Area codes: there’s a renaissance happening in Amsterdam

 Amsterdam-based Rhiannon Pickles runs an eponymous PR firm that represents an array of cultural clients, including the renowned Documenta and the Istanbul Biennial. She recently took us on a tour of the Dutch capital to show us her very favourite spots, including a couple of design meccas as well as the very best butcher in town. “It’s an exciting time to be here,” says Rhiannon, and we’re inclined to agree.

There’s a renaissance happening. Amsterdam’s coming to life. There was an absence of culture because the Stedelijk museum and the Rijksmuesuem were closed. That was all politics. The collection in the Rijksmuseum is owned by the state and the building is owned by the city and they clash. So… delays and delays and delays.

But I want to talk about food. Why is it so difficult to find a good butcher in the Netherlands? Probably because of the Calvinist tradition. They don’t want to spend money. But Fred and Yolanda de Leeuw’s, they sell Wyagu beef, wild boar. My Dutch husband says “Oh you can’t go there, it’s so expensive!” So I just don’t tell him.

yolanda

Then there’s Casa del Gusto. Mmmmm. It’s the best Italian delicatessen ever ever ever. The only place outside of Rome that sells puntarelle. Lots of Italians in Amsterdam, yes. But I bring clients to the Stedelijk museum to eat. It’s as if there’s no division between inside and outside. Feels like you’re eating amongst the skateboards and cyclists. And once a year, the Yamazoto restaurant in the Okura Hotel, it’s Japanese. Not a place for a rowdy lunch, though.

And Suite Wood, an absolutely tiny design showroom. I love it. It’s this young woman with two little sons with stuff in the basement of her house. She’s got really good taste. At Frozen Fountain you go in and say “Oh that’s nice” and you go away and in the meantime, it’s become a design classic and you’ve missed out on buying it.

frozenfountain

Amsterdam? It’s a really civilised place to live. Trees. Clean air. Culture. What you never see when you’re walking along the canals is the gardens behind. You would never guess. I love this part of town. There’s this guy who cycles around playing classical music really loudly on his bike. Everybody knows him.

Yes… I suppose it can be a headache with the foreigners. Not foreigners like me, but foreigners like tourists. But the locals reclaim the city when the canals freeze and in summer everyone’s out in force. It’s an exciting time to be here.