One of my favourite memories of a big European trip as a kid was seeing the cheese markets at Alkmaar in Holland – seeing costumed men carry hundreds of huge rounds of cheese around really stuck in my mind, and I told all my friends Alkmaar was one of the best places to visit in Europe! I wanted to find this experience again, but missed out on the regular Friday market in Alkmaar thanks to a car breakdown.
That might’ve been a good thing – Alkmaar’s cheese market does seem like it could be a too-popular tourist attraction these days – and I found plenty of other ways to experience Dutch cheese. There are numerous cheese farms to visit (such as Henri Willig’s Alida Hoeve cheese farm north of Amsterdam) and countless cheese shops, especially in towns with familiar cheesy names like Gouda or Edam. The Dutch tourist board devotes a whole page to Dutch cheese, too!
In fact, the best moment for me was quite spontaneous – sitting in an outdoor cafe in Gouda, which happened to be near a cheese shop, I got to watch this man unload tray after tray of cheese wheels. I had a perfect view and none of the tourist crowds of Alkmaar. I went in and bought some cheese shortly after (not as large as those in the picture) and it sure made a great supper.
Alkmaar is only around 20 kilometres from Amsterdam, so why not follow Andy’s favourite foods of Amsterdam recommendations.