If you would ask my friends and family what my favourite food is, there’s a good chance that cheese is the answer (that or tomato soup). For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved cheese. Of course, my country is famous for this product so I kind of have to like it, though I don’t thing other Dutch people put as much cheese on dishes as I do. Cheese on bread, cheese on pasta, cheese on pizza… The first thing I do when I come back from traveling, is visit the supermarket (usually the big Albert Heijn at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport) to stock up on some cheese. Yeah, you can say that I love it.
Anyways, I came to realize that I never knew how cheese was actually made so when I was making list of things to do in my own country, a visit to a cheese museum quickly made it to the list. And last week I finally came to know how my favourite food is made on our visit to Alkmaar!
Alkmaar is located in the northwest parts of the Netherlands, just a little bit above Amsterdam. The city is famous for it’s cheese museum and cheese market, that’s been held for the last 400 years. Thanks to corona, however, it’s cancelled for the time being, so I’ll have to come back whenever the virus has calmed down. The museum, luckily, is still open and definitely worth a visit if you’re a cheesehead like I am!
The museum is small, but very informative and we got a little piece of cheese upon entering (Yay!). We learned a lot about how cheese is made, starting with milk and the objectification of the cow. The museum was, naturally, very positive about the milk production but we felt kinda sad about it, for it felt like the cow was rather a machine that produces milk, instead of a living creature, especially since the number of liter of milk produced by a single cow has risen ridiculously in the last hundreds of years.
The museum had informative videos, old equipment, like a cheese press, and there were some games you could play. These were fun (especially for kids), but also very informative, because it allowed you to test the knowledge you’d gathered from the videos.
I liked it. I’ve learned a lot about the history of cheese and thus a bit of the history of my country. I’ve learned how cheese is made (and how butter and buttermilk are a side product), how flavours are added and how the cheese was sampled, how it obtained its quality mark and how it got distributed. If you want to learn more about the Netherlands and the history of cheese, I’d really recommend visiting this museum, though maybe it’s more fun when the cheese markets are back, since the museum looks out over the square where the festivities are held.
We had more plans for the day, but before we moved on, we wanted to walk through Alkmaar a little bit, for we hadn’t been there before and the city looked really pretty.
It really does look a lot like Amsterdam, don’t you think? Though it is way less crowded and you don’t have to be afraid to get runover by someone on a bicycle. It was actually quite calm when we were there, and it was a lovely day, especially when the sun came out.
We then decided it was time for lunch and after walking around for a bit, we came across De heeren van Sonoy, which was this gorgeous restaurant with a beautiful terrace where we quickly sat outside to have a bite to eat.
Everything on the menu sounded so yummy and it took me a while to decide between the tomato soup and the cheese soup, but hey, when in Rome, of course it had to be the cheese soup. It was really yummy and again, something I would definitely recommend. Boyfriend had the clubsandwich with chicken and it was also really good.
After our lovely lunch, we walked back to our car to visit another stop we had planned for the day, namely: the Zaanse Schans.
I will definitely come back to Alkmaar one day, to see the cheese market, but also to wander the streets of this beautiful city again.