Zeeland, land of salt and sweet!

The Netherlands has so much to offer. Many of us think we know about this small but perfectly formed country. Well, we had that weekend away in Amsterdam, didn’t we? Yes, that city has a multitude of exciting facets, but travel outside and discover the real Netherlands – it’s a compact nation so it won’t take you long.

Zeeland is the most westerly and least crowded of the Dutch provinces. There is a newer country on the other side of the world which bears the same name. The original one borders North Brabant to the east and South Holland to the north. It is made up of islands and promontories, with activities and produce focusing on the sea that gives the province its name. You’re never more than 15 minutes away from open water in Zeeland.

Zeeland seafood

zeeland musselBeach lovers are spoilt here and foodies will be impressed with the bounty from the sea – an abundance of seafood such as oysters, mussels and lobsters. One can learn how they are grown, harvested and cooked, and of course there are outstanding restaurants in which to enjoy these luxurious foods. In Zeeland, you can harvest your own mussels, cockles, and oysters; but this province has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the country, so let somebody else do the work.

Two types of oysters are found in Zeeland: flat Zeeland oysters and creuses. The difference is that flat oysters take about six years to mature, while the creuse is ready after just two years. The lobsters of Zeeland have a unique, mildly sweet flavour and are available to enjoy from the end of May to mid-July. One can learn more about Zeeland seafood on a tour. Visit an oyster farm, a mussel business, or stroll around the harbours where the fishing boats land the shellfish.

Zeeuwse bolus

But man/woman can not live by the produce of the salty sea alone, and the folks in Zeeland are blessed with a local sweet pastry.  The bolus was first baked in Zeeland in the first half of the 17th century. They came with the Sephardic Jewish migrants, and their bakers came mainly from the region of Alentejo in Portugal which is still celebrated for its baked goods. These Jewish bakers created the original of the Zeeuwse bolus, although local bakers in Zeeland perfected it.

But what exactly is a bolus? These sweet buns are made from a white bread dough rolled in dark brown sugar, formed into a spiral shape and sprinkled with cinnamon. They are perfect with a cup of delicious Dutch coffee for breakfast …or at any time.

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