One of our favorite ways to learn about a city is by taking a food walking tour through one of its neighborhoods. While we’ve visited Amsterdam multiple times, we had never explored the city’s Jordaan neighborhood, which is located just west of the canal belt.
During the first day of our pre- Celtic Explorer cruise stay in Amsterdam, we signed up for the 4-hour Jordaan Food Tour offered by Eating Amsterdam Tours. Thijs van Royen, pictured above, led our small group tour. He tells tour guests to call him “Jacob” since most tour participants find it difficult to pronounce “Thijs” — his Dutch name.
After meeting outside of a cafe on Prinsengracht Street, Thijs provided our group with an overview of the Jordaan, a former working class neighborhood that is now filled with restaurants, specialty shops and galleries, making it one of Amsterdam’s most desirable locations.
We headed into Cafe De Prins to try poffertjes, a traditional Dutch treat that looks like a plate of tiny pancakes. Made with yeast and buckwheat flour in a special pan, poffertjes have a light, spongy texture, and are typically served with powdered sugar and butter. We found them delicious with a cup of coffee.
We learned that poffertjes are quite popular during the winter in Holland, when they are often sold at temporary stands, and served on a cardboard plate with a tiny disposable fork.
At the next stop, we enjoyed another Dutch sweet, the stroopwafel, a cookie made from two thin layers of waffle with a caramel-like filling.
After two sweet stops and a lot of walking, we headed to a well-known cafe to sample a Dutch beer and bitterballen, fried, meat-based, dough-ball snacks. Along with the food and drink, tour guide Thijs shared the history of the local cafe, as well as its current claim to fame besides its food.
Next we were off to a fish monger shop to try the Dutch favorite — herring. Since herring is an acquired taste for most non-Dutch visitors to Amsterdam, Thijs offered a unique drink to accompany the herring.
Thijs poured Dutch vodka shots, which might not seem so unique, until you learn what the vodka is made from.
It’s Tulpenwodka, a premium, small-batch vodka made from Dutch tulip bulbs. Served ice cold, the vodka was smooth and refreshing.
The kibbeling, however, was our favorite taste at the Vis Plaza fish monger shop. Once known as a food for the poor, we learned, kibbeling is bits of fish, fried in a light batter. Kibbeling was a popular choice of the local residents stopping by for a quick lunch.
At other stops, we tasted our way through a lesson in Dutch Gouda cheese, and tried about some of the delicious food from the former Dutch colonies of Surinam and Indonesia.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has visited the tiny Cafe Papeneiland to try its famous apple pie. We found it to be more like a slice of apple cake, with layer after layer of sliced apples enclosed in a cake-like covering. Served with fresh whipped cream, the pie was a delicious, sweet ending to our food tour through Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighborhood.
Or, perhaps a local brew.
Our guide and the bartender recommended the IJwit white beer from the local Brouwerij ‘t IJ (the IJ Brewery.) This small brewery is located east of Amsterdam’s city center, next to the ‘De Gooyer’, the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands.
The Jordaan Food Tour offered four hours of good food and drink, and a terrific introduction to Dutch food, as well as local insights into the Jordaan neighborhood’s best stops. We recommend doing this tour on the first day of your visit to Amsterdam, as you will learn about a number of foods to try, and all of the local favorite spots to enjoy them.
Do you like food tours? Where has been your favorite?
When planning our visit to Amsterdam, we appreciated the detailed maps and descriptions of each neighborhood in this guide:
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Amsterdam