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How Gouda Is That?

Amsterdam is known for a great many things: bicycles, canals, beer, the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District and, of course, the definitive Dutch cheese: Gouda. Of course, here in the Netherlands, we pronounce it “how-da.”

This smooth and semi-firm cheese gets its name from the city of Gouda, located roughly 75 kilometres south of Amsterdam in the province of South Holland.  But Gouda’s reach (the cheese, not the town) has expanded beyond Holland’s own borders to become one of the world’s most popular types of cheese.  Gouda also happens to be one of the world’s oldest recorded cheeses, which is still made to this day.  (Earliest references date back to 1184.)

As Holland’s capital city (and its most populated), Amsterdam is home to numerous venues that focus almost exclusively on this typical and most famous Dutch food.

An important stop for most anyone while in Amsterdam is the Amsterdam Cheese Museum.  (Yes, an entire museum dedicated to this rich and creamy food!)  Located at Prinsengracht 112, the museum is about a six-minute bike ride from Centraal Station.

Open everyday, from 9:00 to 19:00, this totally cheesy experience promises a delicious good time where you can learn more about this Dutch treat from experienced guides, see the world’s priciest slicer, enjoy some free samples and more.

Visit one of the many Henri Willig Cheese and More shops throughout Amsterdam for another unique taste of Holland. This home-grown company has been making cheese for more than 40 years, and now produces goat, sheep, organic and other specialty cheeses – including a variety of baby Gouda.

For a guided tasting of some award-winning Dutch cheese, stop by the Reypenaer Tasting Room at Singel 182, 1015 AJ in Amsterdam – about a five-minute bike ride from Centraal Station. Here, you’ll find a range of tasting menus and samples, all perfectly paired with wine and/or port (or non-alcoholic beverages, if you prefer).

And in the Negen Straatjes district (also known as 9 Streets) in the heart of the city, you’ll find Kaaskamer ("Cheese Room") – where the shelves are delightfully stacked with tempting blocks and wheels of some of the country’s finest farmhouse, organic, matured (and flavourful) cheese.

Lastly, no visit to Amsterdam would be quite complete without dropping by Old Amsterdam.  There are two Amsterdam locations: Damrak 62, 1012 LM and Singel 490, 1017 AW. With Old Amsterdam’s motto, “Tasting is Believing,” you’re sure to become a champion taster during the shop’s one-hour course, learn what it takes to make Gouda and find out how to distinguish between the various types of this Dutch specialty.  (The award-winning Old Amsterdam cheese is also sold in nearly 70 countries around the world.)

In Holland, good cheese – and especially Gouda – is easy to find. (Make a quick visit to most any grocery store or open-air market, and you’ll see what we mean.)  But given the Dutch fondness for Gouda, we also have plenty of shops and restaurants that specialize in this beloved local food.  So no matter how you spend your time in Amsterdam, we hope you make it Gouda!