Eating my way through Europe: Deep fried gravy balls

The last time I came to Amsterdam, we tried something Bitterballen. This local snack is made by first creating a roux, loading it up with little bits of chopped meat, somehow breaking into bite sized portions, and then deep drying the whole thing. We recognized it as deep fried gravy balls.

While I did grab a bite of bitterballen along my walks, I found it’s big brother: The Broodje Croket Sandwhich while tiptoeing through the tulip gardens at Keukenfeld farms. 

If Bitterballen is deep fried gravy balls, this was a deep fried gravy sausage, served with hot mustard on a brioche bun. 

The interior is really similar to what Americans call sausage gravy; that’s the chunky stuff they pour over biscuits. The main difference is that the Dutch version is influenced by their settlements in Indonesia and is lightly spiced with a bit of nutmeg, and some sweet soy sauce.
Not surprisingly, this was a pretty filling meal, and made up most of my afternoon nutrition. This and two more terrible coffees. I don’t know what coffee did to offend the Netherlands, but it’s obviously resulted in a deep and lasting feud.

After my adventures in tulip land, I hopped back on the train and eventually followed the crowd out of the wrong doors at Amsterdam Centraal station. Instead of walking towards the city, I came out the backside, towards the wharf. No biggie, I used my famous sense of direction to get horribly, horribly lost amongst the walkways and waterways that make up Haarlem to the west of the city. This neighborhood was much more mixed residential than I’d previously seen in the city, and it was a real joy to pop into bakeries, cafes, fromageries, and various other small food vendors. 

While munching on an amaretti cannoli I was stopped in my tracks by this beautiful sight:

This sandwich is literally everything I miss about Europe. Sold by a ham specialist (pic below) it’s made fresh on premise with items from the neighborhood. He buys fresh baguettes from a guy around the corner, cuts them in two, rubs tomato on one half, and olive oil on the other, and then carves a pile of iberico ham off a leg to go between.


Mmmm…  ham. 

Lunch/dinner out of the way, I didn’t make it far out of Ibericus before I started eyeing up desserts in bakery windows. This streusel and its friend the apple pie both came back to my hotel room for a later snack. 

At this point, I was tired, but there was still a few hours of daylight, and I’d promised to bring home some gifts for the family. Gifts in this case amounted to cheese from Henri, who I gather is a big deal in the Dutch cheese making world.

I gave holland one last chance at coffee on the way home with mixed results. What I’d ordered – the Special – was a thing of beauty. A moka with whipped cream, cookies, chocolate, and at least a little coffee. It wasn’t really “coffee” though. I give up. My coffee shop experience being a little less than I’d hoped, I decided to look for some late night munchies instead.

I’d read about a fry house not far from my hotel that apparently was the best in Amsterdam. What luck! Vleminckx serves nothing but Belgian style fries in a paper cone. They have a variety of sauces, but I had it in good authority that the Oolog was the best of the best. This house speciality mixes equal parts mayonnaise and peanut sauce, with a sprinkle of fresh chopped white onion. The fries were superb! The mayo of course delicious. I think I might leave the rest for the locals. 😉

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