Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:16 AM
Nice to see someone stepping outside of Amsterdam ;-) As an ex-Zwolse I haven't been around there for a while, but these would be my tips:
- Curls mentioned pancakes, which is a Dutch thing and they have a pancake ship in Zwolle. I do think you can get a better meal, if you're just staying for 1 night without bringing a kid along. It's a bit of a family style restaurant I reckon. You will find it on the Pletterstraat 6. Skip the 'international' mediocreness and select classic ones that include spek and/or apple. The syrup which is called stroop (pronounced as stroap) is also available in supermarkets, in case you want to bring some home. Dutch varieties range from regular sugar beet syrup to apple and apple-pear ones.
Sometimes you come across their little fat nephews, poffertjes. Freshly baked miniature thick pancakes served with powdered sugar and butter are really good.
Brasserie Dunnik seems to get ok scores from Zwollenaren and they also serve Dutch eetcafe (pub) food with some international influences like Indonesian. It's located at the beginning of the Broerestraat.
- Snacks like French fries and croquettes are also typical Dutch. Try to find a place where they have home made fries or look around if you see a sticker that mentions Raspatat. These are long thin pressed fries and a twist from the regular available ones. Dutch mayo can be on the sweet side, same thing goes for fritessaus. Speciaal means you get mayo and ketchup or curry (this is a more spiced ketchup, with a sweet tang) with onion flecks. Oorlog means you get mayo, sateh sauce (beware as most of these are thick brown goo that are a world away from the yummy sateh sauce you might know) and mosterd, making up war (oorlog) colours. Relative newbie sauce is joppie, a sweet sauce with tiny flecks of processed onions. There will be more sauces available probably.
Kroketten (Dutch spelling) are easy to obtain. There are several brands available, but if I have to recommend one for now it would be Febo. They have fresh snacks, which haven't been frozen and their kroket is quite good. You will find a location, including the famous wall system where you can pick it up from, in the centre of Zwolle next to that big church. Look for their signature yellow on a corner. The kroket options include a regular one, kalfskroket (veal) and a pretty good vegetarian one called Vitaaltje. Sometimes a goulash or sateh kroket will also be available. The flat brother with cheese is called kaassouffle. Watch the filling as it can be piping hot and a bit runny. Don't forget a portion of mustard with these!
Bitterballen are the little nephews of kroketten and these are available as snacks in the cafe's. Great pairing with a nice beer.
Dutchies like taking on foreign stuff as their own, so kroket versions of nasi and bami are also available. Though not the best sampling of Indonesian food it can be a tasty snack.
- Speaking of Indonesian food, I think there are 2 restaurants doing this. One of is on the Jufferenwal and the other on Thomas A Kempistraat. Chinese restaurants will serve Indonesian dishes like babi pangang, but they do have been adjusted to a more Chinese style. Also recommended is Surinam food, which has creole, hindustani and javanese (indonesian) influences. There used to be a great little take out shop next to the Peperbus (landmark), but I can't find any information on it's existence. Places like these don't always have websites, so maybe it's still there. The ladies cooked with delicate spicing, which is special since most of these places can use quite a bit of salt and such. Anyway, there should be more shops selling this. Look out for roti (lentil stuffed roti mostly, available with a choice of meats, chicken, egg, tofu, tempeh, potatoes cooked in masala broth and long green beans), moksi meti (mixed meats, think char siu, with rice and trimmings), pom tayer (see Mark from Amsterdam's blog for more details+ a recipe) and snacks like bara (deep fried lentil fritter) and telo, which can be ordered with bakkeljauw (Surinam cod). Watch out with the yellow sauce, generally it's hot.
- Since I'm not a fan of fish, I can't recommend a place for that. But herring and onions is true Dutch and is available in most parts of the town I guess. If you like fried fish, look out for kibbeling.
- Oliebollen and apple beignets are not in season, but apple turn overs can be picked up at most bakeries along with other apple goodies like Dutch apple pie (served warm with whipped cream ;-)). Kwarkbollen are a sort of Dutch scones. Krentebollen are buns with raisins and if you're lucky you might find some including marsepein (spijs pronounciation is hard to explain, but refer to the Dutch word for ice (ijs) and put the sp in front) and/or apple. Gevulde koek (see Chufi's Dutch cooking blog for a recipe) is a cookie stuffed with spijs. Easy to recognize with half an almond in the middle. Personal favourit of mine is the now in season strawberry pastry. Puff pastry is painted with a layer of chocolate so the vanilla cream won't make it soggy, topped with strawberries. Look out for a somewhat yellow cream or a lavish smooth black speckled cream or you might end up with the imho lesser cream version. Speculaas stuffed with spijs can also be really good.
Also check out the savoury department for a cheese and onion bread (get it warm for maximum flavour), saucijnzenbroodje (a bit greasy pork puff pastry like thing) and all sorts of cheese cookies (These are cheapier in supermarkets, but can be less good too. Always check the ingredients, you want the ones made with roomboter, real butter. No margarine fakeness!)
Almost forget to mention Blauwvingers (Blue fingers) The Zwollenaren were nicknamed that way when they had a little problem with neighbouring Kampenaren and ended up with blue fingers of counting money. They now have cookies named after this and the place to get this Bakkerij van Orsouw at the Grote Markt. Zwolse balletjes are a candy and available in the Zwolse Balletjes store on the Grote Kerkplein. On Blijmarkt 4 you'll find a baker that has a special bread made in the shape of Zwolle's centre.
- Don't know about any festivals, but they do have markets where you can sometimes see ladies from villages dressed up in their special outfits and sample some of the local food. There's always a stall with candy like cinnamon pillows, cinnamon sticks, Haagse hopjes (coffee toffee) and of course licorice. Zwolle is famous for it's mustard and Peperbus cheese. Cheese stalls generally let you sample a cheese without any trouble. Graskaas is the cheese of when the cows first went outside to eat grass after the winter. Mellow flavour. Forget Old Amsterdam and ask them for an old cheese or even an overjarige kaas for a maximum of flavour. They also have herbed and/or spiced cheeses, like brandnetel (nettle), tuinkruiden (this can vary but chives, sellery, parsley and the likes could be in it) and the famous clove and/or cumin cheese. If you see Remeker, try to sample that. The old one is the Dutch Parmesan I guess. It's made of Jersey cow milk and is really really good. Not very common is Rommedoe, a cheese from the South. Stinky one, but with a hardcore fan base who love it just for that.
There's too much to tell about all the cheeses here I'm afraid.
Wait, the markets itself: On Friday, there's a regular and farmers market from 8 - 13 in the city centre. On Saturday there's a smaller one from 9 - 17 (they generally start to clear a bit earlier).
Ok, you still there? Here are the last tips, but certainly not the least:
- #1 Restaurant pick on your list should be De Librije. If it's not the best restaurant in The Netherlands, it's 2nd best probably. Trouble is, most people know this. Check with your concierge, who knows, but waiting lists have been rumoured to be 2 years long. They also do lunch, which might be a better chance to get in. It's located on the Broerekerkplein. Librije's Zusje (literally it's sister) is on Spinhuisplein and a bit more affordable. If both can't be reserved, comfort yourself with their store at Meerminneplein.
Hope this will be somewhat useful for you and have good trip!