Say Cheese in Holland
When asked about the first thought hearing “Holland,” many people would say “cheese” without a doubt. The Dutch are known for making cheese since prehistorical times (way before they started to grow and trade their tulips) and they’ve made their product world known. Nowadays the Netherlands is one of the largest cheese producers in the world, exporting their Gouda to 130 countries. So if you happen to be in Amsterdam, you shouldn’t leave without discovering the world of Dutch cheese and its palette of flavors.
Way more than Gouda
Although Gouda is the best-known cheese in the Netherlands (and usually is the first choice of locals when they’re making their super delicious sandwiches), it is not the only cheese type in Holland worth trying. Maasdammer will surprise lovers of typical Swiss cheese by its sweet taste with a nutty note, while Geitenkaas will melt in anybody’s mouth with a bit of fresh honey. Boerenkaas bought from a local farmer will disclose its unique creamy taste due to fresh unpasteurized milk with a glass of fresh unpasteurized beer. Delft’s Blauw will change your perception of blue cheese forever, while Old Amsterdam cheese might become your favorite and cause some overweight in the luggage on the way back from Holland. So many types and flavors (cumin, mustard seeds and cloves are only a few) to try, so open up your taste buds and be ready for delightful sampling in Amsterdam!
Shop and try in Amsterdam
It is hardly possible to imagine a cheese shop in Amsterdam where you won’t be able to try your cheese before making a final shopping decision. You will probably pass quite a few cheese stores in the heart of the city (Reypenaer Proeflokaal, Henry Willig Cheese, Cheese Museum, Old Amsterdam Cheese Store and more), but since lots of them are quite touristy, let’s look at the more local options.
Located in the beautiful shopping district of 9 Streets, De Kaaskamer sells some of the best Dutch cheeses, various European cheeses, organic farmhouse types, very old matured pieces, interesting specialty cheeses and everything that can go with them (including wines & beers). The stock of 400 cheeses will amuse with its variety and exclusive types like Old Sheep Cheese with Sea Lavender, Organic Goat Cheese with Potato skins, Selected Gouda Cheese 3 Years and many more.
The knowledgeable and helpful team of Kaashuis Tromp will be glad to offer you authentic, biological cheeses from Holland as well as diverse high quality cheeses from all over Europe. They have multiple locations around the Netherlands, but it doesn’t matter which one you choose, as their cheese will taste just as good. Try their Kruidenkaas (with different herbs), Pikante kaas if you like spicier and skinny or diet cheeses if you want the calories to be invisible.
Elandsgracht 27 or Utrechtsestraat 90
Fromagerie Abraham Kef
Abraham Kef cheese shops offer exclusive assortment of cheeses that changes with the seasons and with the best time for a particular cheese type. They focus on cheeses made by small producers from the Netherlands and France, especially the raw milk cheeses. Lots of storytelling and personal recommendations are involved when choosing the right cheese at this fromagerie.
Marnixstraat 192 or Czaar Peterstraat 137
In case you are interested in buying good Dutch cheese, but want it to be affordable, then this local market in Amsterdam West will surprise you with its authenticity and great prices. Ten Katemarket has a couple of stalls with cheese where an older Dutch owner will tell you all about his product.
This is a very special market in Westergasfabriek, which doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, then all the local producers come together. Here you will have a great opportunity to combine cheese tasting with other locally produced delicious items.
Going out for cheese
True cheese fans won’t settle only for trying, buying and bringing home cheese, but they would want to have the whole dining experience with the good Dutch cheese. That would be perfectly possible and even recommended at Fondue & Fondue (Overtoom 415) and Café Bern (Nieuwmarkt 9). While most of the restaurants in Amsterdam will serve you a nice cheese plate or board, these two places will go further and indulge you into cheese fondue. Aside from this fancier options, don’t forget about local fast food spots where you should try kaassouffles- a very Dutch snack of deep fried cheese.
Biggest cheese markets in the Netherlands
If you want to extend your cheese experience in Holland and get the highest level of cheese knowledge, then hop on a train and explore the biggest Dutch cheese markets of Alkmaar, Edam and Gouda. Alkmaar hosts a very unique old cheese market with all the traditions of trade being followed from April to September. Visitors can enjoy a folkloric spectacle of cheese weighing, cheese carriers performing their duty and cheese sellers advertising their product. In addition to this spectacular show, Alkmaar opens its doors to The Dutch Cheese Museum, where you can learn everything about this delicious product and how it has been serving the country for centuries.
The Edam cheese market features summer reenactments of the Middle Ages, when cheese was delivered to the main square by horse-drawn vehicle or boat and then weighing and sampling started. It is also quite an experience and leaves you with way more impressions than a regular market would.
If you are into Dutch cheese, you just cannot miss the Gouda cheese market, as the cheese type of the same name accounts for more than 60% of cheese production in the Netherlands. It is an authentic market, where local farmers sell their best cheeses and where the cheese weighing house offers some fun entertainment. They will even weigh you using cheese as a measure of weight.
This post is also available in: Dutch