An Awesome Amsterdam Adventure of Food!

30 Sep
Amsterdam Canal and Bikes © Jess Bruce 2015

Amsterdam Canal and Bikes © Jess Bruce 2015

Last week my sister and I spent a few days in Amsterdam. A city-break had been on my recovery bucket list ever since I did the Lightning Process seminar back in October 2013. My sister’s 30th birthday seemed the perfect opportunity to tick it off my list. With lots of walking, sightseeing and general busy-ness condensed into just a few days, never mind the travel, a city-break is a fairly high energy activity. I’ve come back with a cold and pretty exhausted, but with time saved for rest naps each afternoon, I coped pretty well whilst we were there and had a fantastic time.

It was my first visit to Amsterdam and it is a lovely city, with a great bustling, yet laid back, atmosphere. The canals make for beautiful scenery with the tall, narrow buildings rising up along each side, lots of green spaces and enough cultural pursuits to keep you occupied for much more than the few days we had.

And then there’s the food! Pretty much the first thing I google when we book a trip is ‘gluten free [insert destination]’, ‘gluten free vegan [….]’, ‘gluten free dairy free [….]’. My searches in this vain for Amsterdam were very fruitful. We had more than enough possible eateries that would cater for Jess Friendly Food. The trouble was picking which to try. Thanks to the European Allergen Directive, restaurants are obligated to have an allergen menu and in Amsterdam most restaurants seem to have embraced this wholeheartedly, with clearly labelled menus and/or separate gluten and dairy free menus.

I’ll post about what we did (other than eat) during our time Amsterdam in a later post, but for now I want to concentrate on the most important thing – what we ate!

Haese Klaesje Restaurant Amsterdam © Jess Bruce 2015

Haese Klaesje Restaurant Amsterdam © Jess Bruce 2015

Haesje Claes

The first night we ate traditional dutch at Haesje Claes. The little tavern was bursting at the seams, it was a good job we’d booked as they were turning people away. It is a maze of 9 separate dining rooms all interconnected with lots of wooden paneling and hearty Dutch fare.

Pickled Herring Salad © Jess Bruce 2015

Pickled Herring Salad © Jess Bruce 2015

They had a separate gluten free menu and were able to advise me which of the dishes were also dairy free. They even brought warm gluten free bread.  We decided to embrace the traditional offerings. I had pickled herring salad to start followed by cod with baked potatoes and vegetables. The herring salad ordinarily came with a dairy full potato salad so they adapted the dish and I got a whole of plate of pickled goodness – think herring, onion, beetroot and gherkin! Good job I like pickles!

Hotch Potch, sadly not dairy free © Jess Bruce 2015

Hotch Potch, sadly not dairy free © Jess Bruce 2015

I wanted to try the Hotch Potch, a traditional Dutch dish of mashed potato and carrot with sausage and gravy. But whilst this was available gluten free, it wasn’t dairy free. My sister had cheese croquettes and then the Hotch Potch with pork sausage, meatball and smoked bacon. We were a bit nervous that the food was going to be less than good given how busy and touristy the restaurant seemed, but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was hearty and tasty; exactly what we wanted and surpassed our expectations. Our Dutch eating experience had got off to a great start!

Alchemist Garden

Rainbow Salad at The Alchemist Garden © Jess Bruce 2015

Rainbow Salad at The Alchemist Garden © Jess Bruce 2015

After a morning at the Van Gogh Museum, we ate lunch at the Alchemist Garden, an entirely raw gluten free vegan food cafe. Not everyone visiting Amsterdam would seek out this place, but we’re very glad we did. The food was delicious and it is such a novelty for me to be able order literally anything of a menu knowing it is all safe for me to eat.

Cashew Cream Quiche, gluten, dairy, egg free, vegan and raw! © Jess Bruce 2015

Cashew Cream Quiche, gluten, dairy and egg free, vegan and raw! © Jess Bruce 2015

We shared the Rainbow Salad plate (a tangy mustard greens salad topped with spirulina, a beetroot based salad, herby flaxseed crackers and a potent tahini mayo), a tomato and onion quiche whose creamy cashew filling was utterly delicious and a sour apple green smoothie that reminded us of Tangtastic Haribo sweets!! (We’re not always so virtuous in our eating…!)

