Eating and Drinking in Amsterdam

The first holiday of the year was one that’s been planned for a few months. A trip to Amsterdam! I’d been before for a day and had a night out but that was over ten years ago.

We set off on a dark cold morning to the airport armed with our guidebooks marked off with all the things we wanted to see and do, including places that might be good to eat and drink.

Anne Frank House, Rijks Museum, Van Gogh Museum, a boat trip, generally admiring the architecture and wandering along the canals, off the beaten track and through the Red Light District, were all on the list. All were worthwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed the museums and galleries, and wandering the canals in the snow was beautiful.

On to the food and drink. There’s no way you’d struggle to find something you’ll like in Amsterdam. There’s restaurants, snack bars, bakeries, pubs, cafes and bars almost everywhere you look. Plus the coffeeshops! Even walking through the less touristy areas we found places to warm up and have a snack or a drink.

Chips and mayo was an essential eat for this trip! French fries with “fritessaus” is a Dutch fast food found all over the Netherlands. As with any classic food served all over a city there’s more than one place claiming they’re the best! We tried two places, one was said to be the oldest, the other said to be voted number 1. At the oldest spot we went for a different favourite sauce, satay, it looked completely unappealing (as you’ll see from the photo!) but the sauce was delicious and the fries were, in my opinion, the best. Super crispy outside and fluffy inside. The place that was voted the best had the option of vegan “fritessaus”, Dutch style mayo, which has less fat and is sweeter than usual mayo, it was really tasty.

From fries to drinks, you’re never short of somewhere to call for a drink in Amsterdam. Small pubs, “cafes”, as they call them, line the tiny cobbled streets and canal sides, at this time of year offering a refuge from the cold. Most having a few beer options, a basic selection of spirits and wine and some offer hot drinks too. There’s also bigger bars and clubs too but we mostly stuck to calling in little pubs for one and moving on. Every one we went in was welcoming and cosy. My advice would be don’t stick to the main streets, wander off and you’ll find places filled with locals and a really great atmosphere, plus they’re usually a little cheaper for a beer!

Back to the food. There were a couple of stand out places I’d recommend. For brunch I’d read about Cut Throat, a barbershop, yep get your haircut or beard trimmed, with a bar inside! You walk into the bar not immediately obvious that it’s a barbers, and then you spot the chairs and mirrors on the other side. Inside it’s beautiful, an old tiled arched building with loads of character. The vegan “chicken” and waffles was amazing, the best seitan I’ve had. Served with maple syrup, hot sauce and an apple slaw. We had mimosas and coffees too. We also stumbled across a gorgeous little french creperie late one morning after visiting Anne Frank House. Again another lovely, quirky building, how I walked up the stairs without banging my head I’ll never know! Gorgeous crepes and the most beautiful cup of tea I’ve had in a long time, their tea was brought in from Paris (so a trip to Paris might be due soon to buy some tea!).

All in all a great few days in an interesting and beautiful city.

Vegan Chicken and WafflesBeers in an Amsterdam CafeFries and Satay SauceCrepe at CocotteHot Chocolate in the Red Light District Dutch Fries with Vegan MayoSoup at the Van Gogh Museum Dutch Apple CakeOrecchiette with BroccoliTofu and Veg in Black Bean Sauce

Where to eat and drink in Amsterdam?

Check out some of the places I ate and drank around Amsterdam…

Cut Throat – get a haircut, a cocktail and tasty food under one roof!

Cocotte – buckwheat crepes, perfect if you can’t eat gluten.

Kam Yin – big portions of Chinese food, speedy service.

Il Pacioccone – cute Italian owned restaurant with tasty pasta and wine, the menu changes daily.

Manneken Pis – you can get fries with vegan mayo here.

Vlaams Freithuis Vleminckx – my favourite of the two places we tried for fries.

Mata Hari – gorgeous place just at the top of the red light district. We just had drinks but they serve food too.

Van Gogh Museum – we had soup and a beer at the cafe after a tour of the museum.

Blushing – lovely little place for a coffee in between museum visits.

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Finding Inspiration and Time

Staring at a blank page is sometimes daunting.

I sometimes sit looking at it for ages until I distract myself with something else and it can be hours, days or even weeks before I go back to it.

It’s the start of a new year, a time when I feel motivated to be more creative, to make more time for the things I enjoy, and this new year is no different.

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog, my excuse is always not having time.

During last October I did Inktober, a drawing challenge on Instagram, there’s a list of prompts for the month and the aim is to draw as often as you can, ideally every day, based on those prompts. I’m happy to say that I succeeded in it and did a drawing each day throughout the month, proving that I do have time. If I want it.

At the start of the month I felt sure that I’d miss a few days here and there and play catch up, all because I thought I wouldn’t have time. Some drawings were quicker than others when I actually was short on time, but the point was that I stuck to it. It made me dare to try new styles too and be confident in sharing them with people.

It made me think about drawing and painting more which was the intention for me. Once the month was over I vowed to draw more and I have a bit since. But I need to keep telling myself not worry about having to create a finished piece each time, I just want to get back into using a sketchbook like I used to when I was a student, for sparking ideas, for practicing, for myself.

So how does this relate to this blog? I’m getting to it now! I want to make time to blog more, I’ve proven that I can do it for drawing so I need to do the same for this. Whether it’s a quick post about what I made for dinner, rather than a full recipe, or a little ramble about an ingredient, cookbook, or any kind of cooking inspiration, rather than a big review of something, at least it keeps me writing, which I enjoy.

As part of Inktober I drew a few food related drawings, even an illustrated recipe one day. So perhaps that’s a way in future for me to combine food and drawing by creating more of those.

