This may be hard to believe, but when I was a young child, I didn’t like cheese. Wait, what? What kind of kid turns their nose up at grilled cheese, cheeseburgers, and the coveted mac & cheese? This kid. I hated it. Gagged at the thought. I even remember a time when a babysitter fixed me a cheese and mayonnaise sandwich, which I refused to eat. I threw it in the trash, and GET THIS, she retrieved it out and made me eat it anyway! I still remember the taste of Miracle Whip and sliced American filling my mouth as I fought the urge to hurl it all back up. Ick!
But somewhere along the way, I actually came across some good cheese. Some real cheese, not that nasty, processed, fake yellow stuff. That somewhere was my grandparent’s home at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. My grandpa would load up a tray with slices of summer sausage, gourmet cheeses and a variety of crackers. I’m not sure what convinced me to give cheese another try, but I did. It was smoky and good, oh so good. Until recently, I was unable to identify or find this exact same cheese. When our local Whole Foods store offered me an opportunity to write about American Cheese Month (I’m one of their blog ambassadors), I gladly took it. I tried several varieties of cheese from Whole Foods along with recommended pairings from their Certified Cheese Professionals (now that’s a cool job).
Holy Smoky Gouda
Smoked Gouda. That had to be it. As I bit into a slice of Apple Smoked Gouda from Whole Foods, I was once again a freckle-faced girl standing eye level with the meat and cheese tray on Grandma & Grandpa’s mile-long dining room table. I tried this cheese in several different “melty” dishes, as it’s known for it’s supreme “meltiness.” (Yes, these are new words.) My favorite? A good, old-fashioned grilled cheese (with plenty of butter on the bread slices). This combination allowed the full flavor to come forth, and I needed a special moment with my sandwich as I enjoyed every. last. bite.
Super Salty Romano
I didn’t have much familiarity with any Romano other than Ray. Get it? Sure, I’d eaten it before in dishes, but had never studied its unique qualities. A helpful sign near the grape display pointed me in the right direction. Salty and sweet. And besides, at 20 weeks pregnant, I couldn’t get my wine and cheese fix, so why not settle for a close cousin? (I’ll take that glass of wine shortly after baby is born thankyouverymuch.)
Melty Goat Cheese
I’m going to be honest here. I’ve tried goat cheese before. I don’t like the smell, and I was hesitant to give it another try. But when the Cheese Professional told me a certain variety of Avalanche Goat Cheese went with with their selection of olives, I decided to give it another chance. (After all, this was award-winning cheese.) As I sliced into the small white chunk, I was again reminded of that smell I’m not so fond of, but after pairing it with greek olives and those red little pepper things whose name I can’t remember on a slice of Naan. I was in heaven. I popped this bad boy in the toaster oven and minutes later had a delicious pizza to devour. That’ll do goat cheese, that’ll do.
$25 Whole Foods Gift Card Giveaway
Love all this cheesy talk? Licking your screen as you scroll though the post? You’re in luck! Whole Foods is generous enough to give one of my lucky blog readers a $25 gift certificate, so you can sample some of this stuff for yourself. All you have to do is comment on this post on my Facebook page or comment below (or both for extra entries) and tell about the first time you fell in love with cheese. I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, Oct. 17. Enjoy!