Cheese Tasting in Amsterdam

with 28 Comments

“Look at my face. I have a beautiful, young and healthy skin, right? That’s because I’ve been eating cheese all my life!”

 

The cheesemonger’s face was full and a bit reddish. Just like the giant round cheese he was barely managing to keep a grasp on. Behind him hundreds of giant round Dutch cheeses piled up, equally distributed on wooden shelves that covered half of the Henri Willig store. A myriad of cream-colored and yellow-daffodil gave off a glow of light. But the cheese was not solely on display to be sold. It was sweating profusely, yielding strong scents of ripening and maturing. A huge wooden cask was located at our feet, as well as cheese molds and wooden paddles, meant to stir the milk. The upper level of the shop indeed looked like a fancy dairy pantry.

 

 

“To make sure that only the right amount of moisture evaporates from the cheeses, they all have a thin plastic coating. That would be the colorful “envelope” of the cheese that we don’t eat.” The cheesemonger smiled again. His round cheeks continued giving off a sympathetic reddish glow.

 

“Depending on the age of the cheese, it can be left on the shelf for ripening between 21 days to over 1 year. To slow down the ripening of a cheese, the plastic coating will be topped by a layer of paraffin.” He knew by the look of our faces that he had lost us, and quickly added: “ That is wax used to help the cheese in its aging process. Usually the wax is colored too.”

 

While listening to the cheese expert revealing the whole process of cheese making, we kept tasting slices of various kinds of Dutch cheese. We never thought we could eat that much cheese. It was way too cold to stroll through Amsterdam anyway. So we kept eating, listening, engulfed in this cozy atmosphere, and followed the cheesemonger around the store to explore more cheese varieties.

 

 

When we finally stepped out of the Henri Willig store with several bags of cheese, we were greeted by a bone-chilling December wind. The crowded flower market across the street certainly looked enticing. But as soon as we saw the sign of the Old Amsterdam Cheese Store, and that of the Golden Age Cheese, we literally scampered through the streets to join their warm and inviting vibes.

 

To be honest, I can’t remember how many cheese shops we “visited”. Many of them were of the same brand, offering only a slight difference of products. But the flamboyant cheese stores reeled us in every single time.

 

For someone who (supposedly) has lactose intolerance, I found that my body reacted quite well to the huge amount of cheese devoured in a day!

 

 

Moreover, Dutch cheese had never been one of my favorites before we visited Amsterdam. Compared to French cheese, they are younger and usually have a much harder texture. I had always preferred soft-ripened, as well as blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Camembert, with their sturdy tang.

 

But after savoring all the cheese types in Amsterdam, Dutch cheese has found a special place in my heart now. After all, there must be a reason why the Netherlands is the largest exporter of cheese in the world. I have to give them some credit for that!

 

My favorite cheese tasted and bought in Amsterdam is definitely the “old” Gouda cheese (aged for 2 years), relished with a drizzle of Dutch apple syrup. And the Picobello, an aged goat’s cheese from Heeze is also ambrosial.

 

What about you? Have you ever experienced a cheese tasting in Amsterdam?

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Cheese Tasting in Amsterdam © Travelwithmk.com

Follow Mei:

Traveler - Storyteller

30-something Archaeologist, born and raised in Luxembourg. Besides traveling, Mei loves eating stinky cheese and raw food, as well as listening to Kerstin’s stories while driving on long road trips. She speaks 7 languages, and wishes she had time to pick up Ancient Greek. She’s afraid of heights, but adores panoramic views. Her favorite places are those she chose to live in: Paris, Greece, San Francisco.

28 Responses

  1. I had no idea cheese tasting was a thing! I love cheese and I love Amsterdam — what a win! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kevin Wagar
    | Reply

    Oh man, I love cheese so much! I would be in heaven. I can’t believe I’ve never thought about focusing a tour around it!

  3. Sandy N Vyjay
    | Reply

    For the love of cheese! Loved reading about cheese tasting in Amsterdam. A fresh perspective of the city. Normally we associate the city with its canals and cycling,museums and tulips, but this is something different. The variety of cheese available Amsterdam is mind boggling and definitely leaves me craving for cheese.

