(I have managed to finagle a high-speed internet hookup for a few hours so I am taking the opportunity to upload some of my Amsterdam posts now… enjoy!) Soon after checking into our small hotel on the Prinsengracht canal, we stepped out to check the surrounding areaâ€¦ a quick food reconnaissance mission. The food Gods were definitely looking out for Marketman & family as one of the first promising food related storefronts that we came across was a cheese shop named De Kaaskamer. I didnâ€™t know it at the time (having only landed hours before) but the name meant â€œThe Cheese Chamberâ€ â€“ and that is EXACTLY what it was. Located on a chi-chi side street (Runstraat, 7) along with several other notable food shops, this was the absolute â€œjackpotâ€ in cheese, in the land of cheese. Less than 100 meters from our hotel, I was certain we were pre-destined to enter this fantastic store.
The simple but stunning faÃ§ade street side was striking because of its yellow awning, black lettering, and a window display with old tires painted white resting on white river pebbles. Resting on top of the white tires were enormous wheels of yellow, red and black wrapped wheels of cheese. On closer inspection, two whole wheels of Italian Parmegiano Reggiano were on display and I knew there had to be a lot more good stuff insideâ€¦ There were also blackboards in the window that announced what cheeses were on offer and the pricesâ€¦what a beautiful and inviting window indeed!
Inside the small (perhaps 50 square meters) shop, your senses are just overwhelmed with the volume of cheese in stock. Floor to ceiling, in just about every space possible were wheels and wheels of cheese! The more â€œcommonâ€ Dutch cheeses were represented in abundance but there were also approximately 200+ other types of cheese from all over Europe. Frankly, this was the most impressive cheese shop I have ever seen. And because it was the day before a long holiday weekend, it was packed to the gills with customers (the Dutch apparently consume over 30 pounds of cheese per capita per annum)! Though I have to admit I have seen only a limited number of truly impressive cheese shops in my lifetime due to limited interest until recently…
The cheese inventory alone was probably the value of a few Mercedes Benzes but there was moreâ€¦ a huge selection of nuts and dried fruit, a selection of at least a dozen olives, an impressive array of pate and olive oils and other less perishable food items. The shop was small but manned by at least five salesmen who attended to each customer like they were buying diamondsâ€¦ knowledgeable, amiable and efficientâ€¦what more could you ask for? So how could you not inspect the merchandise and select something to purchase?
My wife is more of a cheese person than I am so she was the one scouring the choices more intently while I simply gazed with jaws dropped. We decided to just buy a small wedge of French triple cream to whet our appetites and settled on a SUPERB Brillat Savarin that we had with some wheat bread as there were no crackers in sight in our hotel room. The cheese was one of the best triple creams I have ever eaten. It was FRESH and simultaneously creamy, light and richer than Bill Gates. A very generous wedge was just Euro 4 or PHP250 and easily fed 3 peopleâ€¦it was the best food bargain in Amsterdam!