Broodjes at Boca's
Called "broodjes" in Dutch, Amsterdammers are infatuated with variations on the sandwich. Several spots make them in small form, so snackers can consume an assortment in one sitting. At the De Pijp location of Boca's, we tried several, including one with smoked mackerel and a lemon-caper mayonnaise, and another filled with Reypenaer cheese, topped with whole grain mustard and pickled onions. But it was the miniature sandwich stuffed with delicately smoked Dutch eel and slices of crisp apple that made me officially join the broodje fan club.
'Hari-Boca's' at Boca's
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Boca's also offered up a special dish named "Hari-Boca's," an overflowing plate of Haribo-brand gummy sweets. The Dutch may appreciate their locally made chocolates, but when it comes to candy, colorful gummies imported from Germany are a favorite guilty pleasure.
To keep my jet lag at bay, we stopped at an Italian gourmet shop called Renzo's for a caffeine jolt. As promised, my latte came with the requisite snack—in this case, a light-as-air Buitti e Buoni (translation: "ugly but good") meringue cookie studded with toasted hazelnuts. Other coffee-snack pairings during my trip included Speculoos cookies, heavily spiced with ginger and cloves, and disks of rich Dutch chocolate.
Tapenade at Popal and Olivia
Next up was a walk through the Albert Cuypmarkt, a winding street market that showcases the Dutch staples like cheese, herring, and fresh fruit, along with run-of-the-mill clothes and trinkets. After bypassing several possible snacking stops, it was the Mediterranean stall called Popal and Oliva that caught my eye. Inspecting their overflowing selection of antipasti, I decided to try a few bites of their tuna tapenade salad, a savory mixture of cured tuna, sweet roasted red peppers, fresh parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and dark briny olives.
Bakabana at Warung Mini Van Wou
The former Dutch colony of Suriname brings a touch of the exotic to Amsterdam's snacking culture. To get an introduction to the cuisine, we hit a Surinamese take-away shop near the Albert Cuypmarkt called Warung Mini Van Wou, where I swooned over a dish called "bakabana"—fried slices of plantain topped with a not-too-sweet, wholly addictive peanut sauce.
Bal Gehakt at Van Dobben
Italians and Swedes traditionally have the corner on great meatballs, but Jennifer insisted that I try the Dutch meatball sandwich known as "bal gehakt" at the stalwart Amsterdam diner Van Dobben. Unlike the average meatball, this one was giant, spiced, and sliced. Served open-faced on a soft, squishy white roll, it was capped off with a serious dollop of peanut sauce. This was the one snack I pushed away, finding it too salty, with a slick and sugary topping.
Salted Beef and Liverwurst Broodje at Van Dobben
But, unwilling to leave Van Dobben without setting my palate back on the right course, we ordered a broodje of salted beef and liverwurst with a nice dabbing of sharp mustard. That was more like it!
Kaasstengels at Cafe Winkel 43
Cheese sticks are quintessential bar fare in the U.S., so I was hesitant to order their Dutch cousin, "kaasstengels," when we hit Café Winkel 43 in the trendy Jordaan district. I shouldn't have worried. The Dutch versions are entirely different from the usual deep fried, battered batons of gooey mozzarella that Americans are subjected to. These are thin sticks of intensely nutty and sweet aged Gouda, wrapped in thin, crackling spring roll wrappers, flash-fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce with a hit of chili spice.
Appeltaart at Cafe Winkel 43
No trip to Café Winkel 43 would be complete without a generous slice of their justly famous "appeltaart" (aka apple pie), consumed with glee on the restaurant's patio. A deep-dish thing of beauty, brimming with thin slices of apple, crunchy nuts, and sweet raisins, it was more reminiscent of a rich apple cake than a typical American apple pie. Topped with a helping of fresh whipped cream, it was made even more delicious with the pairing of a dark, malty local brew called Brouwerij't Ij Natte.