  4. Somnath
    | Reply

    Looks splendid and tasty.Those red boxes in the upper shelves,are they of different weights and how much grams of the item can they withhold

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Those are cheeses, not boxes. Haha 😂 The red color you see is wax. You’ve certainly eaten the very famous Babybel cheese right? So imagine it’s like a Babybel, but only much larger and another kind of cheese. Lol

      • Somnath
        | Reply

        I meant the red color boxes which were in the top shelf..I thought that they have kept the cheese inside them for sale though I could see the actual cheese in the lower shelves…

  5. Sol Solntze
    | Reply

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Cheese. Pretty sure you would never catch me saying that I didn’t think I could eat that much cheese. 😉 Mind you, I didn’t know that the Dutch are the biggest exporters of cheese or that cheese tasting in Amsterdam is such a thing. But now I do know…

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes it’s crazy right? We’ve always thought that France would be the biggest cheese exporter in Europe!

  6. Ada
    | Reply

    wow Ive been in Amsterdam many times and I can’t believe Ive never did cheese tasting! I love cheese so much I would probably eat the whole thing hahah I am glad you were ok and got to taste all those good stuff!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Haha! Believe us.. we were supposed to “taste” too, but we ended up eating so much cheese that we were too full for dinner! 😆

  7. Amrita Sen
    | Reply

    I really loved the way you shared your “cheesy” experience. 😉 I was almost into splits while reading the first line itself. Lovely write-up. Hope you had a wonderful time.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks Amrita! Glad you liked my story. 😊 And YES, we had an amazing time in Amsterdam (even if it was freezing cold!!)

  8. Punita
    | Reply

    I really enjoyed your storytelling. I could almost imagine the cheesemonger standing in front of me, convincing me of the quality of his wares with all gusto. Great post. I’m dreaming of cheese now.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you! If you’ve never experienced cheese tasting, you should definitely try it one day! May it be in the Netherlands or elsewhere. Afterwards you’ll really be dreaming of cheese for days!! Hehe..😊

  9. Nancy
    | Reply

    I love your description of the cheese-tasting. Like you I prefer French cheeses but i’m sure I could be persuaded to re-consider if i learnt more about the Dutch style of cheesemaking. This sounds like a great way to spend some time in Amsterdam.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks you Nancy! Since you also like French cheese, you’ll definitely appreciate the “older” types of Dutch cheese, which has a stronger taste. 😊

  10. FlunkingMonkey
    | Reply

    What a fun experience! I didn’t know you could do this in amsterdam, I guess it isn’t spoke about as often.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Actually there are several cheese tasting tours in Amsterdam. We didn’t pay for a tour, but just happened to enter many cheese stores (to avoid the cold outside.. haha..), where we happened to be greeted by very friendly cheesemongers who explained us the cheese making procedures in details and made us taste various kinds of cheese for free! Of course each time we ended up buying lots of cheese afterwards. 😁

  11. Medha Verma
    | Reply

    I didn’t know you could go cheese tasting in Amsterdam! I love cheese, it’s the kind of thing I’d enjoy doing, thanks for the suggestion.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You’re welcome Medha! For free cheese tasting, just go to several cheese stores to taste the cheese that are available for tasting. If you take time to discuss with the cheesemongers they’ll certainly make you taste even more types of cheese. 😊

  12. Jessica
    | Reply

    I don’t eat much cheese but this looks like a fun visit anyway. Love the opening quote!!

  13. Lori
    | Reply

    Loved visiting cheese makers in Emilia-Romagna and will definitely put this on our list when we visit Amsterdam. Will try them all but gouda will be at the top of our list.

  14. Oana A. Nicolescu
    | Reply

    For me, this is a cheese paradise! I’ve been three times to Amsterdam and I never went cheese tasting and now I am so jealous. I have to return and visit Amsterdam properly like you did <3.

  15. Dom
    | Reply

    You had me at cheese tasting. 🙂 Looks like a fun alternative to coffee shops, bars and the red light district.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yep! We also went to coffee shops, bars and the res light district. BUT we had more fun with cheese tasting (or rather cheese stores hopping!) 😆

  16. Unta
    | Reply

    I have been so many times in Netherlands, but never tried all these cheese. Now I have to go back. 🙂 Great post.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks Unta! It was a really fun thing to do, and all that thanks to the freezing cold weather! 😂 Otherwise we wouldn’t have gone into so many cheese stores lol!

  17. This looks amazing, I love any type of cheese so this is heaven right here for me. We have visited a couple of dairies here in Australia, but nothing like this! Lorelle. 🙂

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