Our Journey Through Traditional Dutch Cuisine
We’re always looking for opportunities to combine our love of travel with our love of good food. So, during our most recent family vacation, we signed up for the Dutch Food Tour offered by Haarlem Food Tours.
Haarlem is a quaint town characterized by cobblestone streets and an old-world feel. It is known as the “little sister of Amsterdam,” as it is only 15 minutes west by train.
Between popping in and out of specialty food shops and restaurants, we learned some fun facts about Dutch history. For one thing, beer is a pretty big deal there. In fact, they built some of their canals just to transport barrels back in the 17th century!
Our tour guide (and owner of the company), Kelly, introduced us to the many flavors of Dutch traditional cuisine, which we found to be delicious. Here’s a recap of each of the places we visited – eight in total!
Stop One: Ginger Cookies and Spiced Bread
Our journey started at a cheery corner bakery called Bakkerij D&P. We were greeted with two Dutch treats – ginger wafer cookies and moist spiced bread. The bread was absolutely delicious and was made with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger. It is a favorite breakfast item among the Dutch.
Stop Two: Cappuccinos and Lattes
Given the unseasonably chilly weather, we welcomed our freshly brewed cups of coffee at a modern coffee shop called Brandmeester’s, which has other locations throughout the Netherlands including Amsterdam. My cappuccino was smooth and rich. They roast their own beans to maintain their high quality standards.
Stop Three: Artisan Chocolate
We sampled three chocolates from around the world at this bustling artisan chocolate store. The owner of Chocolatier Pierre showed us a map of where they source their chocolate, explaining that their products come from fair trade farmers. Chocolate is always a crowd pleaser!
Stop Four: Cheese, Cheese, and more Cheese!
What better to follow coffee and chocolate than a little cheese and wine! We sampled several different Dutch cheeses that were absolutely delicious. Good thing we had four more stops to get to, because we were tempted to stay at Bourgondisch Lifestyle the rest of the afternoon!
Stop Five: Gin
Jenever, or what the English-speaking world would call gin, is the national liquor of the Netherlands. This juniper-flavored spirit was first used as medicine in the 16th century. Today, the clear liquid is enjoyed straight up, served in a tulip-shaped glass. We samples ours at Brinkmann’s, an art deco style restaurant location in one of the town squares.
Stop Six: Soup
One of the heartier stops, we swung in to De Soupe Kantine for some hot and homemade soup. We each got our choice of two – I got the Indian lentil and chicken dill. Both were delicious! I also enjoyed some of my husband’s Mulligatawny, which was made with coconut milk and a host of vegetables.
Stop Seven: Herring and Cod
In the middle of one of the squares stood a pop-up fish stand full of all kinds of seafood. We tried one of the most popular Dutch dishes – marinated herring with raw onions and pickles. We also tried battered and fried cod, another favorite among locals. Both fish are harvested nearby in the North Sea.
Stop Eight: Beer and Bitterballen
There was no better way to round out our tour than with Dutch beer! Though the Jopen Brewery was founded in 1992, their mission is to resurrect traditional Haarlem beers. We tried one of the two originals called Koyt. It was paired with the Dutch snack known as bitterballen, which are fried balls of meat, broth, butter, flour, and parsley. A great way to end the tour, and we ended up ordering another round after the tour!
Next time you’re in The Netherlands…
What a fabulous experience and introduction to Dutch cuisine! If you’re in or around Amsterdam, we recommend you check out Haarlem Food Tours. And of course, if you’re in Colorado, check us out! We provide a similar experience featuring our local cuisine in Colorado Springs.
Happy travels, Samantha