Wijnand Fockink

If there’s one place that deserves a separate post on this blog, it’s Wynand Fockink; in all aspects that is, ranging from time & money spent, alcohol consumed (by me), historic value (both of the place and for myself) and people behind the bar.

I was introduced to de Wynand (as we call it) somewhere in 2001 I think, by Leonard and Joost, two friends of mine and my god why an introduction it was. I arrived at around 5pm, left less than 4 hours later, went home to bed and didn’t wake up until 1pm the next day.

Wynand Fockink

Wijnand Fockink is a tasting room for liqueurs and jenever (gin). The liqueurs all have a story and some of them are brewed locally, in the same alley as the tasting room. ‘Naveltje Bloot’ for example translates to ‘Naked Belly Button’, a traditional drink to enjoy in the company of a pregant lady. Or maybe you like ‘Hansje in de Kelder’ (‘Little Hans in the Basement’) or ‘Volmaakt Geluk’ (‘True Happiness’).

Joost and I cooked up plenty of brilliant ideas for our business while enjoying a drink at the Wynand (well, back then we consider them to be brilliant, not so sure about that anymore right now).

The original distillery dates back to 1679 so it’s not only drinking one can do there; the historic value provides for a nice little excuse: ‘yeah… burp… I went… burp… sight seeing honey’.

A few tips & tricks for going there:

  • if you don’t like waiting, stay away from this place on Friday evenings; the bar tenders are awfully slow (especially ex-prima-ballerina Hans, the bald guy) and the place has gotten some attention in some of the tourist guides lately, so it tends to get really crowded;
  • take your jenever or liqueur with a big De Ryck beer. It’s Belgian beer that combines perfectly with the liqueur;
  • if you do decide to combine the liqueur with a beer, don’t take more than 3 of these rounds on your first visit; you’ll go home waste;
  • don’t spill any of the precious stuff. As soon as the glass is filled up, make sure to lean over and sip the first bit from the glass, without touching it;
  • the place closes at 9pm (and it’s good they do);
  • Wynand Fockink is located right behind the Krasnapolsky Hotel (on Dam Square). The address is Pijlsteeg 31.

Hangop with Fruit at Sterk Staaltje

Although I tend to cook a lot, sometimes I simply can’t find the time to drop by at the supermarket or simply don’t feel like it. This is when Sterk Staaltje often comes to the rescue. The store, run by a nice couple is a paradise for food lovers in a hurry. Opening daily at 8am it offers everything you need for a breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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You can find me at Sterk Staaltje most often in the mornings. Whenever milk or yoghurt ran out, it’s just a 2 minute walk to get some. And then quite often, I change the yoghurt for a bit of ‘Hangop met Fruit’. Hangop is a typical Dutch dessert, although Lin and me usually eat it in the mornings. It’s a creamy, very rich, strained yoghurt that also has vanilla. And it’s just… super delicious!

If your in the neighborhood, be sure to drop by at Sterk Staaltje (located on the Staalstraat 12) and get some Hangop with Fruit, or some of the other delicacies they all make themselves in the kitchen in the back of the store. Ready-made sandwiches, lasagnes, the best salads in town, it’s all super good!

Or, if your not in town anytime soon and still want to get a taste of handop, use the recipe below to get your own.

  • 1 liter full-fat yoghurt (yup, don’t do this if you’re on a diet)
  • clean kitchen towel (not a cheese cloth, you really need a towel)
  • seeds of a vanilla bean (please, don’t use extract)
  • sugar

Wet the kitchen towel, so that it’s just a bit humid. Next, put a colander in a big bowl. Pour the yoghurt in, put it in the fridge and leave it there for a night. The following morning, get the yoghurt from the fridge and get rid of the juice that came out. Add the vanilla seeds and some sugar (how much really all depends on your taste). Done!

Then, combine it with some fruit; strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, pineapple, mango, anything.

Yotam Ottolenghi versus Jamie Oliver

I’m not sure if you should compare the two, but I couldn’t help but do this after I accidentally made two very similar dishes this week, one by Yotam Ottolenghy and one by Jamie Oliver. Jamie’s iPhone app has a recipe for a Thai-style chicken salad. It has charred onions, chicken, mango, beansprouts, peanuts and more. Then, yesterday I ran into the recipe for a Vietnamese beef salad by Yotam Ottolenghi. Very similar vegetables in there and it also comes with charred onions, but then again, it’s chicken versus beef, a sour dressing versus a sweet-n-sour dressing, Vietnamese versus Thai…

So actually comparing the two is hard, but I still preferred the Ottolenghi recipe. Although both were very nice, the Vietnamese beef salad had flavors that were much more balanced and lingered much longer than those of the recipe by Jamie Oliver. Nice, really nice! (the picture shows the Jamie recipe by the way)

While we’re speaking about food, let me also share you my favorite breakfast dish as of last Sunday: quinoa with cinnamon, nuts and other niceties.

Cook your quinoa (black, white, red, that’s nice and colourful) according to packet instructions, add two cinnamon sticks to the pan before starting to cook. Remove the cinnamon once the quinoa is done (water fully absorbed, fluff it a bit with a fork) and put it in one or more bowls. Add cranberries, dried apricots, nuts (walnut, pecan), raisins, some maple syrup and some milk. There you go: breakfast of champions!

While we’re at it; I bought most of the ingredients for the breakfast dish at the Volkskruidentuin last weekend. Great store on the Kinkerstraat with the biggest collections of herbs, nuts, rice, dried fruits and grain products I know of in the whole of Amsterdam. No website, so a Yelp review will have to do.

Amsterdam in Winter

“So, it must be nice living in centre of one of the most beautiful towns in the world?”, people ask me sometimes. Well, actually–I must admit–it is, and I feel privileged.

The next question I get regularly from people, mostly foreigners is “So, what’s best in Amsterdam”? I’m not a tour guide, so I definitely don’t know what’s best in Amsterdam. There’s only the Amsterdam I like, the bars and restaurants I like and the parks, terrasses, clubs and cinemas I like.

So I’ll write about that. I’ll try to keep things condensed, with short personal tips and will spread it out over multiple posts.

For now, I would like to leave you with a picture of the Kloveniersburgwal, the canal we are living on. In this picture it’s fully covered in ice. The was a few weeks ago and it was the first time you could actually skate on the canals in 15 years. More pictures of Amsterdam on ice on Flickr.

Kloveniersburgwal on Ice

p.s. my favorite place in Amsterdam if it’s cold? Well, that’d be the Wijnand Fockink. You will be hearing that name often in this series as it’s actually my favorite place for a lot of different types of occasions. I’ll tell you more about the place later.