Although Dutch cuisine hasn’t always enjoyed the best reputation, there’s no question that Amsterdam nowadays has plenty to offer the discerning diner.

One of the best ways to sample the delights of Amsterdam’s top restaurants is to attend the annual Taste of Amsterdam Festival, this year taking place from 15th to 18th May 2014. Read on to learn more about this exciting opportunity to experience the fresh diversity of modern Dutch cuisine…

A new perspective on Dutch cuisine

Unlike France or Italy, the Netherlands is seldom viewed as a prime foodie destination. The cold Dutch winters have inspired a legacy of rich, hearty faire that’s perfect for consuming in a cosy pub with a mug of beer – warm and filling, but hardly the most innovative of cooking.

However, look beyond the most touristy establishments, and it won’t take you long to discover a whole other side to Dutch cuisine. Especially in edgy, forward-thinking Amsterdam, a new wave of young chefs are busily experimenting with a creative fusion of flavours to produce lighter dishes that appeal to a modern, cosmopolitan palate.

Most traditional Dutch dishes are heavy on the starches, meat and cheese, with many delicacies fried or stewed. However, there is also a strong international influence in the national dining scene, a consequence of the country’s long history of trade with the East Indies. Cloves and other spices are widely used, while Amsterdam and other Dutch cities are known for the high calibre of their Indonesian restaurants in particular.

This adventurous streak still exists in many of Amsterdam’s restaurants today, with a willingness to experiment and interpret local produce in new and exciting ways – and there’s no better to get an overview of the trend than by checking out the foodie heaven that is Taste of Amsterdam.

A celebration of Amsterdam’s dining scene

Taste of Amsterdam features an outstanding line-up of Dutch and international chefs keen to demonstrate their skills. You can watch them in action and pick up some tips by attending the demonstrations at the AEG Makro Taste Theatre, or try your hand at creating one of their dishes with a workshop at the AEG Cooking Club.

Chefs who will be attending in 2014 include Arno Veenhof, Cuno van’t Hoff, Dennis Kuipers, Franz Conde, Gizzi Erskine, Sesanne Leeuwenburg, Yvette van Boven, Machtelt de Vries and Marina Goudsblom.

It’s also a great chance to sample an assortment of tasty treats from some of Amsterdam’s trendiest restaurants, many of which will be offering smaller-sized versions of their signature dishes for a modest cost of between €5,00 and €7,50 each (which you can pay in Florijnen, Taste of Amsterdam’s own official currency).

For example, visit the stands belonging to The Harbour Club or Visaandeschelde for delicious seafood; Restaurant Blauw for modern Indonesian; Restaurant ‘het Bosch’ for contemporary French fusion; or Bluespoon Restaurant for fresh farm-to-table dishes.

Wine lovers can also stop by the Wine Theatre for lessons with a master sommelier, while younger foodies will enjoy the special activities for children at the Taste of Kids corner. Another highlight is the Fine Food Exhibition and Farmers’ Market, where you can buy a tantalising selection of local and international foods and culinary products, including wine, chocolate, coffee and even insects (at the unusual Delibugs stand).

Taste of Amsterdam takes place at the Amstelpark in Amsterdam, only a 20-minute drive from the Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. There is plenty of public parking available in the vicinity of the venue, and parking is free on the weekend. It is also easy to reach via public transportation, with a number of trams and buses stopping nearby.

Tickets can be booked in advance or purchased at the gate – check out the Taste of Amsterdam website for prices and more information.
What is your favourite Amsterdam restaurant?