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Europe Xmas 2008

Europe Xmas 2008

By mrosenthall
Trip Plan Tags: 
city,
design + architecture,
food
Destinations: 
Europe,
Netherlands

Christmas!

ITEMS

Eating

Vlaamse Friteshuis, Netherlands

33 Voetboogstraat
Amsterdam 1012 XK, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 624 6075

What the corner pizza shop is to New York, the meat pie cart to Sydney, and the falafel stand to Tel Aviv, so are Belgian-style French fry joints to Amsterdam. This takeout storefront, sandwiched between lovely Spui Square and the shopping districts of Leidseplein and Kalverstraat, has served love in a paper cone since the 1880s. Bonus: The accompanying sauces have gotten more adventurous over the years (curry, mayo with green peppercorns, etc.). Don't dally; it's only open until 6 p.m.

Eating

Visaandeschelde, Netherlands

4 Scheldeplein
Amsterdam 1078 GR, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 675 1583
Website: www.visaandeschelde.nl

Don't let the run-on name intimidate you. It means "fish on the Schelde" (and sounds like it, too), as in the Netherlands' Schelde River or the restaurant's address on Scheldeplein—streets here in the Rivierenbuurt district of town are named for Dutch rivers. So, it's fitting that this place serves some of the city's most imaginatively prepared fish and seafood. The menu changes seasonally, but you might start with Fines de Claires oysters, a Dutch shrimp cocktail with tomato-cognac sauce, or sashimi (tuna, mackerel, sea bass, etc.) with wasabi and ginger, then move on to sea bream on chanterelle ravioli or lobster fresh from the tank. The location, practically across from the RAI convention center, means that Visaandeschelde receives its share of business guests, but the upscale, unfussy service allows even casual visitors to make the most of a meal here.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 12:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Eating

Pancakes! Amsterdam, Netherlands

38 Berenstraat
Amsterdam 1016 GH, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 528 9797
Website: www.pancakesamsterdam.nl

The exclamation point isn't a sign of phony PR enthusiasm—the Dutch get very excited about their pancakes. They're the Madeleine of the lowlands, and this intimate restaurant in the Nine Streets district does the local soul food proud. If you're adventurous, order one of the kitchen's sideshow acts: pancake "pies" layered high in Seussian stacks; fusion experiments, such as the Sri Lankan pancake smeared with green bean curry; or an anything-goes rendition that combines chicory, ham, and raspberries. Locals, however, are more likely to settle for the classic Dutch pancake—flat as a crêpe, unadorned, and lapping over the sides of its plate. If you need a topping, sliced apples and powdered sugar are best. Even better: a heaping glass of buttermilk, which is like slurping the batter.

Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.

Eating

De Kas, Netherlands

3 Kamerlingh Onneslaan
Amsterdam 1097 DE, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 462 4562
Website: www.restaurantdekas.nl

In early 2001, Amsterdam's municipal (plant) nurseries from the early 20th century in Frankendael Park became this hip, happy glasshouse restaurant, and despite being a few minutes out of town (take tram #9 to the Hogeweg stop), the buzz has been consistently high ever since. That's because owner Gert-Jan Hageman and chef Ronald Kunis (alum of River Café London and Moosewood Café in Ithaca, NY) are passionate growers and sourcers, as well as sorcerers, of food. Among the tables, bright by day, romantic by night, stand olive and kumquat trees, and just beyond the glass walls, tomorrow's dinner still grows: rows of herbs, berries, and veg. Meat and fish are organic or wild and also local, if not actually visible from your table. Meals are prix fixe, and a more elaborate multicourse tasting menu is served at the coveted chefs' table in the kitchen; there is also outside seating in summer.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 6:30 to 10 pm.

Shop

P.C. Hooftstraat, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website: www.pchooftstraat.nl

On this, Amsterdam's Rodeo Drive, international name-brands rule and homegrown specialty shops thrive. Designers from abroad run the gamut from Armani (39 P.C. Hooftstraat; 31-20-471-1121; www.armani.com) to Zegna (70 P.C. Hooftstraat; 31-20-670-4477; www.zegna.com), and Shoebaloo, with its green-lit cylindrical interior—like a tanning bed for Martians—is a local favorite (80 PC Hooftstraat; 31-20-671-2210; www.shoebaloo.nl). You'll know you're on the right block by the lineup of luxury cars.

Shop

Noordermarkt, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The best place for watching classic Jordaan bohemians, this canal-side market sits on a square at the foot of the Noorderkerk, one of Amsterdam's oldest, most austere churches, and does double-duty. On Saturdays, neo-hippie farmers and foragers sell organic produce and cut off wedges of prime artisanal Gouda from wheels bigger than tractor tires. On Mondays, the textile vendors take over, shaking out bolts of fabric (sold by the meter), and filmy lengths of jewel-toned saris alongside hawkers of antiques, clothing, and bric-a-brac.

