Going Dutch

Ever since we started Operation Dumpling, my friend Ralph from the Netherlands has been encouraging us to sample some European cuisine of the Dutch persuasion.

I had some difficulty with my geography when I started trying to write this post. The Dutch don't live in a country called 'Dutchland', they insist on calling it the Netherlands; or just to confuse you, they might just refer to it as Holland. Wikipedia assures me that there is some overly complicated reason why, which relates to "The kingdom of the Netherlands" and a separation or amalgamation of 12 separate provinces or some such thing. Anyway, I digress.

Back to our mission, Ralph sent us on a very specific quest to Van Dam's Dutch cafe, which is in the suburb of Riccarton and I believe is the only Dutch restaurant in Christchurch. We parked around the back and used the back alley entrance. It was the sort of thing that makes you expect to be greeted by a thick wooden door and to have to recite some secret password to gain entrance. Alas it was not to be.

The inside of the cafe has an eclectic and homely feel that was warm and greeting and undoubtedly very Dutch. Van Dams is half cafe and half Dutch shop. We spent time checking out all the Dutch goodies that they sell and purchased dutch pancake mix (for our ongoing saga of find the perfect pancake, soon to be written up as an Operation Dumpling side mission), zoute drop (that salty licorice stuff) and, of course, windmill biscuits - we just couldn't resist.

Whilst purchasing our Dutch goodies we discovered a small sign noting that Van Dams was relocating their cafe to the new location, and that the current cafe would just become the Dutch shop.

One of the things that Ralph had specifically suggested that we try was Krockets, however, we were told that if we wanted to eat these we had to go across to the new cafe. Luckily for us the new cafe was just around the corner, so off we trundled into the Bush Inn Centre to find it. Sadly, we felt the aesthetics of the new cafe were a bit of a let down compared to the cosy place we had just come from. It was much more 'generic' feeling, not nearly as homey and european feeling as the shop was. Not to be deterred we headed on in to eat our Dutch food!

the new cafe just didn't have the same 'Dutch' feel to it...

As instructed by Ralph we ordered Kroket Deluxe, Bitterballen and Dutch fries. It all looked very delicious, but did give me the impression that everything in the Netherlands is deep fried.

First up, we tucked into the Kroket Deluxe. It was not what I expected. It looks like a hybrid between an america hot dog and a hamburger - long bread bun contained lettuce, sauce and the kroket itselt, which has the illusion of looking like a crumbed sausage. It comes in your choice of chicken or beef so we were expecting it to be meaty, and similar in texture to that of a sausage. Not so. The Kroket is really soft in the middle, about the same consistency as mashed potatoes! It tasted good, with a savour chicken-gravy flavour, it just wasn't what I expected texture-wise.

The Bitterballen are small ball versions of the Kroket with the same squishy interior. We had beef bitterballen and they were quite tasty. Sharon likened them to one of her favourite fast-food indulgences - KFC's 'mashies' (crumbed mashed potato balls.)

Watch the video "OD goes Dutch"

Kroket Deluxe

Bitterballen with mustardIt's like beefy potatoes and gravy in the middle!

The Dutch fries were excellent. The were served fresh and crispy sprinkled with herb salt and mayonnaise and sweet ketchup on the side! Yum! We had a near disaster when we ran out of mayo for the fries, but more mayo was procured and the crisis was averted.

Dutch Fries! Yum

To finish it all off we had Olieballen. We had no idea what it was but we were intrigued to find out. The Olieballen was served warm, sprinkled with icing sugar and it appeared to have been deep fried; along with the rest of the food from the Netherlands. The Olieballen had had apple and raisins in it and a texture similar to steamed pudding or a very heavy/gooey doughnut - it tasted pretty good!


So our Dutch mission was mostly a success. The food was tasty as well as intriguing, however we thought it was unfortunate that the new cafe was lacking the atmosphere of the old joint. The Dutch experience will continue on at home for a few days, because we also have those windmill biscuits to have with tea. Yay!

Thanks for sending us on a mission Ralph!

4 comments Posted by B on Wednesday, May 14, 2008