Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tillamook Cheese

Part of me is disappointed we weren't met at the gate of the Tillamook Cheese Factory by a Willy Wonkaesque personage wearing and old-fashioned tuxedo, or at least a pair of overalls with some felt or sequins as part of the accoutrement. There was no river of cheese for us to go boating on, though it might count as a river of cheese because I went through the cheese-sampling line several times. There might have been Oompa Loompas in the factory, but we didn't see them. Just regular hair-netted employees wrestling enormous blocks of cheese and winkling them through cutters, wrappers and other sorts of devices.

Here's one thing I learned: if you noticed sometimes that you get a block of cheese with a little bonus strip of cheese packed in with the block, it's because the block is underweight and they added the little strip to get the weight right. Just a useless bit of trivia.

Lived the cheese, by the way. A little disappointed they didn't do the exotics I like - notably Gouda and Edam - but I'm spoiled in liking those cheeses I suppose. Tillamook's smoked pepper white cheddar was good enough to entice me to buy a $7 block of it to chew on on the way home.

Speaking of cheese, several years ago I was lucky enough to visit the Netherlands, where Gouda and Edam cheeses come from. The cheese market in Alkmaar is especially interesting, as you get to see the dliverymen bounce the round cheeses from the truck to the ground. They're not above a little showmanship, carrying the cheeses on big racks they hang from their shoulders. Nothing like that at Tillamook, but then again it's a factory, not a market. I did feel a bit sorry for the Tillamook employees who, when they glance up from their work, have tourist oddballs staring down at them. I'd find that unsettling, and I work for the government, where we ought to be used to having people state at us idly while we work.

1 comment:

carl g said...

Sounds like a great trip. I too am a big "real cheese" fan. Just finishing off some smoked Gouda and about to start on some Camembert. More cheese, Gromit!