On the Lamb: Amsterdam 2012 (Part Zeven)
The Bloggist Is Away

This bloggist and his girl-beard, Joanne, had so far been in Amsterdam for a day and a half. All things considered, the previous day went rather nicely, if a slight bit tipsily.

Earlier today, the two wretches thought to imbibe a bit of culture – through several meanings of the word – by participating in a Reypenaer cheese tasting session.

Here was our bloggist receiving his ‘I just ate six kinds of Dutch cheese’ certification from Reypenaer’s resident cheesemaster, the friendly Ron:

“Oh, the things I endure for these insufferable tourist types.”

Just outside the store, across the Singel canal, stands the oldest bridge in Amsterdam – the Torensluis. Being quite wide, this bridge is surrounded by outdoor cafes. It also features a huge bust of the esteemed Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker, who went by the pen name of Multatuli. While in Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, Dekker became witness to abuses on which he would later write a satirical novel. His story would become influential throughout Europe, unrepentantly bringing to light problems about colonialist policy. After his death, he would be regarded as one of the Netherlands’ best writers. A great nephew of his would even become an Indonesian national hero. As to his chosen pen name, ‘multa tuli’ means ‘I have carried much’ in Latin, conveying a sense of burden and sympathy.

Unfortunately, where I’m from, ‘multa tuli’ is often preceded by ‘bawal batang walang panti’.

After finding new lows for his impudence (and dreading embassy summons), our reprobate bloggist headed once again toward Amsterdam Centrum for pursuits of a less slanderous sort.

Unlike slander, these green things are legal in Amsterdam…

When people talk about Amsterdam, they unavoidably bring up the city’s famous ‘coffeeshops’. Everybody knows, of course, that one does not go to a Dutch coffeeshop for coffee. Although these establishments are required to serve drinks (because of a legal loophole), they should be the last places to visit for a caffeine fix. It’s a matter of semantics: you go to a coffeeHOUSE or a café for coffee. Go to a coffeeSHOP, on the other hand, and you get pot and hash. As far as euphemisms go, this is like saying ‘lawmaker’ instead of ‘comedian’: you expect something sobering but you end up giggling because lawmakers are funny.

“Dammit, there must be a better way to get high!” [thanks, Wikimedia]

Barney’s Coffeeshop has been an Amsterdam fixture for over twenty years, during which it has consistently won awards. That there exist award-giving bodies for this stuff is awesome, especially when deliberations are best resolved with a unanimous “ARE YOU HIGH?”

Aside from its flagship coffeeshop, Barney’s also operates a café/restaurant, a lounge, and a ‘farm’ (being a coffeeshop with horticultural products on sale).

For those who want to play Farmville while high.

Being curious as cats, Joanne and I visited the coffeeshop. We still remembered the previous day’s drunken debacle, however, so we approached warily. Not that we were planning to order alcohol, anyway…

“Excuse me, we want to buy the drugs. Are you a drug dealer?”

The friendly doorman talked to us for a few seconds, his eyes staring as if he was trying to derive logarithmic functions from our faces. He seemed embarrassed and asked us to present identification to prove that we were both over eighteen. At this point, I would like to be clear that I found it less flattering than amusing. I’m thirty-three… I know that I do not look eighteen (even though the same thing happened to me a year earlier in Canada). It’s not something I can claim to understand… there’s just probably something about my Asian face (and Joanne’s) that causes such confusion. Hell, don’t I have manly facial hair?!

Oh, gaddemmet… [thanks, ABS-CBN]

After showing our passports and having a quick laugh about it (haha), Joanne and I entered the hallowed premises of Barney’s. The ID incident should have tipped us off that we were to be fish out of water – we would have felt less out of place had we gone to an autopsy theater as Disney Princesses. We browsed the menu by the counter, discovering choices for hash and pot comparable to an extensive wine list. The minimum order was a hundred grams for each type of weed, and a helpful American was quick to tell us that such an amount would be good for three joints (he also swore by the Vanilla Kush). I looked at Joanne and wondered, “Three joints? That’s like one and a half for each of us. Can we do that?” It didn’t matter, though, because neither of us knew how to roll a joint in the first place. Do we buy a pipe? No, we’re too cheap! Leech off secondhand smoke? Help me I’m panic! What do we do now?

We take pictures, like true poseurs, and we split.

Feeling lousy at our failed attempt to procure drugs from a legitimate drug den (we’re wannabis), the girl-beard and I went on to our next appointment – the Pancake Boat, which was exactly what it sounded like. For an hour, a boat would take us on a cruise around the Amsterdam harbor while serving unlimited pancakes (i.e. crepes). Although thankful that we would not be under the influence at sea, we kind of regretted not having the munchies… it was an hour of pancakes, for crying out loud.

Amazingly, my face wasn’t high in this photo…

We took the (free) ferry to an industrial-looking pier, and boarded the Pancake Boat. As with the cheese tasting session earlier, this was multi-tasking tourism: a cruise AND early dinner. Even without feeling the hefty, we intended to load up on them pancakes.

The girl-beard, deciding which drinks would go well with a face full of pancake.

Our seats were right next to the kitchen, allowing for a good vantage point and quick access to the goods. The cooks continuously made pancakes and piled them onto the slats of a window/shelf for the guests.

This is my excited face. I have an entire shelf of pancakes behind me, yey.”

The boat offered three kinds of pancakes: naturel (i.e. regular), appel (apple), and spek (bacon). The latter two were flavorful in that the toppings were seared onto the pancake. An apple pancake had three or four slices of Granny Smiths, making it slightly tart. A bacon pancake, similarly, had three rashers on its surface, resulting in a salty-smoky-porky treat (i.e. the best kind). The Pancake Bakery from the previous day called it right: apple and bacon were undeniably Dutch and made for very good pancakes. In addition to this, the boat also laid out a buffet of toppings…

Here’s me in a stare-down with candy sprinkles…

Through the several pancake combinations we tried, we found that an apple pancake went well with either sweet (e.g. brown sugar, cinnamon) or savory toppings (e.g. cheese). A bacon pancake, meanwhile, went best with sweet stuff (e.g. applesauce, berry preserve, candied ginger, syrup). A regular pancake, of course, worked wonderfully with anything…

Except that face. God help that face.


If you want the rambling CONTINUATION, please click here.

If you missed what happened immediately before, please click this.

If you want to rewind back to the start of the Amsterdam write-ups, please click this instead.

If you want to go through past TRAVEL pieces, please go here.

If you want to visit stuff about FOOD, please go here.

Categories: [food], [travel]

[No Comments]

No Comments »

Leave a Reply