Anyway, that’s my first ramble of the year, watch this space.

Blueberry and Coconut Ice Lollies

The other night my husband happened across our unused ice lolly moulds in a box of barbecue stuff we hadn’t unpacked since we moved house, perfect timing as we’ve still got that heatwave and I’m in need of more quick recipes to help cool down.

I knocked up a creation using some blueberries and coconut milk, made a mix and froze it in the moulds, it turned out to be the perfect thing to eat to cool down, albeit briefly! I posted a photo of it and my friend fancied the recipe to try it, so here it is Jen, give it a go and let me know what you think!

Blueberry and Coconut Ice Lollies

You’ll need ice lolly moulds, mine were a random purchase from IKEA! You’ll also need a blender of some sort or you could smash the berries up in a mortar and pestle but the texture may be a bit chunkier.

This made 6 lollies.

Ingredients…

200g blueberries

1/2 tin coconut milk, I used reduced fat but usual stuff would be fine

Agave or maple syrup (optional)

Pop a few fresh blueberries into each lolly mould, take the rest and add them to the blender, blitz until smooth. Give the mixture a taste and see if you want to add some agave to sweeten it a bit more, if you do add a spoonful and blitz again.

Now you can either do as I did, or you can skip this step to make it even quicker. I took a third of the mixture and divided it equally between the moulds.

Next add the coconut milk to the mix and blend, again tasting to see if you want to add some sweetener. Now fill your moulds up with the blueberry and coconut mixture. Pop the sticks in and freeze for at about four hours, then they’re good to go!

I’m going to try out some different flavours, I’m thinking coffee ones next, any ideas please let me know!

Enjoying an ice lolly in the sun

Peach Salsa

We’re having a heatwave in the UK at the moment so I’m embracing the summery food that can come with glorious weather!

We had a trip to the market at the weekend to get some fruit and veg to see us through the week, we did our usual thing of forgetting to write a list and just getting what looked good on the day. Sometimes this works well, sometimes not so much!

I think we did pretty well this time, the fridge is stocked with loads of veg and berries and the kitchen side has a full fruit bowl with lots of gorgeous things like, cherries, apricots, pineapple, watermelon and peaches. I’m not a big fruit eater, I like the odd apple and I love berries and pineapple but I’m trying to eat more of it and I think the sunny days help with that. So I sat outside eating an apricot the other day pondering what to do with the masses of fruit I’d bought. I knew if I left it in the fruit bowl it’d end up going a bit sad and I didn’t want to waste it.

Some of the fruit was barbecued, more on that another time though. But the donut peaches I’d bought were destined for something I’d been thinking about for a while, peach salsa. I love a mango salsa but my husband hates mango so I thought a peach one might win him over and be good for tacos and just eating with tortilla chips. So I set out to create a peach salsa…

It’s super easy to make, just chopping, squeezing and a little stirring and you’ll have a really refreshing salsa to snack on with a beer or glass of wine in the garden on a sunny day!

This made a cereal bowl full and fed 3 people, so double or triple it if you’re feeding the masses. I used donut peaches but 2 regular ones would do, or nectarines.

Ingredients

3 donut peaches

1 handful of cherry tomatoes or one regular tomato

1/2 a chilli

1 spring onion

1/2 lime

1 handful of coriander leaves – use the stalks in something else.

Chop everything except the lime, pop it all in a bowl, squeeze the lime juice over it all, season with salt to taste and stir. Done.

I said it was easy! Pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. Serve with bbq food, on tacos, in burritos or just simply with some tortilla chips.

If you fancy another easy peachy recipe, try my store cupboard iced tea which uses tinned peaches.

Store Cupboard Iced Tea

It’s bank holiday weekend in the UK this weekend and fingers crossed it looks set to be a rain free one for most! With the prospect of good weather and a three day weekend ahead, I decided to make something summery to drink, iced tea.

I love iced tea and have been making different versions of it for years. This time I’ve made a really simple recipe. This is mostly because my kitchen cupboards and the fridge are looking rather bare, we’re due a trip to the market to stock up this weekend.

So, craving iced tea I searched around the kitchen for something to jazz it up. Lurking at the back of a cupboard was a rather sorry looking little tin. Tinned peaches in juice. Now I’m not a lover of these at all usually, and they have been sat in the cupboard for months, a leftover from when my sister stayed with us, she loves them, as does my mum. I do love peach iced tea though… you can see where this is going!

Peach iced tea ingredients

Here it is, a recipe for peach iced tea, buy some tinned peaches, fill your freezer with ice, the bank holiday weekend is here…

Ingredients…

1 litre of water

2 teabags, I used lady grey ones but normal everyday tea will work well too

1 small tin of peach slices in juice

Sweetener, this is optional, but if you taste it and want it sweeter add agave, honey or sugar to taste

You’ll need a jug or teapot that holds a litre of water to steep the tea in.

Put the litre of water in the kettle to boil. Add the teabags to the jug, once the kettle has boiled leave it for a few minutes so as not to scold the tea. After a few minutes, pour the water over the tea as if you’re making a giant cup of tea. Strain the juice from the peaches into the tea too and stir. Leave for a few minutes to brew and remove the teabags. Give it a taste, if you want to sweeten it, then do that now.

Next you want to leave it to cool, it is ICED tea after all! Pop it in the fridge to get really cold. Put the peaches in the fridge too, you can use these to serve in the glass with your tea.

That’s it, when it’s chilled serve it with ice and the peach slices. You can add slices of lemon or mint too. You could even try adding a shot of rum or bourbon if you like.

Enjoy the weekend folks!

Also thanks to my sister for leaving behind a tin of peaches!

Peach iced tea

Peach iced tea in the sunshine