Ootje Konkel PannenkoekenhuisOctober 11 in the Netherlands
In a country whose landscape is as flat as a pancake it is happy serendipity for a blogger, that one of the nation's favourite foods is this flour based culinary offering. We are parked outside Ootje Konkel Pannenkoekenhuis, a pancake house whose 'Dutchness' is enhanced by their use of flour milled in the traditional way at Korenmolen de Krijgsman windmill, one of the Netherlands' many iconic landmarks. We'd been on the lookout for somewhere to eat pancakes ever since entering the country 10 days ago, so we when Will saw on the CamperContact app that Ootje Konkel offered overnight stays for vans, we thought it would be the perfect place.
This morning we set off from Lelystad over the 27km long Houtribdijk; a low dam built accross a natural fjord that creates the Markemeer lake, separating it from the Ijsselmeer (also an artificial lake, formed by damming the mouth of the fjord to the seaward side of our location. The road isn't as visually outstanding as some we have driven on, but 27km is a long way and as we drove we marvelled at the engineering expertise involved in its construction. It was originally intended to aid the creation of a polder (an area of drained land) in the Markemeer, thus creating terra firma for agriculture and housing where the lake now stands. The 2nd World War scuppered this plan and decades of political wrangling has seen the country finally settle on a course of action to form an island archipelago nature reserve in the lake. Work began in 2016 and aims to provide breeding grounds for birds and act as a tourist attraction. As we drove, we saw diggers on floating platforms excavating substrate from the lake bed and piling it up in mounds. It was fascinating to see the islands taking shape, we wonder how they will look when established and whether we'll ever return to see them?
Ootje Konkels is perched between the dyke of the Markenmeer and a small fishing lake. We found a spot at the end of the narrow customer car park and when they opened mid afternoon we checked we could stay and settled ourselves on the lakeside terrace. We say 'lakeside' but the wooden seating area was actually built over the water, so we could see the light glinting off the small waves through gaps in the boards. The sun was warm and we relaxed into watching a Great Crested Grebe diving nearby while waiting for our order. During this time we got to see the little pontoon pedestrian ferry being put to use as a fisher stepped on to it and pulled on a horizontal rope to haul the contraption over the small channel. Simple but effective.
Our pancakes arrived filling their large plates, Will had chosen crystallised ginger with cream and Vicky warm cherry with vanilla icecream and cream. They were delicious and satisfying, well cooked in the middle with delightfully crunchy bits around the edges. To walk them off we took a stroll along the grassy path on top of the dyke. The shallow lake stretched out to our left and fields splayed out to our right, grazed by sheep, Fresian cattle and a few horses. Stings of geese flew accross the dyke and made ungainly descents to settle on the water.
In for a penny in for a pound we returned to the restaurant for an evening meal. The sun was setting over the fishing lake and the decorative lights had been switched on outside. Like the Danish 'hygge' the Dutch have a word that roughly translates as 'cosy'. The bar was strung with 'gezellig' bunting and within, there was a real feel of 'gezelligheid' as candles burned, fairy lights glowed in the branches of small potted trees, each table had a diminutive green leaved plant and lamps hung low overhead. Young kids were encoraged to play and dogs were welcome on the lead (it would have been too tiring for our Poppy). The waiters were friendly and the space was functional, not fussy and very easy to relax in. With a couple of local Texels beers our taste buds tingled in anticipation as our savoury pancakes were presented. Vicky's Hêlegaar Prachtig was topped with 'old cheese', fig compote, rocket salad and salted nuts, while Will's Volle Hooischuur had bacon, ham, leek, Dutch Beemster cheese and garlic sauce. They both tasted great and neither of us had any room for desert. We were glad it was just a short distance to the van!Read more