Tuesday, August 16, 2016

more cheese, more beer

There's no novelty in going to a country known for cheese and beer when I live in the state of cheese and beer. Yet still, I couldn't resist the external (or internal?) force that seemed to push (or pull?) me into every cheese shop I passed. This force is most probably known as "free samples."
Because I guess I have some shame since I knew I was not going to even spontaneously purchase cheese (for good reason, carry that shit in my unchilled bag for the rest of my trip? no thanks), I didn't sample everything. Slowly stopping and chewing and deliberating would take too much time. You know what I'm talking about - acting like you're really considering your choices before finally coming to the agonizing decision of "okay, no cheese for me." I don't know why I care though; they're probably super used to this from tourists. 

Several things really stuck with me:
-whatever that aged Dutch cheese was with the black rind (^I think farmer's cheese?) = yum
-funky flavors and colors, truffle being a big one, and I didn't know red pesto was a thing
-lavender goat cheese is surprisingly delicious, I'll take a hunk of that with some bland unsalted crackers please
-vanilla goat cheese is unsurprisingly undelicious, like too fragrant and too sweet

I had a self-imposed rule to not be wandering out and about after dark because I'm not a seasoned solo-traveller. So my first order of business in Amsterdam was to (shower and) stumble upon dinner near my hostel. Ended up at Visbar Beet because it looked classy and quiet.
And after the bartender so kindly went through everything on the Dutch menu with me, I just asked him for his favorite thing and ordered that. Salmon tartare with mango, avocado, cream and roe, and super long saffron threads in a... beautifully folded fried... tortilla? Except I had a tough time believing that saffron was the super expensive Crocus styles I'm familiar with.. but I don't know.. do people just pile a bunch of saffron on dishes in the Netherlands? Whatever, it was slightly salty and great.

Passed a vibrant patch of patioware in a day of cloudy gray on the way to.. somewhere.
Not sure, but I found the stroopwafel stand in the middle of Albert Cuyp.
This was the only stroopwafel I had in Amsterdam, and I'm okay with that. So warm and sugary and large. The caramel was just oozing out the bottom while I was trying to artfully take a FITA pic - didn't work, it was like a time bomb, was forced to consume immediately, not sad about it. And that was my pre-dinner snack.

So this is why I just kinda lumped Amsterdam into Scandinavia. Herring. All the sources said I had to have herring in Amsterdam, herring in Copenhagen, herring in Sweden. My mind just began to think "If herring, then Scandinavia."
Not sure where the recommendation came from, but I found myself at Frens after taking some deep, cleansing breaths throughout the flower market. Something about little family businesses that specialize in one thing really gets me. If I ever open a food establishment, I'm calling it a family business.. that's been around for half a decade... with breads from my great x20 grandmother's recipes. Yeah.
Anyways, got the herring sammich with pickles and onions on a hot dog bun, and let's just say I'd prefer this to hot dogs any day. It's like... fast food on-the-go sashimi. Not really. But you know how great sushi is so refreshing? Refreshing raw fish - that's what this was.

I deliberated going to Winkel43 because it was day 3, and my 48 hour ticket was no longer valid, and it was all the way over on the other side of the city center. But I hadn't gotten pancakes or some sort of apple dumpling/dessert/whatever yet, and it was the only place Ann remembered going to by name.
Zero regrets about walking the extra two miles for the pie. A million regrets about not getting seconds.
It was more like stewed and spiced apples embedded in a soft cake with a solid crust. And my key measure of desserts - not too sweet. Ugh, it was amazing. I couldn't stop talking about it with Audrey for the next several hours. I slowly savored the entire thing alone at my table in the corner.
And for under €4! I could've gotten another wonderful chunk of pie instead of forcing myself to look at everything in the sex museum. Or I could've gotten another slice of pome perfection instead of the Dutch sausage with mustard "snack" that was just excessive for one sad little person (of course I did force all of it down my throat, but it was not a pleasant experience by the end - should've at least gotten the roasted option).

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