I'm back from our Eurocation and thank you so much to Zoe, Andrea, Cait, Erin and Johanna for blog sitting while I was away. Our trip was perfect for the 10 days we were there and Matt did such a fabulous job of planning it. He literally did everything and all I had to do was show up.
The BIGGEST thing that our trip was focused on was food. In each city we indulged in specialties (especially ones we can't get at home) and made the best of it. There was no holds bar. Every meal was multiple courses accompanied by a few glasses of wine (for Matt of course) and dessert for me. We ate at so many great places and did so many things so I'm breaking my recap up based on food and fashion. We ate so much good food that it's worth sharing for anyone who might have a future trip to Amsterdam, Paris, Lyon or Bruges.
We spent a total of 3 days in Amsterdam and for the first time since I've been pregnant, I missed the ability to have a nice tall glass of beer. Luckily, for a small little town Amsterdam was able to provide some activities that didn't revolve around booze or hash brownies like visiting the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh museum. In fact, for such a compact town I was amazed by all the great food and shopping that was around us.
Immediately right after we checked into our hotel we headed to The Pancake Bakery which is rated to have the best panekoken in town. Being in the Netherlands, I made it my mission to have some dutch pancakes and The Pancake Bakery surely did the job...and then some. We loved our lemon panekoken, but what was even better were they're omelettes. Fresh eggs served on top of two slices of soft bread that absorbed all the wonder flavors. Everything was delicious!
The 2nd night we had reservations at Season's in the Jordaan neighborhood. Nestled in this cute part of town (my favorite to be exact) was a small side street with this wonderfully adorable restaurant that had farm to table food. Our 3 course meal was fantastic with starters like a warm duck with clementine salad and entrees like braised lamb shank. It was all delicious and with a great price of $39 EURO for a 3 course meal it was definitely reasonable. The best part was that every time our courses were served, the owner's cocker spaniel, Roxy, would come sit at our feet hoping that one of us would drop food on the floor.
Even before we got to Amsterdam Matt was super giddy about trying Burger Bar. He had read on Trip Advisor that it was a "must" try. At first I thought, "Really are we coming to Amsterdam to eat burgers?"...but I'm so glad we did. The menu is all a la carte and you start with either a sirloin, irish beef, wagyu beef, turkey or portabella patty. Then you build upon your patty with toppings like mushrooms, grilled onions, fried egg, bacon, cheese, etc. The burger itself was stellar, but what I still have dreams about are their fries. I literally ate fries every single day of my vacation trying to find the place that would dare replace Burger Bar's and nothing compared. Wish there was a way to ship those fries to Chicago.
Lastly, a meal worth mentioning is the fantastic Indonesian restaurant Kantjil & de Tijger. After hearing that Amsterdam had some good Indonesian cuisine I made it a priority on our list of things to eat and our meal was absolutely amazing. If you like Thai food, but want a little bit of a twist, definitely try to find an Indonesian restaurant by you.
Our time in Paris was split into two halves since we had an overnight trip to Lyon and a day trip to Bruges right in the middle. This was my 2nd time visiting, but Matt's first and even though he was vocal about Paris not being his first choice - I can proudly say that he's been converted.
On this leg of the trip is where I started eating more...and when I say eating more, I'm talking 6 meals a day. Everyday started with a petit dejeuner that was usually a pain au chocolate, croissant or tartine avec Nutella. Then lunches were spent in brasseries or cafes in whatever neighborhood we were wantdering in munching on baguette sandwiches, the restaurant's plat du jour (plate of the day) or poulet et frites (chicken and fries). Some of our favorite restaurants included Oscar right by the Louvre and L'Obe in the Hotel Crillion, but honestly it was the carbs and sweets I couldn't resist.
A trip to Laduree was mandatory to eat at least a dozen macarons. Lemon macarons are my favorite!
And since there were two crepe stands right by our hotel, almost every night I insisted passing on dessert at the restaurants and opting for a crepe with nutella and bananas as my night cap.
In midst of our time in Paris we decided to stay a night in Lyon which is supposedly the birth place of fine dining. This cute city which is the 2nd largest city in France was absolutely gorgeous and the food may have been the best meals we had on our trip.
The place worth mentioning is Le Musee. This teeny restaurant is just north of the Bellecouer and at most seats 30 people. It's so tiny that the bathroom is legit outside of the restaurant in an alley house - think out house a la Little House on the Prairie. We walked in and immediately were welcomed with open arms by the chef, sous chef and only waitress the place had on staff. It had such a cute homey feel and the thing that makes the place so unique (and why it's hard to get a reservation) is because the menu changes every night. The chef comes to your table, literally with a piece of white paper with handwritten items that he's serving for the night. There's no pre existing menu, just what he decides to cook that day. Everything from tripe, beef cheeks, coq au vin , sweetbreads to escargots were on the menu...and everything was absolutely delicious. Be forewarned if you ever go, the chef speaks very minimal english so practice your french foods before you go...and practice the uncommon items that you wouldn't see on a traditional menu.
Last but not least was our day trip to Bruges. Now before the movie In Bruges I had no idea this town existed, nor could I point it out to you on a map, but because we love the movie so much we were intrigued by this little medieval town. Since it's only an hour outside of Brussels this was also the perfect opportunity to get belgium waffles and take home some good chocolates.
Unfortunately, the original place we were going to have waffles was closed for renovation, but luckily we found Cafe-Brasserie Craenenburg right in the heart of the square. Although I was really hoping to have a waffles with fresh strawberries, I settled for one topped with bananas and smothered in a melted bittersweet chocolate. Not a bad way to start the morning.
As if that wasn't enough sweets, I insisted that we get a box of chocolates for the train ride back to Paris from Chocoladehuiseje. For anyone who's ever been to Bruges (or Brussels for that matter), you would know that chocolate shops are just as common as Starbucks are in the US. It's hard to find the place that will have the best chocolates, but in all honest I think that any place you go will have more than stellar chocolate to indulge in.
So needless to say, my 5 pounds (which I did come back an exact 5 pounds heavier) I gained from our trip was all for good reason and well worth every calorie. I can confidently say that we didn't have a bad meal our entire trip and if there's one thing we regret, it's not having more time to eat our way through more wonderful places in each city.