Cheese o’ Pete

Warning: not for the lactose intolerant

Do you ever find yourself with your eyes closed and your body slowly swaying side to side after you place something so delectable in your mouth it releases your hopeless romantic? And you’re transported into a dream world of magic. Then, when you come to, everyone at the table is staring at you, trying to hold back laughter. This rarely displayed surprise is one of my favorite experiences.

A succulent morsel believed to have originated around 3,000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia is the means to this surreal state. I journey here when my taste buds detect the evidence of cheese. Yes, cheese. The majority of girls in today’s society have their typical vices: chocolate, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream… mine is cheese. Mozzarella, Colby jack, Asiago, feta, cheddar, Swiss, string, pepper jack, Parmesan, sharp cheddar and Gouda are but a brief ensemble of the culinary genius that equates to cheese. Although the true origin of cheese predates recorded history, I would like to extend my gratitude to Pliny the Elder for finally documenting what he called a sophisticated enterprise by the time the Roman Empire took rise.

In my search to dwell in the presence of art, er, great cheese, I’ve spanned the globe (mostly the St. Louis area) and have discovered Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, a full bar with over two dozen Chocolate Martini’s, ninety beers, as well as spirits, wine, champagne and amazing hot chocolates. Disregard for a moment all of those tempting tidbits and focus with me on the most important section of the menu. Specifically, the cheese menu!

Complimented with Bailey’s wonderful variety of cheeses lies my favorite slice of heaven, Gjetost (pronounced “yay-toast”). God smiled upon cheese artisans globally when he sparked this brilliance. Imagine a honey-brown, semi-hard, hint-of-sweet-yet-nutty cheese slivered into cornucopia shaped curls, hailing from Norway. Then place this candy-like goodness on a slice of focaccia bread sprinkled with bits of assorted sweet-spicy nuts and consume. To best describe the Norwegian ‘fest’ keeping your mouth up until dawn, please insert rocking, swaying motion and corny grin here, then ascend into Valhalla on your own private transport.

Near the same latitude as Norway, but across the North Pole, you’ll find Anchorage, Alaska. Nestled in downtown Anchorage on 5th Avenue between H and G Street is the Glacier BrewHouse. Not only is it home to one of my favorite cheese delicacies, it’s also a meeting place for locals to soak in true Alaskan culture and enjoy fresh seafood, award-winning hand-crafted ales and other yummy hyphenated menu cuisine. An unfortunate truth to now living Outside (what Alaskans call the ‘Lower 48,’ ‘continental US,’ ‘not Alaska’), I’m limited to maybe a once a year visit. But when I’m in town on holiday, I swear on my fore-founder’s morals, the moment the server jots down what I want to drink, I fervently include an order of my first love, the Ale-Cheddar Pot.

(Sigh.) After Tillamook® cheese has been marinated in a BrewHouse ale, it’s melted in a wood oven with Tabasco®, red peppers and cream cheese, and finally served with warm pizza points (soft pita bread-like triangles lightly crisped). Mmm… I can smell the roasted aromas and feel the warm dollops of manna now. I really should keep in contact more often with my appetizers. Blasted devil… always trying to break up good relationships and separate loved ones. In a nutshell, I strongly recommend the Ale-Cheddar Pot if you’re looking to add another solo waltz to your seat-dancing experiences.

So whether you’re eager to mambo with provolone, foxtrot with Gorgonzola or have a whirlwind romance with Brie, make sure you eat plenty of roughage in advance to counter your partner’s chips off the old block. Because at day’s end, you might utter (or if you prefer cheese from a cow, udder) ‘Cheese O’ Pete! My stomach is feeling rather pasteurized. I think I ate too much brick and not enough fiber… meh, it was worth it!’

Bon appétit.

Cheese o’ Pete

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