Amsterdam is not only famous for its canals, millions of bicycles, surprising architecture and engaging people. Culinary travel is a hot topic these days -- aren't we all interested in local cuisine when we travel? -- and Amsterdam offers its share of culinary delights, some traditional, some not.
One of our personal contacts in Amsterdam is Kees Hogetoorn from The Grand Amsterdam, a preferred Sofitel Legend hotel, who shares his local secrets:
"I will start with my personal favorite: Dutch Chocolates at Puccini Bomboni, traditionally handmade chocolates made from premium natural ingredients. Highly recommended for chocolate lovers, you will be able to taste them in three different locations. Each bite you take is a surprise full of flavor, the nearest shop is only 5 minutes walk from the hotel.
The Dutch are of course known for wonderful cheeses. What better place than the Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room? In 2011 their 1 year matured cheese came out as the best in the world. It is only 10 minutes by foot from the hotel! The experts will explain all about it and combine it with a wine or port tasting. You can purchase them in their shop or even at Schiphol airport.
In the heart of Jordaan (10 minutes walk from our hotel), near Anne Frank house, you will be able to find the traditional Dutch candy shop ‘Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje’. These candies will give you a nostalgic feeling, and offer great variety.
Another unique culinary experience is at the historical Diamond factory of Gassan Diamonds. Not only can you participate in one of their personalized tours and learn more about diamonds, at this amazing location you can also taste the classic Dutch cookies ‘Stroopwafels’ (caramel waffles), made fresh so you will be able to taste them warm! You will want to bring some of these cookies back home. Make sure you buy extra bags, your friends and family will thank you for it. Don’t even worry about the distance, a private driver from Gassan Diamonds can pick you up at the hotel and within 5 minutes you will be there.
In case you are wondering what healthy gastronomic treat Amsterdam has to offer, tasteful traditional Dutch herring is what you are looking for. Present in many stalls all over town, the official way to eat it is quite particular but definitely worth trying. Make sure you add onions and pickles! The best time of the year to eat it is June and July, and the nearest stand is within one minute walk from The Grand.
There is great tradition in Holland when the first fresh new herring is brought ashore -- it is auctioned for charity reaching sometimes up to 40,000.00 EUR for a small barrel!
We have also adapted some American treats. You can find great Dutch apple pie and amazing red velvet cake. Located in front of a market, the Café Winkel 43, serves the best Apple pie in town. The Dutch way of eating it is with whipped cream on top! Simply delicious! If you take one of our bikes you will be there within 10 minutes.
If you are a fan of the red velvet than I suggest you pass by the Drie Graefjes near Dam Square. It is 5 minutes walk from the hotel and is a wonderful local lunchroom.
An absolute INSIDER tip is at bakery Van der Linde on Nieuwedijk street 183. It is a tiny bakery and people go there for some cakes and bread but the best thing they have is their soft-ice cream. It is a soft vanilla flavoured ice cream, but their signature is to add whipped cream to it which makes it more creamy than any of the ice creams generally available in town. Especially in the summer this whipped cream ice cream is THE BEST (My favorite by far).
Are you curious about what kind of savory snacks the Dutch eat while enjoying a cold beer? Well, the name is impossible to translate and its taste is also almost impossible to describe. Different than everything you tried before would be the best translation! The ‘bitterballen’ are without a doubt a must eat while in Amsterdam. Whether you are having a party with friends, celebrating a birthday or attending a Royal reception, there will always be a serving of “bitterballen.” Many people like to have them on the go and therefore we have an adapted version called “kroket” which is put in between a bun with butter and mustard, and if you visit lunchroom “van Dobben’, only 10 minutes walk, you can try the most famous ones we have in the city.
French Fries taste even better in The Netherlands. Here you can combine them with mayonnaise, curry sauce, onions and more. They are so popular here that there are shops which specialized only in fries. Traditionally served in a paper cone, I recommend you cross the bridge in front of the hotel and walk 2 minutes down the Damstreet to the Chipsy King. They have the best ‘patat’ (Dutch word for fries) in Amsterdam.
Of course, this wouldn’t be complete without a drink to wash the savory snacks down, and for this you can have a glass of the legendary Jenever (Dutch Gin). Did you know that we have our own special blend jenever barrel? It is located at the ‘De Drie Fleschjes’, the oldest Jenever tasting location of Amsterdam, dating back to 1650. Our legendary guest, the admiral Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter, was present at the opening of this location way back when, and now our guests have the chance to experience it too, just 7 minutes walk from our hotel.
Our concierge can easily walk your guests there to try it. Their meatballs are also fantastic snacks to try! Now you have read a little more about the way the Dutch indulge themselves and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing about it."