Monday, June 10, 2013

I Ate My Way Through My Vacation

Instead of a bunch of souvenirs, I came home with a very full stomach and an iPhone full of food pictures. Yes, I ate my way through my vacation. Surprisingly, the weight gain was pretty minimal; thanks to all the walking I did. But this isn't about exercise, this is about food.

I really didn't expect to eat anything truly delicious until I got to Paris, but I was wrong. I was also wrong in thinking that the food would be pretty blah until I got to Paris. In Amsterdam, thanks to colonization I enjoyed my first taste of Indonesian food, and in Berlin there was Turkish food. The beer (as expected) was great, as was the wine in Paris.

Now for the photos.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what Dutch food is like. However, I do know that ZOUK is a decent place to grab a beer, and a lamb kabob. It's located away from the Leidseplein, so mostly locals hang out here.

Brouwerij't IJ zatte - a triple from Amsterdam

Lamb kabob at ZOUK

I managed not to eat anything Dutch for dinner either. When I asked the bartender at ZOUK for recommendations, he started talking about steak. I love steak, but not while traveling in another country, so I opted instead for Indonesian food. I picked Kartika because it had a sign out front, and it was crowded. It was dumb luck that I wandered into this yummy place. Full disclosure - I've never had Indonesian food before, so I have nothing to compare this against.

My first Indonesian dish ever

If my plate looks like I went to a potluck and tried a little bit of everything, it's because I did get to try a little bit of everything. They had a menu item which allowed you to try several different dishes all on one plate.

In Copenhagen the food experience was interesting. They too eat a lot of steak, and apparently béarnaise sauce. At the top of my list to try was smørrebrød, which is basically an open-face sandwich. 


I tried smørrebrød at Dag H in Copenhagen. The sandwiches are nothing to write home about, but it's Danish, so I think you pretty much have to try one while you're there. The best thing about Dag H is that they are always open; from what I understand this is pretty unusual for Copenhagen.

My best restaurant meal was at a place called Maven (which means "stomach" in Danish). The restaurant is in part of what used to be a church, and it's a great example of hygge (which roughly translates to "cozy"). The food is great, but I took no pictures because it was really dark in there. 

For my birthday, my friend, Ms. R. took me to a place called Salt, which serves Nordic cuisine. We enjoyed a rather large lunch, and tried several dishes. I had my first taste of herring, although Ms. R. said that I should have tried regular pickled herring instead of this fried version.

Three types of salt to taste

Herring disguised so as not to look like pickled fish

I love all charcuterie

My favorite meals in Copenhagen were at Ms. R.'s place. One day she made us panini with chorizo, and it was delicious. The chorizo was not the type of ground sausage I'm used to, but more like what you would find with charcuterie. Yum.

Onto Berlin. By this point on my trip, I was getting full easily, and it was so cold I was rarely hungry. My most memorable meals were at a Turkish restaurant called Hazir, and at a Bavarian place called Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt.

Appetizer plate at Hazir

I couldn't tell you how to get to Hazir because my friend guided me on the U-Bahn, and I would never have gone there on my own. It was yummy though, so if you can make your way to this part of town, definitely eat here!


I really wanted to eat what I thought of as traditional German food (sausage) in Berlin, so my friend took me to Augustiner, which he said was more Bavarian. I tried the bratwurst, and realized that I still just do not care for bratwurst, even in Germany. The sauerkraut was good, as was the beer.

One must have beer while in Germany

I am ashamed to admit that I don't really know what Czech food is like either. My main meal was at Red Pif, which is  wine bar and restaurant. The food was okay, but nothing amazing. I went there to try the Czech wines, which were good. I did manage to try a trdelnik, while walking from Prague Castle to the Charles Bridge. Trdelik is a rolled pastry.


The jam-like substance is some sort of plum. There was a nutella option, which I'm sure would have been good, but I can get nutella in the states so I opted for the plum.

Finally, Paris. The food is as amazing as advertised. Don't get me wrong, I had a bad meal, complete with the stereotypical rude French waiter (stay away from La Coupe d'Or in the Hotel-de-Ville neighborhood); but as a whole, if you love food, you will love what Paris has to offer. For the most part, I steered clear of anything around the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées. I also ate a ton of bread (how can you not), and wish I had more cheese and charcuterie. Oh, and don't order an Orangina in Paris - it's a waste of money. Drink tap water and wine.

My favorite dinner was at Le Petit Niçois, a restaurant near my hotel, Les Jardins d'Eiffel. Technically it's near the Eiffel Tower, but it's a good 15-minute walk to the restaurant from the tower. The ratatouille (my entrée) was served with a poached egg and pesto on top, and this took the already delicious ratatouille to a whole new level. Plat du jour was a lamb dish. It was amazing.

Le Petit Niçois ratatouille

Lamb at Le Petit Niçois

I also made it a point to try two of the places recommended by Anthony Bourdain on the Layover: Berthillon (for ice cream) and Du Pain et Des Idées (for bread). 

Praline Citron Coriander flavor

Berthillon is at 31 rue Saint Louis en I'lle, and it was worth every bit of my long, lost walk. I picked the praline citron coriander because I didn't know how it could possibly work, yet completely trust the French.

L'escargot au citron et nougat de Montélimar

Strong cheese and smoky ham on the left, olive on the right

Du Pain et Des Idées is a boulangerie not to be missed. They are traditional, so you will find no patisserie here. Perfect for me because I have no interest in patisserie. Honestly, I could have ordered one of everything at this place, but I was good an only left with three items. Unfortunately, they were sold out of croissant by the time I got there (before lunch), but I enjoyed every bit of the flaky l'escargot and those savory rolls.

From left to right: pistachio, caramel with fleur de sel, and basil strawberry

I am ruined forever when it comes to the macaron thanks to Paris. These three delightful macarons are from Lenôtre. I don't know if it's possible to make macarons this amazing outside of France.

Pain au chocolat

My sister Mindy asked me to eat pain au chocolat for her. So I did. Even if I don't care for chocolate a whole lot. Again, totally worth it. And now I'm off to dream about macarons, bread, wine, cheese and Paris.


  1. LOL, I know this was the post you have been waiting to read!