Do you like going Dutch? Perhaps you've always wanted to immerse yourself in the culture of the Netherlands. Or maybe it's something you've heard or seen about Holland that takes your fancy. Whatever your preference, Holland House in Smithfield is probably the place where you should head to.
Hidden away in the backstreets of a Smithfield industrial estate opposite a field of Asian market gardeners is the unlikely sight of a large gabled Dutch building. This is the home of Holland House, an oasis of all things Dutch. The shop is part supermarket, part delicatessen, part souvenir store, part café and part department store.
Dutch food often gets a bad wrap. It's commonly described as stodgy and boring but look around the shop and you will quickly understand where the strength of Dutch cuisine is. Sweets. There's Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and Muisjes (colored sugar sprinkles), packet mixes of Ole Bolen (Dutch donuts) and Poffetjes (mini pancakes), a range of Onbijtkoek (spiced, sweet breakfast bread), traditional spiced Specalaas biscuits and Stroop Waffles (thin, sticky, chewy wafers).
The 'delicatessen' has typical Dutch cheeses, smoked eel and herring but the largest selection of any food group available is the choice of Drop, Dutch liquorice. The Dutch have the highest per capita consumption of liquorice in the world (almost 2 1/2 Kilos per person per year) giving the annual Dutch Drop market a total value of $225,157,500. One of the certainties in life is that Dutch salty liquorice will attract polarized opinions. People either hate it or love it. It comes salty or double salted, soft, medium or hard. For non-salt liquorice loving folk, there is also a huge range of sweet liquorices, but this is the place for those with a penchant for good hard salty liquorice.
If you can't make it to Amsterdam and buy a hot beef Kroket in one of its many street-side vending machines, buy them frozen in bulk here. Alternately, retire to the hezellig (cozy) café here and order a Kroket on a roll and eat it with a huge dollop of mustard and a cup of Dutch coffee. Also on the menu is the very traditional green pea soup and Dutch pickled herring. The café is decorated like an echt (real) old fashion Dutch café complete with carpet table cloths, lamp shades and traditional Dutch music. The walls are thickly decorated with an accumulation of all sorts of Dutch clocks, clogs, plates, Delft pottery, football memorabilia and scores of other knick knacks.
At the back of the store is large display of Dutch furniture and furnishings, kitchen and home wares, clothing, music and a whole lot of bright orange football supporters' merchandise.
In the store you might hear a smattering of the Dutch language, English spoken with a Netherlands accent or thick Aussie 'strine' but it's only when you find out someone's name, like a typical triple barreled 'van der Molen' or an 'op den Brouw' that you might discover somebody's Dutch pedigree.
Holland House is a refuge for any Dutch expat wanting that instant hit of the Netherlands. It's for 'Aussies' who wants to reacquaint themselves with their Dutch roots or anyone who would like to get a taste of Holland without the expense of flying