The story behind Old Amsterdam
The history of Old Amsterdam cheese is one about passion, craftsmanship and enthusiasm. The origins of this characteristic cheese take us to the capital as it was at the end of the nineteenth century. A quest for the full flavor of olden Amsterdam would ultimately lead to one of the most popular cheese products.
Fish from the Southern Sea
Lambertje Veerman van Griet is a gracious young lady from the small Zuider Zee village of Huizen, at the end of the nineteenth century. She regularly uses the horsecar for outings to Amsterdam to buy lace for the traditional Huizer costumes. The Noorder Market is her favorite. Here you can find a delicious, fully matured cheese that is not available anywhere in Huizen. She always buys a piece to be enjoyed at home.
Lambertje marries Gijsbert Westland. As a fish dealer, the married couple visits the capital on a regular basis. There the fish is traded and sometimes exchanged for typical Amsterdam delicacies such as raw beef sausage, jars of pickle, Jewish breads and …. cheese from the Amsterdam Jordaan district. The Westland family is particularly attracted to the fine flavor of this fully matured cheese.
From fish to cheese
The construction of the IJsselmeer Dam in 1932 signals the end for many fisher folk in Huizen. The curtain also falls for Lambertje and Gijsbert. Yet they soon find a new passion: cheese!
As was fish, cheese is sold in the street from a cargo bicycle, the ones with a giant basket at the front. The couple’s youngest son, Lambert, regularly cycles to Amsterdam to trade cheese there too. He enjoys the lovely delicacies from the capital, a fully matured cheese with that specific flavor that so reminds him of days gone by in particular.
The Westland family has been trading cheese for years when Lambert runs into wholesaler Koopman at the Sint Olofskapel cheese fair in Amsterdam, at the end of the forties. They share the same passion for cheese and the meeting sparks the beginning of a long friendship, during which Westland gains a lot of new knowledge on cheese.
The beginning of Old Amsterdam
Lambert has a clear vision. He wants to introduce a similar tasty, fully matured cheese in the Westland range, one that his mother used to bring from the Amsterdam Jordaan and later on himself. That easy-to-cut cheese had a hint of sweetness and was particularly smooth and creamy.
Westland continues to grow. With the takeover of cheese wholesaler Koopman in the early seventies, the family obtains its own cheese storehouse at Lijnbaansgracht in Amsterdam. It is the ideal location for ripening cheese, including a delicious, fully mature cheese which is the favorite among the Westland family.