Fat Kids Corner food review: Oliebollen in Amsterdam
What is typical Dutch? Most tourists would probably say windmills, wooden shoes, weed, cheese and hookers. But for me, typical Dutch means the following things:
- Gezelligheid (sorry, there is no direct translation to English, it is more of a feeling)
- Nog eentje, when you want one more. For example, in the bar: “Biertje?” “Jaaaa lekker hoor... Nog eentje!” But, it’s NEVER just one more beer.
- Gefeliciteerd (congratulations) is said to everybody at a birthday party. Not just the person whose birthday it is. Sucks for them….
And then there’s, of course, the typical Dutch foods, such as:
- Stampot, a mashup of potatoes, vegetables and meat.
- Snert, also know as ertwensoep, is a pea soup.
- Bitterballen, the perfect complement to that “one more beer.”
- The gehaktbal
- And de Bossche bol, ALL super lekker!
The best Dutch ball
Three months per year, October through January, this kingdom that is rich in balls, offers its true prince: oliebollen! Also, typical Dutch.
The origin of oliebollen (oil balls) is not entirely clear. Some say they were first eaten by Germanic tribes in the Netherlands between December 26 and January 6th, somewhere during the 1600s! Dem some old balls…
Made of flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar and some added goodies, similar “Dumplings of Deep-Fried Doughy Deliciousness” are found in almost every corner of the world. Most popularised, I think, by American-style donuts.
My plan today? To cycle through the city on this beautiful day, no rain, not typical Dutch, with a clear goal in mind: to eat OLIEBOLLEN!
The oliebollen aficionado
My first stop is on the corner of Wibautstraat and Eerste Oosterparkstraat, next to the Albert Heijn. Dirk, 5th generation candy-man from Apeldoorn and a true “oliebollen aficionado”, has been creating finger-licking goodness for over 30 years. He has the quintessential oliebollen assortment: The normaal oliebol, the krentenbol, the Berlinerbol, the kersenbol, the appelbol, the rum-rozijnenbol, the bananenbol, and let’s not forget, the Nutellabol.
Call him the Neil Armstrong of oliebollen, as he pioneered a new sort with the ham & cheesebol. It’s one small step for man, as I take a couple of “B.V.O.tjes” or “balls voor onderweg” with me.
A family affair
Back on the bike, I head West. Second stop, De Oliebollen Bakkerij with Louisa and Natasja, op de brug, Kinkerstraat 89. It’s lunchtime and this electric neighbourhood of Amsterdam is bustling. The tram, “tough” guys on scooters, people ping-ponging from one side of the street to the other, a cyclist almost gets clipped by a car. The digital nomad works from a local coffee house and this Fat Kid rolls up on his omafiets. It’s go-time.
For 25 years, Louisa and her family have owned and operated this super busy “olie” stand. Het was zo gezellig daar. Echt leuke meiden. Oh yeah, English… It was so gezellig there, super nice women. What can I say, warm and sweet, and... so were their balls. I ask: welke vind je het lekkerst? (which do you think is the tastiest?) They respond simultaneously: “kaneel krentenbollen”. “Perfect! I’ll take two!” Come for the oliebollen, stay for the gezelligheid.
Check Louisa’s side hustle at De Carrousel, near the Heineken Brewery. Pancakes and Poffertjes. Wat lekker.
Hello, happy hour
Again, op de fiets, I stop at a few non-mentionables and taste more balls. Last and final stop, Banketbakkerij Lanskroon, Singel 385. They do one style of oliebollen and, for me, they are the best tasting in the city! The cafe, over 110 years old, has been family-owned for 70 of them! It sits around the corner from the Spui, in the heart of Amsterdam.
Fun Fact: The Spui used to be a small body of water that was connected to a canal that is now the Spuistraat. It was filled-in in the late 1800s and now serves as a weekly market for the arts.
On any given day, you can enjoy their extensive assortment of cookies, cakes, chocolates, salads and broodjes. Or try one of their famous king-size syrup waffles! I, however, want their oliebol. It’s a different sort of oliebol. The secret is… well, I don’t know if they told me everything but what I found out is this: the raisins and krenten (a sort of raisin) are first marinated in RUM! Hello, happy hour!
Then, they mix in chopped walnuts. For the batter, it’s a special blend of flour (clearing throat, a little vague, but okay) that makes up their dough. To perfect it, they let the dough rest for two hours before dropping each one into a bath of oil. Perfect timing is needed to create an oliebol with a fantastically crunchy golden-brown jagged outside and a soft and fluffy texture on the inside. Top it with some granulated sugar and FEED ME!
My first bite sends me to outer space with excitement! The crispy candied crust complimenting the spongy, sweet taste of this “Culinary Moon Rock” has me playing Jedi mind tricks with myself, telling me to “use the Force” and eat 2, 3 or 4 more. I, of course, oblige.
From October till January, you can eat and experience this typical Dutch treat in the Netherlands. Come for the gezelligheid, then after your first ball you can order nog eentje, and if you finish more than three, gefeliciteerd! Happy Holidays and heel veel success in the New Jaar!