When entering the ’t Ailand fish restaurant in Lauwersoog, you can easily imagine yourself in a picturesque English, Scottish or Irish seaport town. The design of the restaurant with its many passageways can be easily explained: the owners, Jan and Barbara, started their dream in twelve old garages filled with fishing paraphernalia.
You can have anything on your plate the fishing couple takes in from the Dutch Wadden and the sea, such as seaweed, crabs, oysters, grey mullet, flatfish, often prepared in surprising combinations. In summer, enjoy your meal at the outdoor café and in winter by the wood-burning stove. From ’t Ailand you can hunt for delicacies together with Jan and Barbara. Slide across the Dutch Wadden on a slikslee (silt sledge) to empty their fykes. Pick oysters, cockles and seaweed or go to the harbour with them to catch plankton. Upon returning you can see thousands of little creatures swarming or spin around their axis under the microscope.
‘Catching grey mullet is the most exciting thing to do,’ says Barbara. ‘We head out to the sea in dinghies looking for a school. Closing them in with nets is quite tough and we have to make sure we are gone before low tide or we run aground. Back on shore, in their filleting room you can learn the basic techniques of filleting fish in 90 minutes. If you want more, consider a workshop that lasts a day to learn the tricks of the trade. Be sure to dress warmly, because the room is cold!
"We head for the sea in dinghies to catch our dinner."
- Barbara Geertsema-Rodenburg