If you want to eat local in Amsterdam, remember three things: cheese, herring, and Indonesian rijsttafel. What are your favorite Amsterdam edibles?
Colonial cuisine is fun. And just like England loves its Indian food, the Dutch hunger for Indonesian. The ritual dish for tourists in Holland is rijsttafel (literally “rice table”). While not a true Indonesian meal, it’s a Dutch innovation designed to highlight the best food of its former colony, especially all the great spices that were a big part of what originally motivated the colonial age. For around $40 you’ll get about 20 dishes and a rainbow of spices with white rice to mix and mingle on your palette. More casual Indonesian restaurants allow you to split this meal.
With its seafaring heritage, Dutch cuisine embraces herring. The local version of a hot-dog stand is a herring stand where variations on fresh herring are dished up–most are not cooked but pickled. For a memory you won’t forget (no matter how you try), don’t miss a little paper plate of herring with pickles and onions.
Each day my wandering was made much more fun and educational because I hired a local guide to join me. It’s basically like renting a friend who’s really smart. Then, everything I do, I’m doing with a coach and partner. My guide Frank Sanders and I spent an hour enjoying the Reypenaer cheese tasting.
At the Reypenaer cheese-tasting class we tried five or so Dutch cheeses with three different wines and charted our experience. If you happen to like cheese and wine, this is a very fun class. As I recommend it in my Amsterdam guidebook, I wanted to be sure I was describing it correctly–and you can’t do that without actually enjoying the experience.
What are some fun, organized, and educational food-tasting experiences you’ve enjoyed in your travels?