Being the crazy food-obsessed junkie that I am, it was a difficult adjustment moving from the culinary metropolis of New York to a place like Amsterdam, where fries with mayonnaise is one of their signature dishes. Oh, the sacrilege! I mean no disrespect to Holland. The cheese is fabulous. The markets are expansive and their offerings fresh. However, I did feel like I had to go searching for the high-quality eats that are so prevalent in NYC.
Well, may I just say, I have found them! Here is my tour of specialty shops in Amsterdam. Take a look…
Hollandaluz is a Spanish delicatessen featuring a number of delicious meats and cheeses freshly sliced, plus olive oils, vinegars, and other Spanish foods that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. My pick? The Jamon Serrano and the rich Manchego cheese.
For an over-the-top snack, drizzle the ham and cheese with a bit of olive oil. Walk across the street from Hollandaluz, and you find Meeuwig and Zn, or Check Your Oil. They feature at least 2 dozen olive oils in tapped keg-sized barrels, as well as many varieties of vinegars and mustards. The smell of that shop is pure comfort. For 5 Euro, I picked up a fifth of Foggia extra virgin. Scented of tomatoes, this oil is definitely not for cooking.
One might expect the numerous cheese shops that litter Amsterdam. Thank goodness for that! However, most of them focus solely on Dutch cheeses, which is delicious. Don’t get me wrong. However sometimes, there is nothing better than a nice French Chevre smeared on a baguette, or for one of my Yank friends, a Red Leicester melted into a big lasagna.
For imported cheeses, I head over to De Kaaskamer, which translates as “The Cheese Room”. The place isn’t very large, but they cram over 200 kinds of domestic and imported cheeses into this tiny place. British, German, Dutch, French, yum, yum, yum. My most recent indulgence was Chevre Fermier de Morvan, a creamy and pungent French goat cheese.
Last, but not least, dessert! Just a block away from De Kaaskamer is Patisserie Pompadour. Their location on Huidenstraat has beautifully crafted bon-bons, chocolates, and mousse-y desserts. I picked up a few sweets while I was there. Below is a matcha mousse with a raspberry sponge. (Matcha is green tea) Having baked with matcha before, I was very interested in trying this treat, but was filled with skepticism.
In the past year, there has been a growing popularity for matcha desserts in New York, most of them inedible or drab. But this one quite surprised me! The matcha flavor was strong enough to actually taste like green tea, and not just used for the color. The raspberry sponge was fresh and complemented the matcha perfectly. Yay!
And the best part, all of these shops are within 5 minutes of each other in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam. Now, I realize that these suggestions don’t help those of you who don’t live in Amsterdam. No matter where you live, there are places just like these. With a little research, you’ll find the gems. It is amazing what you don’t notice when you are flying by…