Friday, March 28, 2008

Amsterdam Trip Part Vier: More Bites from Amsterdam

I'm back, after 24 hours of foot, tram and plane travel and two transfers for a total of three plane trips through two continents, three economic zones (euro, Icelandic kronur and US dollar). I'm surprisingly well-rested. It seems much easier to get back on schedule when you're going to a later time zone than to an earlier one.

Again, the photos will be posted sometime in the next few days. First, just some brief notes about a few other places I ate and drank at this past week.

Haute Cuisine

The Getto Bar and Restaurant is a very funky, openly GLBT-friendly place you might even find in Hampden or Charles Village. The night before Gil headed out to Arnhem, we all went in for some dinner. This was where I spent the most money for any dish, and this was not one of the more expensive places. I followed up a forgettable witte bier (€4) with a fascinating plate of game: venison, wild boar and rabbit medallions with hearty yet tender mixed vegetables (€17). It tasted pretty good, but one thing annoyed me: if I am going to order something as different as wild boar and venison, I would at least like to be able to tell them apart. All three meats tasted exactly the same to me. That's not my fault. I think they did something wrong. Very tasty and creative, but not worth €17 (for comparison's sake, that's roughly US$25). I forget what the others ordered, but they liked them. In addition to food, Gil got a very good, home-brewed rosé cherry beer (which I tasted, of course). Jim and I did go back on our last night in town for more of those home-brewed rosé cherry beers


In addition to the Getto, I stopped by a few bars, both gay and not, including a few good ones on Zeedijk (including the Queen's Head, which has a beautiful view of the canals by the Red Light District and where I got to see a hilarious Celine Dion impersonator) and Kerkstraat (a famous part of gay Amsterdam, including the Spijker Bar, where I ran into someone who, after trading genealogical info, apparently came from the same village that my great-great grandfather came from in Northern Ireland). I visited a regular old straight bar on Kerkstraat but I'm frustrated that I can't remember its name. But it's across from a gay bookstore and next to a gay sauna. Very gay area, Kerkstraat. But I must mention it because it was my first introduction to Hoegaarden, a delicious witte bier that I have to find at the Wine Source when I go next. I drank it wherever I could find it. If I can find it.

More Dutch

The Roode Leeuw (Red Lion), on Damrak - one of the major streets downtown that leads to the historic Dam - is in the beautiful Hotel Amsterdam (much bigger, much more expensive, and probably much better than my cruddy excuse for a hotel). We all ate here before Gil's trip to the little city of Arnhem. Their offerings were quite expensive, but we were enticed by the relatively inexpensive items on their lunch menu, including sandwiches. First I got a delicious tomato soup (€3), a common item on many Dutch menus that I saw. It was creamy and not so salty. It did strike me that, maybe, it was from a package, but since the Dutch don't oversweeten their syrups, sweets and sodas, maybe they don't oversalt their soups. Next I got a grilled mozzarella, basil and tomato sandwich - a classic panino, they just didn't call it that - for €6. I got no dessert - I wanted to save my euros for other things. But the other guys got creme brulée. I would have as well, were it not for the €8 price tag. I reasoned: as much as I love it, would I ever spend $12 for creme brulée? No. Gil did stuff a spoonful in my mouth. It was good, but not worth $12.

One thing I regret never getting to try is that common Dutch street food, salted raw herring. Last Thursday I saw the stand, all the way up to Holy Saturday, that day before Easter. I kept on putting it off. Then Easter Sunday hits and it's closed. Then it's closed Easter Monday, then Tuesday, then Wednesday! I never got to try it.


The Dutch seem to love Argentinian steak. Argentinian, Uruguayan, Brazilian - anything from South America, but specifically Argentinian. The problem with these places is their price: steak ain't cheap, no matter where you eat it. And at the typical price of €16 - €25 per steak, it was quickly ignored as a viable dinner option. But on our last night in town, Jim and I were lured into La Pampa Argentinian Grill Restaurant on Paleisstraat, again near the Dam. Their €15 complete dinners lured us in. I got a tasty if small Argentinian chorizo for my first of three courses, with a forgettable veggie garnish. The main course was a real medium-rare Argentinian beefsteak smothered in a peppercorn sauce, with frites (fries, or chips in UK English). Good steak, good sauce, pretty variable quality fries (back to those in a minute). Dessert was an okay double combo of chocolate and orange ice cream. Add one Cola Light (as Diet Cokes are called in much of Europe) for €4.50 (that is almost $7 for 200 mL of soda), Jim's two teas for €2.50 each and a basket of the softest hot bread I have ever had (no more crusty bread ever!!!) at €3.50, and we were looking at about €43 worth of food, drink, tax and tip. Just imagine if we had ordered the not-so-special steak.

One thing I did do was finally try fries with the typical Dutch frites sous (fries sauce), which is part of the mayonnaise family. Whole stands and small stores selling mostly just frites with mayo and a hundred other sauce choices are extremely common all over the Netherlands. Since I never got into those, I figured I'd try it here. I was nauseated at the idea, but it was actually much better than I thought it'd be. In fact, I even liked fries in frites sous. Then I went back to ketchup, which they also had. Peanut satay sauce is also a widely available topping for frites.


Pigtown-Design said...

HAHA!!! No raw salt herring? Even I ate some of that. And fries and mayo? Delish! And that dinner after I spent the day in the "bar"? I had cockles, mussels and snails on ice. When I went to eat the snail, it ducked! I almost fell off my chair laughing!

John said...

Oooh, the snail was alive? Bleeaaahhh...

Pigtown-Design said...

Alive, alive-o!