Impressions from De Parade 2009

Last weekend we went to De Parade to see Spinvis and have a good time with a group of friends. De Parade in Amsterdam will run for about another week until 16 August.

De Parade is great fun on a nice weekend day or sunny school night. It’s best to go with a group of friends and play it by ear. Find a large table somewhere on the food court, grab some drinks and make plans. Some people will want to see shows, others will want to eat, some come and others go.

food at parade - ridesfood at parade - apples for kidsfood at parade - food court

Since this is a food blog, I must warn you. The food court is big and there is a good selection of food from all over the world – pizza, sushi, tapas, you name it. But don’t expect any good food – it’s really all about the fun and gezelligheid as the Dutch like to say. But not about good food.

The teriyaki was bland, the tapas pre made and the wood oven pizza dry and with very little sauce. We had a good time anyway and never even made it to supposed Parade foodie destination restaurant De Aalmoes.

food at parade - wood oven pizzafood at parade - de aalmoes

As for shows, we were keen on seeing Spinvis’ show Kamermuziek and managed to get tickets without any problems. Spinvis is a well-known Dutch indie musician. His music is low-fi and played, sung and produced entirely by himself in his attic. His lyrics conceal deeper meaning behind simple, superficial situations and will make you think about life.

spinvis at parade - pre-show promospinvis at parade - kamermuziek show

His show Kamermuziek was great. He took us on a journey, decomposing his songs into tracks and letting us peak into the attic where he makes music. He played some sounds into a loop machine and added the major instruments on large video screens showing himself. Singing and playing the guitar he managed to make it all come together into his trademark melancholic pop songs.

koselleck ratzkeAlthough I found it slightly expensive, I would recommend a trip to De Parade. The entrance fee is € 7 and we paid € 7,50 for the 45 minute Spinvis show. Add to that plenty of food and drinks at festival prices (e.g. € 2,20 for a very small beer).

The program changes throughout the week and Spinvis unfortunately won’t return. Another interesting act on the program is Sven Ratzke with the Konrad Koselleck Big Band. In “Wir haben Sexappeal”, German-Dutch entertainer Sven Ratzke will bring his Berlin style chansons to De Parade, supported by a 16 strong big band.

First Day of De Parade Amsterdam

de-parade-logoToday is the first day of De Parade Amsterdam, a theater festival with focus on food and drinks in Amsterdam’s Martin Luther Kingpark.

De Parade is different from other festivals. The shows are short and creative and held in small tents. The vibe has some circus, a little fairy tale, street music and story telling. Everything is set up around a central food court where people meet, eat and drink, and decide which shows they want to see. The artists will tour the food court and entertain the visitors with small stunts trying to lure them to their show.

The good shows do sell out quickly, so some advance planning and reservation of tickets is advisable. I love Dutch poppy bard Spinvis who is a regular at the yearly event and this year has dreamt up a concept called kamermuziek (Dutch) – or chamber music. The show is some sort of behind the scenes look at how he makes music, all by himself, using a variety of sounds and instruments. Another classic and yearly crowd favorite at De Parade is the Silent Disco – a large crowd grooving to the beats with headphones. The effect is pretty cool when you see loads of people getting down in sync without a single noticeable sound.

While not a food festival, De Parade does a good job at wining and dining the guests, some of which actually enjoy the food and drinks so much that they never make it to any of the shows. The main food attraction is Restaurant de Aalmoes – Dutch for the alms. It’s a portable greenhouse in which two reputed chefs serve a biological French menu. The other restaurants and bars are a cosmopolitan mix of Dutch pancakes, Mexican burritos, Italian wood oven pizza, Sushi and much more.

de parade - restaurant de aalmoes
Restaurant De Aalmoes

Best Amsterdam Terraces

Note: This is an old version of dutchgrub’s best Amsterdam terraces. For the up to date version with a map, please see

Amsterdam is a different city when the sun comes out. The locals know all too well that sunny days are precious and head for the parks, terraces and boats in masses. It’s quite amazing how everyday life just stops, everybody drops whatever they have been doing, and heads out for that perfect spot in the sun.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of terraces and finding the right one is not easy. Having seen the standard recommendations in the recent TimeOut and the local NL20 magazine, I decided to publish my own list. Their recommendations seem to focus mostly on trendy places and ignore some of the intricacies of Amsterdam including weather, crowds and the ubiquitous lack of service.

So here are my picks for best terraces in Amsterdam where you can enjoy great drinks and a few snacks. All of them have great location, mostly off the beaten path and situated in such a way that you can actually sit in the sun if it decides to shine. Beware, many of the terraces around the canals will be in the shade from the late afternoon on. And all terraces provide a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, service with a personal touch rather than unpleasant crowds, plastic chairs and overwhelmed staff.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

At micro brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ you can sip a range of home brewed Belgian-style beers on a great terrace under an old Dutch windmill. What more can you ask for? Its simplicity and quirkiness has made the brewery very popular. On sunny weekend afternoons the terrace literally spills over as the thirsty crowd claims each and every inch of the brewery’s pub, the terrace and the pavement of the nearby streets. There is an interesting mix of regulars, locals, families, beer enthusiasts and tourists. You have to walk to the counter to pick up your own beer, choosing from a pilsner, three trappist, a wheat and two specialty beers.
Funenkade 7
1018 AL Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 622 83 25

