The Netherlands is a multicultural melting pot with colorful markets, water cannels covered with trees, bridges filled with bikes and flowers, vibrant street-food, and an array of authentic restaurants from all over the world. In terms of food and why it such an attractive destination for Gastronomes, The Netherlands is a leader in sustainable and circular economy systems withing businesses and individuals. They host, incubate, and accelerate the Research & Development of plant-based and plant-forward practices. Additionally, lets not forget they are one of the most bike friendly nations in the world, incentivizing the reduction of carbon footprint and increase of active lifestyles.
You will have endless cuisines to choose from, however, before you do... You need to go real Dutch. And what screams Dutch the loudest? Well... ANYTHING FRIED.
✨ From potatoes fries with a million sauces to dip on, to the iconic Bitterballen! They are meat based, breaded, and deep-fried balls. Similar to Spanish croquetas as they are quite the staple item in any bar or restaurant. When you bite into them they are crunchy but super creamy in the inside! They go incredible with mustard, and my twist is dipping them into the peanut sauce they sometimes have with fries.
✨ After walking around and speaking to locals, I realized one of the most common cuisines was Indonesian or Suriname. As they were both once Dutch colonies, their rich culture has become part of The Netherlands too. Even as a fellow South American, I had NEVER tried Surinamese food before, and as it is located in the Caribbean, the cuisine has a vibrant African and tropical influence, along with Chinese and Indian roots. Honestly, it is some of the best foods I have had in a while.
I went with chicken thighs cooked to perfection in a rich and flavorful sauce with turmeric potatoes and onions, green beans, a boiled and then fried egg and ✨ roti ✨ the star of the show in my opinion. Roti is a simple dough flatbread cooked on a hot griddle and drizzled with lentil dust.
✨In the Netherlands, the curiosity and awareness of plant-based meat substitutes is growing strongly. Research shows the Dutch population consuming the most plant-based per person in Europe, as well as the higher spenders on meat replacement products. This has led to many Dutch based restaurants consider implementing meat substitutes that replicate the taste, aroma and textures of meat.
The space of restaurant is modern, minimalistic, but wide. The point is for you to sit down, share all the dishes as equals, and enjoy the passion of “joie de vivre” or joy of living. Their dishes show off a tasteful Middle Eastern and Orient journey .
✨ Now, for the absolute best dessert, head to Cafe Winkel 43 for their scrumptious Apple Tart with whipped cream.
Now, lets talk about their bread.
✨If there is something I also noticed, was the quality of the local bread. It is moist, crusty, light, and still alive. I had forgotten how much I missed my sourdough, from my San Francisco days. In order to learn more about the important chemical reaction with yeast and fermentation in the bread making process, we attended a workshop in Bread Making 101 with the Baking Lab. As part of the activity we got to play around with their pizza oven and made some delicious homemade pizzas with funky flavors!
Even though Amsterdam has you saying "damn" all the time, their trains are fantastic assets to travel around the nation. Do not miss your chance to visit the University friendly and quite modernized Rotterdam.
✨ While there head to one of the best restaurants I got to experience. Rotonde is much more than just a restaurant, it is a space to respect, celebrate, and indulge seasonal and local fruits and vegetables. They function as a progressive cuisine by taking into consideration all the components needed to bring the farm to the table. Once you enter, you can feel warmth. A mix of the people working there, the colors and decoration, but most importantly, from their indoor fire. As the kitchen is completely open, you get to admire whole eggplants tangling on top of the fire flames. Just incredible.
✨ In Utrecht you will sense a more green and calm vibe. It hosts a couple national parks within the city, so not miss heading their with a rented bike. In one of them you will find Veldkeuken and Veldkeuken Bakkerij. Concepts that have successfully implemented circular and sustainable food systems, and that work as a network with other local businesses. From their own garde, to their mill, restaurant, bakery, and coffee shop.