Let me preface this post by stating that I’ve recently found my way out of Germany, which is the equivalent of supermarket purgatory. Something about the dim lighting, lack of branding and variety and unfriendly customer service never really worked for me (going through the checkout and hurriedly jamming all your groceries in a German supermarket is one of the most terrifying events to transpire as part of your daily life). Therefore, my perspective of what in fact a good supermarket is could be severely skewed. All that aside, I LOVE ALBERT HEIJN!!!
From the minute I walked into one of these blue beacons of hope, I fell in love. Yes, love at first sight does actually exist! As soon as you pass through the turnstyle, you’re confronted with a wealth of delicious and easy to prepare fresh foods, from salad and vegetables to asian dishes and pasta.
Then you get to the meat section, and get this, there is actually meat in it! Instead of only seeing fifteen varieties of sausages, hackfleisch (minced meat usually consisting of more than one type of animal) and overpriced chicken, there are a wealth of affordable options, so much so that it can all be a bit overwhelming for Alberginers (AH newbies). Even the lunch meat (cold cuts) and sandwich spreads are much better and come in many different varieties. I recommend the roast beef and chicken pesto salad.
Next, lets talk about the cheese. Any such Dutch post would be remiss without touching on the topic. The wonderful thing about Dutch cheese is that it’s good even on the non-European palette. But, it’s very important to find the Dutch cheese that is right for you. I’m a fan of Belegen Boerenkaas.
What really scores AH huge points with me is the fact that they carry my favorite hot sauce Frank’s RedHot. This is the stuff the original chicken wing was conceived with. Back in good ole Deutschland, you’d only find it if your local Galleria Kaufhof had some in stock.
Not far from the hot sauces, you’ll find Dutch peanut butter, which (in no exaggeration) is the best thing to ever hail from the Netherlands not named Doutzen Kroes. American pride aside, the best peanut butter in the world is the crunchy Calvé. If you’re a peanut butter lover and you haven’t tried it, you’ve been living a lie your whole life.
Of course once you have your peanut butter, you need some bread to spread it on. Don’t worry, the AH bakery has you covered. If you go earlier in the day there is a number of different fresh and already cut loafs to choose from (instead of there just being dark and extra dark bread).
Once you’ve gotten your customary stroopwafels, it’s time to check out. And guess what? There’s more than two cashiers on duty!!!! That’s right, you won’t spend hours waiting in line. Go figure a supermarket would be efficient and make it easy for you to spend your money. Then comes the most rewarding part; swiping your AH bonus card. Even if only a few cents are knocked off the price, there is something so gratifying about the transaction. Then, you can peacefully pack your bag and head home to indulge in your tasty treats.
Long live Albert Heijn!
P.S. I just found out Amsterdam also has a Marks & Spencer here, another one of my favorite food stores. But, don’t get me started. Now, if only they could manage to get a Wegmans over here.