The yearly eggball test is not just like any other test. This snack is considered a local delicacy, and most Groningers are very proud of it. That’s why this year, we decided to go next level: not just a test with our jury, but an event with one hundred visitors in local brewery Martinus.
The eggball test live, in a brewery: apparently people liked the idea, because tickets were sold out in less than one hour. Who would have thought that when I sink my teeth into an eggball in café Merleyn three years ago and sent an enthusiastic app to the editor-in-chief of HanzeMag: ‘Testing eggballs. Wouldn’t that be awesome?’
Let’s put the freshly fried eggballs in the spotlight!
Well, I didn’t. The idea to organize a clash of titans between the five best eggball producers from the previous two tests, comes from former juror Saskia Jonker. As the mastermind behind the culinary blog Smaak van Stad, she thought it was a great idea to take it to another level. No more backroom tests. Nope, let’s put the freshly fried eggballs in the spotlight!
Six great eggball producers emerged out of the first two tests: Friet van Piet, Kwalitaria Jolie, Hoek, cafetaria Koning, cafetaria De Paardenschuur and Restaria Zuid. The first one does not want to participate, because two new owners just took over (‘Maybe next year!’). That leaves five titans. Instead of snackbar Hoek we invite Van Genieten. They produce eggballs for several snackbars, among them also Hoek at Grote Markt.
Visually a no go
The criteria are the same as every year. Starting with the outside layer and ending with the aftertaste: crunch, ragout, egg and overall experience. After a short introduction by hostess Lara Harbers we can start our ballgame: let the battle begin! The first eggball master to serve his balls is cafetaria Koning. The room gets quiet. We are not the only ones judging this time. All participants taste the neatly cut cultural heritage from Groningen.
The egg yolk has a little blue edge, which is visually a no go
We immediately notice the size of the snack: quite small. The egg yolk has a little blue edge, which is visually a no go. We take a bite. I look around the table and see the faces of the jurors morph from doubtful to a surprised look of relief.
‘These are just great. End of story’, says juror Richard Postma.
Jurors Angela Prins and Saskia Jonker are deliberating.
‘The ragout is really nice.’
And the fact that the egg is blue? We don’t really seem to mind.
‘It might be a bit blue’, says Jornt Weersing, ‘but it’s very unctuous. I don’t know how they pulled that off. I give it a ten out of ten in the category “egg”’
What a way to start the test… Koning gets an average grade of 8.36.
Golden yellow egg
We take a sip from our drink, but we don’t have much time to recover. The next eggball is already being served: the eggball of Van Genieten. We take bites, start to champ, take notes and continue to champ. My expectations of Van Genieten are high. The classic eggball of this producer scored a second place in 2015. In 2016 the Feierbal, a spicy version of the eggball, also scored a second place.
Do you also taste that? The slightly spicy aftertaste?
This time, the eggball seems to have a slightly neutral taste. We look at each other. Angela starts thinking. ‘Do you also taste that? The slightly spicy aftertaste? It doesn’t really fit after such a delicate taste.’
We agree with her. Van Genieten scores a 7.54.
Zuid = Jolie
On to the next one. In 2016 Restaria Zuid lost against Kwalitaria Jolie. Afterwards we heard that the two snackbars serve exactly the same eggballs. With that information in the back of my head, I take my first bite.
Angela and Saskia agree quickly. The egg is nice, the crunch is good, there is only too little ragout.
‘That’s a shame, because the taste is great. You want more of that.’
Richard agrees with them.
‘It makes the overall taste a bit dry. The egg dominates.’
‘But the spices are really great,’ Jornt concludes.
Thumbs up for Zuid, score: 7.30.
This isn’t funny anymore
When I return from a quick visit to the bathroom the eggball of cafetaria De Paardeschuur is already waiting. Like Koning’s, De Paardeschuur’s eggball has a great reputation in Groningen. This snackbar has many different kinds of eggballs, the classic one, of course, but also balls with chorizo, curry, and Mediterranean ragout. I take a bite expecting a very distinct flavour. Nothing could be further from the truth. All flavours slowly fall into place and leave us with a very long and nice aftertaste. I notice that Jornt has the same experience.
‘This isn’t funny anymore’, he shouts, ‘so good!’
Saskia doesn’t agree with him.
‘The ragout has a bit of an anice flavour. Very specific. This is not for everybody.’
Angela and Richard agree with Saskia. The ball scores an average of 8.34.
The end is near. The winner of last year’s test, Kwalitaria Jolie, is serving the last eggballs. The well-balanced flavour, the golden yellow egg, the nice crunch, it all falls into place.
‘It has a nice and soft acidity’, Richard says while chewing.
‘I like the ragout’, says Angela.
‘I told you before I didn’t like it anymore’, Jornt is joking. ‘Now it’s really not funny anymore.’ Grade: 8.20.
Jury versus public
We completely agree about the top three, except for the winner. Kwalitaria Jolie is number two for all jurors. De Paardeschuur is number three for all jurors, except me. I picked Koning as number three, the rest picks Koning as the overall winner. I can live with it, I tell my fellow jurors.
‘Are you sure?’, Angela asks.
In the meantime, the grades of the public are being counted. Their top three does not correspond with our judgement at all. Van Genieten scores a third place, followed by De Paardeschuur, and Kwalitaria Jolie wins the Public Award.
Photos: Jasper Bolderdijk