Poffertjes and Pancakes
Have you heard of ‘poffertjes’, the little fluffy mini pancakes? They can be found at market food stalls or in Dutch homes simmering in a special ‘poffertjes pan’ with their trademark golden brown skin, round fluffy shape, gorgeous smell and dollop of butter and powdered sugar on top. Poffertjes were traditionally eaten at fairs or festive events. The stalls where they were sold was an attraction in itself, with colourful interiors and live music playing — a must stop for every fair visitor. Nowadays you can still find these traditional stalls in some villages in the Netherlands. An immensely popular sweet snack with children… but don’t worry, plenty of adults have a weak spot for poffertjes too (including ourselves!).
Dutch families traditionally pass on a pancake family recipe from one generation to the other. Both equally loved, the pancake wins in popularity because of ease of preparation. Rumour has it that 1 out of 3 Dutch people have a pancake dinner at least once per month. There is even a national pancake day celebrated every year on March 19! On this day children bake pancakes for the elderly throughout the country. Although pancakes are gaining in popularity as a breakfast dish in the Netherlands people usually bake a whole stack for the entire family to be eaten at various meal times! In order to adhere to traditions, they need to be cooked thin (but not as thin as the French crepe) but also not too thick like American pancakes – the Dutch version is larger and a lot thinner. The most popular toppings are sweet like sugar or apple and bacon with sirop. Sweet toppings are definitely more popular than savoury but of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with a pancake filled with good old Gouda cheese!
Have we set your tastebuds tingling? We know where to go for the best pancakes and poffertjes in town and can even organise a private workshop where you learn how to flip some seriously impressive Dutch pancakes! The possibilities are endless, we offer a pancakes and poffertjes tasting during our foodie tours, or what about a pancake lunch (think how happy your kids will be!) in your private saloon boat while you enjoy the beauty of the Amsterdam canals?
Croquettes and Bitterballen
Have you ever tried a croquette sandwiched between delicious white bread? If not, head to the famous patisserie holtkamp or classy yet humble snack bar “Van Dobben Eetsalon”, which has been serving up croquettes or “Dutch krokets” (filled with ragout then breaded and fried) since 1945. For croquettes with hipster swag, head to Amsterdam’s ‘kroket bar’ where they experiment with all kinds of unusual fillings – think Indonesian ‘Beef Rendang’ for example. There is even a place where you can get your croquette fix from a hole-in-a-wall vending machine — a fun little experience and comes in handy if the drinks have been flowing!
As you’ve probably gathered croquettes are a huge deal in the Netherlands, with 300 million croquettes eaten every year. That is an average of 25 per Dutchman. But where and when did the love affair start? To answer that we need to leave the Netherlands for a moment and head to France. The first ever recipe for the croquette was actually found in a 1705 cookbook of Louis XIV’s chef. Controversially, the first Dutch recipe only dates back to 1830! In the 19th and 20th centuries, croquettes shifted from a food of the elite to a food of the people when the so-called snack bar started to gain popularity, where anyone could grab a quick and cheap bite! Similarly to the Netherlands, almost every restaurant in Belgium will offer croquettes but more as a proper lunch dish. The Belgians like to eat their croquettes filled with mashed potato, shrimp, or cheese, served with a salad, french fries, and garnished with fried parsley – tried and tested by team Fine Fleur on a scouting trip to Bruges, just ask us where to go for the very best one!
Less well known perhaps (but our number one local fried snack) is the ‘bitterballen’! Almost the same as the croquette except rounder and smaller, typically with 4-6 balls per portion – If you ask us, just a little more adorable in their diminutive stature and the perfect accompaniment to a pre-dinner drink! Oh and don’t worry, the word “bitter” has nothing to do with a bitter taste. Bitterballen used to be served with a bitter, a Dutch herb-flavoured alcoholic beverage: It is believed that in the 17th century, when the Spaniards occupied the country, the owner of an Amsterdam pub refined and adapted the Spanish version of the dish and served it with beer and bitter. Nowadays, choose whichever tipple you fancy to accompany our beloved bitterballen, best eaten piping hot, dipped into savoury mustard at one of our favourite traditional bruin (brown) cafés, so called for their tendency to have brown walls stained by decades of history and cigarette smoke from the old days. A true local experience