A pain au chocolat is not your average bread roll. Just like a pain au raisin, chausson aux pommes (apple turnover) and a croissant it’s a member of the large family of viennoiseries. These baked goods are made from a yeast-leavened dough in a manner similar to bread, or from puff pastry, but with added ingredients (particularly eggs, butter, milk, cream and sugar) giving them a richer, sweeter character, approaching that of pastry. The dough is often laminated. This type of dough was invented by a pastry chef from Vienna and not one from Paris or any other French city. However the French did succeed in bringing this dough to perfection. Proof thereof I found once again when I was in Paris earlier this month and bough a super croissant aux amandes and pain au chocolat at Le Pétrin Médiéval (31 rue Henri Monnier). In Amsterdam I buy my pain au chocolat at bakery Westerbos, my favorite bakery in Amsterdam-West: service with a smile, even when customers are cueing on Saturday mornings, excellent bread (try the Hugo) and pastry. The pain au chocolat of Westerbos has almonds on top for a crunchy effect, inside you’ll find mini bars of black chocolate. The pastry is light as a feather and somewhat sweet. A chérie to cherish!
Westerbos Pain au chocolat, €1.90
Hugo de Grootplein 4, West (Westerpark)
+31 (0)20 684 5512
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7.30am-6pm, Saturday 7.30am-4pm
Every time I visit the Kanarie Club I order the same dish. Look at this picture. Can you blame me? These juicy red heads sprinkled with almonds are floating on a lake of ricotta, situated on top of wentelteefjes, the Dutch version of French toast, drenched in lavender syrup. The taste of this dish is as good as its looks. The pretty cool interior and happy vibes of the club adding to the ultimate ‘Zen feeling’. This club for ‘free minded birds’ is owned by Tsibo Lin, Chong Chu, Zing-Kyn Cheung en Rakish Gangapersad, the founding fathers of the neighbouring Foodhallen If you can’t stand the heat of this food market anymore, do visit this club. It’s an ideal spot to have a drink or to dine before going to the movies at the Filmhallen. You need to get some work done? Relaxed free work places in abundance, the club even has some lockers to leave your laptop while you walk around. An oasis amidst one the most vibrant quarters of Amsterdam.
Kanarie Club Wentelteefjes with ricotta and strawberries, €7.50
Bellamyplein 51, West
+31 (0) 20 218 17 75
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 8.30am-11pm, Friday 8.30am-2.30am, Saturday9.30am-2.30am, Sunday 9.30am-11pm
I grew up in Alphen aan den Rijn, a city near university city Leiden. We lived close to a quarter inhabited by Moluccans. My Dutch-Indonesian father went there often to meet friends. Once a year he was sent on a mission: obtaining three boxes filled with kue cucur, a cookie made of fried rice flour mixed with palm sugar. Thick in the middle, thin at the edges. A snack with the looks of an UFO. Not exactly the most beautiful cookie on earth, but its taste and smell is divine, especially when it’s warm: exotic cinnamon flavor. The fact that it wasn’t available in shops, but could only be bought ‘illegally’ at the home of an old Moluccan lady added to the flavour of the kue cucur. Last week I found out that one of my favorite takeaways and restaurants, Toko Bandung, was selling THE cookie of my youth. I stared for minutes at the FB-picture where I saw three cookies in a row with a bit of liquid gula djawa on top. Saturday I was reunited with my ‘elementary school sweet hearts’. A trip down memory lane. A real good one.
Coconut in your Thai chicken soup, grated coconut in your dessert, on your pancake or in your pie. It’s always a good time to eat coconut. Coconut is present in most of the recipes of my Dutch-Indonesian mother, including the one of her super delicious ajam opor, chicken in a velvety coconut sauce. At home we called this ingredient by it’s proper Dutch-Indonesian name: klapper. Just like the owner of Stadsbakkerij Jongejans does: he sells a klappertaart to die for. The mere sound of the word ‘klapper’ takes me on a lovely trip down memory lane and makes me want to fly to the world’s most exotic places on earth right away. For the ultimate tropical experience I suggest you to buy this pie together with some kippasteitjes (Surinamese chicken pies). Don’t be fooled by the Dutch looks of this bakery. Jongejans has an exotic soul; the biggest branch of this small chain of bakeries is situated in the Bijlmer, Amsterdam’s most colourful neighbourhood. The one at the Haarlemmerstraat is perfect to get yourself some good stuff before taking the train at central station. Tell the friendly ladies there I said ‘hi’.
Stadsbakkerij Jongejans Klappertaart, one, €5.00
Haarlemmerstraat 4, City Centre (Haarlemmerbuurt). Check the site for other branches
+31 (0) 20 624 76 11
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 7am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm
Yesterday I had my first babka. This sweet yeast cake is linked to the (Polish) Christian tradition, but there’s also a Jewish version. The latter is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough containing cinnamon and/or chocolate. Mine was made by a lovely lady from Israel. She bakes the cake at her home, but intends to open her own shop. Until that big day you have to order your babka by phone and pick it up yourself. But first of all: make up your mind. Will you be having one with chocolate, halva, speculoos or cinnamon? I choose a cinnamon babka. The moment she opened the door, I smelt the delightful scent of cinnamon and noticed that my babka came straight out of the oven. At home I had a slice with a cup of coffee and had to stop myself from eating the whole loaf. Such a perfectly sweetened and somewhat sticky cake, light and dense at the same time. Dear babka, where have you been the rest of my life?
