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.
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)