The Dutch have a word for something that's cozy, jovial and social: gezellig. They also have a word for a gathering of drinks, snacks and banter: borrel. And stringing these two terms together simply equates to good times for the people of Holland.
Local husband-wife duo Justin Go and Alison Broverman have successfully imported this philosophy with Borrel Toronto, a pop-up that brings traditional Dutch snacks and comfort food to venues all over the city.
Whether it's a one-off food event or a chef who takes up regular residency within an already established space, culinary pop-ups are nothing new in Toronto. What's different about the concept behind Borrel Toronto is that it showcases the comfort dishes of the Netherlands (arguably a source of national pride), which are largely unknown in the city, while at the same time introducing people to the gezellig vibe through a borrel get-together.
With Go and Broverman being east enders, the pop-up has made several appearances in the neighbourhood over the past year and has more in store for the future.
The laidback gathering usually gets underway in the late afternoon — a chance to enjoy a few drinks and snacks while catching up with friends. Their menu is to the point, with a lot of long names stacked with double consonsant sounds — tricky to try your hand at saying three times fast (double fun after a few pints).
Take 'bitterballen,' ($7) for example, which is a snack made of minced beef, chicken or veggies cooked in a savoury roux, rolled into balls, breaded and deep-fried, served with Zaanse mustard.
There's also the Dutch classic, 'boerenkool,' ($9) which is stewed kale and mashed potato mixed with homemade bacon lardons, served with slices of ‘rookworst' (smoked sausage) and topped with gravy.
'Frikandel Speciaal,' ($7) which the folks at Borrel Toronto say is Holland's No. 1 fast food snack, is a blend of beef, pork and chicken sausage served with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onions on a bun.
Round it all out with an order of Poffertjes ($6), a traditional Dutch batter treat of small, fluffy pancakes dusted with icing sugar.
If you want to check out Borrel Toronto and get a taste for Dutch gezellig, catch them at Hitch on Nov. 6 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Check our events section for future dates and times, and visit their website for more info.