I have to say I’m pretty excited right now. Something I thought was beyond the realms of possibility has happened; I’ve found decent cheese in America. And not only have I found decent cheese, I’ve found a mountain of deliciously enticing dairy goodness.
I’ll tell you where I am in a moment, but first let me take you back a few weeks, to when my pursuit of lactose began.
It started with milk. I really wanted just a small amount of milk to make a cup of tea. And I mean I really wanted it. I wanted the milky comfort that tasted like home to wash away some of my homesickness.
After several reconnaissance missions, I’d failed to retrieve a single drop of fresh milk. I’m not discounting the fact that being jet-lagged could have played a part in this, but it definitely seemed far more difficult than I expected. Whereas in the UK you can’t walk more than a few streets without passing a corner shop selling cartons of milk, stores selling food are strangely out of sight in the US.
It wasn’t until I needed something from a pharmacy that I discovered that they hide a shocking secret; they sell milk. They also often sell booze as well, but that’s for another blog on another day.
This discovery triggered an immediate addiction. I wanted to neck whole bottles of milk even before I’d got them out of the store. I wanted to wear a milk moustache all of the time. This created a new issue: saving enough milk to make cups of tea.
Even with this new insider information it’s not always plain sailing. I have to dodge the precariously similar products, wearing near identical packaging to make me think I’m buying plain old milk. Vanilla flavoured milk is one that’s caught me out, the sweet, sickly, flavour just isn’t right.
With one dairy craving more than satiated, a new one started bubbling. This time it bubbled in curdled milk form. Cheese. I wanted cheese.
Several weeks into my trip I made a decision to get milk and cheese. I would take the bus and get some dairy. Yes, that was the main mission for the day. Cheese and milk. Milk and cheese.
Imagine my horror when a large chain store which sold almost everything under the sun informed me that they don’t sell milk. On further probing they took me to an aisle where the cartoned drinks were shelved. In amongst the coconut milk, soy milk, everything-but-plain milk, I found a pack of six lunch box drinks of long life milk. They were almost out of reach, obviously not a big seller.
I share with you here a photo of the only cheese available in the store. It’s spray cheese. This was one disappointing day. I took the bus back to my hotel with a heavy heart and then drank UHT milk until I felt nauseous (three cartons back-to-back is enough to do that, if you wondered).
Fast forward several weeks, to a time when I’d given up hope. My cheese fantasies had died out. I had adjusted to the thought that I’d wallow in a vat of cheese when I got back to the UK. I’m in Eugene, Oregon, ordering a burger from a cart at the side of the road. I’m offered several choices of cheese to top my burger. I’m delighted. Is this really happening?
My cheese dreams are almost immediately snuffed out again. A conversation with someone that very evening contains this killer sentence from the lips of a fellow hostel guest ‘There’s only two types of cheese, orange and white’. I sob a little that evening as I fall asleep. Hope is dead.
Fast forward another couple of weeks and I’m in the supermarket buying a few essentials, when a display cabinet catches my attention. Is this a mirage, am I really loosing it, or is that really a counter with real cheese? I get closer, fearing the cabinet will vanish in a poof of smoke and be replaced by huge monotonous blocks of vivid orange rectangles which wear a label claiming them to be cheese.
I’m not dreaming – there is real cheese in there! I immediately buy a lovely piece. I am staying with some couchsurfers and I share my treasure with them that evening. Another delight- fellow cheese appreciaters! That’s when they tell me about the place I’m sat in right now.
Cheese Bar is heaven. Even the musty smells of the overripe blues smell delicious to me right now. This place is a gold mine for cheese lovers. I’ll be staying under the counter here until my flight back the UK or I eat their complete stock of cheese, whichever happens first.