In De Wildeman

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Over 250 bottles, 18 taps and cheese and chutney pie: welcome to beervana. Typically, there is a German and an English tap, Guinness and a token well-beer, with the rest changeable.

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Trappist beers are, blessedly, becoming quite common. Much rarer, is a barman asking if you want a room temperature or cold Orval, who then expertly pours the bottle into two glasses (above) so that you can enrich to your tastes. Brilliant. Even better, you can marry your Orval with some Trappist cheese or a soft, melting cheese and chutney pie.

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The decor is wood, beer and dust. There are some old, rare bottles and glasses, and old books. An entrance tucked away beside the bar leads to a second room, where one can find space at peak times, and solitude at others. All this charm comes at a price, and the beers are expensive, even for Amsterdam.

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Venue: 9/10

An abundance of character, charm and atmosphere.

Beer: 10/10

Stunning range, incredibly well kept and knowledgable staff.

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The best bar in Amsterdam…?

Biercafé Gollem, De Pijp, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Trappist beer cheese.

Trappist beer cheese.

Until very recently, Biercafé Gollem and the original, Café Gollem near Spuistraat in the centre, were closed for business. Their third venture, Gollem’s Proeflokaal on the Overtoom in Oud West, was the sole survivor. The public feared the end of an era: Gollem was the first to import quality ales from Belgium, back in the 70s, and helped to reinvigorate the craft beer traditions of the Netherlands. Gollem’s Proeflokaal persevered through the tough economic climate and the financially draining infighting within the tri-chain, and a few months ago Amsterdam celebrated the re-opening of Café and Biercafé Gollem.

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The decor enjoyed a lick of paint and the beer list benefitted from some very enthusiastic and competent staff to bring Biercafé Gollem into the small elite of Amsterdam brown bars.

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Venue: 7/10

A decent bar length for solo drinking, a mezzanine nook for privacy and vertical drinking outside offer a variety of ways to drink beer. Biercafé Gollem lies in the heart of the vibrant De Pijp area of town, so there is a real buzz around this bar and plenty of alternatives for afters. And there is a Scrabble set should you feel like displaying your vocabulary-based prowess.

Beer: 10/10

It’s hard to imagine a better beer list. Sure, it might be a little light on imports from the States or further, but beers lose their quality over those distances. There are 14 taps to choose from (7 regulars, 7 guest) and >150 bottles covering local breweries here in Amsterdam, craft brewers around the Netherlands and all the big and small players from Belgium.

Alkmaar

You’re going where?!

More famous for some cheese ritual, we just went for a wander one sunny day.

The Dutch are so tall, they hang their shoes on telephone wires to keep track of them

 

Probably not on many people’s bucket list, which keeps the tourists away and allows explorers a view into a typical, quaint Dutch town.

 

This caught my eye. [Shocker – Laura.]

Creative garden solutions

Homemade pesto is the best-o

Apologies for the cringe-worthy title but I couldn’t think of anything better.

With the weather in Amsterdam being fantastic at the moment, I wanted something suitably summery for lunch. Having a bash at homemade pesto seemed to fit the bill…

I scoured the internet for all of 20 seconds to find the perfect recipe and Jamie Oliver’s fitted the bill.

I didn’t take pictures as I went along because I was hungry and just wanted to get on with it, but here is the finished product

Jamie (I’m guessing you’re a fan of our blog) thanks for the guidance, it was really tasty. I used pecorino cheese instead of parmesan and lots of olive oil, but hey, I’m eating it, not you.

I decided to get ker-azy and add some yellow pepper to the pesto-tomato-cheese combination

Mid-munch…

In the summer time, when the weather is high…

LM

The Last Crumb

Or ‘de laaste kruimel‘ for those suffering with Anglophobia. Situated in the centre of Amsterdam, this quirky little gem flanked by tacky tourist outlets and coffee shops offers freshly baked bread, quiches, soup, smoothies and puddings galore.

Best cheesecake…ever?

Meh. [Err, excuse me Callum, that tart was divine, just missing some cream.]

Prepared in front of you.

Upbeat French music was being piped in during our visit… all the songs sound the same.

