Why the Netherlands

Hallo, Netherlands!

Netherlands was chosen in our brainstorm session for 2019, and fair enough, too. The Dutch have given us orange carrots, chocolate, hollandaise sauce, an amazing variety of cheeses, and liquorice. I’m thinking we can’t go wrong here.

My experience of the Netherlands

During my two-year stint in the UK, I had a weekend in Amsterdam. I recall the stunning cyclamens (we were there in the spring), the lovely canals, the insanely long queue outside Anne Frank’s house, the red-light district, seeing the Heineken brewery and the amazing meal we had at the Surinamese restaurant.


I haven’t found any Dutch main course that threw me into raptures, but the dessert recipes look great! Dutch chocolate cake, appeltaart and something called spekkoek. And we’ll have to have Dutch carrots. And something with those amazing cheeses. While researching Dutch recipes, I couldn’t help but notice the strong Indonesian influence on the Dutch cuisine, so I’ll include something along those lines as well.

It shouldn’t be too hard to source Dutch ingredients – there is a Dutch grocery store in Croydon, so I hope they’ll have everything I need.

Lunch in the Netherlands will be on Sunday 25 August. I’m not sure yet who our guests will be.

17 August

Omigosh, lunch in the Netherlands has crept up on me very quickly. It’s next weekend!

Today I made the spekkoek and orange chocolate cake and have frozen them for next weekend. The spekkoek was interesting – I’m looking forward to trying it. But I’m a little disappointed with the recipe for the orange chocolate cake. I always use Dutch cocoa powder in my baking, but the recipe wants chocolate chips. I’m not sure that Cadbury’s is very Dutch. I might buy some Dutch chocolate and grate it over the top – that’ll add to the Dutchness.

Friday 23 August

Off to the Dutch grocer in Croydon today to get things like rookworst, bami noodles, Dutch liquorice, kaiserflesh and any other Dutch goodies I could find. It’s an amazing shop – check it out on Facebook, and the young lady who served me was extremely helpful. And what a bonus – next month we’re going to South Africa and the shop has taken over the South African shop that was in Croydon. I’ll be back next month!

The menu

This is what the menu is looking like:

  • Dutch gouda tarts
  • Snert
  • Bami goreng
  • Three-flavoured bitterballen
  • Stamppot with rookworst
  • Dutch celeriac salad
  • Asparagus hollandaise
  • Spekkoek
  • Appeltaart
  • Orange chocolate cake

Lani has pointed out to me that I have not been making a placemat for Cooper for our international lunches. How remiss of me. Cooper is the cat. Of course he needs a placemat!

The food

We started with the Dutch gouda tarts and celeriac salad (as a remoulade) on pumpernickel bread while Lauren got our cocktails organised.

Then it was into the Snert, which is a very, very nice pea and ham soup. It was delicious. And then onto the mains. The bitterballen was popular. I had one but didn’t really love it, although I discovered during the week when I was eating all the leftovers that they were about a trillion times nicer with the mustard-mayonnaise dip. That notched the flavour up considerably.

The stamppot was dee-lish-ous and was even better eaten during the week as a fry-up on toast.

The asparagus was nice – but just asparagus with a hollandaise sauce. The bami goreng was lovely – but I made about twenty times too much!

And so, onto desserts and cakes. They were all lovely. The Dutch liquorice was a winner for me.

Here are the recipes for our faves – Netherlands best recipes

Click here to see all our favourite recipes.

The drinks

Lauren made a Knickerbocker cocktail, which I managed to have the most of. Jan was on antibiotics so couldn’t drink, Helen doesn’t drink, Russell prefers wine and Will is going alcohol-free for a while (he drank zero-alcohol Heineken). That left just Lauren and me to sample and judge the cocktails. And very nice they were too! Lauren moved on to Heineken, which left me with the knickerbockers. Excellent!

The ambience

The Dutch Spotify play list was a bit weird, and I ended up switching back to the UK music playlist. C’est le vie, or zo is het leven, as Google translate tells me they would say in the Netherlands.

The quiz

The Netherlands quiz was perhaps the funniest one yet. Lauren did a great job of writing it, but it was only when she was telling us the answers that we realised that Helen and Russell didn’t get place-mats. I had only invited them the day before and didn’t think of making and printing place-mats for them. They were therefore at a huge disadvantage, so got full points for every question that was on the place-mat. That changed the game more than a little. There as much hilarity as the answers were read out.

But well done, Liam. Liam won the quiz – all on his own merits. He beat his dad by one point. Go Liam!!

And we had an extra quiz today. Lani has created a country called Cooper’s Country – I think I have mentioned in these pages before how much Lani loves Cooper. Liam won that quiz too. I’ve attached the factsheet for Cooper’s Country below, but I’m sorry to report that the quiz questions got lost in the clean-up. It doesn’t matter – Liam won it.

Lani then commandeered my label maker and made labels for all of us to let us know where we came in the quiz.

Here’s the place-mat – Place-mat_Netherlands

Here’s the factsheet – Factsheet_Netherlands

And here’s the quiz – Quiz_Netherlands

And here’s the factsheet for Cooper’s country – Factsheet_Coopers

The highlight of lunch in the Netherlands

The Dutch gouda tarts were voted the dish of the day, but the bitterballen and bami goreng were right up there as well. I really liked the stamppot and the snert.

Where to next?

Next month we’re off to South Africa. All I know about South African food is those long round sausages and biltong. The flag has more colours than any other flag. That’s about the sum of my knowledge of South Africa. Despite that, or maybe because of it, I am going to make a determined effort to win the quiz this time!

There’s a South African shop in Templestowe, so I’ll have to have a good look around that one. One of the many pleasures of this virtual trip around the world is going to all these shops and shopping centres that I didn’t even know existed. What an adventure it is!

We’re having lunch in South Africa on Sunday 29 September. Sien jou dan!

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