I don’t know about you, but I love cheese. I actually love it so much that I’m sure it’s the main reason why I have my love handles and enormous thighs. Because, not a single day goes by without me eating some kind of cheese at some point of the day.
Last week, my partner and I went road tripping through the Netherlands – and ate A LOT of Dutch Gouda, every single day. We claimed we did it to be cultural, but let’s face it, we’re two fatties who just love everything food-related (and especially cheese).
Being someone who loves to try local specialties when I travel, I am always interested in learning about the traditions, the food culture and participate on local culinary events and celebrations wherever I go. So before going to the Netherlands, we wanted to make sure we wouldn’t miss any kind of event related to Dutch cheese. Because..cheese.
Which is how we ended up visiting Alkmaar for the weekly Alkmaar Cheese Market!
Uhm.. What exactly is this Cheese Market?
The Cheese Market is the main attraction in town!
From April until the end of September, you can watch the art of cheese trading, according to a tradition which dates back to 1365.
The cheese would be delivered early in the morning, the cheese market masters and traders would then check to see whether the cheeses had been well stacked, and then lots of cheese – something like 30 000 kilos (2200 cheese wheels) would be lined up and ready for purchase.
…And you’ll get to watch all of this at the market!
The most fun part of the cheese market is watching the kaasdragers (cheese porters) identified by their differently colored straw hats, carry the farmers’ cheese on barrows and take them to the weighing house.
Alright! What else is there to do at the market?
Taste cheese, buy cheese, eat cheese, eat stuff that isn’t cheese, drink beer at one of the nearby terrace bars, buy souvenirs from the artisan market behind the cheese market – or visit the cheese museum. After all this is THE cheese town!
The Cheese Market sounds awesome! When can I visit?
The Cheese Market takes place from 10 am until 1 pm – every Friday (from March 31st until September 29th). This year there is also an evening market on certain Tuesdays (visit Kaasmarkt.nl for more information)
I don’t know Alkmaar…How do I get there?
If you’re taking your car, I advise you to park it a bit outside of the main center, or in a parking garage. Street parking can be a bit tricky on busy days like these!
If you’re traveling from Amsterdam by train, there’s a direct connection to Alkmaar from the Amsterdam Central Station (trains depart four times pr hour).
If you’re traveling from Den Helder, Hoorn or Haarlem, there’s also a direct connection to Alkmaar and trains depart twice pr hour.
Shopping for souvenirs?
Pick up a Dutch handmade household item from “the old-fashioned shop”!
BOOM (since 1835) is a family-run traditional shop in the old historic quarter of Alkmaar. For nearly 200 years, this family business has been selling handmade Dutch items including traditional wooden clogs, brushes and ropes in Alkmaar – the cheese capital of the world!
The shop is museum-like and presents timeless Dutch products and good old-fashioned personal service. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this little gem is easy to recognize by its big yellow clog/wooden shoe next to the entrance!
For more information, check out Ouderwetsewinkel.com
just me being cheesy (oh no, I didn’t just pull that joke, did I?)