What is Kings Day?

Kings Day, in Dutch it is Koningsdag, is the day we celebrate our king and it is celebrated on the King’s birthday, April 27.


King Willem-Alexander is the first King of the Netherlands in 123 years!

The Vrijmarkt, translated Free Market, is a nationwide Flea Market. Kings Day is the only day when the Dutch are allowed to sell goods on the streets without a permit and without payment of value added tax.


FUN FACTS: Orange is the color of the House Of Orange-Nassau and on Kings Day The Netherlands turns Orange! Orange colored drinks such as Oranje Bitter, Orange Bitter. Orange baked Petit Fours. Orange hair, Orange clothes, Orange everywhere!

ORANGE BITTER: a form of bitters with main ingredients of: Seville oranges, cardamom, caraway seed, coriander and anise. Burnt sugar in an alcohol base.

BITTERBALLEN: The Batavians in 200BC already made a form of this wonderful snack. The Dutch drink Bitters before dinner, think of Jenever (like a Gin) made from the Juniper Berry.

FUN FACT: A Bar owner in Amsterdam by the name of Jan Barenz, started serving the Bitterballen to keep his clients drinking!

What is the connection to the Caribbean: Remember Foodie Friends that the Dutch claimed Sint Maarten for the West India Company in the 1600’s and imported all those wonderful spices from The East: Nutmeg, Cardamon, Caraway Seed, Cloves and Star Anise, to The Netherlands and on the way they stopped in…you guessed it, Sint Maarten!


Recipes of Oranje Bitter and Bitterballen posted separately so you can celebrate a proper Kings Day.

Flavors Food Tours also serves Bitterballen during some of its food tours.




Oranje Bitter Recipe:

Zest the oranges using a vegetable peeler and place the peel on a cookie sheet. Bake at 100 degrees until dried, but not burned, about 40 minutes. Check regularly to ensure peels have not burned.

*Once the zests are cool, place them in a sealable glass jar with 1/2 cup of the 151 neutral grain spirit. Be sure this jar is large enough to later hold an additional 1 cup of liquid. Shake. This is your orange flavoring

*Place the caraway seeds, cloves, star anise, and anise seed in a different sealable glass jar with 1/2 cup of the 151 neutral grain spirit. Shake. This is your spice mix

*Place the gentian root and quassia chips (these are a form of tree bark) in a sealable glass jar with the bourbon. Shake. This is your bittering mix

*After 10 days, strain the spice mix and bittering mix through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the solids. Strain again through a coffee filter into the orange flavoring jar. Do not remove the orange zest. Shake. You now have one jar that contains the strained spice mix and bittering mix along with the steeping orange zest and alcohol. Let this steep for an additional 11 days.


Recipe for Bitterballen: 

  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) butter
  • 150 grams (5.3 oz) flour
  • 700 ml (23.7 fl oz) beef bouillon
  • 30 grams (1 oz) fresh onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 400 grams (14 oz) cooked meat, shredded
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg

For the breading

  • 50 grams (1.8 oz) flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50 grams (1.8 oz) bread crumbs

Melt the butter in a skillet or pan. When melted, add the flour little by little and stir into a thick paste. Slowly stir in the stock, making sure the roux absorbs the liquid. Simmer for a couple of minutes on a low heat while you stir in the onion, parsley and the shredded meat. The mixture should thicken and turn into a heavy, thick sauce. 

Pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover and refrigerate for several hours, or until the sauce has solidified. 

Take a heaping tablespoon of the cold, thick sauce and quickly roll it into a small ball. Roll lightly through the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Make sure that the egg covers the whole surface of the bitterbal. When done, refrigerate the snacks while the oil in your fryer heats up to 190C (375F). Fry four bitterballen at a time, until golden. 

Serve on a plate with a nice grainy or spicy mustard.

Watch out Foodie Friends: Bitterballen are extremely hot on the inside! 


The bittergarnituur (bitter garnish) is usually accompanied by bite-size cubes of Gouda Cheese. Remember the Gouda Blog! A little bowl of mustard on the plate to dip in the Bitterballen and Gouda Cheese on the plate. Make it festive with little flags. Buy them during the Flavors Food Tours at our wonderful partner: The Amsterdam Cheese & Liquor Store!