“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!
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.
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.
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.