What to Eat in Amsterdam
A typical Dutch meal is often derided for its boldly honest approach to the food groups: meat, vegetable, potato. But all you need is one restaurant meal that seems home cooked by a particularly savvy mother to see that Dutch cuisine is filled with unexpected nuances and can be positively skeee-rumptious.
There are usually many different meals on offer, including very traditional winter fare such as zuurkool met spek en worst (sauerkraut with bacon and sausage); hutspot (a hotchpotch of potato and carrots served with sausage); stamspot (a hotchpotch of potato and sauerkraut served with sausage); and erwetensoup, also called snert, which is a thick pea soup that comes fortified with a variety of meats.
More-summery options are the famed asperges, the white and tender local asparagus that comes into season in May, and mossellen, or mussels, that are matured by mid-August in the pristine waters of Oosterschelde in Zeeland. Fancier summer starters may be a seasonal salad with smoked salmon or eel, or a carpaccio made with sole.
And although it may be handy to learn that kip means "chicken" and biefstuk means "beefsteak," a much easier and common shortcut to understanding a Dutch menu is to ask for an English menu (or a quick translation of "recommendations").
Keep in mind one local menu quirk: an entrée is, in fact, a starter and not a main course. Those are called hoofdgerechten. For snack and sandwich best bests, see the Close-Up box "Refuel Around Town."
No matter if it's jong (young), belegen (aged), or oud (ancient)—the Dutch live for their cheese. A young Gouda has a creamy flavor and soft consistency; as it matures it acquires a more robust flavor and firmer texture. Edam's red cover means a cheese marked for export; locally, the Edam (as well as Gouda) usually wears a yellow or, if aged, a black coat. Edam is very mild, with slightly salty or nutty flavors.
Other popular Dutch cheeses include Leidse kaas (often supplemented with cumin seeds); Frisian Clove, a firm-textured cheese spiced with cloves; and the hole-ridden Maasdammer, which is similar to Swiss Emmentaler but much creamier.
For a sweet finale, desserts invariably include homemade custards and some version of profiterole, which is a liquor-soaked thin pancake usually filled with ice cream and drowned in dark chocolate. Everyone's home-made favorite is the appeltaart, which now comes in many delightful variations.
GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
Take our short photo quiz to reveal your ideal trip in the U.S.More
View deals in Amsterdam for vacation packages, hotels, airfare, and more from our partners!More