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Farewell to Hiene: French Toast in Amsterdam

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.

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A Canadian Foodie - What a wonderful story accompanied by perfect photographs with the most lush French Toast I have ever seen. Now, this post was satisfying! (unlike the other Amsterdam one that was far too short!).
I am sad, too – as after reading this, I wanted to go. I also want to stay with your brother when we visit! You are so fortunate to have a close family member living in such an interesting place. Christmas in Amsterdam! I cannot wait to hear all about it, and about the new places you find to share your stories together.

Debi Lander - Gorgeous photos. I am sure the new place will be wonderful but sad to lose a favorite.

RamblingTart - Thank you so much, Nicole. 🙂 Isn’t the garden WONDERFUL? Ohhh, it makes my heart happy just looking at it. 🙂

RamblingTart - Ohhh, I LOVE stroopwaffels too, Mary! Yum! Yum! Can’t wait to have a fresh, warm one when I go visit my brother. 🙂 I’m a huge maple fan too, but this syrup has its own charm that I actually crave now and then. 🙂

RamblingTart - Thank you, Joanne! I know you truly understand such things. 🙂

RamblingTart - Me too, Anna! It delights me no end. 🙂 One day I will have a spot with enough sunshine to grow things to my hearts content. 🙂

Nicole - Gorgeous photos like usual! I love that the canal boat has a water garden! It’s so disappointing when a favorite place closes, but at least it can’t be taken from our memory. And I do look forward to hearing about new places you’ll find!

RamblingTart - Oh, he must live in a lovely spot, Elra. 🙂

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Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - How I miss Amsterdam! Beautiful photos as always!

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Mary - I love French toast too, but I’ve never tried keukenstroop. I’m pretty loyal to maple! I did make a Dutch spice cake the other day, and we have a Dutch imports store in town, so I have to go have a look for it (and maybe get some stroopwaffels). I hate it when favourite restaurants close, but hopefully you and your brother get to discover a great new place during your visit.

Joanne - Your experience in Hiene sounds so undeniably lovely! And I can’t help but think that that luscious french toast had something to do with it!

Anna Johnston - I love the photo of all the potted herbs on the boat, just love it. Says so much about the important things in life huh. Really awful when we find one of our cherished memories of a restaurant is no more I agree.

ielra - Gosh, your first photo is remind me of my brother in law’s home in Amsterdam. Gorgeous !

RamblingTart - Thank you, Tracy. They’re some of my favorites too – taken with an old film camera that I LOVE! 🙂

Tracy - I love this series of photos. Sorry to hear that your favorite place has closed. What nice memories you have, though.

RamblingTart - Thank you, dear Tuula. 🙂 Ry is so good at finding great spots that we instantly feel at home in. Now I’m excited to see what he’s discovered! 🙂 Doesn’t a houseboat sound splendid?! 🙂

RamblingTart - Funny how we’ve all changed as we grew up, eh Lauryl! 🙂 Ryan is a totally different guy from back then, so fabulous and jolly and adventurous. No more suits for him! 🙂 HOORAY! HOORAY! So excited I won! Thanks, luv!

RamblingTart - I’m glad you understand, Breanne. 🙂 I promise to take heaps of pictures on my trip and tell you all about our adventures. 🙂

RamblingTart - Thank you, dear Zita. 🙂

RamblingTart - Isn’t it lovely, Rosa? 🙂 How I shall miss it.

Tuula M - Ohh, sorry to hear it closed as well, sounds like a really lovely place! Hope you find one just as dear when you see your brother – maybe it will be a nice holiday adventure together 🙂 Beautiful photos as always…and now you have me dreaming of living on a house boat too 😀

{lauryl} - I still think of Ryan as the director of the North Highlands project and 100% ATI. It’s hard to imagine him living in Amsterdam. Lucky you getting to go there for the holidays! Lovely pix. Oh, and you won the giveaway on my blog! 😉 Need your address!

Breanne - Oh, I know that feeling of a special place closing or changing ownership…all the memories and people and the delicious food and drinks…
Your Christmas trip sounds incredible, I’m looking forward to traveling vicariously through you. =)

Zita - Lovely post with wonderful photos!

Rosa - Yummy! I love French toast. That is such a beautiful and peaceful place.



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