“Are you lactose intolerant, Kristin?”
As I have gotten older, I am asked this question more frequently. (Most recently, even from my own brother!)
There’s no way I am lactose intolerant.
I eat yogurt with granola for breakfast almost every day. I drink a glass of milk with dinner when I’m at my parents’ house. (Something about being in your childhood home just makes you want to have milk with your dinner, right? Because I drink water at my own home).
Oh, and the cheese.
I’m not a cheese snob. I’m not particular about fancy cheeses or anything like that. And, yes, there are a few types of cheese that I’m not a fan of. (Blue cheese? No, thanks). But, in general, I love cheese.
My husband and I even had a cheese cake at our wedding. No, not that kind of cheese cake. We had cheese wheels stacked to create a cake!
Growing up on Tillamook
When I was a kid, I used to slice Tillamook cheddar and place two pieces on a small plate and microwave it. Yes, forget nachos. I just ate straight-up melted cheese as a snack. I can’t remember if I did this in secret, or if my parents just didn’t care. Either way, it’s weird.
I grew up on Tillamook cheese. I knew no other cheese. Tillamook cheddar just has the perfect taste and consistency. It has just the right amount of salt.
Later in life, I learned that not all cheddar cheeses are equal. As a poor college student, I remember buying store brand cheddar cheese. I was so surprised. It didn’t taste good to me at all. It was so bland and had no flavor. (Pretty sure I gave it to my roommates after those first few bites). It’s not like Tillamook is high-end cheese, but I was not used to this generic store brand! My parents had spoiled me.
As an adult, I only buy Tillamook cheddar (on sale, of course), or from Costco. What can I say? Some people are Nike brand babies. I’m a Tillamook brand baby. For other cheeses, I’m OK swaying to store brand.
The cheese pilgrimage
A few weeks ago, I visited my cheese mecca. I went to the Tillamook Creamery in Oregon.
Well, really, I went camping with my husband, brother, cousin and their significant others. (My brother and my cousin’s significant others. Not my husband’s. In case there was any confusion there.)
I booked a campsite less than a half hour away from the Tillamook Creamery because I wanted to prioritize cheese samples, of course! I booked this back in the spring because that’s how serious I was about visiting Tillamook.
I spent many summers on the Oregon Coast camping or staying in condos with my family. One summer, we camped and went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, what it was called back in the day.
I remember going back in line on my own for more and more cheese samples. I remember it being kind of empty so it was easy to just go back for seconds and thirds. I was in cheese heaven. I honestly don’t recall camping during that trip. But, I remember going to that cheese factory.
And, now, I would get to go back as an adult.
The same, but different
I knew — from scouring their website — that they had undergone a huge remodel recently. Tillamook was much more modern and nicer than my last visit ~20+ years ago!
But, they still had the cheese samples.
There were lots of people. We scooted our way through the self-guided tour of the factory where you get to peak down below through glass windows at the various assembly lines and machinery. I was glad that we decided to get our cheese samples first because when we were done with the tour, the line was twice as long!
We enjoyed lunch of cheesy goodness there as well. I had a spicy mac ‘n cheese and Bryce had their special of the day: poutine. Honestly, everything on the menu looked great. I may or may not have been studying the menu the week before we went.
I was so full from lunch that I unfortunately did not have room for ice cream. (Spoiler: We stopped by the next day as we headed out on our drive home! So, I did get ice cream).
Life is always changing. People love to throw out the phrase “Change is the only constant,” which really annoys me. But, my love for cheese will never cease. And, Tillamook’s cheese still tastes just as good as when I was a kid.
Glad some things never change.
Note: I am not affiliated with the Tillamook Country Creamery Association. I just love Tillamook cheese.