Amsterdam was the first stop on our European adventure.I last time set foot in this beautiful city in 1998 when my daughter had Spring break and we decided to have an adventure there.
The plane ride from Newark to Amsterdam took a little over eight hours, and we were tired but determined to muscle through the day. We checked into the Ambassade Hotel where we reserved a lovely room with two double beds. (By the way, because I am the oldest I usually get a bed to myself! One of the only advantages let me tell you.) We stopped at the hotel dining room buffet and enjoyed a beautiful plateful of smoked fishes, lots of fresh fruit, muesli, and great coffee. Then we were off to the Anne Frank Haus where we were fortunate to have a private tour of the museum with Garance Reus. It’s changed since I was last there in that it is more interactive, there are more computer displays and some of the rooms are currently not available for public tour. The line to purchase tickets stretched around the block and was filled with young and old, Dutch and visitors from other countries. This made me hopeful that the messages of tolerance and a need for a powerful, civil society and of the dangers of racism would be heard.
That day we took a boat trip through the canals and ate at some fantastic places suggested to me by my friend Beth Sheppard, who once lived in Amsterdam (she writes amazing blogs on one of my favorite travel sites – Wanderlust and Lipstick). Of course we visited the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums and Keukenjof Flower Gardens where tulips spread out as far as the eye could see. We even shopped for shoes – though not the classic, wooden Dutch clogs reminiscent of fairy tales. Both days in Amsterdam were jam packed and we were walking from 7 am until midnight.
And naturally we sampled the food. But to be honest, Dutch food is fairly pedestrian: sandwiches, potatoes, and cheese. Thankfully I recalled that the last time I visited I had phenomenal fondue, so I asked a tour guide for a recommendation and we hopped into a taxi to Cafe Bern, a wonderful fondue restaurant, and the food highlight of my visit. And I discovered two things about myself:
1) I get an idea in my head about something I want to see or do or eat, and I won’t let it go. Hence it was with the fondue. My sisters really didn’t care that much about having fondue, but there was no way I was leaving Amsterdam without this experience. I get overly focused (some may call it obsessed) about one specific thing and won’t stop!
2) I really am a night owl. Every single evening, at around midnight, both my sisters had to tell me to stop talking. Even though I am up and at it by 6:30 am or so, I am at my best far into the night and could stay up easily past midnight. I’m just saying…
This fondue recipe is one my son found while he was helping out at a cooking school in Seattle. We made it, loved it and have searched no more. It makes me smile to know that I have owned my wedding -gifted fondue pot for 40 years. Unlike the restaurant in Amsterdam, I serve this fondue with slices of green apple, toasted bread cubes, blanched broccoli, cauliflower, green beans…just about anything that can be dipped.
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 7 cups shredded Swiss cheese such as Jarlsberg, Emmentaler, Gruyere, or Appenzeller
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or flour)
- 3 tablespoons kirsch
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- salt, pepper, nutmeg
- Bread cubes, apples, veggies, etc. for dipping
Use a fondue pot and rub the cut side of the garlic all over the insides of the pot. Throw away the garlic.
Heat the fondue pot and add the wine but do not boil. Mix the cheese and the cornstarch and slowly add it to the wine stirring until the cheese melts.
Mix the kirsch and cornstarch. Blend the kirsch mixture into the cheese mixture until it is a smooth thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg.
The reason for using cornstarch (or ﬂour) is to keep the cheese and wine from separating. If you boil the mixture however, you can still make it separate so simmer gently, do not boil.