We spent last weekend in Amsterdam, arriving in time for lunch on Friday. Excitingly, we'd booked into De Kas a few weeks earlier after reading rave reviews. De Kas, meaning greenhouse in Dutch, is housed in a huge 1926 glasshouse just outside the city: one half is for eating, the other for growing fruit and vegetables. The chefs at De Kas are all about organic, fresh produce (grown either on site or on the restaurant's nearby farm), and our lunch lived up to the reviews - kale soup, chicory tart, delicious cod and shrimp, doughnuts... Walking along a canal close by after lunch, we came across these charming swan benches. One for the balcony at home in Camden, perhaps?
We were staying at Hotel Seven One Seven, where D. had spent a weekend ten years earlier with his family. It's an old townhouse on one of Amsterdam's most beautiful canals, Prinsengracht, and the cosy rooms, named after famous writers, are stuffed full of antiques and curiosities. Dinner on Friday night was at Lion Noir - a dimly lit, lively place with deep green walls and stuffed peacocks.
Saturday was spent exploring the local area (after pancakes, of course). We quickly came across the most wonderful antiques shop in the Nine Streets and this extremely fabulous Italian dinner set, which we snapped up in an instant. I mean, that orange! We'd been looking for new plates for some time, and could not resist these... Some came home in hand luggage, the rest are on there way over in a big box. I can't wait. Afterwards we checked out the city's big modern art gallery, Stedelijk, and then the Rijksmuseum, which I loved very much. Later on we had drinks with friends from London at The Hoxton, and then supper at Balthazar's Keuken - a small place I'd read about in London, where they serve a very good set menu based around the best ingredients of the season.
D. at the Rijksmuseum, perfecting a snap.
Sunday morning was spent sleeping and watching movies at the hotel - very much needed. (I had a strange craving for 90s Hugh Grant and, in particular, Four Weddings and a Funeral). We strolled for a while in the afternoon and then popped into the Hermitage. In the evening we did cocktails at the Pulitzer hotel's bar and dinner next door at Jaansz - a gem of a place - all dusky pink velvet curtains and olive green velvet banquettes.
Above the door of this house a marvellous sign read 'It really does not matter'.
We visited a couple of lovely churches and canal house museums on Monday including the very grand Van Loon, which houses a fine collection of period furniture, porcelain and silverware from the 18th century. After lunch at The Lobby, it was time to pack up our things and head for the airport. I loved Amsterdam, I hadn't been since I was 18 and it was wonderful to walk among all those dark, beautiful rows of elegant canal houses once again...