Food isn’t just essential for life, it can also hold a lot of memories. Certain cakes baked for birthdays for example, soups made for us when we weren’t feeling well; rituals of special stews and bakes made for things like bonfire night and other celebrations, and sacred family recipes passed down from generation to generation.
Dutch food has always held a special place in my heart thanks to my Grandmother. As children we would eagerly await tea time for slices of her home made bread topped with chocolate muisjes (who doesn’t like chocolate and bread?) and winter lunchtime bowls of the best pea and ham soup (I have her recipe, I need to make it soon), followed by puddings that usually involved stewed fruit of some kind or another. Returning from winter walks usually meant there would be hutspot (in this case usually mashed potato with carrots, onions and LOTS of butter, although we had a kale and potato version too) served with smoked sausages and gravy, and at Christmas we would work our way through her stock of spekulaas – then not so available in the UK as they are today.
I have passed these memories on to my children, and they also look forward to such foods on the rare occasions that we get back to visit my grandparents today. So, when we were in Amsterdam, I had to go to Moeders. This is a restaurant dedicated to Mothers everywhere, and full of traditional Dutch dishes just like Mum (or Granny mostly in my case) used to make.
This place is not huge, and the decoration is definitely chaotic with assorted tables and chairs crammed in, each one haphazardly laid with the best mish mash of plates, glasses and cutlery (back when it opened twenty six years ago, the owner asked his first guests to each bring a plate, a glass and cutlery!), but there’s something special about it.
Every inch of space on the walls is taken up with photographs, of you’ve guessed it. Mothers. Customers are still able to leave a photo of their own mum to add to the collection today (I think I could have spent a day studying them all, especially as there are more than a few that I am sure the Mother’s in question would be horrified at!), and a space will be found for it somewhere amongst the portraits of old Mums, new mums, mothers still here, and mothers who haven’t been around for a very long time. This makes for such a touching collage that I almost cried in to my pea soup (which was excellent by the way, not as good as my Grandmother’s but still excellent!) going over fond memories of my own Mum and both Grandmothers.
The food is mostly Dutch comfort food. The kind you would have grown up with in these parts, and typically involving a lot of potato and meat, but it’s good (there are of course plenty of vegetarian options). Along with the soup, we also had a tasting plate of various cheeses, smoked fish and little pastries, then it was on to the mains with mash with kale and smoked sausage going down well, and Mr R opting for ribs, chips and coleslaw. Then on to the serious matter of pudding, Dutch fruit cake, and a little tasting plate of poffertjies (a little like flat aebleskiver), a vanilla pudding with fruit compote and a spekulaas brulee. Service is friendly and unhurried (severely unhurried in our case, but that was not really an issue)…
This place really works as it combines food with nostalgia. Look around you and a lot of people aren’t talking much, and not only because they are busy studying the photo lined walls. A lot of them are lost in thought, proof in itself that memories and food go hand in hand. For a moment even I was nine years old again, life was much less complicated, all that mattered was what we might be having for dinner that evening, and best of all, someone else had cooked it. Definitely worth a visit, and you most definitely have to book.
Moeders, Rozengracht 251
1016 SX Amsterdam
Ting at My Travel Monkey says
Oh gosh, I am so hungry now – your photos and the descriptions have me heading out to lunch! Although I won’t find decent Dutch comfort food. I am the same Emma, food and dishes evoke such memories for me and of my childhood – it’s definitely something I’ve passed on to my son too. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes
Thanks so much Ting x
Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) says
You’ve described this so brilliantly that I want to go there right this instant! It really sounds like a must-visit place when you’re in Amsterdam. I love the concept of comfort food and mothers. How lovely! #mondayescapes
Thank you very much Clare! :)
Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault says
You are so right about food making strong memories, some not always good it has to be said! I love the idea of celebrating the food that Mothers made as this is a brilliant way to ensure a love of cooking is passed on to he next generation.
