I’m neither a foodie nor a cook. I enjoy exploring regional cuisine when I travel, but my tastes are fairly simple. I like a lot of flavor, clean food, and a small price tag.
It has been said that the Netherlands consumes the most amount of bread in Europe. I also know that during visits to Paris and Belgium, I’ve consumed more bread than when I’m at home. Europe can be difficult for a gluten-free individual, but there are options.
The Dutch are known for their broodjes which are sandwiches. You can also find broodjes in Flanders as I experienced on a trip to Antwerp, Belgium a few years ago. Typical broodjes consist of meat, cheese, and toppings, like most sandwiches in the U.S. Occasionally, as I experienced, a broodje can contain a light meat or cheese kroket or croquette, if you’re more familiar with the French variation.
On my trip to The Hague, I was lucky to experience a Dopmeijer broodje. Dopmeijer’s is an out-of-the-way broodje shop that reminded me of a friendly neighborhood deli I’d find in Philadelphia or New York. It is also an institution in The Hague. It’s been operating for 104 years and in 2009, Dopmeijer’s celebrated with the publication of a book containing newspaper clippings and photos of the century-old shop.
My new friend and gracious tour guide Paul took me to Dopmeijer to experience a little bit of local food history. There, we met John, one of the owners. Ravenous, John introduced me to a variety of broodjes as well as a homemade goulash that was stomach-warming and spicy—perfect for cool and overcast September day.
My favorite broodje was the bal, which reminded me of a small meatball sandwich mixed with several spices, perhaps garlic and cinnamon. The closest taste I could compare it to was a meatball I bought from Whole Foods that contained Moroccan spices.
I was still a little hungry, so I ordered a meat kroket broodje. It was also rich with flavor and surprisingly light. I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise, so John made my broodjes with brown mustard and pepper. You can have your broodje with either condiment and both are popular.
My friend Paul asked if I wanted to try something new. Since I’m always up for an adventure, I agreed.
I then sampled a cow’s udder broodje. Now, I’ll preface my reaction with the fact that I’m pretty funny about food textures. For example, as much as I wanted to try the tartare broodje, I politely declined since I don’t care for the consistency of raw meat. In hindsight, and for adventure’s sake, I should have gone for it. Lesson learned.
The cow’s udder broodje was an experience. On one hand, it tasted surprisingly good when mixed with mustard and pepper. On the other, it had a chewy consistency as well as coloring similar to deli-sliced turkey. My reaction was a 50/50 mix, but by then, I had had two bal broodjes plus the goulash and was becoming full.
The service and hominess at Dopmeijer is welcoming and efficient. The shop is unpretnetious and you can eat cheap if you’re watching your money.
Dopmeijer is an institution in The Hague and I was glad I was introduced.
If you are in The Hague and want to try something new that comes with a long-standing history, stop by Dopmeijer. You can easily access it by the Van Musschenbroekstraat tram stop or within a few blocks from the Holland Spoor station. Also, be sure to ask John if you can purchase a book of clippings for nine Euros celebrating the 100th anniversary of Dopmeijer’s.
2516 HB Den Haag
Web site: www.dopmeijer.net
Interested in snaps from The Hague and Amsterdam? Visit the photo gallery.