Babka with cinnamon, one loaf, € 10.00
South (De Pijp), no shop (yet)/order by phone
+31 (0) 6 21 16 97 07
Fork, spoon? Attack! Impossible to eat decently, but this tartelette is worth the effort and the dirty fingers. The crispy bottom is like a cup, one containing a divine ‘soup’ of cream, caramel and last but not least thin slices of banana. Liquid sweetness at its finest and most irresistible. This banoffee pie is made by the cook of Sticky Fingers and is completely organic, just like the other pastry and savoury pies of this new ‘Eco Patisserie’ of the Conscious Hotel. Ecological Sticky Fingers is as girly as it gets: wooden chairs and tables, magazines, plants and a touch of pink. Check the bar stools, the wall behind the counter and the raspberry tartelette. Twenty-something ladies chatting and gossiping, working and bragging about their travel plans – ‘Thai islands are so last season, I am into Cambodian ones’. Some twenty-something men zipping cappuccino and latte macchiato from fair chain label Moyee. A no-frills place for a serious moment of Zen while being at one of the busiest streets in town: Overtoom/Amstelveenseweg.
Ever heard of matcha? Well, it’s ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. Hong Tong Wu and his sister Yiemie, the owners of Tea’s Delight, know how to treat this ingredient right. They put it in their ice cream, cookies and pancake, one topped with a slice of apple – fresh, slightly sour – and perfectly green cream. Eating this pancake may be a (tiny) sin, but it make’s you feel super zen in return. Not only since it’s delicious, but also because of the well balanced nature of this place. On the lower ground floor, you’ll find the dark yin space, including light teaware made of glass and porcelain. Upstairs you’ll find the lighter yang space with dark tea pots on the floor. Add to all this the soft voices of the sweet owners who patiently tell you all about the origins of their loose tea leaves and you’ll float to another world. To China where most of their tea comes from. Or to Taiwan where their fabulous Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea is born.
Green tea pancake, one, €3.50
Kinkerstraat 58, West
+31 (0) 20 616 17 49
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10.30am-6.30pm
After two weeks of Sicilian breakfasts – brioches with ice cream, pistachio-ricotta pies – I craved for a less sugary kick-off. By which I don’t mean (boring) sandwiches with cheese or cereals with yoghurt, but rather something in between. I found exactly what I was looking for at Goût Deli, the latest healthy take-away and coffee spot in De Pijp. My home-made discovery is free of refined sugar, contains fruit and is seductively sticky. It is … a banana oat cake. Bananas, honey, dates, walnuts, blue berries. Bet this will get your motor running too! If for some reason you still have difficulties waking up, buy one of the good-looking smoothie bowls in the fridge. This cool shop of Paul Koster and his sister also offers quality lunch stuff, including sandwiches with Vietnamese chicken, noodle salads and – really – detox bowls. So it’s just another vegan and organic place? No! Goût Deli is also full of guilty pleasures like Oreo brownies and bags with Europe’s best potato chips, the ones with sal de Ibiza. My kind of place.
Sticky banana oat cake, one piece, €2.00
Eerste van der Helststraat 31, Zuid (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 612 34 56
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8am-8pm, Sunday 9am-8pm
So you think dougnuts are extremely greasy creatures covered with ultra sweet fluorescent frostings that will make your teeth crumble within ten seconds? No darling, not if you buy them at Harewood Bakery. Kim Hasebos, the sparkling owner, bakes the freshest dougnuts 5 days a week and is all about natural ingredients. On top of that she loves to experiment with unusual – for a dougnut that is – but utterly tempting flavours: lemon meringue, crème brûlée, mango chili. The mango-chilli one shows her exotic roots: her mother and grandmother are Dutch Indonesian. These women taught her how to bake and excited her love for food. Before she pursued a career in food, she worked for a Dutch private equity firm. After she had lost her job, she went to England to follow a pastry course. Back home she initiated a successful crowdfunding campaign and since a couple of weeks Harewood Bakery is up and running. Say ‘hi’ to Kim, have a coffee plus a dougnut 2.0. For example the one with home-made mango curd tossed in ‘chilli sugar’: creamy, a bit sour but with enough sugar to make your day rock.
Mango-chilli doughnut, one, €3.50
Albert Cuypstraat 62, South (De Pijp)
Opening hours: Wednesday-Friday 8.30am-3.30pm, Saturday-Sunday 9.30am-3.30pm
The brigadeiro is a Brazilian born chocolate. The mere sound of the word brigadeiro makes Brazilians like my friend Fabiano from São Paulo drool. And right so. This sweetie, a.k.a. the Brazilian truffle, is extremely rich and creamy. It’s made from condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter and is covered with chocolate sprinkles. One bite and you’re hooked. Since the beginning of July this chocolate drug is available at Sweet Bob. The first brigadeiro brand in town is run by three Brazilians. They created the concept for their own brigadeiro shop in São Paulo and were determined to launch this in Amsterdam. ‘We just love the people, architecture and lifestyle of this city.’ During my first visit to their store they almost blew me away with their enthusiasm, Brazilian charm and their chocolates in dozens of flavours. The original brigadeiro, the milk chocolate one, is great, but don’t forget to try the other versions, such as the ones with dark chocolate, pistachio and coconut. They are made to match with the coffee they serve. Have I already told you they sell superb chocolate cake and a divine ice tea from Rio too? Sweet Bob is a place that really made my heart jump and I’m pretty sure it will make your heart skip a beat too.
Sweet Bob Brigadeiros, one, €1.50 – €2.00
Brouwersgracht 113, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 6 26 38 78 24
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday noon-8am