Gluten-Free Travel - Amsterdam, Netherlands
This post is ridiculously overdue, but as I always say, better late than never, and trust me I’m always late to everything.
In September, I decided to do a birthday extravaganza and fly to Spain and the Netherlands with Mr. Misterbelly to enjoy a week of food, fun and loads of vino tinto. If you haven’t read my post on Spain yet, click here for photos and a detailed blow by blow of my foodie exploration of Barcelona and Valencia.
Amsterdam was a city I have wanted to visit for a long time (probably for a lot of the wrong reasons), but I’m so glad I was able to go as an adult and appreciate it for the amazing city it really is. I seriously could see myself living in a quaint Dutch house in the countryside and be perfectly content. The city center is completely unchanged from years ago, which I can verify after seeing a photo from the 1800s and seeing that the exact same buildings still stood and the surrounding area had not changed much. It’s truly one of those rare timeless cities *almost* unspoiled by the American manifest destiny of capitalism and franchises. You will NOT find a Starbucks in Amsterdam, but you will find lovely espresso shops (not the coffee shops you’re thinking about) that serve strong coffee that trumps anything Starbucks could ever hope to do.
I love that about Amsterdam. They have a million stereotypes against them, but at their heart they are cool, laid-back, family-oriented people more so than anything I’ve seen in the U.S. I felt pangs of homesickness whenever I saw a family riding by on their bikes, with either a mom or dad pedaling and their children riding in the front in what Mr. Misterbelly and I dubbed "kinderbuckets.” I loved it so much I looked into buying one when I got back to the states.
The food in Amsterdam proper is not the most gluten-free friendly, but you can find good food and you can find really good modern, food there as well. I was very upset to not have the chance to eat at De Kas. Sadly the day I called to make a reservation they were fully booked, but De Kas is exactly the kind of restaurant I’d love to have here. You eat in a greenhouse and they embrace the farm to table concept wholeheartedly.
I did a lot of digging for places to eat and I’ll share the list of what I found below. Even though I did not eat at all of the places, they were definitely on my short list and for one reason or another I wasn’t able to go.
I did happily have the chance to visit Pancakes!, and was shocked to learn they have gluten-free pannekoeken, which is a huge pancake topped with virtually anything. I smiled ear to ear and then grilled our waitress on what it was made from. She struggled with finding the English word for the flour they used, but I was able to decipher it from the Dutch word she used, which sounds very close to the English pronunciation of buckwheat. A lot of buckwheat pancakes can have a strong taste, but these were delicious and didn’t have that overpowering earthy taste that buckwheat can sometimes have. I ordered two and the waitress looked at me like I was crazy as I didn’t realize how HUGE they were going to be. I was a trooper though and devoured almost everything. I ordered one topped with bacon, and one with lemon and sugar. They also make a mean cup of cappuccino there, with soy milk. So good.
I also discovered that Amsterdam has some of the best pho I’ve had outside of Paris (and obviously Vietnam, but I’ve never been). During one of our many strolls through the city, and especially the Jordaan area we saw a small, but trendy looking Vietnamese restaurant that wasn’t open the first day we were in town, but after not being able to eat at De Kas the next day, we thought we’d give Xinh a try and I’m so glad we did. We were lucky enough to get a reservation the same day. I had no idea that getting tables in Amsterdam would be so hard, so keep that in mind if you really have your heart set on eating somewhere. Make reservations in advance!
I went with the beef pho at Xinh and at 15 euro a bowl, it was the most expensive pho I’ve had, but also one of the most delicious. The broth was excellent and full of anise/cinnamon flavor, with an umami richness from the meat. I was already getting full from the shared appetizer of Bun Thit we had, but I powered through and ate every last drop of that pho and thought wistfully about it for days on end afterward.
Another place we really enjoyed eating at was Season’s. It wasn’t fancy, or mind blowing, but the food was good and the owners were so nice. It was another place that filled up with people rather quickly and stayed full for the whole evening. I had a wonderful pan fried chicken with fries, and a great bottle of rose Sancerre. The owners were quite understanding of what "gluten-free” was and made sure that we were happy with our meal.
If you’re ever traveling out to Amsterdam and want to get the skinny on the food, check out DutchGrub.com. It’s a great blog filled with info about the trendiest restaurants, the best food and just great info about eating out.
If you want to see some of my quirky photos from my trip, check out my Facebook page, and give it a ‘like’ if you feel so inclined! =)
I’ve compiled a list below of restaurants I didn’t get to try, but thought were intriguing. Hope you enjoy!
Restaurants to try in Amsterdam: