Jordaan Amsterdam Cafes and Cheese

Amsterdam Bikes - 1
Bikes on bridge: Runstraat Amsterdam

Jordaan is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam and I spent a recent Thursday afternoon walking around there enjoying the city. I started by walking down Runstraat.

I was looking for a simple lunch so I stopped in at De Kaaskamer, which was offering a daily baguette for 5 Euros, why not? It was a local ham and soft goat cheese served on half a dark baguette. De Kaaskamer is one of those really great cheese shops where they sell hundreds of cheeses and the staff know everything about the different cheeses so they can point you in the right direction. The sandwich was great.

De Kaaskamer Amsterdam - 2
At De Kaaskamer cheese shop Amsterdam

I returned to the shop later in the afternoon to buy cheese to bring home. Then I realized you really need their expertise to help choose. After tasting several I decided on two. Here’s how they are described on their labels: 

“‘Brokkel de Brokkel’ so do break off a piece of this very, very old cheese – impossible to cut with a cheese slicer. Invite some friends, open a bottle full bodied wine and enjoy this strong but sweet speciality. Break-a-breaker!”

“Deurninger Speciaal van het landgoed Kaamps – Special Dutch cheese made by farmer Herbert Nijland on his farm in the village of Deurningen near Hengelo. the cheese is treated with an Austrian mountain fungus. Special flavour!”

I’m looking forward to a Dutch cheese-tasting evening at home!

Then on to the Cafe de Pels just down the street, a cafe we visited before. Very nice coffee, newspapers, darkish interior, and totally comfortable.

Bistro t'Stuivertje Amsterdam - 2
Restaurant ‘t Stuivertje in Jordaan District Amsterdam

More walking, I was happy to find the great restaurant called t’ Stuivertje on Hazenstraat 56 that we enjoyed so much last time we visited Amsterdam. I was glad to see it was still in business. Here’s my review of Bistro ‘t Stuivertje from last time. I also found a very nice looking pizza place called pazzi (see my review) and a cool looking cafe, but to be honest, there seem like a million cool looking cafes in Amsterdam and especially in the Jordaan (maybe that’s why I like it?).

Amsterdam Canals - 2
Amsterdam canal in winter

After walking around a little more it was happy hour, as my mother likes to say, and so I stopped in at a nice cafe at the corner of Elandsgracht and Prinsengracht overlooking the canal. I had a nice Heinekein beer and enjoyed the sun setting in the windows across the canal.

Cafe in Jordaan Amsterdam
Looking out from Jordaan cafe

All my Jordaan photos on Flickr.

Beer and Pizza in Amsterdam

't Arendsnest Amsterdam - 2
Partial list of the Dutch draft beer available at ‘t Arendsnest

Beer and pizza are two of my favorite things. After a full day attending the Social Cities of Tomorrow conference in Amsterdam, I took a leisurely walk back to my hotel through the Jordaan district of the city.

't Arendsnest Amsterdam - 4
IPA type beer at ‘t Arendsnest

I was lucky to find the ‘t Arendsnest beer bar which serves “Dutch beer only!” from seemingly most of the beer brewers in The Netherlands (although I did not notice any Heineken there?). They have 30 or so beers on tap and over 100 in bottles including a selection of Dutch abbey beers. I didn’t realize that The Netherlands also had abby breweries (they are not all in Belgium).

I tasted two pilsner type beers and an India Pale Ale, all three were draft. All three were really good, very hoppy and clean tasting. They have a beer sampler for 7.50 Euros for three 12cl tastes, but I ordered normal size 25cl glasses and wound up paying 10 Euros with tip. Both bar tenders were fluent in English and happy to guide me to the right beers. They have some ‘bar food’ and many of the locals shared cheese plates, but the food did not seem to be the main point here! They also have tastings and things so it would be worth checking he website to learn if something interesting is going on when you visit.

After my beer I remembered walking by what looked like a great pizza place the day before: it had a wood burning oven, only served pizza and advertised “Italian slow food”. So I decided to try and find it again. I retraced my steps, found the right canal (Prinsengracht), turned down the Elandsgracht (Jordaan Park), left on 1ste Looiersdwarsstraat walked to number 4 and Pazzi was open with room at the bench they have for people who want to eat their pizza in the shop.

Pazzi Amsterdam - 2
Blackboard menu at Pazzi Italian slow food Amsterdam

I ordered a Margarita, the pizza I use to compare pizzerias, and sat down to wait. About 3 minutes later I was served a great pizza: crisp thin crust, tart sauce, good amount of buffalo milk mozzarella cheese. By this time I was sharing the bench with a couple women who were splitting a quatro formaggio (served here with rucola) and two guys on my right who had both ordered Piccante pizzas. Apparently the Piccante pizzas were not spicy enough for the guys and they asked me to pass the hot pepper olive oil (that’s when I asked them what kind of pizza they had since it was not entirely clear by looking).

Pazzi Amsterdam - 3
Piccante pizza at Pazzi Italian slow food Amsterdam

I finished my Margarita and decided to order one of the Piccante pizzas too. After all, when’s the next time I will be in Amsterdam. As the guys were leaving they gave me back the hot pepper oil, but told me to be sure to taste the pizza first because it might be spicy enough for me without the oil. The Piccante pizza was also great. It had smoked mozzarella cheese, lots of hot pepper (no need for the hot pepper oil) and herbs. Really fine. (I brought half the pizza home.)

So, a fabulous gourmet evening for me in Amsterdam! All my photos from ‘t Arendsnest and Pazzi on Flickr. My Amsterdam photos on Flickr.

Slow Day at the Wurst Stand

Slow Day at the Wurst Stand

Wurst stands are ubiquitous in Vienna. I see this one everyday on my streetcar trips “downtown”. I took the photo last Friday, it was hot and the chef was so relaxed it just seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Ironically, after posting the photo I had wurst for lunch at the airport and then wurst for dinner at the city hall reception given for the Cities for Mobility Congress in Stuttgart. It was a great reception with lots of international guests. The mayor spent the entire evening there talking with us and enjoying the great local hospitality.

Malaga Spain Recommendations

Just returned from a trip to Spain. We spent two days in Granada and two in Malaga. We used the free ticket I won from Swiss International Airlines for my “Flowers in Your Horns” music video about going to San Francisco (I won one of the runner-up prizes). I wrote last week about Granada.

Malaga Sightseeing

We arrived from Granada in the mid-afternoon to a sunny and hot Malaga. We walked from the bus station to our hotel at the edge of the historic center of town. That was probably a mistake given the heat and because the area around the bus station is a huge construction site for the city’s new metro system. But we made it and the Hotel Posada del Patio was really great. Especially cool is that they incorporated the old Roman walls, found when excavating for the cellar, into the project: there are glass floors where you can look down at the old Roman construction and they hold events down there – we took a short tour.

Malaga Tapeo de Cervantes May 2011- - 7
They, at least try, to speak your language!

Malaga was supposed to be the low key part of our four day vacation to Spain so we did not plan any big sightseeing. After a siesta we walked around the historic center looking for a nice place to eat. We stopped at the Bodegas El Pimpi – which is recommended in many guidebooks – and it was fine. We sat at the bar, checked out the decor – alone worth the trip – and enjoyed beer, tomatoes and cheese, and olives. We were not so hungry so decided to go on walking around before dinner.

Malaga’s historic center is full of narrow streets almost all of which have been turned into pedestrian zones. They were full of people walking around, shopping, eating and drinking … really nice urban feeling. Most of the streets are paved with smooth stone, often in patterns, and they are clean. It’s a nice feeling underfoot.

Malaga Tapeo de Cervantes May 2011- - 1
Tapas at El Tapeo de Cervantes

Eventually we found our way to Plaza Cervantes and found the El Tapeo de Cervantes, a recommended tapas bar. We found a place in the small bar and were greeted by a waiter who spoke probably five languages (see photo of sign). The atmosphere was fun and low key. We ordered five tapas to start and then a couple more as the night went on along with several glasses of the excellent local red wine. Since I love tapas this restaurant was a highlight of my visit.

After dinner we walked back through the city. Of course the streets were full including a peaceful protest calling for political reform in the main square (there were similar protests going on all over Spain, including one in Granada) reminding me of the teach-ins of my youth. The restaurants and bars were overflowing into the pedestrian streets and it was a wonderful feeling. Since the city invented the Malaga flavour of ice cream we had some at Casa Mira, which according to my guidebook, is the oldest ice cream parlour in Malaga. It was quite good but the raisins were completely different tasting from typical raisins.

Malaga Atarazanas Market May 2011- - 1
Atarazanas Market in Malaga

On Saturday morning we walked to the Atarazanas Market (Mercado Central de Atarazanas) and bought fresh papaya, salted almonds, bread, tomatoes, peaches and tasted lots of other things including Malaga raisins … then I realized why the raisins in the ice cream tasted the way they did! The Malaga raisins are completely different from the small rubbery pencil eraser raisins we used to eat in our grade school lunches. They are large, soft and juicy, yum!

Malaga Casa Aranda May 2011- - 1
Coffee at Casa Aranda in Malaga

We stopped for breakfast at Cafe Aranda which specializes in Churros and coffee. The cafe’s outdoor tables spread from Calle Alhondiga around the corner and along Calle Herreria del Rey for a whole block. The cafe also had several separate inside rooms along the streets. We didn’t sample the Churros but the person next to us asked if he could try one and they brought him a single Churros (usually they come in sets of 5!), plus I don’t think that they charged him (he did leave a nice tip). Service was extremely friendly and the coffee was fine.

Malaga Beach May 2011- - 3
Malaga beach

On Saturday afternoon we walked to the beach. It took about a half hour with about 10-minutes being on the beach itself (we went to the far end). We had lunch of grilled fish in a nice restaurant on the beach. The waiter helped us pick-out a fish to share then they took it over to the open fire (built in a rowboat filled with sand) where it was grilled on a spit. We also had an order of grilled sardines as we sipped our beer waiting for the larger fish. It was an excellent meal and again the service was very friendly. Christa went swimming and said the water was nice (the receptionist at the hotel told us it might be too cold to swim).

Malaga Fish on Beach May 2011- - 1
Fish being grilled in Malaga

After another siesta we went walking through the historic city looking for dinner again. I fought my desire to return to El Tapeo del Cervantes and decided to be adventurous. We started with a beer on a very nice square on Carreteria street. Since the Champions League Final was on television no one was eating so we went to a couple bars before setting in one that seemed to have the most fans and watched the second half of the game. It was lots of fun because, of course, FC Barcelona won and the bar was full of fans singing and dancing.

Malaga La Queseria May 2011- - 5
Fried cheese at La Queseria in Malaga

To celebrate FC Barcelona’s win we went to the tapas bar (?) called La Queseria (which means cheese market). Their specialty, naturally, is cheese, but they have other tapas too. We focused on the cheese ordering a mixed cheese plate for two and the fried cheese (I had to try that!). The mixed cheese was great and the fried cheese was fine, but it’s not really my taste. Instead of being deep fried (which I hate) it was sauteed and then served with a small amount of honey(?)-based jam. The meal went great with a couple glasses of the same local red wine we drank the night before.

After walking around a little more we decided to stop in to a very nice looking tapas place near the hotel to enjoy the warm evening and busy streets. I had a glass of the sherry wine that we learned about having dinner with Francisco in Granada. We both agreed to come back again soon.

Malaga Suburban Train May 2011- - 1
The commuter rail train to Malaga Airport,
what post would be complete without a train photo?

The next morning we took the suburban train to the airport. The station was about a 10-minute walk from our hotel and the trip was fast and convenient.

Here’s a link to my photos of Malaga on flickr.

Copenhagen Recommendations

copenhagen harbor tour june08-56

Last month I attended the CIVITAS Forum 2010 conference in Malmo Sweden. I arrived early and spent Monday walking around Copenhagen.

The region is very interesting because since the Oresund bridge was built the Copenhagen and southern Sweden area have essentially become a single region including Malmo and Lund in Sweden with Copenhagen. The regional train (S-train), Oresundstag, runs every twenty minutes between Copenhagen, Copenhagen Kastrup airport, Malmo and Lund. It’s easy, convenient and fast.

Copenhagen Central Station 27sept10-6

I started my Copenhagen walk at the central train station and then headed to the neighbourhood north of Tivioli and the main pedestrian street (Frederiksbergg). It’s pretty cool with lots of cafes, hip stores and young businesses.

I walked to the Norreport metro/S-train station, it’s a fairly typical urban station, the regional trains are underground – they travel underground through the center of Copenhagen. The station has lots of bike parking, but not enough for Copenhagen’s seemingly limitless demand. At the Civitas Forum we saw a great photo of bikers in the winter – they were covered with snow and ice but biking!

Gryberg Copenhagen - 27sept10-3

From Norreport I walked to the King’s Garden park through the center of town. I walked around a little in the neighborhood just to the west of the park, and wandered down a small street called Lille Strandstrædet until I reached number 24, the location of a wonderful bakery/chocolate producer called Gryberg. I had a coffee and they treated me to one of their dark chocolate-passion fruit (two of my very favourite things) truffle with the coffee.

Gryberg Copenhagen - 27sept10-4

The person working there told me this truffle had just won first prize as best in Denmark, and I could easily understand why. The store is located right near where the canal boat tours leave (Nyhavn). By the way, I took one of these boat tours in 2008 and it was lots of fun (see my flickr Copenhagen photo set).

Copenhagen Changing of the guard 27sept10-04

After my coffee I walked over to the Amalienborg Slot (Royal Palace) and quite unexpectedly I arrived just in time for the changing of the guard (actually I did not even know that they did this in Copenhagen!). The palace square is shaped in an octagon, and the west side opens towards the harbour.

Copenhagen Kastellet 27sept10-4

After viewing the changing of the guard, I walked over to the harbour and walked north to the Kasteliet, a fort with earthen walls and a moat that’s still used as a military headquarters (although people are free to walk around and enjoy the views from the walls). Then on to the Little Mermaid statue …

Copenhagen Little Mermaid is gone 27sept10-2

But, the statue was gone – visiting Shanghai for the worlds fair! I saw it on my 2008 boat tour, but still, it’s funny to think that a city would give away its most famous tourist attraction for six months. There must have been some debate about that!

Trains at Copenhagen Osterport Station 27sept10-1

Then on to a pedestrian bridge crossing over the railway tracks north of the Osterport railway station. The main railway tracks go right through Copenhagen from the main station to Norreport station and on to Osterport station.

Through railway service is very convenient and makes railway service much more efficient for operators. I have written about Zurich’s S-Bahn through service (Zurich is building another through line now), Malmo is also building a through tunnel and Vienna is building a new central through station to replace the old South and East railway terminals … to name just three current through railway projects under construction.

Copenhagen Livable Street 27sept10-3

I walked through the Holmens Cemetery to Oster Farimagsgade street. There I found a whole series of one block long streets with very simple and small houses but all these streets were woonerf streets. I have never seen such good examples of the woonerf concept. I love this photo of the playhouse and picnic bench in the middle of the block. Sorry it was a school day and too early for children to be outside, that would have made a good photo.

Copenhagen Aamanns take away 27sept10-2

By now it was time for lunch, so I stopped at Aamanns take away smorrebrod … it’s an informal place, with a couple large tables so you can eat there or take away. I had three of their open face sandwiches … the Fish: Pickled herring with compote of plus, fresh plums and a dice of cabbage … the Beef: Fried loin of beef with remoulade, crispy onions and horseradish

Copenhagen Aamanns take away 27sept10-6

and … Vegetables: New Danish leeks with fried potatoes, wood sorrel, carrot/celeriac emulsion and “fedtegrever” … all washed down with a local draft beer from a brewery called Hersler Bryghus. It was a yummy lunch in very pleasant surroundings. The restaurant, next door, also looked fine. My lunch cost about 200 Danish Kroner, which is about 28 Euros.

Then it was time to walk back to the main train station for my train back to Malmo, the conference was about to begin and I didn’t want to be late.

All my photos – from my harbour tour in 2008 and this trip are available on my flickr Copenhagen photo set.

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