The beginning of an epic adventure.
For months we’d been talking about our adventure, the way you talk about a new movie coming out or a new flavor being released- we were excited beyond doubt! But did we have all the details down?
Not in the slightest.
So we found each other at the airport, hugged, laughed- walked in circles for awhile until deciding how we were going to find ClinkNOORD, our hostel. For €5.25 each we jumped on the train and then took the free ferry before finding our spot. Once we locked up our bags, it was on to a place I had looked up for lunch and beers and SO MUCH catching up!
Except we got ‘lost’ again.
I quote this, because getting lost usually just means we found somewhere closer with beer, we didn’t want to walk in the shade and followed the sunlight to somewhere new, or we somehow managed to make friends on the way, and they recommended somewhere else. This happens often.
And so our first catch up, after only briefly meeting in Pennsylvania a month before at a distillery (where the talk was mostly about boys and school and not so much travel), was here at lunch – in Amsterdam with nothing but reservations in Greece at the end of June to go off of.
So we went back to basics: what do we both love? Food, drinks, adventure. Here were our favorites for this city, plus a few little tips we picked up (because learn from our words, not our actions!).
Bry’s fav: PATAT! fries smothered in mayo or other sauces/typical Amsterdam street food I was so stoked to try.. and it did not disappoint. We went to Manneken Pis, and I over-eagerly just agreed to anything the guy was trying to sell me, ending up with the daily special, truffle mayo, onions.. who knows what other deliciousness. I’m already craving more.
Ci’s fav: our picnic from Albert Cuypmarkt. We biked to the market, filled up our bookbag from various vendors with a fresh baguette, marinated mozzarella balls, spicy olives, curried hummus, and a fresh mango. A block or so down, we grabbed a chilled bottle of rosé from the super helpful and polite gentleman at Grapedistrict, who also threw in some cups for us (thanks again!), and recommended Sarphatipark.
We both actually agree on this one, but don’t get used to that. While on our biking adventure, we were recommended to check out Distilleerderij ‘t Nieuwe Diep, a hidden away little gem of a distillery in a converted church, perched on the side of a small lake in the middle of the woods. The grounds were beautiful, and we got to sip the small, homebrewed glasses of different genevers while sitting on the terrace in the sunshine.
After Ci introduced me to a Penicillin way back in Buffalo, NY, I finally found a peaty whiskey I enjoyed (which is the key ingredient to the cocktail). It was through our favorite experience, again we seldom agree, at Reypenaer Cheese Tasting that I tried Lagavullin 16 on its own and fell in love.
We had made reservations for Reypenaer online for the cheese and wine pairing.. because cheese! and wine! We walked in and asked where the tasting was taking place. ‘Name?’ ‘It’s under whiskey and whims at gmail..‘ -glances up- ‘Whiskey?’ ‘Yes, please.‘ ‘But our whiskey tasting is at 3pm..’ ‘..and 12pm today?‘ -smiles-
Our cheese sommelier/fellow whiskey enthusiast, Ron Pieters, was able to be our host thanks to the poor souls who cancelled their reservations.
The following should not be repeated, by penalty of being shunned from wine, whiskey, and cheese until further notice.
Ron Pieters begins with the background of the family company, their values and history. You quickly learn that what sets Reypenaer apart from other cheeses is their ripening process. It is done in a historical ripening warehouse built in 1906 in Woerden, Netherlands, where temperature and humidity are left for Nature to determine.
We had six cheeses to taste, each becoming more complex. When I say their cheese is delicious, it is a gross understatement. The first goat cheese was paired with Ketel 1 Vodka, and the second with Highland 10. The third cheese, a Holland gouda, was paired with a nice Syrah. The way the taste would change with each pairing simply proved how good this company is at their craft. The Reypenaer gouda, with a long, creamy finish, went perfectly with Ketel 1 Matuur. The VSOP Reypenaer with Wynand Fockin Kersenbonbon brought out the sweetness of hot chocolate, but they were all outdone by our final tasting of the day: XO Reserve Reypenaer with Lagavulin 16. Our notes for this one mostly have little hearts, campfires, and happiness scrawled in the margins.
We loved our experience, everything from beginning to end was surprising and fantastic. We highly recommend checking out one of their tours if you have the chance!
Our next Amsterdam experience deserves a post all to itself, as we tried to master biking around the city like a local.
x – Bry