City Bites

SPOTTED AT THE MARKET: Dutch Poffertjes

A squishy-soft vehicle for butter and sugar, poffertjes are popular street food in Holland

I lived in Rotterdam for a short time a couple of years ago. From a tourism perspective, I think the Dutch city is totally underrated. I love its irreverent attitude, its eclectic architecture, its vast collection of public art; not to mention the ability to bike everywhere and never meet an incline. However, I can’t say the food was much of a highlight. That is until I tasted poffertjes

There was a poffertjes stand about 50 paces from my front door in the heart of a pedestrian-friendly passageway crammed with shops. Found throughout Holland, poffertjes — miniature puffed pancakes (not to be confused with popular Dutch pannekoeken which are thick, dense and as large as an Italian pizza)— are popular street food. I never grew tired of watching the poffertjes maker presiding over the polka-dotted cast iron cooktop, pouring batter into small divots, allowing them to partially cook and then quickly and rhythmically flipping over each one with a pair of long metal forks. Moments later they were loaded onto a paper plate, topped with a disproportionately large slab of butter and a hearty dusting of icing sugar before being promptly devoured.

Since we were visiting Holland in the late fall when temperatures were brisk, a plate of these belly-warming discs were easily justified as an afternoon snack. Sneaking in a plate of poffertjes without inviting my daughter along was impossible since the inevitable trail of powdered sugar on my shirt always gave me away.

Nick DeBoer brings Dutch poffertjes to Ottawa

Now whenever I think about Rotterdam I think about poffertjes. I never imagined I would find them here in Ottawa, but new this year at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market is de Boers Dutch Poffertjes stand run by husband-and-wife team Nick and Donna de Boer. On a recent trip to Holland to visit relatives the de Boers fell for the one-bite wonders and decided to bring them home.

On their opening day, I ordered a plate of poffertjes to share with my daughter. When we got home, I had to smile: there was icing sugar on my shirt.

de Boer’s Dutch Poffertjes

Available at the Carp and Ottawa (Lansdowne Park) markets

Cost: $4.50-$5 (available with butter/sugar; chocolate sauce; maple syrup)