“180 nationalities live in Amsterdam.”
When the food guide told me that Amsterdam is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, I gaped at her. Really?
That reflects in the multiple cuisines available in the city besides the traditional Dutch treats.
I did not know what to expect from the Hungry Birds Food Tour in Amsterdam. We, as a family, had enjoyed a food walk in Ljubljana earlier this summer, that when several travellers (from a facebook group I am part of) recommended this Amsterdam food tour, I decided to give it a try.
We had a 2-day Amsterdam itinerary planned, and I was toying with a Saturday evening dinner tour and a Sunday morning tour. Hungry Birds recommended the Sunday walk, adding that my daughter would enjoy the desserts and treats more on this, than the heavy meat courses served at dinner the evening earlier.
Sunday Walking Amsterdam Food Tour it was then. The online booking with Hungry Birds went smoothly.
Canal views and a large breakfast to begin with
It was Sunday 1030 am when the group met. We were all starving, which was good because the food tour began promptly with a loaded breakfast. Rachel, our food guide, an Asian who is passionate about Amsterdam and has made it her home, first showed us a great spot to take the obligatory picture of the canal.
At our first stop of the Food Tour, I decided to dig in the cheeses early in the morning. Amsterdam and cheese, a no-brainer, I thought. There was fresh bread, various spreads, eggs to order and delicious small pancakes. Also treats to sprinkle on top of bread, which Rachel described is something that many Dutch-like. Liquorice sprinkled on toast, anyone?
Starving as I was at the beginning of the tour, I really stuffed myself. How was I going to enjoy myself with other dishes later in the tour?
Walking past a canal, someone asked whether the water was clean enough to swim. It doesn’t look clean at all to me, I thought, peering down at the dark water swirling beneath. Rachel told the group a bit about the history of the canals and the present – how they are cleaned, the number of cycles that are recovered from the canals each year, and apparently, people too, who fall in perhaps inebriated!
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Traditional Dutch snacks and getting transported to Indonesia
We passed via Rembrandt Square and then took a turn to reach a small restaurant done up in the old style. This small local joint is famous for one dish – croquet sandwich. I had the vegetarian version, but everyone else enjoyed the traditionally fried beef gravy. The ladies dressed in white behind the counter served everyone – all locals – in a no-nonsense fashion.
We then passed the oldest movie hall in the city, done up in retro style. Rachel invited us all to take a peek in and tell us something about this theatre.
Then passing by a large flower market, I was surprised to enter an Indonesian restaurant. Even more surprised to hear that this cuisine is popular in Amsterdam. There is a large population of Indonesian parentage living in the city, so good Indonesian and South East cuisine is to be found all over the city. We enjoyed a chicken and beef satay in delicious peanut sauce.
For the next stop, Rachael mentioned that this is a traditional Dutch bar snack, that you have when drunk.
It doesn’t look promising, I thought to myself! I shall keep an open mind.
We came to a small booth beside, what else, a canal and then it was revealed to me…brined herring with pickles and onions.
I gaped when an American guy in the group offered to try it the traditional way, whole fish down his throat. His theatrics really broke the ice for the whole group. In any tour, there comes a point when you start chatting up with fellow travellers in an easy way, laughing, sharing, and for our group, this was the moment.
For me, taking 2 cubes of herring with pickles and onions was enough. Definitely, an acquired taste. And not something I would like to repeat.
Do look at other tasty Dutch treats to enjoy. Some of the Dutch snacks and food treats make for great souvenirs in Amsterdam to take home.
The next stop was another small shop, tucked in a small lane, that served fries with more than 20 sauce options. This was a let down for me. I don’t see the point of having fries, however delicious the sauces might be, in a food walk. To be fair, most of the group members enjoyed the hot snack and tried multiple sauce options digging into each others’ conical sachets.
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Saving the best for the last in this Amsterdam Food Tour
The next stop couldn’t have been better to wash away the fried taste in my mouth. Yes, you got it!
Beautiful cheese, so many flavours – plain, with truffles, cumin, beer, old Amsterdam, gouda – the variety in this store was astonishing. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. We went to this shop the next day to buy loads for taking home.
My daughter also loves cheese, and she tried every single one that was offered to her. We thought not much could make her happier until we went to a single-food-item-selling shop a few metres away. A chocolate cookie unlike any we had eaten! Yummy.
The last stop was a traditional bar, not the jazzy lounge places, but one that smelled of wood and musk. Rachael told us the traditional combo is to have a beer with gin and then proceeded to show us how to drink this.
The group settled down in the cozy bar, enjoying the drinks and swapping food and travel stories.
We left the Food Tour quite merry. The tour had lasted for 4 hours – we discussed canals, architecture, cosmopolitan nature of the city and food of course!
