The eatin' is good in Amsterdam. Just about every type of food you could want was available. But of course, there are the little differences that you notice...
My favorite difference was the wide availability of yummy hot chocolate. When it comes to hot drinks, the options I'm used to are often limited to coffee and tea. But I don't like coffee and I'm not big on tea, so finding hot chocolate on the menu makes me happy.
However, the hot chocolate offerings in the various coffeeshops tended to have a lot in common, as most places just fill a mug with Chocomel (a brand name chocolate milk product sold in Holland) and warm it up with steam from the espresso machine. Presentation, therefore, is everything when looking for a good cup of cocoa. Some places included an individually wrapped ginger cookie on the side; most places offered real whipped cream on top ("slagroom" in Dutch), but at an added cost.
Kristin noticed with amusement a spot where there's a McDonalds right next to a local imitation called Lunchroom, who's sign uses the same color scheme.
Like everything here, serving sizes are usually small. The invention of the large beverage container (which reached it's ultimate form in the Super Big Gulp from 7-11) was apparently not discovered here. We were thirsty all the time, nursing a juice in a miniature glass. No one serves water... if you ask for ordinary tap water, they look at you funny.
An item frequently available in the coffeeshops is the tosti, this being a grilled cheese sandwich with either ham or tomato. The best ones I had were at the Pax Party House.
Dinner menus often include omelets.
|And then, there's hagel. This was the stumper. It's basically chocolate sprinkles (or "jimmies") except that you're supposed to eat 'em on bread. This was a new one on me. I couldn't figure out from the package if you just dump the stuff right onto the bread or if you're supposed to add a layer of butter or honey to make it stick to the bread.
Steak is very popular in Amsterdam. There are steakhouses all over the place, but I noticed that most of them were identified as being Argentinian steakhouses. The only exception I saw was the New York steakhouse, in the Leidseplein. Naturally, as an American, I like to imagine that we do everything best in our country, so I find our failure in the steakhouse competition surprising.
But then again, that's what it's like to be in Amsterdam, a place that seems better than America in many regards.
But on the other hand, they do put mayo on the french fries here.