Some people think of rich desserts, bland meat and potato dishes, or perhaps pancakes, when they think of Dutch cuisine. But they’d be wrong. On our recent adventure in The Netherlands, we sampled a wealth of incredibly varied, fresh and delicious Dutch recipes–all available at great cafes, brewpubs and restaurants!
Here are our two favorite meals we enjoyed on our recent visit, and seven top dishes from The Netherlands with tested recipes for four:
Dutch Cheese Platter at De Molenwiek (or pretty much any restaurant in The Netherlands) – No visit to The Netherlands is complete without trying the flavorful and diverse selection of cheeses for which Hollanders are famous. This particular cheese platter, at De Molenwiek’s authentic Dutch kitchen, included oude kaas (aged gouda), jonge kaas (young gouda), and a creamy, soft, white rind cheese similar to brie, along with strong mustard, divine rolls (just the right amount of crust, pillow soft inside), and a small mixed salad.
Bitterballen – these enticing little fried meat-n-gravy balls are truly spectacular! We all felt we could eat our weight in them. They are traditionally served with other appetizers/beer snacks (kaasstengels, or fried cheese sticks, kaassouffleetjes, or fluffy cheese snacks, and vlammetjes, filled with pork), as bittergarnituur, or “garnish for bitters” (alcohol). We had bitterballen as part of a bittergarnituur at De Molenwiek, and then ordered bitterballen alone when we popped into cafes during our daily wanderings. Easy to make, and available in vegetarian version as well, this Dutch treat is comforting and filling in equal measure.
Craft Beer – Speaking of bittergarnituur, you must try the craft beverages at ‘Cause Beer Loves Food, a gastropub in central Amsterdam! Serving up bitterballen and other tasty treats, you can also sample interesting craft brews from all over The Netherlands. Definitely a place to relax and refuel after a full day’s activities.
Stamppot – Looking a bit like a stew that is thicker than stew has a right to be, this is another Dutch comfort food we loved. We had a delicious bowl of it at Tante Roojte in Amsterdam. Stamppot is mashed potato mixed with various cooked veggies plus dutch sausage. Consider the recipe more a guide than a requirement, and make it yours – as healthy or traditional as you like. It’s a straightforward recipe and a filling taste treat!
Friet & fritessaus – Dotted across The Netherlands are what Americans would call French Fry stands. Traditionally, Dutch eat their friet (fries) with a leaner and sweeter-than-mayonnaise white sauce called fritessaus. Other popular fries-and-sauce combinations include friet joppiesaus (fries with a mixture of mayo, ketchup, and spices, friet speciaal (fries with mayo, curry or ketchup, and onions), and patatje oorlog (fries with peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and raw chopped onions). You can easily walkabout with your snack — the fries are served in a sturdy paper cone with the condiments on top (and with a tiny fork for lifting the delightfully smothered pieces of fried potato heaven).
Appeltaart – Just about every dining establishment in The Netherlands offers Appeltaart, or apple tart. Especially tasty with coffee, appeltaart lets the fruit speak to your taste buds, has a gloriously flaky crust, and is served with lashings of cream. The appeltaart and coffee service at American Hotel – Amsterdam’s cafe is an especially good example. If you’d like to make your own appeltaart, try this recipe.
Dutch Pancakes – Like appelttaart, Dutch pancakes can be found in nearly every cafe and restaurant. Somewhere between American pancakes and crepes in both diameter and thickness, pannenkoeken are served both sweet and savory. Our favorite is served with appelstroop (delish sticky and dense Dutch apple syrup). You may be able to find appelstroop at specialty or international markets near your home in the US. Or try this recipe at home.
Rijstaffel (Rice table) at Indrapura – Given the Dutch penchant for exploring and colonising countries around the world, including the East Indies, you’d expect food experiences with an Indonesian twist. This ‘Dutch-Indonesian tapas’ does not disappoint. Most rijstaffel spots will seat tables of 2 or more, but the warm and hospitable folks at Indrapura will seat singletons as well. Comprised of small dishes of starters, mains, and rices, a rijstaffel experience fills you with both food and companionship. The atmosphere encourages shared food and conversation – and this one included a talented pianist playing a variety of engaging pieces from Cole Porter to current pop standards, at a perfect decibel level. Indrapura offers desserts, but every time we go, we’re too stuffed with the starters and mains to contemplate a sweet ending. If you’d like to try a bit of rijstaffel at your home, make some Bami Goreng (with noodles or rice).
Want to try some delectable Dutch cuisine in The Netherlands? Contact Dragon In Your Pocket for travel consulting, booking, or guiding your next trip!
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