Visit any Dutch office canteen at lunchtime (or, nowadays, many a Dutch home-office kitchen) and you can be sure of one thing: broodjes. Generally, two slices of bread (or perhaps a roll) filled with a couple of slices of Gouda cheese. All washed down with a glass of milk.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this prandial tradition – it’s arguably what’s been making the Dutch so tall in recent generations. And I love a good Gouda as much as the next Dutch person. But variety is the spice of life, and you’d be forgiven for craving a little more substance to your sandwich from time to time… That’s why we’ve rounded up six of the best filled-bread alternatives to break up your working day.
The Netherlands’ history with Suriname is evident in many parts of Dutch culture today. And nowhere more so than its food: sandwiches stuffed with all sorts of deliciously spiced fillings make an excellent alternative to the ubiquitous broodje kaas (cheese roll).
Popular favourites include broodje pom – a spiced chicken and pomtajer filling – and broodje bakkeljauw, a Surinamese preparation of salt cod. Try Tjin’s Exotische Broodjes (in de Pijp next door to Tjin’s Toko: www.tjinstoko.eu) or De Tokoman (now with four locations: www.tokoman.nl) for affordable, satisfying sandwiches at lunchtime.
For years, it was impossible to find real-deal New York-style bagels in Amsterdam. But then along came Flo’s Appetizing (in Oud-West: www.flosappetizing.nl). Their chewy, tasty bagels come topped with smoked salmon and a schmear of scallion-chive cream cheese, but there’s also a vegan version. Nowadays, they’re serving hot sandwiches too – like the Newman: Flo’s take on the classic Reuben sandwich. And for afters? Authentic Jewish babka.
As the weather gets cooler, a warm, melty, oozing toastie sounds more and more appealing… And these days the humble tosti gets a lot more creative than the classic ham and cheese version. Enter Happy Tosti, with six locations throughout the Netherlands (www.happytosti.nl).
On the menu, you’ll find Tex-Mex chicken, spicy chorizo and gruyere, goat’s cheese and fig, and even a chocolate and banana toastie for those with a sweet tooth. Plus, it’s a social enterprise, which means eating toasties helps employ people who have difficulties entering the labour market – it’s a win-win!
The whole bread-with-filling concept exists pretty much the world over. And in Israel, that takes the form of stuffed pitas. Luckily for us in Holland, the good folk at Amsterdam’s Pita Bar have brought Tel Aviv to us in the form of fresh fillings and wholegrain pitas.
Try the synia: a traditional festive Levantine dish of minced meat baked with tomatoes, tahini and spices; or the Tel Aviv street food classic, sabich, featuring the holy trinity of aubergine, tahini and soft-boiled egg. Pita Bar’s tasty packages are available in Oud-West to enjoy at the bar, to take away and eat in the nearby Vondelpark, or for delivery to enjoy at home (nightkitchen.foodticket.nl).
Do burgers count as sandwiches? When they’re a manageable mouthful of meat between bread, we’d argue they do. Not the Instagram-tastic towers that are impossible to eat, nor the ‘avocado burger’ that swaps bread for avocados. We’re talking about meaty sandwiches you can wrap your hands and your chops around. Favourites in Amsterdam include the chicken burgers from Kip It Real (www.kipitreal.nl) and the simple but tasty patties at Burger Bar (www.burgerbar.nl).
If sweet treats are more your thing, why not indulge in an ice-cream sandwich instead of a savoury sarnie? At Sammies pop-up, you can expect creative combinations like caramel fudge cake and vanilla ice cream, cornflake cookie and cereal milk ice cream, or peanut crunch and chocolate ice cream. Autumn may be in the air, but it’s always ice cream season in our book! Follow Sammies on Instagram for pop-up details: @sammies_ice.
Prefer to make your own lunch in the office or at home? Get your hands on a copy of Vicky’s Working Lunch – the simple way to spice up your lunch break!
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