Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes made with yeast and buckwheat flour. These tasty treats are prepared using a special pan with several shallow indentations in the bottom to hold the batter and make perfectly puffed small pancakes. Poffertjes are typically served topped with powdered sugar and butter.
Poffertjes are traditionally consumed in fall and winter when stands selling the delicious snack can be found at outdoor markets and on many street corners. They are usually served on a little paper plate with a tiny fork for smearing the butter and stabbing the cakes to ferry into your mouth. The wind blowing the powdered sugar around covering your face and clothing in white dust is part of the fun!
The pancakes are sometimes eaten with other sweet toppings, such as stroop (syrup), slagroom (whipped cream) or aardbeien (strawberries).
Bitterballen are deep-fried snacks that are ubiquitous in cafes and bars all over the Netherlands. These savory orbs are battered in a crunchy breadcrumb coating and filled with a gooey mixture of chopped beef, beef broth, flour, butter, herbs and spices. They are typically served with mustard for dipping.
If you’ve never tasted bitterballen before, order them at a cafe as the perfect accompaniment to a round of beers. But be careful when you bite through the crunchy crust, the meaty ragout filling is often burning hot! Let op!
You can sample bitterballen at almost any bruincafe in Amsterdam, those at Grandcafé Luxembourg are said to be the best. If you are vegetarian, be sure to get the veggie bitterballen at Café Louter! And if you want to sample something really interesting, try the Schipholgans bitterballen at MOES Amsterdam.
A cousin to the bitterbal is the bigger, oblong shaped kroket. It is often enjoyed as a sandwich on a soft bun and you can get it at the famous food from the wall spots in Amsterdam like FEBO and Smullers.
Photo credit: © Susie Gregson
A delicious chewy cookie, the stroopwafel (syrup waffle) was first made in the town of Gouda in the Netherlands during the 18th century. In fact, until 1870 stroopwafels were made only in Gouda and there were about 100 bakeries selling these treats in that city alone.
This sweet snack is a waffle cookie made from two thin layers of batter with a sticky syrup filling in the middle. They can be purchased in packages at nearly every grocery store and bakery in the Netherlands, as well as freshly made at street stands at markets and festivals. In Amsterdam you can find freshly made stoopwafels at Albert Cuypmarkt.
Stroopwafels are particularly good with a cup of coffee or tea. The cookies come in various sizes, but the most common diameter fits perfectly as a lid on a cup of hot liquid. This softens the cookie and melts the sweet syrup, making a delightful dessert or snack.
Olliebollen are a Dutch treat traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and at festivals and markets during the winter season.
The deep friend balls of dough are similar in taste and texture to a cake doughnut, often with the addition of raisins or currants in the batter. Oliebollen are usually served hot with powdered sugar on top.
Try oliebollen at a street stand in the winter or hope you get invited to a New Year’s party where you can taste homemade oliebollen. Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
Visit any cafe or restaurant in the Netherlands and you are sure to notice someone ordering a koffie verkeerd. This is the Dutch version of a caffè latte or café au lait. It is traditionally a hot cup of coffee with a lot of warm milk, but is most commonly served as an espresso with a lot of steamed milk and some froth.
Koffie verkeerd means ‘wrong coffee’, because normal coffee would contain a dash of milk instead of the almost 50/50 ratio.
If you like milk in your coffee, order a koffie verkeerd with your breakfast or as an afternoon treat. Many people add a cube of sugar to their koffie verkeerd and stir it up with a little spoon. The Dutch almost always serve a little cookie with your coffee, which is a charming addition to this milky caffeinated delight.
Hollandse Nieuwe Haring
A very traditional food in the Netherlands, Hollandse nieuwe haring should be tried at least once. The raw herring fish is typically served with chopped onions, and can be eaten with or without bread.
Herring should only be called Hollandse nieuwe if caught between May and July. The fish should also be prepared according to the Dutch tradition where the freshly caught fish are gutted onboard the fishing boats, leaving the pancreas in the fish. The pancreatic enzymes perform much of the preservation of the haring, so that the brine they are kept in needs less salt.
Dutch herring are traditionally eaten by holding the fish by the tail and dunking it into your mouth with your head thrown back. If that doesn’t seem appealing, haring can also be eaten in bite size pieces or on a sandwich called broodje haring.
You can find haring at street stands and shops all around Amsterdam. Just look for the Dutch flag!
