Dispatches from Europe : Amsterdam
Words & Photographs: Yildiz Hensel & Elody de Vries
Two friends from Amsterdam. A butcher’s daughter and a vegetarian. Generation Y. A great passion for food and trends.
Amsterdam is the city known for the red light district, canals and a lot of coffee shops. But we love Amsterdam for being our food inspiration. Not only because innovative food concepts are popping out of the ground constantly, but as well for the increasing awareness of what to eat, and where it comes from.
Who are we?
Elody de Vries (26 years) and Yildiz Hensel (26 years), both born and raised in Amsterdam, started a company called Friends&Forks. With their backgrounds in (orthomolecular) food, packaging, retail marketing, business and productions it was a logical step to join forces to start their own creative food concepts company. For example; food film productions, food styling, culinary travel insights, new food concepts for retailers, and food related content, digital and print.
A hobby turned into our job
As friends for more then twenty years, we knew that we shared the same culinary passion. We always loved to impress our loved ones with our cooking skills and started an Instagram account called @friendsandforks. As our hobby we liked to share our homemade (healthy) recipes with our friends. Later we shared our culinary hotspots from all the places we traveled to. It’s so great to get enthusiastic feedback, to know that we inspire people and see the increasing number of committed followers.
Our experience of the food culture in Amsterdam
The food culture in Amsterdam is becoming more and more international. We import ideas from all over the world and give it our own touch of Dutch. In the past, the Dutch cuisine mainly consisted out of a combination of meatballs, sprouts and a potato/kale mash, but nowadays this kind of food culture is changing. Amsterdam becomes a melting pot of multicultural flavors. The Middle Eastern style of Yotam Ottolenghi makes every Amsterdam inhabitant loves humus and roasted eggplants, the food trucks at every corner of the streets give the city a New York-ish allure. And every food-conscious mind feels good about eating raw Vietnamese rice paper rolls and pho, while enjoying a trendy atmosphere.
Traditional Dutch cuisine, make way for some international food!
Where we do our groceries
The supermarkets in Amsterdam are getting better every day. They are improving their quality and offering a wider variety of products.
In the past it was just about lots of different kind of meat, a few kind of Dutch vegetables and a wide range of potatoes.
Now you can find lots of exotic fruits, ‘forgotten’ vegetables (they are so popular, you can’t forget them anymore), local farmer goods, organic meat, different types of fish, and even a shelf filled with more than twenty kinds of grains and seeds.
Still we like to support our small grocery shops. The Saturday farmers markets, the local butcher, the Mediterranean guy around the corner, the Dutch cheese specialist, and many more.
Our way of cooking
Raised as a vegetarian and a butcher’s daughter, with parents who were conscious in their way of eating and the quality of the food they bought, we both learned to appreciate high quality food in the early stages of our lives.
ildiz: The one question people always ask me is what I eat as a vegetarian, because they can’t imagine leaving out the fish or meat. It’s not that I ever try to replace that, but I try to be creative with all the great ingredients I do eat. And believe me, the options are endless!
What is true though, is that you need to be extra aware to get the sufficient amounts of iron, vitamins and proteins. Therefore it’s very important to have a varied diet, by eating different kinds of vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and products that are rich in protein. My mom was constantly busy to make sure that we consumed enough nutrients. Since the day my brothers and I were born, she cooked all our meals by herself, even our baby food jars. She always surprised us with so many different dishes and made me aware of what to eat, where it comes from en how to make it delicious and healthy.
Elody: As a butcher's daughter, food was always a hot topic. My dad came home, smelled like manure and told us which cow he bought and why. No antibiotics, and enough space. He wanted the farmers to give the cows a good life. And the more they enjoyed their lives, the better and tender their meat gets. That was and still is the key. He was a visionary and knew how important it was to be fair about food and how to tell the consumers the story behind it.
Nowadays storytelling and signing around products is very common, but when my great grandfather started a small butcher 85 years ago, he wanted to make honest products. Specialized in lamb, veal and beef, it was already so different, because every butcher used pork to make the products a little bit cheaper. We didn’t. When we say it’s a veal sausage, it’s 100% veal. Maybe therefore we are still one of the best butchers in Amsterdam.