To book this tour, visit Hungry Birds online booking site.
Also, read – Take this Istanbul walking food tour to enjoy the best of Turkish street food
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Which restaurant or cuisine delighted you in Amsterdam? Share with us in the comments below.
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oohh wow wowww! Food tour always makes me hungry! How does the fish with pickles taste like! Yay! I used to hate pickles but when I had it at cheeseburger at Mac Donalds, I started liking it! You sure were hungry birds before venturing there but it’s worth it. I always believe the saying ” save the best for last” and you truly got it! Cheese oh cheese! What’s the most tasty one? I could do the same as you to buy loads for take away! And yey! Don’t miss the sweet chocolates! They’re super cute to eat tho!
I really liked the cheese with truffles. Couldn’t believe the two go so well together until I tried it at the cheese tasting.
Food tours are always so much fun and a great way to get an introduction to the local cuisine! The Hungry Birds Food Tour in Amsteram sounds like a fun one with lots of great foods. I think I would have stuck to the 2 cubes of herring as well—the traditional way sounds pretty intense, lol! The cheese and chocolates sound especially delicious. Would love to check this walk out when we make it to Amsterdam!
I love to do food tours in new cities.
Ooooh this makes me want to go back to Amsterdam! We didn’t try any of these – the herring just looked gross (glad to hear my hunch wasn’t totally off base though) and I feel like I def missed out on the croquet sandwich. But where is my FAVORITE Amsterdam treat, Stroopwafel? I hope you got to eat some while you were there!
Ha..ha..didn’t need a food tour for that!
The Amsterdam food tour sounds like a nice experience. Apart from the food, the walk seems to be quite an experience with exposure to the local life and culture. The Cheese of Amsterdam is something I would love to try out and also explore all vegetarian options in the city.
So, for some things, they do arrange vegetarian options. for the croquet sandwich, everyone else had the beef gravy, while I had the veg version. There were chicken and veg options available at the Indonesian restaurant (for those who don’t eat pork/beef). The herring was the only thing that couldn’t be replaced.
I am not a great foodie but after reading about your tour my stomach was already rumbling! If not for anything I would at least for the cheese, wine and chocolates.
No one can say no to cheese, wine and chocolate cookies for sure!! I have started trying new foodstuff, only recently. I grew up as a vegetarian, so it’s not so easy. Sometimes I love the untried, at other times, not so much.
Well I didn’t know that Amsterdam was the most cosmopolitan city in the world either! Really interesting to hear that Indonesian is popular in Amsterdam – not something I would have guessed. The Hungry Birds Food Tour sounds fabulous though, and what a great way to start the day with a huge breakfast feat overlooking the city’s most beautiful canals. Definitely some interesting snacks the Dutch have!! I don’t know if I would personally go for brined herring with pickles and onions as a snack, but good on them if that’s their thing! Cheese and chocolate balls though are something I would be down for!
I was surprised with the info on people with Indonesian parentage living in Amsterdam as well. A good guide can bring alive a place for you with insights, local stories and anecdotes. Brined herring was the first and probably the last tasting for me…:-)
Amsterdam is really one of my top destinations soon. I don’t rush it because I have to save for it and make sure I experience Amsterdam during a long stay. There’s just so much Amsterdam has to offer and I’m not suprised about the food! I travel for food!
Kirstie, I loved the historic canal area, the museums, the parks, the people whizzing by on cycles. It is a great city.
This is a great post and like the way you have planned the flow and length of the post. Keep writing.
Thanks, Anindya. So good to hear these words of appreciation.
I’ve read of Amsterdam Hungry Bird Tours earlier last month, so I knew I was in for a delight reading this post. I was all patient asking for the cheese tasting, I read it’s always the highlight. Ending the day with beer plus gin isn’t a bad idea. Glad to read your little one got herself chocolate. Chocolate is part of my favorite childhood memories.
She loved the cheese, a bit more than even the chocolate cookie.
Being a vegetarian, I have always shied away from food walks – have a feeling that most foodie tours are geared towards the non-vegetarians. This one looks like took you through both the city and its foodie points.
That’s true Anuradha. Food walks do offer less for vegetarians. (There are exceptions: The one we took in Ljubljana had 2 vegans with us, and the guide had made sure that suitable local Slovenian food was available for them). Most food guides being locals, do offer an insight into points of interest, local stories and anecdotes. And I like that as much as trying out the new cuisine.
I love food tours – they really do provide an insight into the ‘real’ city. I did know about Indonesian food in Amsterdam – you can get some pretty good stuff there. But not beer and Gin (though I learnt recently that the Dutch invented Gin, not the Brits as I thought!)
True that; food tours are great for a quick dive into the local scene. I did not know that the Dutch invented gin, the one I had was smooth.