A delicious pie with a tasty light crust, Limburgse vlaai is often filled with fruits like cherries or apricots. This type of pie is originally from the Limburg area in the south of the Netherlands, and is said to have been created in the town of Weert by a woman named Maria Hubertina Hendrix who sold her pies at the train station.
Vlaai differs from other pie recipes in a few ways. The batter is lighter than traditional pie crust, a bit more like a cake than a pie dough. Also, the pie itself is flatter and thinner than many American styles of pie.
Several varieties of vlaai can be found throughout the Netherlands. The most common have fruit fillings like cherries, apricots, plums, and apples. There is also a version called greumellevlaai that is filled with a buttery crumble mix and a rice pudding recipe called rijstevlaai.
Vlaai can be served by itself or with whipped cream, chocolate or other toppings. Enjoy a slice for dessert or with your afternoon coffee or tea. Sweet!
The chocoladeletter is a Dutch candy made of chocolate in the form of a letter. It is a fun delicacy that is most often sold around the time of Sinterklaas celebrations in the Netherlands.
The history of the chocoladeletter begins in the middle ages when letters were created from bread dough. This continued throughout the centuries until the letters were commonly made from chocolate in the 19th century.
Chocoladeletters are given as gifts at Sinterklaas, the Dutch celebration of Sint Nicolaas in early December. The letters are usually chosen for the recipient’s first name. M is said to be the best selling letter because many Dutch first names (Martijn, Marieke, Marleen, Matthias, Menno, Michelle) and Moeder (mother) begin with M.
The tasty treats may be given as gifts to friends, family or employees or left as a surprise in your shoe by Sint Nicolaas during the night of Sinterklaas. Most candy companies don’t make Q, U, Y, or Z as very few Dutch names begin with these letters. The M and W letters look the largest, though all letters weigh the same amount.
Chocoladeletters come in white, milk or dark chocolate. Please keep in mind that I like milk chocolate and my name begins with S. Bedankt.
Photo credit: Hema.nl
Traditionally served during winter time, stamppot might just be the epitome of Dutch cuisine. Hearty, nutritious, and tasty but not exactly what one would call haute cuisine.
This heavy dish consists of mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables like kale or carrots and is traditionally served with rookworst (smoked sausage). Want to eat stamppot like a real Dutchman? Dig a little ‘pond’ in your stamppot for the gravy!
Stamppot boerenkool (kale) is arguably the most popular version of this filling meal. Other types of stamppot are stamppot rauwe andijvie (raw endive), hutspot (onions and carrots) and zuurkool (sauerkraut).
If you’re not lucky enough to know a Dutchie who can cook you this tasty meal in their kitchen, you can try it at several places around Amsterdam. The IJscuypje chain is a genius concept of ice cream shop in summer turned stamppot cafe (called Stamppotje) in winter. Choose from their freshly made stamppot flavors and toppings like sausage, bacon or gehaktbal. The grocery chain Albert Heijn also has pre-made versions that you can heat up in the microwave oven. Or look online for a recipe and try to make it yourself!
A tasty but questionable Dutch culinary contribution is patat, the Dutch word for frites, chips or french fries. These thick and crispy fries are said to have been invented in the northern part of Belgium, and are thus often called Vlaamse friet. Dutchies love their patat with copious amounts of mayonnaise and often supplement this popular treat with another fried snack on the side if you can believe it. This side dish may be frikandel or kroket, both deep-fried meaty snacks. These unfading favorites may be purchased at snack bars all over Amsterdam, including the famous FEBO.
A curious element of many Dutch snack bars like FEBO is the snackmuur or automat; a wall filled with little coin-operated hatches from which pre-made snacks are served. Drop in your one or two Euro coin and open the little door to remove your frikandel, chicken sandwich or other delicious “food”. Click here to read more fun facts about FEBO! Fresh patat are usually procured from the back of the shop.
The Dutch enjoy their patat with mayonnaise as mentioned earlier and also with a combination of unique toppings. Try patatje oorlog, a conglomeration of peanut saté sauce, mayo and onions that might give your stomach a lesson about the meaning of the name (oorlog means war). Or try the patat speciaal which includes curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onion. For the ultimate healthy meal, try the frikandel speciaal with curry ketchup, mayo and onions slathered on a frikandel sausage, and order a side of patat to dip in the leftover sauce.