From mini pancakes to croquettes from a vending machine, Netherlands offers the hungry travellers plenty of unique culinary experiences. Dutch cuisine may not be as well-known as French or Chinese one but there are many Dutch delights which have to be tried! Do not return back home without trying at least one of these meals, otherwise you’ll miss the perfect opporunity to endeavour something really different!
First things first, a couple of handy facts:
• Cheeses can be got in very good price and offer of a lot of different kinds is very wide. In the Netherlands you will almost never meet with molten cheese.
• Fresh fish can be bought mostly on markets. Between favourite delicacies belong saloms and eels.
• Foreign cuisines are in the Netherlands very favourite. You can often meet with Italian, Spanish, Greek, but also Indonesian, Surinam, Chinese, Moroccan and Indian restaurants.
• Food prices are comparable with prices in other European countries. But when you want to eat in a good restaurant, be ready for a higher price.
• Beer is usually sold in tierces (biertje, amsterdammetje, vaasje, pilsje), in offer is also a smaller glass (fluitje). When you want typical half litter, you have to order grote bier.
• Horeca is word shortcut for all hotels, restaurants and cafés. On all of these places is smoking strictly prohibited.
• Gratuity is usually automatically counted to the bill. But when you’re contented with services, you can leave a waiter little extra. After paying the bill is gratuity usually left on the table.
Typical Dutch dishes are simple and usually from fish. Wortelstamppot is simple dish from potatoes, carrot and onion. Haring is raw herring marinated in vinegar served with finely chopped onions. You can get it in a roll as broodje haring. Patatje oorlog are Belgian fries with mayonnaise, peanut sauce and onion. Frikandel speciaal is dish similar to a rissole, but narrow and elongated shape. Stroopwafels are wafels with syrup filling similar to caramel. Others are, for example:
The Netherlands is not known for its fabulous cuisine. But regarding to snacks, nobody can beat the Dutch! The kroket is a deep fried roll with meat ragout inside, covered in breadcrumbs. The common English translation of kroket is croquette. The original Dutch kroket is made from beef or veal, but there are many different flavors like chicken satay, shrimps, goulash or even a vegetarian kroket. You can eat it as a snack, but most of the time they are served on sliced white bread or hamburger buns with mustard on the side. Be aware; they can be quite hot inside!
You can buy your kroket almost everywhere in Amsterdam; regular snack bars, cafés, restaurants or McDonald’s (McKroket). You can even get on the streets from one of the typical Dutch vending machines filled with hamburgers and snacks. The Febo is such a walk-in snack bar located on different spots all over the city and famous for its kroketten. Three premium brands are Van Dobben, Holtkamp and Kwekkeboom.
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. You can try 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 places like Hoftuin or Cafe de Ceuvel. And if you want to sample something really interesting, try the Schipholgans bitterballen at MOES Amsterdam. The place with the widest variety of bitterballen (like chorizo, goat cheese or truffle) is definitely De Ballenbar in De Foodhallen.
Stamppot is a big lovely mess of mashed potato mushed up with other vegetables including sauerkraut, kale, spinach or turnip greens. Sometimes the potato is smashed with carrots and turnips, and then it’s called Hutspot. You’ll normally find it served with a big ol’ smoked sausage or a pork chop at a every single Dutch restaurant.
Due to its robust, lumpy consistency, this delicious split-pea soup bears a striking resemblance to a bowl of thick, green porridge. While there is no definitive recipe for the soup, it always contains an ample helping of split-peas alongside other optional, seasonal vegetables, such as celeriac carrots, onions or leeks. This indiscriminate approach towards preparation gives snert its distinctive texture – a quality that many Dutch people deliberately ameliorate by allowing their stews to thicken overnight. In fact, it is often said that snert is only truly ready when a teaspoon can stand upright in its centre and remain stable for at least a few seconds.
It may not have its origins in Holland, but fondue has a very special place in the hearts of all Dutchies. What could be cosier than huddling around a cauldron of hot melty cheese with a bottle of red on a winter’s night? There are plenty of places to get your fondue in Amsterdam, such as ‘t Blaauwhooft, Fondue & Fondue and Café Jaap at the Jaap Eden ice rink.
Suddervlees literally means “braised meat” which translates on the plate to a big hearty beef and ale stew. It makes absolutely no attempt to look attractive, but with its punchy combo of slow cooked meat, beer, onions and seasoning, it’s winter on a plate for many people in the Netherlands. Get it with frites to mop up all that lovely gravy.
Pancakes are common around the globe, but the Dutch give pancakes their own twist as pannenkoeken. The Dutch version is a lot larger and flatter than the American pancake, but slightly thicker than a French crêpe. Dutch pancakes are made of flour, eggs and milk. Traditionally they are eaten for dinner and are served often with sugar syrup (stroop), powdered sugar, jam, bacon or cheese. A classic is the combination of bacon and sugar syrup.
In the Netherlands and Belgium there are many specialized pancake restaurants and even pancake boats. These restaurants offer pancakes with a wide variety of both hearty and sweet toppings. In Amsterdam, check out the popular restaurant Pancakes! or take a ride on the Pannenkoekenboot.
Traditional Dutch appeltaart is a bit different than the American one and has a sweet cakey dough on the bottom and edges, with a lattice on the top. The apple slices in the filling are flavored with cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice. Common apple varieties called for in appeltaart recipes are Elstar, Gala and Goudreinet as they are crispy and not too sweet. Many Amsterdammers say the tastiest appletaart can be found at Winkel or Papeneiland, both in the Jordaan near the Noorderkerk. Served with a dollop of whipped cream, their pie surely is particularly delicious.
Oliebollen are so special that you can only get them for a few short winter months. Traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve, they’re essentially deep fried dough balls dusted with powdered sugar, studded with raisins and currants. Look out for Oliebollen stalls (Oliebollenkramen) and eat as many as you possibly can before they disappear for another year.
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 a traditional Dutch food typically served topped with powdered sugar and butter on a little paper plate, consumed in fall and winter when stands selling the delicious snack can be found at outdoor markets and on many street corners. They are sometimes eaten with other sweet toppings, such as stroop (syrup), slagroom (whipped cream) or aardbeien (strawberries).
- Hot Chocomel
Wrapping your hands around a mug of hot chocolate milk on a winter’s day is one of life’s simple pleasures. You’ll find hot chocolade (usually the Dutch brand Chocomel) on the menus in most cafes and street markets in Amsterdam.
There are certainly many other specialties worth of trying, however, I decided to list only a couple of the most interesting ones. I hope you’ll find it helpful and useful nevertheless and now, knowning what to look for, you won’t be forced to dine in fast foods in the Netherlands ever again!
Have a great day!