A shop specializing in Dutch cheese, near the Cheese Museum, Alkmaar, Netherlands.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023
It was a Saturday market morning in Alkmaar, and as an enthusiast of both markets and cheese, and being involved in marketing for cheese on this trip, the opportunity to explore the old cobbled tributary streets leading towards the Dutch Cheese Museum in Alkmaar, Netherlands, proved an irresistible activity. The sun was out on this day, making everything perfect for some walking.
The Dutch Cheese Museum offers an immersive journey into the world of cheese. Housed in the historic Waaggebouw, the museum has been a beacon for cheese lovers since its inception in 1983. It’s not just a collection of exhibits, but an interactive experience that combines historical objects, engaging games, and audio-visual narratives. The Dutch cheese production process is captivating, from its historical beginnings in the 1600s, to how the value chain made its way to The Waag building, and how these value chains have evolved and developed through the centuries to what it is today, where Dutch cheese is globally renowned. The Gouda Holland PGI (protected geographical indication) is a naturally matured, semi-hard cheese from cows that graze on Dutch dairy farms, and the Noord-Hollandse Gouda PDO (protected designation of origin) is a less salty variety of cheese prepared from milk obtained in the Province of Noord-Holland.
After absorbing the wealth of information in the museum, we decided to take a break and soak in the local atmosphere. Just outside the Waaggebouw, we found a charming café. On offer was a combined menu of a slice of apple pie and coffee. That sounded delicious, so we ordered a set to sit and enjoy. It was just slightly before lunch, so the crowds were mostly absent. The slice of apple pie was served topped with whipped cream, a local variation of a now global delicacy that was as delightful as I had imagined.
The market square and its tributary lanes were alive with activity, but it wasn’t overly crowded. It was a typical Saturday morning, with locals and tourists alike enjoying the vibrant energy of Alkmaar. I found it relaxing to sit and watch the world go by, listening to the sound of the carillon bells at The Waag. Their melodious chimes filled the square, creating a serene ambiance amidst the lively market scene.
The Dutch Cheese Museum is more than a showcase of cheese. It’s a testament to the people who dedicate their lives to the craft of cheesemaking and the traditions they uphold. As I browsed the nearby shops selling a variety of Dutch cheeses, I was struck by the diversity and quality of the offerings.
The visit to the Dutch Cheese Museum was an enriching experience. I not only learned about the art of cheesemaking but also had the chance to taste some exceptional cheeses and enjoy the picturesque city of Alkmaar. It was a day filled with simple pleasures: the taste of good cheese, the sound of bells, and the beauty of a sunny day in a charming city.
So, if you find yourself in the Netherlands and have an appreciation for cheese, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the Dutch Cheese Museum in Alkmaar. It’s a wonderful way to learn about Dutch cheese, experience the city, and create lasting memories.