The cheese stands alone

27 June, 2013
Rat Fink

till1Why? Because it’s so tasty, that’s why!

Yesterday, we visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory in rural Oregon. And by “rural Oregon,” I mean oh dear Lord I had no idea that 70 miles north of Portland meant meandering for hours up and down mountains and through dense forests at 45 MPH behind a huge camper.

Still, it was worth every minute and mile. The only downside was that by the time we reached our hotel in Government Camp (near the entrance to Mt. Hood National Forest), we were pretty much fagged out, and unwilling to make the 100+ mile trip to Columbia River Gorge. So we’re doing that today. We’re going to try and squeeze in Mt. Hood and Columbia both, since we’re California-bound tomorrow morning.

Huge vats hold the milk for processing.

Huge vats hold the milk for processing.

So, Tillamook — best cheese in the world. They have a great tourist thing happening up there, too. They don’t give tours inside the actual plant; instead, the sunken factory floor is completely encased in glass, and you can just walk around the periphery and watch the workers. Brilliant, because not only do they not have to pay tour guides and charge admission, they don’t have to deal with safety regulations attached to bringing the general public onto a food processing floor. Yesterday, they were packaging their famous Cheddar Baby Loaf.

Talk about an assembly line. The aged cheese is first cut into huge blocks that travel down a conveyor. They’re shaved, cut into loaves, wrapped, labeled and boxed for transport, all on that one floor. It was quite the sight to behold.

Afterwards, the best part: tasting! The samples are put out buffet-style, with toothpicks at every trough, enabling the tourist cattle to graze at their leisure on the flavor of their choice. My fave — the garlic cheddar. The Thriller dug the colby.

And of course, the reason the tours are free is the presence of the ice cream parlor and huge store, where everything under the sun is for sale. And judging by the hundreds of people who were there yesterday with us, waiting in line to be called up to the next of six cashier registers, the free tours are worth it for them.

Of course, we absconded with a few treats for ourselves.

And after the drive to Government Camp, it was close to dinnertime, so we holed up in our awesome room — complete with full kitchen, bonus — and made our own meal.

With cheese and crackers for dessert, natch. ;-)

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Mavis
Mavis
27 June, 2013 12:30 pm

I could spend hours in that store! Yummy! :-) I think I would have enjoyed the garlic cheddar, too. My mouth is watering, thank you very much!

Hope you get to see some great sights today, luv!

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Rae
Rae
27 June, 2013 10:13 pm

We were thinking of a trip to NOLA in October. I’m a little overwhelmed with the “prep”. I don’t know how you guys travel across the country! Hope the weather holds off for you both and that you have a safe rest of your trip!

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