Chocolate slice and the amazing lime cheesecake, again all gluten, dairy, egg free, vegan and raw! © Jess Bruce 2015

Chocolate slice and the amazing lime cheesecake © Jess Bruce 2015

And then there was dessert – a rich decadent chocolate slice made from dates and cacao and the most amazing lime ‘cheesecake’ made from avocado with a coconut and walnut base. The latter was literally amazing and something I am determined to recreate at home, so watch this space for a recipe. Given my sister and I are both usually chocolate fiends, it goes to show just how good the lime cheesecake was.

Kantjil & de Tijger

After our raw lunch, a restful afternoon and drinks at the Hilton Sky Lounge, we were ready to eat again! We went to Kantjil & de Tijger, an Indonesian (Indonesian is big in Holland due to their colonial past) restaurant we had spotted on the same street as Haesje Claes. Again, we were very glad we had booked as it was incredibly busy.

My sister's amazing special of the day © Jess Bruce 2015

My sister’s amazing Indonesian special of the day © Jess Bruce 2015

Our waitress was super helpful and explained the allergen menu to me. Many dishes were naturally gluten free whilst others could be adapted. Deciphering a Dutch allergen menu for Indonesian titled dishes was interesting! But that didn’t stop us from eating an Indonesian Banquet! We started with the lamb satay (safe other than the soya sauce dipping sauce which came on the side to be gluten free), vegetable omelette with a sweet tomato and ginger sauce and prawn crackers (safe as made from tapioca flour and fried separately). My sister then had the special of the day, which was a selection of 4 or 5 dishes all served on a long rectangular platter and included a chicken curry, vegetable side dish, cuecumber pickle, rice and spicy egg. I had beef rendang and rice, it literally melted in my mouth the meat was so tender.

My Indonesian Feast Take 2! Coconut Egg, Beef Rendang and sesame vegetables © Jess Bruce 2015

My Indonesian Feast Take 2! Coconut Egg, Beef Rendang and sesame vegetables © Jess Bruce 2015

The food and service was so good we actually went back the next night! Boring perhaps, but given how tasty the food was and having deciphered the menu and not having suffered any ill effects from the food, it made sense for us. This time I had egg in a spicy coconut sauce (may sound odd but was really good), sesame vegetable stir fry and beef rendang again! My sister had a rice plate, an Indonesian specialty, which came with so much food of so many differing varieites it was hard to decipher what was on it! It was all topped with a giant prawn cracker and sweet potato chips. The allergen awareness wasn’t as great the second time around, we had to send the satay back as it came drenched in soya sauce but overall the food was really delicious and I didn’t suffer ill effect so all good.

Bagel & Beans

My gluten and dairy free bagel © Jess Bruce 2015

My gluten and dairy free bagel © Jess Bruce 2015

Bagel & Beans is a Dutch chain with numerous outlets across Amsterdam. They have an extensive bagel menu, including a gluten and dairy free bagel, to which you can add your chosen your topping. Despite a plethora of cheeses on offer (what do you expect in a nation home to Edam and Gouda?!), there was lots of dairy free fillings available. I had smoked chicken, avocado and pine nuts with a basil dressing. The bagel was slightly too dense and chewy but the filling was delicious. With a wide array of teas, freshly pressed vegetable juices and even soya milk matcha lattes, I was in heaven. It was a great lunch stop.

My breakfast supplies © Jess Bruce 2015

Some of my breakfast supplies © Jess Bruce 2015

We breakfasted each morning at our hotel – Grand Hotel Amrath. It was an extensive hot and cold buffet. I had taken my own rice milk (there are fridges in the rooms), granola and bread so I can’t particularly comment on the allergen friendly provisions of the breakfast. But I supplemented my own supplies with fruit, juice, tea, jams, bacon and eggs from the buffet. I will say that the gluten full offerings looked fantastic and my sister can confirm that the cereals bar, donuts and chocolate croissants were excellent!

So that concludes my little foodie tour of Amsterdam, we were only there for 3 nights, we wish we had longer as there was so much to do and eat! I want to go back already, reliving our meals is making me hungry!

If you’re planning a trip to Holland, then I hope you find this post useful. Links that we found useful in planning our foodie adventure were:

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4 Responses to “An Awesome Amsterdam Adventure of Food!”

  1. thehomeschoolingdoctor September 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    Ah. Heavenly. To be with your sister in a beautiful place, recovered mostly, and eating wonderful food.

    • myjourneythrume September 30, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

      It was great tho we can’t believe it’s less than a week ago, seems forever ago!

  2. Isabel October 8, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    That is so much fun that you were here just a few days ago! Amsterdam is such a nice city, I’m happy that you had a good time here!

    • myjourneythrume October 8, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

      We had so much fun, can’t wait to come back! You’re lucky to live there 😊

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