chilling but fascinating historical tour.

When it comes time to eat there is plenty of your average European cafe fare to choose from, but a shady colonial past has also left Amsterdam with a lust for exotic tastes not often seen in European street food. Nasi goreng, Roti, curries, tempeh, plantains, cous-cous peanut sauce... the Dutch have been all over, and brought the food back to prove it. I was treated to a super-cheap platter of flaky roti with potatoes and green beans in "gravy" and crispy savory tempeh at one tiny restaurant- with a side of fried plantains and coconut juice. That would be tough to find in Berlin for sure, and here I saw plenty of restaurants with similar offerings (just double check if vegetarian = vegan.) Another evening in up-and-coming neighborhood De Pijp we had a huge meal of Moroccan and Middle Eastern specialties at Bazar, a huge restaurant filling an ex-synagogue. We stuffed ourselves with huge platters of dolmades, hummus, baba ganoush and grilled veggies with cous-cous. Who would have thought the Dutch, famous for questionable deep-fried meat products, would have such an array of vegan and vegetarian specialties to sample?

Another cool place we checked out was Moeders restaurant.This is definitely less vegan friendly (although its right around the corner from where a brand new Vegetarian Butcher(?) will open) but its so cute that it might be worth a visit if your with a mixed-menu crowd. The restaurant's theme- Mothers- is carried through its decor, which consists of hundreds of photographs of people's moms. The menu is also organized by different price levels of homey Dutch classics, which tend towards the meat-oriented but have a sprinkling of vegan and vegetarian offerings. I had a delish salad with pumpkin, figs, and an orange scented dressing that was to die for while my man dined on excellent versions of Dutch home-cooking.(Including the famous Hutspot!)

All in all I was pleasantly surprised to find my preconceptions of Amsterdam dashed to pieces. The city is perfect for a romantic getaway filled with exotic eats and homey, relaxing scenery. And oh yeah, if you wanna get high I'm sure you can arrange that too. :)

PS- Oh yeah, its VEGAN MOFO! I'm not participating this time around, but I will be following along at home. Check it out--->http://www.veganmofo.com/


Amey said...

yeah! great to see a post from you! I was such a little girl when I visited Amsterdam (12, maybe?), but I vividly remember the Anne Frank Museum. It made such an impression on me. I am also not into drugs or stoned tourists, but I would love to go back to Amsterdam sometime. :)

Sarah Spitz said...

I love your blog and loved it for years!
Are you taking part in vegan month of food (Vegan MoFo) as well?
Also, I saw one truly amazing documentary.
I don't wanna sound like my most melodramatic self, but I truly believe that the world would be a better place if everybody would watch that film!


Greetings from Germany,


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