Shop

Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of the last great antiques hubs in Europe, this long street, aptly running straight to the Rijksmuseum, is a legacy of the Golden Age when Holland's traders traversed the globe and returned laden with goods. Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is lined with arcane shops, each with its own cabinet of curiosities. At Decorativa, the specialty is museum-worthy 17th- and 18th-century portraits (9A N. Spiegelstraat; 31-20-320-1093). E.H. Ariëns Kappers deals in antique Dutch prints, including hard-to-find winter scenes of skaters skimming down Amsterdam's canals, as well as smaller, more moderately priced folk prints, which prove that bargains are sometimes still to be had along the antiques row (32 N. Spiegelstraat; 31-20-623-5356; www.masterprints.nl). And just off Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, on Keizersgracht, Thom & Lenny Nelis Antiques holds a collection of pharmaceutical objects, including apothecary jars and a dinosaur-sized plaster tooth that once hung over a dental office (541 Keizersgracht; 31-20-623-1546; www.nelisantiques.com).

Shop

Negen Straatjes, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website: www.theninestreets.com

In the heart of the Western Canal Belt, "the Nine Streets" are a tic-tac-toe board filled with small, specialized home, fashion, and art boutiques. At Laura Dols, vintage organza party dresses look ready to float out the door and table linens are hand-embroidered with garlands of candy-colored flowers (6-7 Wolvenstraat; 31-20-624-9066; www.lauradols.nl). Two doors down, the long-running H. J. van de Kerkhof, which opened for business here in 1938, is stocked with only the trimmings—silk ribbons, bows, and a taxonomy of tassels (9-11 Wolvenstraat; 31-20-623-4666). Continue down Wolvenstratt across the Keizersgracht canal to browse Mendo's oversized fashion, photography, and graphic-design books—themselves a study in flawless taste (11 Berenstraat; 31-20-612-1216; www.mendo.nl). A block to the north from Mendo's, de Weldaad is filled with the recovered detritus of old canal houses, such as end-irons, Delft tiles, and neoclassical busts (1 Reestraat; 31-20-627-0077; www.weldaad.com); if you're shopping for something richer, but lighter, head south a block to stock up on green-tea chocolates and Dutch butter cookies from Pompadour patisserie and tearoom (12 Huidenstraat; 31-20-623-9554).

See + Do

Van Gogh Museum, Netherlands

7 Potterstraat
Amsterdam 1071 CX, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 570 5200
Website: www.vangoghmuseum.nl

A 1973 building by Gerrit Rietveld along with a 1999 addition (locally known as "the mussel") by Kisho Kurokawa is the world's premier venue for works by tragically talented Van Gogh. In addition to some 200 paintings (including The Potato Eaters, The Yellow House in Arles, and Wheatfield with Crows), 500 drawings, and 700 letters from Vincent, there are works by his French post-Impressionist contemporaries, including Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, and some Monets thrown in for good measure.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm (Fridays open till 10 pm).

See + Do

Rijksmuseum, Netherlands

1 Jan Luijkenstraat
Amsterdam 1071 CJ, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 674 7000
Website: www.rijksmuseum.nl

The vast neoclassical brick castle of the Rijksmuseum—is set in gardens leading to Museumplein and onward to the Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw. The museum's incredible holdings include Rembrandts, Vermeers, and delftware. Although the displays rotate, Rembrandt's most famous work, The Nightwatch, is always on view.

Open daily 9 am to 6 pm (Fridays open till 10 pm).

Shop

Albert Cuypmarkt, Netherlands

Albert Cuypstraat
Amsterdam, Netherlands

People speak of this street market in superlatives: longest-running (since 1904), largest (several long blocks), most diverse (dozens of ethnicities), and that's just for starters. From 9:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday, street stalls and shops sell fresh fruit and fresh fish, exotic herbs and exotic pets, umbrellas and underwear. Signs reading "Hollandse Nieuwe" announce that it's the season for herring, the quintessential Dutch street food (dangle it over your mouth and gradually lower it). Another reason to visit: The market is still frequented more by locals than tourists.

See + Do

Anne Frank House, Netherlands

267 Prinsengracht
Amsterdam 1016 GV, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 556 7105
Website: www.annefrank.org

Even if you've heard the story of Anne Frank time and again, a visit to the house is a must. You'll be surprised at how emotional a walk through the secret annex can be, imagining how the Franks and their friends lived their lives and catching a glimpse of the diary. The Anne Frank House is the city's most popular attraction, with more than 950,000 visitors annually. To avoid crowds, visit first thing in the morning or inquire about advance tickets purchased off-site. To learn more about the 400-year-long story of the Jews in Amsterdam, head across Amsterdam Centrum to the Jewish Historical Museum. The building is an act of reclamation in itself; its glass-and-steel structure combines four restored synagogues in the heart of Amsterdam's original Jewish quarter (1 Nieuwe Amstelstraat; 31-20-531-0310; www.jhm.nl).

Open daily 9 am to 7 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.