Every time I’ve visited my brother Ryan in Amsterdam he’s taken me to breakfast at Hiene for the best French toast I’ve ever had in my life. It’s the sort of French toast you dream of on chilly, Fall days or cool, Spring mornings: thick, fluffy, crisp on the outside, tender-but-not-mushy on the inside. Slicked with butter and drizzled with keukenstroop (a molasses/treacle syrup), it is the perfect accompaniment to a tiny cup of espresso.
I always looked forward to dressing warmly and walking down the Prinsengracht, admiring the canal boats with their rooftop gardens, wondering what it would be like to live in one.
We’d check both ways for bicycles whizzing past, then cross the bridge and find a table for two on the red brick sidewalk where we could people-watch while we ate.
If we were especially ravenous we might try their Eggs With Everything – scrambled eggs piled with anything they felt like: salad, leftover ham, a bit of sauce – or a big bowl of steaming Dutch pea soup. But no matter what else we ordered, we inevitably got French toast.
The same older woman always waited on us: whisper thin, platinum blond hair, dressed all in black with a voice steeped in cigarette smoke. She was lovely and adored my brother, her lined face creasing in a smile at his approach, knowing exactly what he would order.
When Ryan sent me a ticket to join him and my family in Europe for Christmas this year, one of the many things I was looking forward to was our traditional breakfast at Hiene. I was heartbroken when he told me Hiene had closed.
I know it’s a very little thing, hardly worth mentioning, but Hiene was such a special place to me. A spot of delicious food and hours of great conversation with my brother and assorted friends who joined us over the years. I shall miss it.
Ryan assures me he has found a few new places that are really good. As long as he’s there to tease me dreadfully, make me laugh, and regale me with outlandish tales, I know they will be.
This is my contribution to Wanderfood Wednesday.