(Note: Part 1 of Andrew Carmellini's vacation account can be found here.)
Holland, on the other hand, is not exactly a food lover’s destination (in fact, when I told food people that we were going to Amsterdam, they looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Why?"). I figured out why over dinner our first night: following the advice of every Amsterdam expert on the planet, we booked a rijsttafel dinner. This is an old Dutch colonial tradition: You take a large number of Indonesian dishes, serve up tiny portions on thimble-sized plates, and accompany the whole thing with a table’s worth of rice (hence the name). Oh—and in the best colonial tradition, you take out all the spice and the flavor before serving.
We did better eating street food, especially sandwiches (the Dutch eat a lot of sandwiches). Our favorites were filled with raw herring or North Sea shrimp in tartar sauce and served up from a stand on the side of a very scenic canal in a residential bit of the city. Eaten sitting on the side of the canal, with your legs dangling far above somebody’s houseboat, and washed down with a beer? That’s a perfect Amsterdam experience.
For a fancier meal, we left town. We rented a car and headed down to Zeeland, the coastal area where Dutch families like to spend their summer holidays. Our destination, Sluis, a very picturesque little town not far from the North Sea beaches was equipped, like all self-respecting picturesque Dutch towns, with a historic windmill, spotless cobblestone streets lined with independent shops, well-tended cottages with blooming gardens, and five different sex shops in the central pedestrian area. Oud Sluis, the first three-star Michelin in the Netherlands, is conveniently located just round the corner from several of these. It offers up a very different kind of decadent bodily pleasure: We had an amazing lunch, including (but not limited to) a perfectly cooked Sisteron lamb, superfresh bar de ligne with langoustine and an amazing raspberry thing featuring no fewer than 12 different variations on that theme. The kitchen struck a perfect balance between the traditional, the innovative, the comforting and great new flavors—the only place I can compare it to is the Fat Duck, outside London. But if you’re making a reservation, a word to the wise: Michelin-starred restaurants in the north seem, incomprehensibly, to expect you to turn up on time for your reservation. We had a little bit of a delay (something about the map, my wife, the signs in Dutch); when I checked my e-mail later that evening, I found a message from the restaurant sent 15 minutes after our reservation time, asking where we were. This ain’t Italy or France, my friends. Leave for lunch early!
Valentin Gasser — Zurich, Switzerland — July 21, 2007 5:54pm ET
Jason Carey — willow, ny usa — July 22, 2007 1:28am ET
Chris Wehmeyer — NJ — July 23, 2007 5:08pm ET
Haaren Patrick — Belgium — July 23, 2007 5:25pm ET
Andrew Carmellini — July 23, 2007 5:29pm ET
Andrew Carmellini — July 23, 2007 5:42pm ET
Greg — July 24, 2007 12:06am ET
Roberto German — Rio de Janeiro — July 24, 2007 11:11pm ET
Laurie Woolever — New York — July 25, 2007 1:38pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions