What: Whoever coined the phrase “as American as apple pie” surely hadn’t been to the Netherlands. Dutch apple pie, appeltaart (or appelgebak), has been a quintessential sweet in the country’s cuisine for centuries, and countless cafes, restaurants, and bakeries in modern-day Amsterdam reflect this. A common accompaniment to koffie (coffee), and often served met slagroom (with whipped cream), appeltaart differs from American apple pie in a number of ways: It’s baked in a spring-form pan, making it instantly deeper; it’s much drier inside, not at all syrupy; it’s really chock-full of big, firm hunks of apple (and often raisins or currants); and it tends to rely on sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, rum or brandy, and other warm spices for flavor. Find a good appeltaart in Amsterdam, and you’ll be hard-pressed to eat anything else for breakfast there, ever.
Where: It’s not really a secret that Café Winkel (Noordermarkt 43), in the hip Jordaan neighborhood, has one of the best appeltaarts in the city. Fortunately, it lives up to its reputation. Bonus: The cafe is on a busy corner near a popular Saturday and Monday market, affording some great people-watching.
When: Mon, 7am-1am; Tues-Thurs, 8am-1am; Fri, 8am-3am; Sat, 7am-3am; Sun, 10am-1am. Mornings on the outdoor terrace here are your best bet, though you may have to wait to score a table.
Order: Ask for appeltaart met slagroom (€3,50), which is typically served at room temperature, and prepare to have your mind blown a little. The thick-cut apples are moist, plentiful, and interspersed with plump raisins; the crust is deliciously crunchy; the slagroom brings just the right creaminess to the buttery pastry and tart apple sweetness. Enjoy with your choice of coffee—if you’re feeling indulgent, try a koffie verkeerd, the Dutch equivalent of café au lait.
Alternatively: The canalside Villa Zeezicht (020-626-7433; Torensteeg 7, map) likewise gets huge props for its appeltaart (and outdoor terrace). Failing that, find your own local café and give its appeltaart a try—how bad can it really be?