My family is Dutch, and I grew up eating lots of Dutch specialties. Though i wouldn't say it's my favorite cuisine, there are a lot of things that take me right back to my childhood-Ontbijtkoek (Dutch spice bread), tons of good Gouda cheese, Bitterballen, Herring, Smoked Eel, tiny chocolate sprinkles on toast...
While we were in Amsterdam I got to pig out on all my favorites (and introduce a few to Fionn too!) So here's a run down...
1. Weird Treats at the Bakery involving Marzipan
When we passed these chocolate chestnuts, I had to have one. A chocolate ganache ball, wrapped in marzipan, topped off with perfect lemon flavored meringue spikes. It was delicious, even if Fionn ruined it by saying it looked like a monster eyeball...
Be still my heart! Is there anything like good Dutch cheese? We stopped into a cheese store and sampled a bunch of different kinds before settling on two wedges of the most delicious cheese I've ever had. I was seriously depressed when we finished the last of it.
3. Eel and Herring
Ok, I know this sounds gross. Herring or Eel with raw onions and a pickle?! Maybe it's just the Dutch blood in me, but I like it and liked sharing it with Fionn. He liked it too, but since he willingly ate rotten shark in Iceland, maybe that ain't saying much...
Oh, Poffertjes. As a kid, my dad would always treat us to poffertjes when we passed a stall selling them. I think he wanted them as much as we did! He even bought a poffertje pan when we moved to America so we could still have them. Unfortunately we didn't run into any street poffertje sellers, but I still got to share a plate with Fionn while we were in Amsterdam.
Wanna know what the coolest breakfast in the world for a kid is? White bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles. If you're a Dutch kid, congratulations, dreams DO come true. These glorified sprinkles are a Dutch staple. When you have a baby, it's customary to serve biscuits with pink or blue sprinkles to the new parents. I devoured plenty of these while in Amsterdam. :)
Indonesia was a Dutch colony for hundreds of years, so you will see a lot of Indonesian restaurants around Holland. Growing up, we ate a lot of Indonesian food, and every time we went back to Holland we were sure to go out for a Rijsttafel. Rijsttafel is a Dutch word meaning "rice table". During the colonial period, rijsttafels would be served for special occasions or for important guests. It consisted of lots of different Indonesian dishes from all corners of the country (40 or more small dishes wasn't unusual!). It's not traditional Indonesian food (especially because it's adapted for Dutch tastes) but it is delicious.
While we were in Amsterdam, we stopped at a restaurant called Long Pura for a rijsttafel. Fionn, his mom, and I shared it and were stuffed to the gills by the end of the meal! They brought out 20 dishes for us to try, PLUS dessert and a starter.
So many delicious options...
I love rijsttafels because there is something for everyone. Spicy, sweet, crunchy, salty...it's all there. If you don't like one dish, move on to the next! Now I'm hungry...
Ok, these are kind of hard to explain. Imagine gravy...breaded and fried. And that's a bitterball. :) It sounds gross (I know my mom is reading this and making all sorts of disgusted faces...she is not a fan of bitterballen) but try at least one if you're in Amsterdam. Decide for yourself!
Ace over at Life in Dutch posted her recipe for homemade bitterballen if you'd like to save yourself a trip to Holland!
Stroopwaffels are basically caramel filled wafers. They are divine with a cup of coffee or tea.
Who doesn't like fried balls of dough doused in powdered sugar?!
Alright, so that's enough Dutch food for now! Have you had any of these things before?