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Amsterdam: Rijstaffel and Bols Museum

26 August 2012 2,540 views 9 Comments

My last post about the Whole Foods Foodie Fantasy contest trip that we took was last November, but I’m determined to finish these up before the one year anniversary of our trip so that I have them to share with others going to Europe.

Before we hit Bruges, or Brugge, Belgium, we were in Amsterdam so obviously these posts aren’t in chronological order.

I had never been to Amsterdam, and one of the first things I noticed is that there were bicycles everywhere!

girl on back of bike

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Other first impressions of Amsterdam: gorgeous buildings, canals everywhere, charming narrow streets, pot wafting in the streets, “coffee shops,” and many sex signs and stores.

Our first stop was to a famous frites stand — Vlemincjx Saucemeesters — that has been in business since 1887 and at the location we stopped at since 1958.  We shared a cone of fries with peanut sauce & mayo. While the fries themselves, though, weren’t much to write home about, the peanut sauce, and especially the mayo were delicious. The mayo in Europe is so different than what we have in the U.S. Even when it’s fast food, it’s fresh and made from scratch.

Vleminckx Saucemeesters

Vleminckx Saucemeesters

We continued walking to the museum district, where we toured the House of Bols. The House of Bols is a museum dedicated to Genever, known to many of us as Holland or Dutch gin, is a juniper-flavored liquor, from which gin evolved. Invented by a Dutch chemist and first sold as medicine in the late 16th century, it became more popular in the 17th century for its flavor.

The Smell Room

The Smell Room

The House of Bols is an interactive experience that walks through the history of Lucas Bols — the world’s oldest distilled spirit brand, which has been making liquor in Amsterdam since 1575, and Bols Genever since 1820. At the House of Bols, we tasted with our eyes, with our nose, and finally with our sense of sight, smell, and taste in the Mirror Bar, where bartenders mix cocktails for visitors (all of whom are 18 and over).

bols bar

Other than the delicious drinks, my favorite thing about the House of Mirrors was the interactivity — the ability to choose a drink based on favorite flavors using a touch screen, and also the opportunity to check in on Facebook. This was one of the first museums that I have seen digital mediums used in a way that truly made sense to me.

Slainte (cheers)!

Slainte (cheers)!

By this time, it was around 5 p.m., and we walked through gorgeous Vondelpark to meet friends for dinner. It was really interesting because we got to experience both the morning and evening commutes. Almost everyone commutes by bike in Amsterdam, and it was great to see men in full suits heading home on their bikes. There are so many colorful personalized bikes in the city, and people create really cool ways to move little people around as well….

Baby Carriage Slash Bike

Baby Carriage Slash Bike

We met our friends Lauren (of Edible Europe) and Stefan at Restaurant Blauw for a Rijstaffel, a Dutch word that translates to “Rice Table.”

Stefan and Lauren

Stefan and Lauren

A Rijstaffel is a meal that consists of dozens of dishes served in small portions, along with rice prepared several different ways. The dishes are Indonesian in style, and the rice table was introduced during the time that the Dutch were colonizing Indonesia so that they could impress visitors with the exotic abundance of their colony. And impressed we were…

Rijstaffel at Restaurant Blauw

Rijstaffel at Restaurant Blauw

The restaurant is elegant and modern in style, and the dishes were varied and exploding in flavor. I highly recommend a visit to Restaurant Blauw to all those visiting Amsterdam with an interest in Rijstaffel.

All of the photos in this post, except for the one featuring Adam’s hands, and the one we were in together, were taken by Adam. For more photos of our time in Amsterdam, click here and here.

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