Carrots Can Dance

Lots of women rave about carrot cake. I didn’t get that. The carrot cakes I tried were dull and dry. More like pieces of bread than pockets full of fun. Two days ago I discovered that carrots do know how to ‘dance’. It’s just that you have to turn the right music on and put them in the right setting. Inge and Noortje know all about this recipe for success. They serve a carrot cake that rocks, a mighty moisty one – almost a pudding – with bits of walnuts. Try a piece at Back to Black, their vivid specialty coffee bar, coffee roastery and concept store with international vibes. Add even more value to your cake and have a regular espresso on the side or have slow coffee made by means of a siphon. Shop before you leave for art and design products or packages Back to Black coffee, brewed from Latin American (El Salvador) and African (Rwanda) beans. Walk or cycle via the Rijksmuseum back home.

Back to Black
Carrot-walnut cake, one piece, €3.50
Weteringstraat 48, City Centre (Spiegelkwartier)
+31 (0)6 17 51 69 08 (Noortje), +31 (0)6 11 19 48 70 (Inge)
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-6pm

Floating Duck

Lucky House is the Chinese living room of the Jordaan area. Happy vibes, tons of chit-chat and a warm welcome by the Lady of the House, Mrs Lie Phin, who knows her regular guests by name. The cooks of this fresh restaurant and take-away sure know how to ‘walk the wok’ and make chicken, shrimp, pork, fish, beef and vegetables sizzle. Their chicken spring rolls are highly popular and so are the sui kau, steamed or fried prawn dumplings. The Peking duck is roasted in the modern, open kitchen. Thumbs up for the crispy skin and the tender, delicately spiced meat. To be eaten with rice or on top of a comforting noodle soup. Spice this soup up with some chilli paste, preferably sambal badjak or sambal djahe (ginger), and you are ready to roll or to walk to The Movies, one of the most charming Amsterdam cinemas.

Lucky House
Noodle soup with Peking duck, one portion, €10.10
Willemsstraat 22, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0)20 620 92 95
Opening hours: Sunday-Friday 4pm-9.30pm

Meat Love

The things you can do with minced meat! My Dutch-Indonesian mother used to make a splendid frikadel pan, a loaf based on minced meat, potatoes, soy sauce and nutmeg. If I may say so, my bobotie, isn’t bad either. This South-African loaf from curried meat and fruit – mango chutney, abricots – is the quintessential comfort food, just like the frikadel pan and the meat loaf I discovered recently at Dis. This brand new dinner shop offers a tasty meatloaf including pecans. Slices of it are served with bread, tomato sauce and rocket. This juicy lunch made me return for the dinner bestseller too: the pumpkin lasagne. I was seriously tempted by the other no-frills seasonal meals too, such as the cassoulet with lamb. Funny/interesting/weird/cool – delete where not applicable: if you’re not into carbs, just ditch your ‘carby’ sidedish and have it replaced by an extra portion of vegetables or salad for free.

Meat loaf with pecans sandwich, one, €4.00
Haarlemmerplein 37, City Centre (Haarlemmerbuurt)
+31 (0)20 737 12 78
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 4pm-9pm

Sweet Little Giants

Too many pies, too little time. The absolutely fabulous Patisserie Kuyt offers the best solution you can think of: an amazing array of gourmandises, friandises and other mini pies. Minimal sizes, maximal tastes. All equally pretty and delicious, made by the hands of professionals who have an eye for detail and the drive to use nothing but the ultimate ingredients. Their works of art feature a superb pavlova, a mini pie consisting of a meringue base with whipped cream, chocolate, a coulis of raspberry and fresh fruit on top. The fun-size white marzipan one (Alaska) is filled with a mousse of white chocolate and grand marnier. Banana lovers will fall for the mini banana-toffee tart with whipped cream and almonds on top. For something less creamy do try the pecan cutie and, and, and. Luckily these dwarf pies are cheap – well sort of. Otherwise I would go bankrupt on this selection of mini pies and my untameable lust for sugar.

Patisserie Kuyt
Mini pies, one, around €1.85
Utrechtsestraat 109-111, City Centre
+31 (0)20 623 48 33
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8am-5.30pm, Saturday 8am-5pm

Silenced by a Lamb

Big hair, big shoulders, tight jeans, dancing on Donna Summer and Sister Sledge. Are you still with me? Yes? So you know the eighties! Then I bet you remember the ultimate after-party snack too: a broodje shoarma, pita bread with grilled meat, served with lettuce and lots of garlic sauce. Well, do I have news for you: the shawarma sandwich is back with a vengeance. The new and improved version is grilled by the owner of Abinish, an inviting and cute steakhouse and grillroom in the bustling Haarlemmerstraat. Perfectly spiced pieces of tender grilled lamb, the freshest bread, a good salad and three sauces: green pepper, peppery aioli, tomato salsa. Hello, lamb shawarma 2.0! This darling made me quiet for 28 minutes – mucho meat! Insiders also rave about the salad with grilled tempeh, the patatas bravas and the merguez sandwich. Settle yourself at one of the cosy tables in the back or score a take-away meal.

Lamb shawarma, one portion, €9.00
Haarlemmerstraat 117, City Centre (Haarlemmerbuurt)
+31 (0) 20 639 30 07
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday noon-9.30pm