Eating Your Way Through a Dutch Winter
There is no better way to survive the cold winter in the Netherlands than by stuffing yourself with seasonal sweets and beverages. The Dutch have mastered the art of spiced cookies and warm mulled-wine. Here are a few treats you should look out for this winter!
From late October to December, every Albert Heijn store in the Netherlands will have an entire aisle full of Sinterklaas treats. In anticipation of the official gift exchange on 5 December, eating Sinterklaas treats is an integral part of the celebration. In fact, the custom of giving speculaas (spiced) cookies in the shape of a saint, is one that dates back centuries! Whether it be pepernoten (mini ginger cookies), chocolate letters, tai tai (chewy aniseed biscuits) or schuimpjes (sugar sweets), eating sweets is the best part of celebrating Sinterklaas.
So don't forget to stop by your local Albert Heijn and grab a bag of chocolate-covered pepernoten this winter! If you're feeling adventurous, you can also check out the Pepernoten Fabriek stores located in most large cities. In these specialty stores, you can try exotic varieties of pepernoten, including pina-colada and cappuccino! These treats are available even after Sinterklaas in the stores, with a lot of discount!
Eating your way through a Dutch Christmas can never go wrong with a banketstaaf (pastry log filled with sweet almond paste) or a kerststol (fruity bread loaf). On the morning of the 25th of December, most Dutch families wake up to a delicious family breakfast that unfailingly includes a kerstol with butter. You can buy these bread loafs at every Albert Heijn in the country. But make sure to buy them on time, as they do have a tendency to run out the closer you get to Christmas.
Along with these sweet delicacies, you can also try out some Glühwein. Unlike other European variants of this drink, Dutch Glühwein is more peppery and includes traditional spices such as anise, nutmeg and cinnamon. Available in most pubs and Christmas markets, a glass of Glühwein is the perfect way to warm yourself up and get into the Christmas vibe.
You may have already noticed the many oliebollen stands spread throughout every Dutch city. Literally translated to "oil balls," these traditional donuts are amazing when eaten warm and coated with powdered sugar. If you're looking for a fun family activity over Christmas, you can also try to make your own oliebollen at home! Although it may be quite messy, the actual process of making them is not as arduous.
More Food? No Problem
These are some of my favorite Dutch winter treats...but there are many more! Along with having mastered the art of spiced cookies, the Dutch also pride themselves in their traditional erwtensoep (pea soup) and stamppot (mashed potato mixed with veggies). These savory dishes are tasty and filling, the perfect combination to warm you up on a cold winter day.