Europe Trip 2016: The Netherlands, Part 1

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was recently in Europe. My sister Lara and I started planning this trip last summer as a graduation present to ourselves. We have both been wanting to visit the Netherlands for quite some time. My family, on both sides, emigrated to the United States from the Netherlands. On my dad's side this occurred fairly recently, my grandpa (my dad's dad) moved to the US in the 1940s after World War II. He actually fought for the Dutch during WWII, and met and married my grandma during the war in New Jersey where his ship would sometimes dock. As you might guess, we still have family there, and my dad has gotten to know one of his cousins quite well. He and his wife were in the US last summer and told me that we were welcome to stay with them if we ever wanted to! I didn't need any more encouragement! Soon after this we started planning a trip for this past April. 

I just wanted to share some pictures from my trip, especially food pictures! Most people don't really care to see all the pictures of food that I took, so I figured my food blog was a very fitting place to present them so anyone who is actually interested can take a look. Enjoy!

ready, set, let's fly to europe!

We were picked up from Schiphol airport by my dad's cousin Henk and driven to Oostzaan and our home away from home for the week (their house is on the left below). First things first, Henk and his wife Frankje prepared us a light lunch of toast, Gouda cheese and smoked salmon. It was perfect. 

After lunch we got right to it! We headed to the Zaanse Schans, a little community that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries that is full of wooden windmills, barns, houses and museums and built in a typically Dutch style. These buildings were apparently relocated here piece by piece since 1961. A cute little touristy place, full of shops with plenty of souvenirs and knick knacks. I just wanted the food - A fresh and warm stroopwafel (below, left) was all I needed!

One of the many impressive windmills at the Zaanse Schans

We stopped on a awesome little bakery on the way home to pick up a little treat for coffee time. Lara picked the carrot cake which turned out to be pretty amazing, perfect with a strong cup of Dutch coffee. 


What's more fun then checking out a foreign grocery store? Not much in my book! 😊

Did a little shopping at the local Albert Heijn on the way "home" the first night. 

Dinner on the first night was Turkish Pizza from a small local shop. I'd never heard of it before, but it was delicious! But not the "pizza" I was expecting! More like a spicy veggie wrap. I loved it. 


Every morning that we stayed and Henk and Frankje's home we were treated to freshly squeezed orange juice (amazing!) and yogurt with fruit and muesli. It was perfect since this is basically what I eat at home for breakfast every morning (sans fresh squeezed orange juice unfortunately). 

Day 2 and off to Amsterdam!! We took the bus into the city and walked all day!! It was a fun city to explore, especially with someone who lives there and grew up there. It was great to be shown around by a local. We stopped at Holtkamp bakery to pick up some treats after a little walking. Jan Hagel's are my dad's favorite, so had to get a shot for him! Henk also bought us a couple cookies called Gevulde Koeken (see below). To me they seemed like little hand pies filled with an almond filling. I love almond so I was pretty pleased with these buttery little treats. 


Burger's for lunch at The Uptown Meat Club. Great burgers and fries. 

Cooked to order!

After lunch we spent some time exploring the Rijksmuseum, checking out the Vermeers and Rembrandts. I'm no huge art lover, but it was a great museum, and The Night Watch was most impressive. 

And the Amsterdam exploration continued with lots of bikes, lots of canals, a canal cruise and some lovely Delft painted tunnels.

For dinner Henk and Frankje brought us to a beautiful restaurant called THT. We took the ferry from Amsterdam central station across the channel and were dropped off right in front of the restaurant. It's a tapas/small plates restaurant so we were able to try a few different things which was fun!

From left to right:
Dutch croquettes with grain mustard mayonaise
Eggplant fritots in chickpea batter with pomegranate and tahini sauce
Bulgur with chermoula and halloumi marinated in Ras el hanout   

Lara and I let it be known that we wanted to try some good and traditional Dutch croquettes. Henk obliged and drove us to the North sea the next day. It was one of my favorite stops! We feasted on smoked salmon, beef carpaccio and croquettes at De Schelp Paviljoen Aan Zee. Everything, from the view, to the atmosphere at the restaurant to the food was amazing. 

It was a little rainy, windy, and cold at the North Sea, but that made it even more memorable (I think I was eating sand for days!). 

After lunch we did some driving around the countryside, on what appeared to me to be more of the "back roads," through small villages and past many farms, on our way to the town of Volendam. It was very picturesque and beautiful, lots of sheep and goats with their furry little babies by their side. The weather hadn't improved much when we reached Volendam it was nice and rainy, with a fairly brisk wind. But we made the most of it. There definitely weren't any other tourists to worry about though, we had the town pretty much to ourselves!

We were shuffled into a little shop where they immediately started dressing us up in the traditional clothing of Volendam and then sat for a picture. Don't you just love the hat? 

One of the foods Lara and I grew up eating was poffertjes, they are little mini pancakes made in a special pan (seen above) with lots of little indentations, kind of like Æbleskiver, the mini Danish pancakes (which I've actually never had). Poffertjes are usually eaten by kids, but that didn't stop us. I like them best with simply a good knob of butter and tons of powdered sugar. Yes, they were just as good as I remember!

After this long and chilly day exploring the country we headed back to Oostzaan where we were treated to a real fire in a real fireplace along with a delicious spaghetti with tomato and pepper sauce all prepared by Henk himself. It was warm, hearty and filling. The perfect end to the day. 

This is just the beginning of our trip. I shall share more photos in my next post. Stay tuned...!

Check out Part 2 of my trip to the Netherlands here