stroopwafels, what’s not to love?
these Dutch cookies (literally translated as “syrup waffles”) are common in the Netherlands. they can be bought at supermarkets or fresh from vendors at markets. full disclosure: i have never had a fresh stroopwafel that was not from a supermarket (yet). i can only imagine they would be out of this world, since the ones i have eaten have been fantastic!
as a food enthusiast, one of my favourite things to do is walk the aisles of supermarkets in foreign cities. it started off as a necessity when i was fully a budget traveller, and even now, if i relax the budgets for some of my trips, i still find wandering through grocery stores a great way to kill some time. the food preferences of a population reflect a part of their culture. where better to observe this than in a common supermarket? i realize this probably makes me a food nerd, but i am totally ok with that. because it is due to this sort of behaviour that i discovered the deliciousness of stroopwafels many years ago :)
it was back in 2001, while in Amsterdam, when i first visited Albert Heijn, a Dutch supermarket chain. amongst the plethora of teas (Pickwick is a popular brand), cheeses, Indonesian sauces/products and boxes of sprinkles that the Dutch put on toast for breakfast, i found the cookie aisle. i thank the food gods for their impeccable timing, because if not for the man blocking my way, i may have walked right past the stroopwafel section. here he was, snatching up a whole basket’s worth of packages, literally clearing out one of the shelves (imagine something like a scene from the game show Supermarket Sweep, but slowed down).
buying anything in such large quantities should make anyone curious about the product, right? :)
i picked up one of the few packages left after he walked off, and it was still warm, with a scent of caramel. fresh baked cookies of some sort? sold!
it was love at first bite. the chewiness of the cookie, the buttery sweet caramel in the middle…courtesy of some awesome friends returning from a trip to Amsterdam, i had a few stroopwafels recently after a long hiatus. i was reminded of how dangerously addictive they can be!
over the years, i have seen stroopwafels gain in recognition across the pond, finding space on some supermarket shelves here (maybe just one facing, definitely not an entire shelf or two). the quality may vary with the brand and the timing of a purchase (freshness level) but definitely, no packages will be warm and freshly baked like in the Netherlands.
a good way to appreciate a stroopwafel even if not fresh, is to have it with some tea. there is a bit of specificity with how it is commonly eaten – find a mug that is not too wide, so that the stroopwafel can sit on top without falling in. make yourself a nice hot mug of tea. place a stroopwafel over the mug for a few minutes (ensuring the stroopwafel doesn’t come into contact with the tea). the heat of the tea will warm one side of the stroopwafel making it softer, a nice contrast to the cooler chewier top side. biting into the caramel-y goodness and sipping some tea – wouldn’t you want to try this for an enjoyable afternoon treat? :)
if you are interested to check them out and won’t be visiting the Netherlands anytime soon, i have seen some at supermarkets such as Food Basics and Loblaws. more predictably perhaps, you can try the Dutch store and cafe Niemeyer Imports in Richmond Hill.
if anyone knows of a place in the GTA that makes fresh stroopwafels, leave a comment please! :)