The way in.

Eat, enjoy, stroll around Amsterdam and head back to try that other pudding you didn’t have the first time. If you’re lucky enough, you may be able to grab one of the few seats over-looking the canal.

Worst Film Ever?

Yes.

Unquestionably.

I thought the film about alien cat-people having sex with one another was bad until this unparalleled, peerless beast.

An exceptionally generous 2.8 from IMDB belies this atrocity. I wouldn’t have bothered to finish filming it. Surely someone must have watched the scenes after they were filmed. Someone must have known. Oh. God. Uncomfortable epiphany: what I saw were the best bits: the best takes, the best delieverance of lines, choreography, lighting, angles…

 

After bemoaning the hour and a half I sacrificed watching it I feel at pains to spend more time thinking about it now. But it has surely become my duty to warn others. I am your film Moses.

Aspiring filmmakers: watch Amsterdam Heavy. Watch and study it like you would The Graduate, Forrest Gump, Fight Club or any other cinematic triumph, as this is a perfect, shining example of exactly the worst possible result of trapping ‘actors’ and a film crew in a basement for three months whose escape will only be granted once they have produced something that is not just worse than Catwoman or A Wrinkle in Time, but digs a new basement.

This ‘reviewer’ on IMDB was clearly involved in the production or a recent labotomy –

“Amsterdam Heavy leaves you wondering what will happen next at each turn, packed with action and hot chicks”

“and the main brunette has some awesome one-liners that had me roaring”

No, no, NO.

It seemed a fitting end.

In a word: inhumane.

CB

P.S. If you are wondering of the fate of the DVD, I decided urinating on it would be an adequate end; demeaning and slow.

 

On yer bike!

The Dutch are crazy. For cycling. Type in ‘bikes’ and ‘Holland’ into Google and you’ll get more than 15 million hits. Then move over to the ‘Images’ tab and you’ll see why… Done it? Yeah, as I said, the Dutch are crazy for cycling. There are an estimated 700,000 bicycles in Amsterdam and each year 1 in 7 are stolen and 25,000 end up in the canals.

Foreground: sea of bikes, background: more bikes

An online, free encylopedia (which shall remain nameless) has also informed me that 38% of all journeys in the city are made by bicycle. If you took ten minutes to stand and watch all the cyclists go by then you would quickly understand how this fact translates into reality. Mothers and fathers with two, sometimes three, children in the front; business men in suits; friends sitting on the back of others’ bikes; teenagers playing music from their iPhones; kids on their way to hockey practice; pensioners; out of breath tourists who have quickly realised how unfit they are – this is Amsterdam’s rush hour traffic.

Aside from being an incredibly convenient way to travel, bikes seem to be an outlet for creative expression; a symbol for who the rider is, or what they like. A good example is the bike pictured below: does the owner have anthomania or, perhaps, a large desire to attract bees?

A bloomin' bike

For most English people, bikes are something you had as a child because you weren’t old enough to drive and cycling was faster than walking. Now they live their lives in their cars; relying on them to get to work, take children to school, run errands, go shopping, take day-trips, see friends and get home from the pub. Exactly the multi-faceted role which the bike inhabits over here. Except with a bike, you can drink and ride.

Cracking cheese Gromit

For me, the image which most typifies the Dutch obsession with bikes is one I often encounter on my weekly walks: a lycra-wearing pensioner on a racing bike flying past me. Every time it leaves me feeling out of breath and with the startling, shaming, realisation that they would easily beat me in a race. As would their grandchildren.

Ooh arty

A word of warning: if you visit Amsterdam (and you should) then do not expect Dutch cyclists to be polite. Or even to obey the rules of the road and stop at a pedestrian crossing that’s displaying the green man. They have places to go, people to see. They will direct an angry, solid ringing of their bell at you but that doesn’t mean they have any intention of slowing down, or even swerving. Only today, a fellow pedestrian had the gall to be using a crossing at the very spot a swift cyclist was careering towards. I wasn’t surprised that a minor collision occurred but I wasn’t expecting the hearty ‘Sorry!’ which sounded from the offending cyclist. Perhaps I have judged them too harshly…