Tempus Two Recommended by Het Parool

tempus two spring rock verdelhoJust read an article in Het Parool in which wine expert Harold Hamersma recommends Tempus Two – one of my favorite white wines.

The article is a write-up of a three day event for wine professionals organized by The Winesite as part of the Horecava 2009.

There are a number of rather standard recommendations for Alsace Riesling or Champs des Murailles Corbières. But Hamersma also recommends a new Tempus Two Moscato – available at wine store Ton Overmars. I can’t wait to try it!

I buy a lot of wine from Ton who personally has made several great recommendations. About a year ago he suggested a Tempus Two Verdelho. I have had several good Verdejo wines from the up and coming Spanish Rueda region and decided to try out their Australian cousin. The Tempus Two Verdelho Spring Rock is amazing. It sort of has it all: a full body and plenty of spicy flavor of the Verdejo grape; fresh fruity acidity; and great balance and finish.

I think it’s definitely worth a trip to Ton to pick up some Tempus Two Moscato alongside some Verdelho and maybe some other suggestion he surely has!

Trattoria di Donna Sofia – van Dam 9, dutchgrub 6-

Restaurant critic Johannes van Dam recently awarded Trattoria di Donna Sofia a 9 on a scale of 10. I think it’s a 6- at best.

Donna Sofia is located on the corner of 2e Anjeliersdwarsstraat and Anjeliersstraat. Good Italian restaurants in Amsterdam are few and far between, so I remembered when we were in the area and trying to decide where to have dinner. And I thought it would be fun to review van Dam’s review!

trattoria donna sofia - menu boardWe got a table and I ordered some of the dishes that van Dam raved about. Zucchini parmigiana, scaloppine with truffle sauce and panna cotta. We also had involtini, rigatoni with eggplant sauce and tiramisu. The service was prompt, friendly and attentive. The restaurant was small and had an authentic trattoria feel. And the food was good. Especially van Dam’s recommendations, the sauce with real truffles (“a triumph”) and the panna cotta (“perfect consistency”).

Unfortunately not all dishes had the same quality. The involtini were served lukewarm. The rigatoni were undercooked. The meat of the scallopine was too thick and chewy. And the tiramisu had a strange spongy consistency and was too sweet.

trattoria donna sofia - ripassoVan Dam called the wine list short but extensive and settled for the house wine. We were delighted to find a ripasso on the list – our favorite wine and quite popular in Amsterdam these days. Unfortunately it was the worst ripasso I have had in a long time with little body and completely lacking the ripasso’s usual smoothness.

Finally there were inexcusable issues with the basics. The water carafe had a nasty cloudy film and the bread was cheap baguette that seemed to have come from the Albert Heijn around the corner.

Unfortunately the quest for good Italian restaurants continues. When you’re in the Jordaan and want Italian food, I find Cafe de Curtis much better than Donna Sofia.

Sauerkids Exhibition Extended until January 31st

When writing about average at best tapas bar La Oliva in the Jordaan I mentioned a great exhibition of the Sauerkids at gallery KochxBos in the 1e Anjeliersdwarsstraat.

I saw that you were quite interested in the topic and wanted to let you know that the exhibition has been extended by one week until January 31st.

KochxBos is a great gallery in the heart of the Jordaan. Most Amsterdam galleries tend to focus on supposedly well selling but arguably boring abstract works of modern art. KochxBos is different. Owners Esther Koch and Hans Bos take an interest in what they call underground art and may also be referred to as urban art. Regardless of the correct term the featured artists play with the surreal. A recurring theme of the featured works is a bright happiness on the surface that unexpectedly, sometimes shockingly, transforms into gloom on further inspection.

Past exhibitions have included phantastical Femke Hiemstra who was recently featured on Boing Boing, photographer Marjo van den Boomen and the three dimensional digital models of Ray Ceasar.

Sauerkids is an artist duo from Rotterdam. They have day-time jobs as graphic designers and started Sauerkids as a creative outlet and – as they say – for laughs. In a rather short amount of time, they have been featured in several art magazines and participated in a number of exhibitions.

The exhibition at KochxBos focuses on their paintings; bright and poppy collages of comic figures full of fear and doubt. The paintings are large, acrylic on wood and super fun to watch. I also liked how the gallery painted its walls in bubblegum pink to submerge the visitor in the Sauerkids world.

The gallery is open Monday to Saturday until 6pm. Go check out the Sauerkids, then head for a few Floreffe abbey brews at Cafe de Tuinen just down the street and have dinner at Balthazar’s keuken, one of the best restaurants in Amsterdam and just around the corner.

flyer sauerkids exhibition at kochxbos

kek – New Organic Lunch Place with Wireless

kek amsterdam - door hangerUpdate: Kek closed doors in late July 2011. A sign on the window says that a new restaurant called “Doordagt” will open in late August.

Hoofddorpplein has a new organic lunch place with free wireless. kek – short for “kant en klaar” or ready to eat – opened doors in January and has frequently looked busy!

Hoofddorpplein is a square with shops and restaurants in a working class neighborhood just past the far end of Vondelpark. It won’t make it to the top of Amsterdam tourist sights. But it does have a number of interesting food stores and restaurants including well-known wine store Ton Overmars, recently opened Italian wine dealer Vino di Pino, eetcafe Gent aan de Schinkel, a kitchen store, an organic food store and now kek.

