Christmas 2006 will forever be known as the Year of the Cheese. Delice D'Argental Triple-Cream. Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Mascarpone. Smoked Gouda. Stilton Blue. Sharp Cheese. Brie. With fruit. With Crackers. With Fig Jam. With dates and almonds and chocolate-dipped strawberries. All accompanied by the muffled sound of arteries gurgling with cholesterol. I served some gorgeous cheese platters at our house over the holidays but I am so over cheese. All cheese has been banished forthwith from the house with the exception of a single package of Kraft No-Fat Shredded Cheddar (can you even call that cheese?) in it's handy-reusuable bag and four mini-wheels of Laughing Cow Original Cheese.
All this cheese talk reminds me of the first vacation Dana and I took as a couple six years ago to the Pacific Northwest for the ritual show-n-tell of new relationships. You know how it goes. We've all done it to one extent or another. You kidnap the other person, trapping them into the passenger seat of your preferred mode of transportation, and take them on a guided tour of all the sites from your former life, former life being loosely defined as all time that occurred prior to meeting him/her. It goes something like this: "Here is the house where I grew up. This is street that I walked everyday to school. This is my grade school. This is my high school and that is the bus stop where I caught the bus every afternoon unless I was driving my 1968 Chevy Nova. This is the church where I worked and worshipped. This is my old dry cleaners, my old grocery store, this is where I got my videos, that's the station where I filled up my car with gas." (Blogger's Note: I just read this paragraph to Dana who laughed and said, "You still do that. The information is ceaseless." Compliment or criticism? You decide.)
Cheese. I'm getting to it. Stop nagging.
So on this trip we spent a few days on the Oregon Coast and because everyone had said "Oh, if you're anywhere near Tillamook, you've got to go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory because it's so interesting" and so, like naive children, we went. Dana and I were at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for an hour. Let me now share with you all that we saw and experienced.
We arrived and entered along with a herd of eager cheese tourists. We were led through a hallway that looked down on a factory room filled with shiny stainless steel equipment that, given it was the weekend, wasn't doing anything cheese-like. We were given a free sample taste of cheese the size of a postage stamp and then guided to the predictable Souvenir Shop slash Cheese Store placed stragetically in front of the only
escape exit door. While the rest of the cheese mecca worshippers were buying up sharp cheese like it was a blue-light special and ingesting mammoth mountains of Tillamook ice cream we made our hasty retreat.
The best part of our Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is that it was so highly over-rated and dismal disappointment that it's now become our gold standard against which we compare all other less than momentous adventures. "Well Honey, at least it wasn't as bad as the Tillamook Cheeeeeeese Factory," and please note, the word cheese must be articulated as cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeese to signify the ridiculous notion that cheese could ever be worthy of a guided tour in the first place. It's not like we're talking about something as intriguing and spell-binding as Velveeta.