Gent aan de Schinkel

Gent is a mix of restaurant, local bar around the corner and lovely outdoors cafe in the summer. It’s located in an old building next to a drawbridge over the Schinkel canal by the western exit of Vondelpark. The restaurant has a monthly changing organic menu. The regulars enjoy sitting on the high bar stools and drinking Affligem, Chouffe, Palm or one of the other Belgian beers on tap. And on a sunny day it seems as if anybody who lives west or south of Vondelpark gathers around one of the outside tables on the sidewalk or in the small beer garden right by the Schinkel. In case you are looking for a place to stay, there is a great bed and breakfast in one of the small houses next to Gent with an equally great view of the canal.
Theophile de Bockstraat 1
1058 TV Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 388 28 51

Cafe Hesp

Cafe Hesp is a typical Amsterdam-style brown cafe with a large terrace directly by the Amstel, down near Amstel Station. Most people head to the Amstelhaven or De IJsbreker to enjoy a few drinks and snacks next to the Amstel. I prefer to head further upstream to Hesp, which has two large terraces with sunlight until late in the evening and a great selection of 20 types of beer on tap. Hesp serves decent bitterballen and sate with fries and draws a large after-work crowd, especially on Friday. It’s fun to watch the mostly business crowd gather around the beer garden style tables and get rowdier and rowdier as another large round of Weihenstephan or Palm arrives and is downed to much cheers and merriment.
Weesperzijde 130-131
1091 ER Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 665 12 02

Cafe de Jaren

Cafe de Jaren, like Cafe Walem, is an Amsterdam institution. De Jaren has been around for years and every Amsterdammer has been there at least a few times. It’s almost as chic as its neighbor, classy Hotel de l’Europe. It’s spacious, with high ceilings, and boasts a classic chic that makes it a great destination for either fun or business. De Jaren actually has two terraces, both hidden in the back of the building, overlooking the water across from the Stopera. One terrace is on the first floor, the other downstairs, tucked away in a corner, with a dock that some guests use to arrive at De Jaren by boat. There is somewhat of an intellectual feel because of newspapers available on large tables. It’s a terrace where you would have a trendy caffe latte or a good glass of white wine or champagne.
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20
1012 CP Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 6255771

Cafe ‘t Sluisje

‘t Sluisje is like a village tavern, far off the beaten path on the other side of het IJ behind Central Station. You get there by ferry and will feel great about leaving the hectic city behind. The Nieuwendammerdijk is a former dyke, lined by century old small Dutch houses. ‘t Sluisje is located in one of them, built in 1565 next to the boat lock. The same family has been running the cafe for over 100 years with a few interruptions. Everything at the cafe is simple – there is a small menu of snacks and people come to enjoy a traditional beer or jenever and not fancy drinks. It’s a great destination for a bike tour beyond city limits. Alternatively you could opt for Klein Kalfje, another great terrace out in the countryside, a few miles up the Amstel, heading south of Amsterdam towards Ouderkerk.
Nieuwendammerdijk 297
1025 LM Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 636 17 12?

Cafe Walem

Cafe Walem, run by the same owners as Cafe de Jaren, is somewhat of an institution and has been in its Keizersgracht location for over 20 years. The food at Walem is not great and the service can be erratic. The chic terrace, however, is great. It’s one of the few sunny locations around the canals, by the Leidsestraat bridge over Keizersgracht. The crowd, like the retro-modern interior design, is very stylish and wants to be seen. You may spot a local celebrity and Cafe Walem is also very popular by the gay scene.
Keizersgracht 449
1017 DK Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 6255771?

De Kas Featured in 10 Most Creative Restaurants

Restaurant De Kas is one of dutchgrub’s four best restaurants in Amsterdam. Apart from the locally produced ingredients, we especially love the fantastic setting in a former greenhouse.

Last week design blog toxel published its list of the 10 most unusual and creative restaurants in the world. De Kas is featured on the list alongside a dark restaurant in London and an underwater restaurant in the Maldives. You have to love the pictures!

Amsterdam Food Festivals June 2009

Amsterdam is promoting itself as the “City of 1001 Flavors” in 2009. As part of the year long program, two large food events are taking place in June.

Festival Sustainable Amsterdam, Saturday 6 June 2009, Westergasfabriek

holland food festival - flyerThis festival promotes sustainability initiatives in Amsterdam – solar cars, electric scooters, eco neighborhoods and more. Several food events will be part of the festival.

Slowfood Netherlands is organizing the Holland Food Festival, a taste market where you can buy from local producers. Then there is a cooking competition on stage, pitting chefs from top Amsterdam restaurants De Kersentuin, Ron Blaauw, Krasnapolsky, and Oud Zuid against each other. At the fitness snackbar you will have to generate the energy needed to mix your smoothie on a rowing machine.

rolling kitchens festival - flyerIt’s all happening on the Westergasfabriek, a former gas factory consisting of several beautiful brick buildings. The weekend of the rolling kitchens will take place at the same time and place. Dozens of mobile food stalls unite for a giant open air restaurant.

Taste of Amsterdam, 25 – 28 June in the Amstelpark

The Amstelpark will see a much more high-end culinary event as London based “Brand Events” organizes Taste of Amsterdam during four days from June 25 to 28. Taste of Amsterdam is part of a world-wide series of food festivals originating in London and now taking place in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Sydney, Melbourne, Dublin, Cork, Dubai and Amsterdam.

taste amsterdam - flyerFor EUR 12,50 you buy tickets up front for either lunch or dinner on one of the four days. For an additional EUR 4 to 9 each you can then sample up to 3 starter-size signature dishes from 15 of Amsterdam’s top restaurants including Sophia, Vis aan de Schelde, Ron Blaauw, elusive hot spot Momo, Jamie Oliver run Fifteen, Restaurant As and Le Garage.

There also are wine tastings, live cooking demonstrations, and a fine food market.