Our roots made us who we are. We want to make sure what we consume is good for us, we want to know the stories behind it, and we don’t like to get fooled with hidden ingredients. But the moment we moved out, we created our own style of cooking.
Our motto is to make healthy food accessible. Cooking and eating is our passion. We love good food, and we have our guilty pleasures.
What we try is to make every dish to die for. So we look at our guilty pleasure and try to give it a healthy touch, so it’s not that guilty anymore. Burgers with buns of eggplant, vegetable fries with homemade mayonnaise, spaghetti Bolognese with spelt spaghetti and minced veal, homemade nut butter, and chocolate granola with raw cacao are a few examples of the recipes we make.
We are curious about new products and how to experiment with them, but we always try to keep it easy. Although we wouldn’t mind spending the whole day in the kitchen, our busy schedules wouldn’t let us. So our recipes are simple and most of the time not that expensive. At the end creativity and presentation is the key. Because when it looks good and you’re proud of what you make, it already tastes good!
Mango & pineapple ice cream tarts with a pecan & date base
2 cups of pecans
2/3 cup of hazelnuts
3 cups of Medjool dates
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 cup of raw cashew nuts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 peeled mango
1 cup of pineapple chunks
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
For the base place 2 cups of pecans and 2/3 a cup of hazelnuts in a food processor until crushed. Add 3 cups of pitted Medjool dates and a tablespoon of maple syrup and blend again until sticky. Remove mixture and place into your baking dish and press firmly onto the bottom. The make the topping by blending 1 cup of cashews until it has a flour consistency. Then add the juice of half a lemon, 1 peeled mango, 1 cup of pineapple chunks, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and blend again until it’s a thick and creamy paste. Spread this over base and place in the freezer for about 3 hours. That’s it, enjoy!
Where we love to eat in Amsterdam
Mana Mana | 1e Jan Steenstraat 85
Small and cozy, Israeli food, favorite is the sweet potato carpaccio
Lavinia Goodfood | Kerkstraat 176
New style lunch, spelt pizzetta’s, and other delicious healthy dishes
Panache | Ten Katestraat 117
Old garage with international, allure, kitchen and G&T bar
Rijsel | Marcusstraat 52
Belgian-French kitchen, best chicken and cote de boeuf in town
Vinnie’s Deli | Haarlemmerstraat 46
Ottolenghi-inspired deli, salad bar and innovative menu
Brut de Mer | Gerard Douplein 8
If you like seefood, this is your spot, open ktichen dining and lots of marble
HappyHappyJoyJoy | Bilderdijkstraat 158
High quality Asian street food , with a twist and inspiring décor
Pazzi | Eerste Looiersdwarsstraat 4
Italians do it better, best pizza in town in a quiet street or to take away
Buffet van Odette | Prinsengracht 598
A salad from the buffet, and the best truffle omelet there is
Zomerrestaurant | Vuurtoreneiland
Does it get any better than this, open every summer, on a small island, with great food, they’re even planning to open a winter restaurant next year
Favorite food markets
Foodhallen | Bellamyplein 51
Culinary hotspot with different foodstands in an old tram depot, a must visit
Pure markt | Beatrixpark
In a park, live music, good food, local entrepreneurs
Amsterdam Eats | Elementenstraat 25
Organic indoor food market meets deep house
Where we do our groceries in Amsterdam
Boerenmarkt | Noordermarkt
Organic food market, every Saturday, high quality
Hergo | Beethovenstraat 47
One of the best butchers in Amsterdam, try their ‘ossenworst’ or ‘filet americain’
Fromagerie Abraham Kef | Marnixstraat 192
Great range of French and Dutch cheeses, you want to taste it all
Le Fournil | Olympiaplein 119
Homemade French sourdough bread, don’t miss out on the madeleines
Marqt | Haarlemmerstraat 165
New style supermarket, local, fresh, mostly organic and no cash
Stach | Van Woustraat 154
Sandwiches, innovative products, trendy packaging
The ‘Mediterrean guy’ | Frederik Hendrikstraat 108
Halloumi, feta cheese, olives, and really good quality vegetables, fruits and herbs