Welcome to The Northern Times’ guide to this, most odd Christmas, in Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe! To help you unwind, and take your mind off of the Coronavirus, we have prepared a Christmas series that includes various fun activities to do indoors, and outdoors, and ideas for (local) presents for your loved ones.
By Thomas Ansell, and Adriana Dancu
In this section of the guide, we’re looking at the best local, delicious, and interesting products that you can order for delivery in Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe. Parcel points and postal services remain open in the lockdown, so there’s no reason not to send a package to someone special.
Since the Province of Groningen is the largest and most populous of the three Northern provinces, it had plenty of time to come up with some unique local goodies. From groninger koek, though to mustard, and even pofferts (NOT the same as poffertjes), the city and province have tasty treats for your whole family. It might not seem exotic to you, but trust us, your family will (probably) be enraptured by the Dutch-ness of everything!
The Netherlands is famous for its cheese, and Groningen’s own d’Olle Grieze cheese is well worth getting for a relative or friend that can’t get enough of the strong stuff. For those with a sweet tooth (or three) then the Groninger poffert is perfect for a post-Christmas lunch treat. Unlike the traditional Hollander poffertjes, the Groninger affair is somewhat denser, deeper, and generally boiled. It’s a bit like a British boiled pudding, and has similar sedative effects.
Made within the city limits, Knols’ koek is a Groninger speciality. Whether eaten as a cake, or toasted for breakfast, its subtly spiced and with toasted nutty flavours. You could also send a wooden version of Groningen city’s most famous icon, the Martini Tower, but did you know that there’s also a chocolate version, and a candle version for a bit of gezelligheid.
Last but not least, Groningen has a proud seafaring past, and there’s no better way to send that on to family and friends than with an authentically itchy jumper! The Groninger schipperstrui might be a touch pricey but is guaranteed to keep someone warm even through the harshest Wadden Sea storms.
All Groninger products are via warenhuis.groningen.nl, an online superstore for local products
Fantastic Fries Products
Friesland is one of the most unique provinces in the Netherlands: whereas lots of other areas of the country have been oriented south in their history (to France, Spain, and so on), Friesland has tended to look North.
And so, a wide variety of local and interesting products, often unique to the region, can be found in Friesland, too! Dúmkes are a sweet treat flavoured with a touch of aniseed, and perfect with a mid-morning coffee. Warm spices are a strong part of Frisian flavours, and with the Province being home to an enormous number of dairy farms, you can bet that a combination of the two will be delicious: enter Fries Nagelkaas. Made with cloves, Nagelkaas isn’t seen often on cheeseboards, and neither is its close cousin, Stokâlde Fryske cheese (this version won big at the International cheese awards).
Of course, Friesland isn’t only known for its cheese and baked goodies, it also makes some seriously good drinks for Christmas imbibing. From the echte Liwwader Beerenberg (a herby liquor, similar to gin), to the award-winning beers from the Grutte Pier brewery, there’s something to warm the harshest of winter nights.
The Frisian language, though certainly not a monolith, is recognised as the regional language of Friesland, and has led to some Dutch icons being rendered in het Fries. One of them, the instantly-recognisable Nijntje, now has a series of Frisian language books: something for the younger relative!
Drenthe is an interesting place that combines millenia-old archeological wonders with being the ‘breadbasket’ of the Netherlands. Fittingly, then, it’s a great place for tasty treats for the whole family! From kniepertjes (waffles) to the well-known dry Drentse sausage (droge worst), your family and friends can get a true taste of the Netherlands. Even the bread is well-known as being some of the best you’ll find in the country (and certainly better than at the supermarket!)
Enterprising people in Drenthe have even made award-winning Limoncello, which was recently adjudged to be better than several well-known Italian Limoncello brands. Drunken Monkey is made in the Province and available in specialist shops across Europe. If you’ve got a wine-lover in the family, they’re unlikely to have ever had Drents blackberry wine! Its sweetness should pair wonderfully with salty dried Drents sausage.