It’s funny how things I didn’t actually even like at the time have become nostalgic for me food wise! Thanks Rosie! :)
K.D. Jennings says
OK. I REALLY have to go to Amsterdam! ;o) xx
Hey you! Love the new blog! Yes, you absolutely must go, I know you would love it! :) xx
I love the sound of the eclectic decor – and how fab to ask people to bring a plate when they opened! Quite a risky strategy I guess :) #mondayescapes
I don’t know if it would work now do you? There would be lots of IKEA! :D Thanks Stephanie!
Maria (one tiny leap) says
Wonderful! I love the photos of mothers on the wall, it all looks and feels very nostalgic (even though it’s not my tradition!) Plus, bread + chocolate <3
Thanks Maria! Yes, bread and chocolate is always a winner in any form! :)
We’re heading to the Netherlands in Spring. I’ll definitely have to pay this place a visit then.
Definitely put it on your list Nell! Thank you! (:
What a lovely idea to have a wall filled with pictures of mothers. The food looks delicious too
It was. Thanks Kara! (:
Sarah Pylas (Grenglish) says
It is always lovely to revisit the things and places we have loved. The wall of photographs is magnificent! Looks like a wonderful place to spend an hour or two.
Thanks Sarah, it is a great place! :)
I love that photo wall, I would spend hours looking at all of those, the food looks great too :)
Thanks Sonia, you could definitely spend hours studying them all! :)
What a lovely review, to what seems like a wonderful restaurant! I love quaint little places like this. While reading your review I was thinking what a shame it was I didn’t know about it a few months ago when we went to Amsterdam, but then I remembered we’ll be going back soon, so I will get a chance to try it then!
Thanks Orli, you must go! Let me know how you get on! :)
Mums do travel says
I love the sound of this place, it sounds wonderful. What a brilliant idea for customers to be able to add their own photos to the collection.
Sweet isn’t it? Thanks Gretta! :)
Oh how wonderful to be caught up in those memories again. I love that food can bring such comfort and my Mum made a mean pea and ham soup. She spent years as a chef in Holland!
Then she definitely knows how to make it! Thanks Jen! (:
angela hamilton says
I love the idea of the photographs, what a lovely thing they do. The food looks amazing!
Thank you Angela! (:
I love that wall of photos – it’s just beautiful!
I’ve spent years trying to recreate my nana’s pea soup with very little success – I’ll keep trying though x x
Thanks Cass! I need to dig the recipe out. I have a real hankering for it now! :) xx
A Patchwork Life says
Such a great concept for a restaurant! Lovely comforting food that brings back happy memories. The wall of mums is pretty amazing – can completely understand why you found it moving. Sounds like a special place x
Thank you T. It’s a really sweet restaurant! x
Carole at Healthier Mummy says
Oh wow, what an amazing place. Love the idea of the mothers collage. And the food sounds delicious. Will bookmark this post for my next visit to Amsterdam.
Hope you enjoy it Carole! (:
Oh, of course I had to have a cry when reading this! So beautifully written as well. Reminding me to buy some kale when next in town and make some of my favourite Borenkool met worst. x
Aw my biggest fan. Thanks Mum xx
Dutch food is very special to me too. My brother and his family live in Amsterdam and I have so many memories of cold days there in lovely warm restaurants eating pea soup and toasted sandwiches. :-)
Thanks so much Krista. That sounds so good! :)
Bianca @itsallbee says
I really should have eaten before looking at this post. That mush and sausage looks amazing.
Thanks Bianca! :)
Liz Burton says
What lovely memories. Funnily enough, most of my memories have food in there somewhere!
Ha! Glad it’s not just me! :D
Helen @actuallymummy says
I do love travelly posts about food :) Moeders sounds like the kind of place I need to go to – you’ve just made me google fruit compote and I’m craving a lovely spicy apricot concoction with thick yoghurt for dessert tonight. As for pea and ham soup – it’s been too long! I think my kids would love it too.
Thanks Helen. That sounds amazing! Hope all is well x
Phoebe @ lou messugo says
It sounds like such a quirky interesting place – what a lovely tribute to mothers. I had no idea you had Dutch heritage, do you speak Dutch?
I can sing Happy Birthday! :D That’s it I am afraid! Although (don’t tell my Grandmother this) since living here, I can understand a lot more words as the two languages are quite similar! x