Smoked Eel & Dutch Street Food in Volendam, the Netherlands!

Located roughly 30 minutes north of Amsterdam by car, Volendam is a picturesque fishing village in the Netherlands. It’s a beautiful cultural hub, with colorful wooden houses lining its bustling harbor. It’s also known for the traditional Dutch attire its locals often wear and its labyrinthine streets lined with quaint shops selling artisanal cheese and smoked eel. 

Freshly smoked eel is a staple in Volendam, and a must for any travelers exploring the village. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy nearby IJsselmeer Lake and the local sounds of old Dutch folk music. I’d be exploring Volendam with my friends Melissa and Mike, who’d been with me throughout my trip through the Netherlands.

Woltje’s

A cook at Woltje's prepares fresh stroopwafels | Davidsbeenhere

In the center of Volendam is the boardwalk. It was a gray, rainy day, so before finding some smoked eel (our big adventure for the day), Mike and I headed inside a bakery called Woltje’s, which sells stroopwafel. I watched the guy there make some fresh stroopwafels, on which they add different toppings including melted chocolate, nuts, and candies. They also make traditional ones.

There’s also a kitchen downstairs and a museum upstairs. If you want, you can buy some canisters of stroopwafels with honey. In the kitchen, I met a woman rolling out stroopwafel dough and pressing it on the iron. Then, she slices it in half, adds a thick caramel syrup, and puts it back together like a sandwich. It was so sweet, and my favorite stroopwafel of the trip so far!

They also make their own stroopwafel liquor, which I got to sample. It’s 14.9% alcohol but it’s deceptively strong because the sweet, caramel flavor masks the taste of the alcohol.

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Foto De Boer

David Hoffmann poses with a fake wheel of cheese in traditional Dutch clothing in Volendam, a city famous for its smoked eel | Davidsbeenhere

In this shop, you can take professional photos in traditional Dutch attire. For 18 Euros, you can get two small prints or one large. For an additional 6 Euros, you can buy a USB stick containing the digital copies of your photos. The walls of the shop are lined with photos people have taken over the years, including some Dutch celebrities on the stairwell. 

Upstairs is the studio. I hung up my jacket and took off my shoes. They put a professional bib and jacket on me, as well as some pants, a tie, and a hat. We completed the look with a pair of wooden shoes. They have a few backgrounds to choose from, including a traditional kitchen, a green wooden door, and a Dutch shipyard. I chose the green wooden door and posed with a fake wheel of cheese and an accordion. It was a fun, quick shoot.

Afterwards, they give you a little ticket, which you take back downstairs to get your photos. Before I left, I took a few photos of my own. All of my photos came out great! Next, it was time to get some local seafood, including some smoked eel!

Trying Klein Salade and Rookworst

A plate full of sliced rookworst, a traditional Dutch sausage | Davidsbeenhere

From there, I got to see some homes with traditional Dutch architecture as we walked to our next stop, where we got some Dutch potato salad called klein salade, which is usually made with beef, but this place uses fish because it’s a fishing village famous for its smoked fish and smoked eel! It contained egg, pickles, and tomatoes and was like a delicious, creamy tuna salad. I loved that it was fresh, not canned!

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I also tried some flatbread with it, as well as rookworst, which is a traditional Dutch sausage. It came with a smoked Dutch mayo and was very juicy. The mayo blew me away! Then, I got to see them make fries, a noodle dish, and a beef dish where he combined ground beef with eggs and spices.

I also tried some vlambal, which is a spicy paste made from carolina reapers. They also let me try two different soft serve ice cream cones: regular and eggnog! I loved them both—the regular wasn’t vanilla but something unique, and the eggnog was amazing!

Smit Bokkum Restaurant

The owner of Smit Bokkum Restaurant feeds David Hoffmann a fresh smoked eel | Davidsbeenhere

The traditional Dutch restaurant Smit Bokkum has been around since 1856! They specialize in smoked fish and smoked eel, also known as gerookte paling. I got to see the end of the process, where they skin the freshly smoked eels. It’s a long strip of fresh fish that you hold above your head and lower into your mouth. It’s so tasty, tender, and fresh!

I also got to see how they make their smoked sea bass and smoked sebring. They smoke their fish in a way that you don’t taste the wood. It’s a light, smoky flavor that still lets the fish flavor shine through. I also tried some of the sea bass, which was so meaty and tender. It was so delicious!

The guy kept feeding me fresh smoked eel. I couldn’t believe how tasty and buttery they were. It’s the old-school tradition! They start preparing at 5 in the morning. they then serve them here in their restaurant, or you can take them to go. 

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In their restaurant are photos documenting the history of the restaurant, including the current owner’s father. In the kitchen, I watched them prepare an eel soup. They use the smoked eel skins and spines to the flavor the soup, so nothing goes to waste. They serve the soup in a champagne glass. It’s creamy, smoky, and naturally fatty, and was amazing! I enjoyed it with a Robuust beer, which is a blond ale. I also tried a fruity, tangy IPA.

Next, I tried their authentic fish with mashed red cabbage and potatoes, which people come from all over the country for. We also had some fresh duck with my David’s Been Here Hot Sauce! I loved eating the duck with my sauce. It was my first time having the two together!

The City of Alkmaar

A narrow, shop-lined street in the city of Alkmaar, the Netherlands | Davidsbeenhere

From our smoked eel adventure in Volendam, we drove roughly 30 minutes to the city of Alkmaar, located in the North Holland province, just north of Amsterdam. It’s a city of roughly 111,000 people and is famous for its traditional cheese market, which is open from May to September. I visited in late October, so unfortunately, it was closed. But I was still able to try some of the city’s famous cheese!

The city is like something out of a storybook, with narrow pedestrian streets lined with shops. They also have lots of ethnic cuisine here!

Alkmaarse Notenbranderij

David Hoffmann, surrounded by shelves full of cheese wheels, holding a wheel of cheese | Davidsbeenhere

Kass is the Dutch word for cheese, and this shop is the perfect place to try some. They sell cheese, nuts, fruits, wines, delicacies, and gifts. They have their own farm, called Klaver (“Cloves” in English). I sampled a dense and creamy cheese. Some of their cheese wheels are round, while others are hexagonal and some come in the shape of a football! 

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The Alkmaar cheese was buttery and creamy. Their cheese has its own flavor and you can only get it here! Their yellow cheeses are made with cow milk, while all of their white cheeses are from goat milk. I couldn’t stop trying their cheeses. The one with the herbs and spices was really tasty!

Nearby, at a shop called Beemsterkaas Cafe Jong Belegen, I enjoyed a dark Bockbier, which is a malty, sweet beer that’s perfect for the fall weather. It was great with even more cheese.

Uit India

David Hoffmann and his guide Melissa enjoy Indian food after trying Dutch smoked eel | Davidsbeenhere

At this Indian restaurant, they made some chicken biryani with masala, chicken, cashews, coriander, and butter. Then, he adds basmati rice and more spices into a pan. It’s a non-traditional version of the dish, which is typically prepared in a massive pan that’s deep enough to properly layer the ingredients. Then, he made paneer masala with masala, paneer cubes, butter, sugar, spices, and heavy whipping cream. They also made me some garlic naan and chili naan!

The paneer masala was an explosion of flavors, while the biryani reminded me why it’s one of my favorite dishes of all time! The paneer masala is very rich, like most north Indian curries! What a way to end my smoked eel and Dutch food adventure in Volendam and Alkmaar!

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