Friday, January 20, 2012

January 20: Cheese Lover's Day & Buttercrunch Day

Cheese Lover's Day

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.
I'm actually going to stop with the factory tours now.  There are cheese  factories everywhere.  If I list for each state, this entry would be huge!  Just head on over to Google and search for a cheese making tour near you.

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.
Quick easy way to celebrate Cheese Lover's Day?  Cheese toast!  My friend Carrie loves to have cheese toast for breakfast, while I like to have it as a snack or paired with a hot bowl of tomato soup.  I'm not sure how everyone else makes their cheese toast, but here's how I make mine: toast a slice of bread, sprinkle it with shredded cheese of choice, add herbs if I'm feeling like it (rosemary pairs really well with cheddar), and broil it in the oven just until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.  You have to keep a close eye on the bread when you broil it - you can quickly burn it.

Buttercrunch Day

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.

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