Amsterdam’s vibrant culinary scene gets so little attention it could be classed as a well known secret!
But the truth is the Netherland’s capital city has one of the most adventurous and fascinating food cultures in Europe. Tourists get a chance to explore the amazing world of Amsterdam cooking with attractions like the 3 course Amsterdam walking dinner or the Amsterdam street food adventure.
These activities aim to bring to life Amsterdam’s original and unique cooking styles, and to shed light on their influences and inspiration.
There’s nothing more traditionally Dutch than fish!
Herring to be specific. Amsterdam’s history with this little fish dates back hundreds of years, to when the herring trade put Amsterdam on the map as an international trading city. Today in hundreds of snack shops and fishmongers throughout the city, herring is still the most traditional Dutch snack available.
The classic way of consuming this salty snack is raw, with a side of onion and mayonnaise. Snack bars serving herring and other Dutch classics like kroket (a kind of breaded stick of goulash) feature heavily on tours like the Amsterdam Street Food Adventure.
Snacking is a major part of Dutch food culture – other quintessentially Dutch snacks include cheese cubes and stroopwafel, a kind of waffle with a caramel centre. Amsterdammer’s have a particular affinity with cheese, and the Amsterdam Street Food Adventure normally includes a stop at a tasting house where tourists can try authentic old Amsterdam cheese.
Amsterdam’s De Pijp and Jordaan Districts are famous for their restaurants!
Probably the most famous of Amsterdam’s restaurant districts are De Pijp and the Jordaan. These bohemian chic districts are the home of some of the most exciting and original eateries in the Netherlands, making them an unforgettable part of any visit to Amsterdam.
Most 3 course walking dinner Amsterdam tours take place in these neighbourhoods that have built a reputation for phenomenal cooking over several generations. Particularly noteworthy is the De Pijp Latin Quarter.
Here a visitor to Amsterdam will find dozens of stylish restaurants with South American or Mediterranean cuisine served in an original Amsterdam style. De Pijp also boasts the Albert Cuyp Market, the largest outdoor market in the Netherlands and a great place to pick up fresh Dutch delicacies.
Outdoor food markets are an Amsterdam tradition, and are as colourful today as they were hundreds of years ago!
A 3 course walking dinner Amsterdam tour is a great way to discover the city’s restaurants, but perhaps the best way to really get to know Dutch food is at one of Amsterdam’s open food markets.
Food stalls can be found in such venerable market locations as Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein, selling classic Dutch fair such as cheese and stroopwafels, but the real hotspot for delicacies is the Boerenmarkt farmers market.
This trendy farmers market opened in 1987. It only opens on Saturdays, but is well worth planning a visit around – the sheer scale of the types of food on offer is matched only by their quality, with all products organically and locally sourced. Amsterdam’s foodie secrets are just waiting to be discovered!
Amsterdam Tapas Cruise
Amsterdam’s canals have a vibrant history and host an incredible range of events.
Amsterdam is nicknamed “The Venice of the North”, but with more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of canals, 165 individual canals, more than 1200 bridges and almost 90 islands, it might be fairer to call Venice “the Amsterdam of the South!”
The city’s canals were declared a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 2010, and any cruise around these scenic canals makes it easy to see why. The canals have performed a central role to the economy and culture of Amsterdam for hundreds of years – the history of the canals that provide routes for Amsterdam history cruises, party cruises and the Amsterdam Tapas cruise is the history of the modern city, and in fact of the modern world.
It is easy to miss the truly groundbreaking nature of the canal network.
Today the canals have an obvious focus on the tourism industry. Common sights on the canals today are tourists crammed into sightseeing boats, or enjoying an Amsterdam Tapas Cruise.
But in point of fact the use of the canals for tourism has only developed over the last century or so. The canals were originally a phenomenal feat of civic engineering. This explosive construction project was lent momentum by the unimaginable wealth that was swept into the city by the Dutch East India Company.
Canal construction continued at a break neck pace throughout the 17th century. The canal network allowed Amsterdammer’s to easily move huge amounts of goods throughout the city. The ubiquitous Amsterdam town house also sprung up alongside the canals during this period.
Canals and townhouses; the legacy of the Golden Age
The canal ring and the townhouses that line it are an incredible legacy of the Dutch Golden Age. As a feat of civic engineering, Amsterdam’s canals were unprecedented. While most modern European cities have developed and expanded organically, Amsterdam followed a carefully designed plan for its canal network.
The townhouses that line those canals bear the same effort toward uniformity – for example it is illegal to paint many townhouse doors any colour except the officially sanction dark green.
But the most obvious effect on the design of townhouses made by the canals is the dedication to space. Townhouses doubled as homes and places of business in the 17th century. Their design was dedicated to the efficient use of space – tiny staircases allowed extra space for goods. To facilitate moving goods into the buildings, Amsterdam townhouses have been built with gables and winches, to allow for goods and furniture to be winched to top floors with ropes!
Today tourism is the most common us for the canals
Today the canals are dominated by tourist services like the Amsterdam Tapas Cruise. Many of these provide fantastic tours to give you a real sense of the history of the city’s canals.
But on a quiet day, you can still stand on a bridge over the Singel canal and image the city that once was – canals crammed with shouting merchants and sailors, barges packed with goods from the far east indies, the air rich with the smell of spices and split by the cries of seagulls.
Amsterdam’s canals inspired imitation across the world, and revolutionised popular interpretations of the impact of civic engineering on economy and trade.