The interior of kek was completely redone. The owners turned what used to be a gift store into a modern and bright lunch location. The design signals healthy and the furniture is simple with a lot of wood and country style folding tables. There is a long bench along the side wall that nicely connects the small tables.

Owners Piet Hein and Frederique run kek and create a very friendly atmosphere. When I visited for the first time, Frederique found time to sit down and explain the menu choices and Piet Hein appeared from the kitchen to personally deliver the food. Other guests, including the owner’s parents, shared their positive thoughts about the food and decor.

The food is simple but good. The sandwiches are made from fresh ingredients on thick slices of dark bread. While not masterpieces, a nice step up from the all too frequent bread and cheese. kek also serves simple dishes such as soups and pasta. All dishes are available in the restaurants and also to go – hence the name “kant en klaar”.

Besides the welcoming service, my highlights were the house wine and the free wireless. The wine is provided by Ton Overmars – a nice touch to help your neighboors. And the bright and open design combined with free wireless makes Kek an ideal destination for checking email or writing a blog post while enjoying lunch.

Hoofddorpplein 29, 1059 CW Amsterdam, Tel +31 (0)20 753 94 03

kek amsterdam - interior and open kitchen

2009 Inauguration at Felix Meritis

On Sunday I gave you some ideas on where to watch Obama’s inauguration in Amsterdam. As planned, we headed to the “Yes, We Watch” party at Felix Meritis on Keizersgracht. And we had great fun!2009 inauguration at felix meritis amsterdam - aretha franklin

We got there at 17:15. 45 minutes before Obama would take his oath and plenty early. Or so we thought! Felix Meritis was packed already. Outside, it was hard to find a space for the bikes. Inside, there was standing room only by the big screen. And it took me a good ten minutes to order beers.

There was much anticipation and the crowd was rather rowdy – at least for such a ceremonial event. There were boos when George W. entered and loud cheers when Obama arrived. An early highlight was Aretha Franklin – legendary also in Amsterdam’s literary circles. Obama raising his hand to take the oath provoked a collective roar by the large crowd, which then attentively followed his speech.

2009 inauguration at felix meritis amsterdam - obama takes oath

Best Amsterdam Restaurants

This is an old version of our Best Amsterdam Restaurants list. We’ve left this page up because of the many great comments below. Please go to the current list of Best Amsterdam Restaurants for up to date recommendations.

Everyone has their own list of best restaurants. Here are my favorites in Amsterdam! Created over years of exploring the Amsterdam restaurant scene. Trying out new restaurants, analyzing the experience, returning to the good ones, and exchanging thoughts and ideas with other Amsterdam foodies. Then venturing out to distant places, coming back to Amsterdam, comparing new culinary experiences with the best of Dutch grub. Adding names to the list and removing others.

The result is Amsterdam’s top four restaurants:  Balthazar’s Keuken, De Kas, Marius, and De Witte Uyl – in alphabetical order. They share a modern French or International menu, the use of purely organic ingredients and an incredible drive and passion for food. Yet each restaurant has its own distinct personality – a bohemian buzz at Balthazar’s Keuken in the heart of the Jordaan, the incredibly hip but remote greenhouse setting of De Kas, Marius’ individualism and provincial style near the IJ, and De Witte Uyl’s way of thinking globally and acting locally in cosmopolitan Pijp.

Balthazar’s Keuken

Balthazar’s Keuken is a small and crowded restaurant located in a former blacksmith’s workshop in the heart of the Jordaan. The staff tries hard to make all guests feel at home and the setting is certainly intimate, if slightly crammed. The food is a set three course menu. The first course usually is a mixed appetizers platter, presented on a sort of elevated stand as the large plate hardly fits the table. The crowd is mixed, from tourists to locals and from young to old. There is a bohemian feel to the restaurant that is designed around an open kitchen with an ominous “no access” sign.

Elandsgracht 108
1016 VA Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 420 21 14

De Kas

De Kas is a large restaurant and nursery, located in a former greenhouse on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The concept is based on serving only food produced on associated farms around Amsterdam. There is an annex with an herb garden that you can visit in between courses. The food is a healthy and organic 3 course fixed menu, prepared meticulously and presented with lots of attention to detail by the attentive service. The inside spacious and hip, as is the crowd. The wine list is extensive.

Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3
1097 DE Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 462 45 62


Update October 11th, 2010: After a brief sabbatical, Marius has reopened in the same location as of late September 2010.

Marius is a small restaurant with a provincial style decor and located somewhat off the beaten path. A Chez Panisse trained chef runs Marius with a small staff, serving a semi-set four course chef’s menu that changes daily but leaves some options. The kitchen is organic, modern French. The mood is fun and upbeat, dominated by the chef’s laid back attitude and the guests high spirits from being rewarded by the food for having made it all the way over to Marius.

No web site
Barentszstraat 243
1013 NM Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 422 78 80

De Witte Uyl

De Witte Uyl is different. From the 1920s interior in which no two chairs are the same to the unusual menu from which guests pick two main courses but no starters. Knowledgeable hostess Annemieke is the glue that ties it all together. De Witte Uyl has a seasonal menu that changes four times a year and often is inspired by recent trips of the owners to far away places. The dishes are a combination of tradition and inspiration, prepared form the finest but also most ecologically sustainable ingredients. The wine list is extensive and Annemieke makes great recommendations. The chocolate board – hunks of chocolate that you will attack with an ice pick – is legendary.

Frans Halsstraat 26
1072 BR Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 670 04 58