A Weekend in Alkmaar

Dans le port d’Amsterdam … I absolutely love Amsterdam. Every time I go there I am reminded why I love this city: the wonderful canals, the beautiful houses, the cosy looking boats, the cute bikes. And I love their cheese. Which is why this year, finally, we made it to the Alkmaar cheese market.

Taking place 22 Fridays a year, between April and September, it is as much a tourist attraction as it is a cheese lovers heaven. Most of the show and cheese on display are purely for photographic reasons, but the stands around the market sell wonderful Dutch cheese. There is the Gouda, which to my taste, the older it is, the better it tastes. We also tried a wonderful Dutch blue cheese. And everything in between.

After cheese in Alkmaar, we went back to Amsterdam. One tip when going to Amsterdam: rent bikes. We managed to see a lot more of the city than we would have otherwise, and discovered the cutest foodie places ever.

The curious thing about Dutch food is that although their snacks and lunches are absolutely great, their evening food is simply put, not that good. Which is why during the day we opted for Dutch, in the evening for Indonesian or Italian. The weather was fabulous so all the cafes had tables outside by the canals – a dream.

What would I recommend when stopping for breakfast or lunch? You can always go for the very Dutch glass of milk (if not on the menu, just ask for it as they’ll definitely have it!). The koffie verkeerd, a favourite of mine, which I think means upside down coffee – half milk, half coffee. For breakfast I enjoyed their wonderful open sandwiches always on brown bread: cheese, smoked salmon, or pastrami. A new twist to the classic smoked salmon sandwich: in Holland it is served with wasabi mayo.

For lunch I personally opted for Dutch beer (nothing compared to the Belgian beer) and one or the other cheese platter. Something to pay attention to, Dutch portions are a lot bigger than the Belgian or French ones. They serve enough food to feed at least two. Guess all the calories get burned biking… An ultra-Dutch discovery was also the uitsmijters, a combination of toast, and/or ham, and/or cheese, and fried eggs on top. Not very inventive but delicious in its own way, and very filling.

Of course there are also the bitterballen, deep fried meat based snacks which are served with mustard (and go very well with beer!). And at every corner you will come across a herring stand. An experience in itself: raw, chopped herring, served with onions and pickled cucumbers. Not squeamish about food, I had one as well, and for my taste it was enough. But they are a hit with the Dutch. We also tried kibbeling, deep fried fish served with what tastes to me like tartar sauce (which the Dutch claim it is not…).

Sweet snacks are inevitably either stroopwafeltjes or the poffertjes. And more coffee. Or beer.

How to come across these Dutch treats? Most of them are served at every corner or café/ bar. But try the weekend food markets as well, the Albert Cuyp, and the Boerenmarket (organic market), where food stands will sell both snacks and food to take home. Oh and to end your foodie experience in Amsterdam? One of their delicious home made appeltaart. Divine.

If you love Amsterdam as much as me, which is your favorite Amsterdam spot? Our foodie stops in Amsterdam:

Het Hof van Alkmaar (located in … well, Alkmaar)
Hof van Sonoy 1
1811 LD Alkmaar
Dutch specialities

Prinsengracht 381
1016 HL Amsterdam
Italian Deli style

Pakhuis Amsterdam
Jollemanhof 9
1019 GW Amsterdam
Jamie Oliver’s NL version

Prinsengracht 411
1016 HL Amsterdam
Wine bar

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