Picnic in Vondelpark

When the weather in Amsterdam is as beautiful as it has been throughout April and May, there is no stopping the usually sun deprived Dutch from crowding the canals with boats and covering the parks with picnic blankets.

A very convenient way to join in the fun is to pick up a ready-made picnic basket at Casa e Cucina, an organic lunchroom with friendly service and free wifi. Casa e Cucina is located on Koninginneweg, less than 5 minutes walking distance from Vondelpark.  The picnic baskets are € 14,95 if you order in advance and contain a tuna salad wrap, pasta salad, a piece of carrot cake, water and orange juice.

And I’m sure you’ll be able to organize the missing beer or prosecco from one of the convenience stores on your way!

ready-made picnic baskets from casa e cucina
ready-made picnic baskets from casa e cucina

Los Pilones – Genuine Mexican Food in Amsterdam

When it comes to Mexican food, I am looking for the proven formula: No inventive cuisine but quality enchiladas, tacos and fajitas. In my opinion what distinguishes a good Mexican from an average one is the tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole. Same goes for the decor – when I decide on Mexican, I am looking for a simple, bar-style atmosphere with small tables, beach and palm tree motives, Inca style symbolics and Corona and Tecate commercials.

bar at los pilones amsterdam
bar at los pilones amsterdam

Los Pilones Amsterdam fits that bill nicely and has been serving authentic Mexican food since 2001.

Los Pilones is located on Kerkstraat 63, between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat. It recently opened a second restaurant in the Jordaan, on 1e Anjeliersdwaarsstraat 6, which I have not been to yet.

As soon as you sit down at Los Pilones you are served thin tortilla chips and fresh salsa. You can wash them down with one of the many Mexican beers, including Tecate, Pacifico, Negra Modelo, or XX. Or you can opt for a Margarita, Daiquiri, or one of the other Mexican cocktail classics.

van gogh on wall art at los pilones amsterdam
van gogh on wall art at los pilones amsterdam

The menu is well executed classics, too. The choice is between Tacos and Enchiladas, for both of which you get to pick the filling (beef, chicken, cheese, etc) and the sauce. There also is a Taco and Enchilada special of the month.

Later on you can enjoy a Tequila shot from the rich selection of Tequilas including some rare aged ones while pondering whether you just saw van Gogh on one of the traditional Mexican paintings.

Make sure you make a reservation – Los Pilones can get very busy even on a school night.

Spring, Sunshine, Terrace and Weihenstephaner

Last weekend we got a first glimpse of spring. Friday was a beautiful day – sunshine and close to 20 degrees.

Like many – I really mean a lot… – Amsterdammers, we headed for one of the terraces. Since we went after work and the sun is still low this early in the year, location was important. So we headed to Cafe Hesp on Weesperzijde. Cafe Hesp has a large terrace right on the east bank of the Amstel river that gets sunshine until late in the day.

Another big plus is that Hesp has Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier on tap! On the downside you will have to walk all the way across the street and into the cafe and pick up your own beer. An endeavor that takes time given the masses of fellow spring worshipers with the same objective.

Later that night, long after the sun had set, we discovered another source of Weihenstephan. Cafe Gollem on Daniel Stalpertstraat in de Pijp taps excellent half liters of the fresh, yeasty and slightly sweet German wheat beer.

The weather will be nice again the coming days. So my suggestion would be to start the evening with Weihenstephan on the terrace at Hesp, then cycle over to de Pijp for a thin crust pizza outside at Da Portare Via and then end the night with more German wheat beer at Gollem.

weihenstephaner-stashAnd just in case all this talk about Weihenstephan makes you impatient, they have a little quiz up and are giving away a stash of Weihenstephan kit.

The Incredible Shrinking Biertje

0,19 l Brand beer glassEach country has its own traditions for the size of a beer. While the age old argument of the merits of the imperial pint versus the US liquid pint might never be settled, Dutch beers are certainly on the small side.

A regular beer in Amsterdam, called a “vaasje” is 0,25 l. And a small beer, or “fluitje” is 0,2 l.

Yet much to my surprise I was served an even smaller one, a mere 0,19 l of Brand beer served in something that looked more like wine glass. Needless to mention that the waitress had to make frequent trips to quench our thirst…