Of course, the main event of my Dutch itinerary was visiting the Rutte & Sons Distillery in Dordrecht. But the opportunity to stroll about and get a sense of the tiny island town that Rutte has called home since the 19th century was a lot of fun and worth the trip in and of itself.
So before delving into my distillery experience in much more detail I’d love to share a few of the best bits of this fascinating destination with you.
Even the water taxi trip down from Rotterdam was a delight. So was a bike ride around town once landed in Dordrecht. Founded in 1220 AD on a small island at the convergence of the rivers Merwede, Noord and Ouwe Maas, the city is the oldest in Holland. Much of the town (or at least its historic centre) feels steeped in the past with rows of ancient buildings in excellent condition and still in use for a variety of purposes, including the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”) built between 1285 1470.
But as you might suspect, most of the highlights for me were the ones I could eat.
An ideal pit stop on my bike tour was Visser’s Poffertjes, a recently reopened café dating from the 1930s. The house special here is the humble (and irresistible) poffertjes (traditional puffed pancakes) served in a variety of sweet and savoury ways. Visser’s has an awesome selection of Dutch beers. A half pint of Hertog Jan paired perfectly with my pofertjes.
Visser’s Poffertjes is located at Groenmarkt 9, 3311BD Dordrecht. Find out more at visserspoffertjes.nl.
Gert Jan da Kaasboer
Gert Jan is an attractive little cheese shop in the heart of Dordrecht’s historic centre. It’s a welcoming place to pick up tasty souvenirs or plan a picnic, with loads of local cheeses and a smart selection of cheeses from across Europe and plenty of free samples to taste.
Look for it at Vriesestraat 93, 3311 NP Dordrecht. For more info go to gertjandekaasboer.nl.
Bellevue Groothoofd Hotel
I didn’t get a chance to stay overnight in Dordrecht. But if I had my first choice would have been at the Bellevue Groothoofd. On the quay where the three rivers meet, enjoying a celery G&T (featuring Rutte’s flavoursome Celery Gin) at the hotel’s waterside terrace proved a splendid chance to soak up some early summer sun in a scenic setting.
Bellevue Groothoofd is at Boomstraat 37, 3311 TC Dordrecht. Find out more at bellevuegroothoofd.nl.
As luck would have it, I arrived in Dordrecht just in time for a taste of this year’s nieuwe haring. In early June, a fresh catch of herring makes it to the Dutch streets to be eaten fresh (and raw) with some chopped onions and pickles before the bulk of it is sent on to be pickled. Grabbing some herring at one of the many ubiquitous fish stands across the Netherlands is delicious snack anytime of year – but I reckon especially so when it’s nieuwe haring time.
I had mine at Viskiosk Plexat, in the middle of the Vriesebrug bridge. Read more about the shop at devishandel.nl/dordrecht/vishandel-viskiosk-plexat.