Cheese, Crime and Cauliflower

In Alkmaar, Netherlands on Fridays in the center of town there is a cheese auction.

The train ride to Alkmaar is about 50 minutes from my home. I arrive in town in time to walk into the ceremony with the singers.

The cheesemakers bring their huge rounds of cheese into town mostly by boats on the canals.

The cheeses are all laid out on pallets.

The wholesalers make a bid of how much per kilo they will pay. If the bid is accepted, the round is weighed on an ancient weighing machine and then run to a wheelbarrow where it is taken off to the buyer’s trucks.

It is a carnival like atmosphere with vendors selling cheese, pickles, herring and chocolates all around the bidding ring. I sample cheeses from almost every vendor there and also try the pickles and herring ( very tasty together).

It is a fun morning and I head back home via train. Little did I know my fun was about to turn tragic. Arriving at the Central Station, it is chaos —-in an act of terrorism, a man has stabbed two Americans minutes before my train pulls in. As we are arriving the police shoot the stabber and we are taken down a back tunnel and out the station. As you read this you have probably seen the details, but trust me when I say it was frightening being in that situation.

Ok time to make new memories. I have a dinner reservation at Ron’s Gastropub. This chef has several restaurants in Amsterdam. My first day here, my friends and I biked out to his Indonesian place. I feel like walking tonight and it is a 45 minute walk through the lovely Oud Zuid neighborhood of Amsterdam.

When I arrive the place is hopping and I decide to sit at the bar. Lindsey, the manager, comes over and we chat. I go with her recommendations. I’m not disappointed. Great salad, short ribs and cauliflower baked in that cheese I saw this morning at Alkmaar. I’m talking to two guys near me who have had several good looking appetizers and finished a bottle of wine. I think they are going to pay and leave when the one says to Lindsey, ” now we want to order the 6 course dinner with the wine pairings.” Perfect— now I feel light eater!

I uber home. My friends Nick and Ivan have suggested I go to Haarlem tomorrow before joining them in Den Bosch for a Bach concert. I want to get to Haarlem for the supposedly great Saturday market.

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