A shared feeling is one of the best experiences in life. It is not only the food that makes you love a place, but so much more—the people with whom you go, a special memory you might have, or a fondness for those who work there. It’s a unique combination of the above that makes a place somewhere you want to go often and to spend all of your hours. To be able to share and enjoy your favorite spots with the people around you is what makes the memories real and lasting. So let me show you my special places in Amsterdam––come with me.
A Place to Brunch: Odette’s
As a lover of breakfast and of endless mornings, brunch is perfection. Hours can be filled with cups of coffee, alternations between breakfast and lunch dishes, juices, steaming cups of tea and bottles of water. Hours can be filled with stories, brainstorm sessions, informative talks, chitchat or poetry. The best place to brunch is Bufette van Odette. A French twist, gorgeous interior, green entrance and delicious food. It is the type of place I would like to open myself one day. Their menu varies from the most delicious, fresh salads, to comfort food like truffle cheese omelettes, and proper fancy dinner dishes. It is made with love, presented with care, eaten with pleasure.
A Place to Ride: Amsterdam
There is something magical about the canals, the old houses, the small streets and the thousands of people on bikes in Amsterdam. Something that people from all over the world want to see and to experience. They come here to walk around, mouths falling open, cameras flashing in an attempt to capture the beauty. It takes more to really feel and be a part of a city though. The easiest way to do so is by bike. To rush by the (other) tourists standing and walking, to cross the canals, the trams and the cars––waving hair, wheels going round and round over the little paving stones on the road with the sounds of vibrant life in the background.
A Place to Pause: Pluk
It is the center of Amsterdam. There are hundreds of restaurants and cafes, different cuisines and styles; all tempting, inviting you in to enjoy what they make and to share. At Pluk, windowsills are filled with herbs, walls are decorated with the vegetables they’ll eventually use––all set amongst wooden tables, marble kitchen counters and big windows. Workers are wearing cute aprons while constantly pushing fresh fruits and vegetables through the juice machines. Glasses are being filled with the most colorful, healthy juices and topped off with little sprigs, leaves or a straw. It is picture perfect, and suits me so well. Their vision of food is about pure, delicious, and good-for-you products. The interior, the plates and glasses and jars and the wooden chop boards reminds me of the joy of being, or rather, of celebrating being young, of embracing childish behaviour––to decorate your herbs, to play with colors. Pausing here, buying a juice or smoothie, walking outside and spending some minutes on their little bench in front of the shop is amazing. A juice in your hand, your eyes fixed on all the people who walk and bike by, feeling like a real Amsterdam girl.
A Place to Relax: The park
Amsterdam is a green city. The well-known Vondelpark is amazing, but there’s more––more parks, more piazzas like the ones you see in Italy, more green corners and hidden gardens. I like to spend my time in the Sarphatipark. The quietness and coziness, the space, the location—it has it all. An old, romantic arbour and a water fountain complete the image. It is popular with locals, especially families with children who can lose themselves playing on the grass under the trees, by friends who come there to have a picnic on warm and long summer nights. It is where you can escape the chaos and rush of the city—where you can get back to nature for a moment, to lay down, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun.
A Place to Drink: Coffee or iced tea at Wasserette
This is a place where I like to go to as often as possible. The coffee is my favorite coffee, the avocado sandwich is my favorite sandwich, and the homemade iced tea is my favorite cold drink. There is so much more on their menu––like eggs benedict/Norwegian, french toast, yogurt or a dozen other sandwiches––but I cannot change. There are tables outside, the perfect place to sit down, eat, talk and look at who passes by. It has become a tradition to go with my little sister. There are no words needed to know where we want to sit, what to order, or to let each other know how much we love it. The creamy milk in their coffee is the softest. Their bread is just how I like it: thick slices, lots of seeds, fresh and with a good crust. Topped off sky high with the greatest combinations of products, it is brought to your beautiful little round marble table with (sometimes a bit unstable) French chairs, which make everything even better.
A Place to Stroll: The market
Wherever I go, the discovery and experience of a food culture is not complete without a visit to the market. Being able to walk around and surround yourself with local people gives you an insider’s view of the lives people are living. It is as if you are a part of their daily habits and actions, overhearing the chats they have over buying kilos of ripe tomatoes or aromatic, swollen strawberries. The buzzing of voices all over the market, the sellers screaming about their prices and products, people with bags filled with as many vegetables as they can carry, the greens of the carrots hanging over the side. I like to buy a small amount of the ripest berries or gorgeous red, juicy cherry tomatoes, and while strolling over the market pick them one by one and eat them, as if they’re candy.
A Place to Dine: Spaghetteria
I long for dinner at Spaghetteria for days, weeks, months. Never have I been happier when having their food before me and the people that I love at the other side of the table. Their concept is simple and pure; you can choose from six amazing homemade pasta dishes, a couple of great wines, two desserts, and espresso. There are no starters and no sides––except a little bowl of salad, if preferred. What you get is what you come for: a big plate of warm comfort food, served only with a fork, to make you eat the Italian way. The menu changes every day, making use of what is in season, although they offer a standard set at the same time. There is always one pasta with seafood, one with only vegetables, one basic, one as a ravioli, and two with meat. Numbers five and six, as we call them, are the ones we always order. Pappardelle with tender boar and deer and red wine, or Tuscan sausage with fennel seeds and caramelized red onion, all topped off with parmesan cheese and served with a little piece of fresh bread. It is not striking at all that people who go there become addicted to their pastas, desperate to go there again. It is the ease with which they do it, and the passion they have for their food that makes this place a favorite for many of us. It is the servers with bottles of wine or homemade limoncello in the pockets of their aprons. It is the long hours you can stay, the afterglow of that great pasta, drinking wine and having endless conversations about life.
A Place for Sweets: Ice cream at IJscuypje
In summertime only, they have the greatest flavors as well as innovative new experiments: rosemary and cream, lemon cake, dates, elderflower tea, salted caramel, to just name a few. Their shops are the smallest in Amsterdam, having nothing but a display and a few ice cream machines in back––occupying no more than 15 square meters. People stand outside under a cute old-style sunblind, glancing over the colorful mountains of ice cream, deciding which flavors they want to have. There are always lines, and the ones who already have their treat are sitting on the benches or at the tables next to the shop. This ice cream is a refreshment on a summer day, the best dessert when walking around after dinner, and perfect for a date.