When you hear the words “apple pie”, naturally the first thing that comes to your mind is your grandmother, auntie, and also the great United States. I say the United States because this sweet pie stars in so many movies, stands outside windows to chill while various people or animals sniff it, grandmas pedal them gaining themselves the ‘saint’ title and we all drool! In many bakeries or diners, you can ask for it sugar free! How is it made? Natural apple juice, natural sugars. In fact my American apple pie memories are connected to when I was waiting tables on my student days; once I served it to a regular customer with melted American cheese on it, and to my double shock, everybody knew how he wanted it. Never wondered what it tastes like. Never.
But now let me tell you a nice little story
of a great apple pie that is not standing outside the window and I am not sure
whether Saint Grandmother is baking it. In fact I highly doubt it. This melting
delight is served in a very hot spot in the popular northern European city of
went to Netherlands some years back and we had just a few days to explore,
shop, get cultured, get food, queue up at Anne Frank’s house, try some great
beer. One of those days, when it was very sunny and life seemed on the whole
very pleasant, my local friend comes up with a what seemed at the time a
bizarre idea: “Let’s go have apple pie!”
“But … But a nice chunky brownie sounds
“Oh no, trust me you will thank me after
this and plus I can’t wait to have guests so I have an excuse to stand in
“There’s a line…?”
“No but it’s ok sometimes you get it in 20
Since I was a guest with no expectations,
but instead just letting myself be thrown into various experiences, I just
relaxed and enjoyed the sweet and not so feeble November sun of Amsterdam.
Bikes rushing, pigeons parading, tourists stopping for what I reckoned no
reason at all and pointing at stuff.
We arrive at Winkel; a typical Amsterdam
canal building with a very distinguished pointed end, probably dating back to
the 17th century. There are tables in the sun and green sunshades
mark the place, stuff you randomly see in Europe in tight sidewalks where
people like to enjoy their break so close to each other. There was absolutely
no place to sit and absolutely no enthusiasm that new customers arrived. Our
friend tells us to wait outside while he goes in to queue up. Out of curiosity
I decided that the menu would be a better sight than people eating, who made me
more hungry, so I go inside to be greeted by this interior that has not been
renovated thoroughly for ages, a long counter and a small window where you see
the kitchen and cooks. Some people are eating and drinking while standing and
my friend tells me there is not much to look at; just apple pie and coffee or
mint tea. After I stare at this man who came out of the kitchen completely
nonchalant, I think that he must be doing something great worth this attitude
and as soon as I take off, a table leaves and we rapidly sit on it.
A couple of cigarettes later (it must have
been some time, but who cares! There’s plenty to look at: people!) 5 apple
pies, 2 coffees and 3 mint teas arrive.
Hello there, apple pie! This warm crust
with the aroma of heavens just dwells me into itself and suddenly no one was
speaking. The pie is so fresh I could have sworn it just left the oven. The
crust is crumbly and it melts in the tongue together with the filling. And the
whipped cream? I have to admit I quit that bad habit in my teen days when I
just sneaked in the fridge at night and filled my mouth with whipped cream
until I could not close it back. But this home made whipped cream made me
reconsider the whole philosophy of this gastronomic foam. Delicious,
unrepeatable, take-me-to-the-rainbow-city whipped cream.
I was hungry and this generous slice took
care of my lunch. Gentlemen, at least your brunch.
I could go on and on and tell you the
places in my head this apple pie took me. All I can say is that once you put a
spoon in your mouth, the street noise does not matter, nor does the fact that
the place is so packed and the design is not impressive. You can easily call it
a meal and pay around five euros, drink included.
Although the apple pie occupies most of my
memories, I was very impressed with the mint tea too that sometimes I think I
dreamt it, since it is not customary elsewhere in Europe. You receive a glass
with hot water and leaves of mint, and it is one of the most organic drinks
ever, or at least it feels so, due to the transparency and the live plant.
is situated in a very touristic spot in Noordermarkt and a short walk away from
Anne Frank’s house. After the pie you can wander around and get lost in the open
markets or in between canals.