By: Andrea F. Pagliai
This weekend, food will be my drug. The girls inform me that we are to discover the city through its gastronomical offerings instead of its legalized substances. Roos Haasnoot and Emilie Sobels, two 21 year-old
students living in Amsterdam and Utrecht – and my hosts for the weekend – are excited to show me a true Netherlander’s day and night-out. Preparing a line up of important delicacies for me to try, the locals laugh at my mention of a diet.
Contrary to popular belief, a typical soirée for a Netherlander does not include a visit to the Red Light District, nor a stop over in one of the infamous Coffee Shops – to stock-up on hash, or pot-brownies – as is generally associated with the Amsterdam allure of today. This phenomenon, Roos insists, “is just for the tourists.” Because I desperately yearn to be a traveler, not a tourist, and because I do not partake in pot ingestion, I happily oblige.
Friday starts off in the sleeper-train at 8:30 am. First stopping in Utrecht, just 20 minutes away from Amsterdam, I meet up with Emilie at Utrecht Centraal. We both had brunch on the mind, so after deposing excess travel baggage, we dash off to appease our overactive appetites.
The first gastronomical experience begins at De Bakkerswinkel
(the Bakeshop) – at first sight, a normal, delicious-smelling European bakery. Ignoring the counter, Emilie persists past the kitchen, down a hidden stairway, and into an expansive Romanesque cellar turned popular food-spot. With its low ceilings, exposed brick, and mood lighting, I feel quite content. The food was excellent, but the Red Rooibos Vanilla tea was exceptional; Emilie explains that it originates from a Dutch colony in Africa. Post-meal, we bike and explored the beautiful city of Utrecht whose ancient city-center adds to its medieval feel.
At 5:30pm, the day is nearly passed and our stomachs are showing unhappy signs of inactivity. Emilie guides us to De Beurs, a terrace bar located in Neude Square and one of the main student handout spots in the city. One order of Bitterballen and two glasses of white wine later, both Emilie and I had gone to our happy place of mild inebriation and pure snack-time bliss.