Cheese Please / Gastro-tourism / Good Eats / Travel

Cheese Over Clean Clothes, Talk About Priority

It’s rather an understatement to say I love cheese. It’s more of a lifestyle, a complete obsession and an expensive addiction. Let’s put it this way. It’s like Carey from Sex And The City purchasing Vogue instead of food. My college days were counting pennies to purchase ounces of cheese instead of investing in my laundry fund. Talk about priority and passion. Grocery list? Cheese, check. Almost touring an international fair, it’s an adventure strolling through the aisle passing Irish Dubliner, California San Joaquin, or Spanish Manchego just to name a few.

So obviously when visiting Seattle, without hesitation, my first stop is what Oprah named one of her “Favorite Things.” Beecher’s Handmade cheese is handmade in front of your eyes in their open factory meets store meets tasting kitchen. The huge cauldrons hold gallons and gallons of cheesy heaven. Beechers offer the curds of their famous cheese to fans forming a huge line out the door. Marinated, plain, melted in soup, nestled in a panini, baked with pasta, you can have it any way you like it.

Ounces of cheese instead of clean laundry. Talk about priority and passion.

These busy bees are elves in Santa’s Workshop. Working diligently to satisfy the hungry mouths lining up around the block just to get a taste of Seattle’s finest artisan cheese. Newly established in 2003, it didn’t take long for a microbiologist and a hungry business man to profit from their freshly made cheese curds, continuing to be their top seller to this day.

Without a doubt I plunged into their Mac & Cheese. Slightly spicy, highly aromatic, and overwhelming cheesy, the penne has no chance of surviving before my shamelessly salivating self. Technique is the secret. Beecher’s implies that it’s the undercooked pasta with the béchamel sauce that has made their millions. This dish has had more air time than an A-list celebrity’s newly adopted child. Deemed the “World’s Best Mac & Cheese,” even Martha Stewart featured the recipe on her show, twice!

Our cheese quest does not end here! In a hurry to pick up some spices and local favorites, Pike’s Place was my last stop. A melting pot of fresh seafood, floral shops, and locally grown produce, this open market can be a maze. I accidentally strolled upon Mt. Townsend Creamery. Just around the corner and there it was; the assortment of cheese and the tasting room presentation tempted me. I’m a kid in a candy shop. Modest, friendly, and decadent, that’s how I like them… cheese that is.

Mt. Townsend Creamery celebrates all things Northeast Pacific Peninsula. Located at the Northeast region of Washington, the handcrafted cheese is distinct in taste. Local milk, rocky soil, and tradition equal a delicious package of cheese. I had the pleasure of enjoying Off Kilter. Described as a Scotch Ale washed toma, the aging process includes a good cleanse using beer. I told him, “I love cheese. Give me something good.” Oh boy, oh boy, that Off Kilter made my mouth beg for more!

A baguette, mimosa, and six ounces of cheese later, I was one happy girl. Smoke, butterscotch, salt, truffle, beer, the possibilities are endless here at Mt. Townsend. It must be something in the grass, because the diary used in this cheese guarantees the quality and taste. Racing to the hotel, shortly after I devoured the finger-licking-parchment-wrapped-heaven-sent cheese without hesitation. Nothing short of glory.

I have come to the conclusion that today’s cheese makers are walking angels. If not fallen angels, then wizards. There’s something magical about cheese making. Is it the patience for time, the tolerance of smell, and the honed skill of an ancient tradition that make it enchanting? I tell you, it’s almost like black magic. I implore you to visit a local creamery or deli and discover these artisan cheese selections. Pair it with some crackers, figs, or aged meats. You might discover a long lost love you never knew you had.

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