A long-awaited culinary encounter
On a recent Sunday morning, in this quaint Dutch street, we acquainted ourselves with a delicacy of Dutch cuisine.
If you’ve been reading about our various adventures previously, you may well have already picked up on the fact that we both have a bit of a sweet tooth, partial to the delicious and delectable baked goods which can be found in many corners of Europe (for example in Paris and in Stockholm to name but a few). Well, I can report that the Bossche bol, which we sampled in s-Hertogenbosch (locally shortened to “Den Bosch”), lived up to our expectations.
The Bossche bol had gained something of a cult status in our household, ever since our Dutch language teacher back in Wellington told us before we left (I guess it must have been during the standard beginners language class on Dutch food) that we must make sure that when we got to the Netherlands, we went to Den Bosch and tried this famous local treat, involving chocolate, pastry and cream, all together in a big ball of sweet goodness. We were sold on that, and ever since, we’ve always had “Go to Den Bosch and try a Bossche bol!” on our mental must-see-and-do-in-the -Netherlands list. Sure, it took almost two years (!) but we got there in the end.
As you can see from the photos, the Bossche bol was pretty much as we had been led to believe it would be, but perhaps somewhat of a larger serving than either of us had reckoned with when we ordered one each…
I don’t think we were smiling quite so much after we had polished them off. The rich combination of ingredients, in such a large portion, seemed to overwhelm both of us a little (much to our surprise!) That being said, we felt a little obliged to finish them after the two Dutch women sitting directly behind us quite obviously talked loudly about us and laughed at (or with?!) us when our Bossche bol arrived at our table. Not one to let this kind of thing go past unnoticed, I turned and asked them why they were laughing at us? They quickly replied that they’d like to eat them, but they were on diets, and the Bossche bol were huge, and they’d like to see us try and finish them! Local challenge, accepted.
I’d been told that the best Bossche bol could be found at a particular bakery in the city, but to my dismay, when we arrived in Den Bosch, we soon discovered that Jan de Groot is closed on Sundays. But never fear, because the cafe we ate at (along with many others, I am sure!), served Bossche Bols made by Jan de Groot, so I could still say I’d sampled the best that this city had to offer. And bonus round, here the Bossche Bol came with een likeurtje gratis (evidently the local way is to wash the Bossche Bol down with a liquer, which I found a bit much, but PJD seemed to like it well enough!).
I think for us part of the fun of the Bossche bol was simply the process of eating, or trying to find the best way to eat this decadent creation. I went for the bite-straight-in approach (said to be the traditional approach), whilst PJD, ever keen to buck a trend, attempted a much more civilised with-cutlery approach (non-traditional in style).
So, if you make it to Den Bosch at any point, be sure to sample the Bossche bol. A trip to this Dutch city wouldn’t be complete without it, and although there’s much more to Den Bosch than the Bossche bol (more to come later on this European Fortress City of the Year 2004!), you’d be missing out on a typical Den Bosch experience if you didn’t.