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The coastal and island areas obviously have a long tradition of seafood dishes. The Wadden Sea shrimps and oysters are especially worth a try. Going just a bit further land inward, however, traditional staples are typically heavy, nutritious goods like beans, grains and potatoes. As in many places, sweet dishes from these areas seem to have survived the test of time best and remain common both in family homes and on restaurant menus.
Dúmkes, cookies with nuts, are popular on mainland Friesland and on the island of Ameland. Poffert, with varieties in Friesland known as boffert is a type of simple cake, somewhere between a brioche and a cake, and served in slices. Oudewievenkoek (or old lady’s cake) is a spiced cake with a taste of anise seeds widely available in the region. Groningerkoek is traditionally made with a cinnamon/anise spice, and Groninger mosterdsoep is a unique local soup made with the area’s crop of mustard seed.
There’s a growing interest in locally produced goods, and the region is rediscovering old traditions as well as establishing new ones. The island of Terschelling is known for its cranberry bogs, and Texel is famous for its mutton, which you might find on menus all over the country. Sheep cheeses are local specialties traditionally produced there and in other parts of the Northern Netherlands, including Drenthe. Dried and spiced sausages are another popular regional product, with each province offering a different taste.
In terms of production, bitters and gins play a much larger part in the Northern Netherlands than beer. One of the largest distilleries in the country, Hooghoudt, was founded here and still has its main offices in Groningen. It produces a wide range of liquors and gins, and has adopted several traditional alcoholic drink recipes from the Northern Netherlands. Remarkably, it also produces a range of non-alcoholic lemonades.
Although it is originally from Amsterdam, the popularity of berenburg (made of Dutch gin and herbs) was initially larger in the Northern Netherlands. Regional varieties include Sonnema Berenburg and Weduwe Joustra. A Dokkumer coffee is the regional interpretation of an Irish coffee and consists of coffee with berenburg and whipped cream. The Frisian Islands have their own kinds of bitters, called a Juttertje (on Texel) or Schylger Jutters-Bitter (on Terschelling). Less popular but surely traditional is Fladderak, a liquor flavoured with lemon and cinnamon.