Cheese is tasty and super-versatile. With cheese, you can make quesadillas for a quick snack, side-dish, or appetizer. With cheese, you can make a sandwich where cheese is the star ingredient (Grilled Cheese Sandwich) or the finishe touch on a sandwich with other fixings. Top your omelettes with cheese. Bake a dish featuring cheese (lasagna, souffle, cheese pizza, etc.) Pair it with wine. Or just eat cheese alone. There's just so much you can do with cheese.
Well, I figure most cheese lovers already enjoy cheese in as many dishes as they can and try all the various cheeses at stores, so in honor of Cheese Lover's Day, I've put together a list of cheese factory tours that Cheese Lovers should visit. (I'm a sucker for factory tours - even if I have no interest in the product being made! I just like knowing how things are made!) There are so many places you can go see cheese being made, either on a small scale or on a large scale.
- California: In Petaluma, near SF, there's Marin French Cheese. Also in Petaluma, there's Cowgirl Creamery. In Loleta, there's Loleta Cheese Factory. Or in Hilmar, there's Hilmar Cheese Company. On the way to Yosemite? Check out Oakdale Cheese. In Pescadero, there's Harley Farms Goat Dairy. In Winchester, there's Winchester Cheese where they make gouda. (Side note - my Dutch friends have rubbed off on me and now I pronounce gouda as "how-dah.") You can find more California cheese makers to visit at the California Artisanal Cheese Guild's site.
- Familiar with the national brank Tillamook and in Oregon? Check out the Tillamook tour. While there, you could also check out the Blue Heron French Cheese Company. Can't make it? YouTube user JCVdude has a bunch of videos about the Tillamook tour. For more cheese in Oregon, check out the Oregon Cheese Guild.
Other places for cheese lovers to go to:
- Local farms and dairies (not just those with cheese factories.) Many farmers love talking about what they do and will gladly tell you about their products and the animals that produce the products.
- Wineries. Even if you're not a wine drinker, wineries are great places for cheese lovers. They typically stock good cheeses that pair well with their wines. Some places will have local cheeses on hand and give you contact info for your local farmer.
- Cheese restaurants. TIME had an article in 2009 about restaurants for the cheese lover Or how about a cheese bar? Cheesetique, a cheese and wine bar in Virginia, even offers classes for cheese lovers.
- Grocery stores. I know this seems like an odd suggestion, but grocery stores with a specialty cheese section, like Bristol Farms and Whole Foods, will usually let you try a cheese before you buy. Some stores constantly have new cheeses out for you to try. I love buying cheese at Whole Foods because there's always a selection of "Under $4" cheeses. Sometimes these are familiar cheeses, but most often they're cheeses I've never heard of and may not be willing to buy a whole lot of. So I buy a small "Under $4" chunk and avoid the risk of buying a huge chunk of cheese I may not like.
Trying to figure out what "buttercrunch" is reminded me very much of trying to figure out what English Toffee is. In all honesty, I'm still puzzled what buttercrunch is, as it seems like it's toffee with butter in it, which is what I thought English Toffee was. I guess I'll have to find a candy book to figure out the difference. In the meantime, Better Homes and Gardens has a Toffee Butter Crunch recipe that looks salivatingly good. Apparently, Almond Rocas are buttercrunch toffees. I've ate so many of those candies when I was younger that adults always warned me my teeth would fall out.
Of course, after telling me this, they'd eat a piece or two.