Apparently, for those who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, going to the Tillamook Cheese Factory down in Oregon is a rite of passage. I think everyone I asked said that their parents took them there. I can see why. The place is a blast.
Unsurprisingly, there’s cheese. Lots and lots and LOTS of cheese. You can watch them make it, and you can taste it. There’s also a cafe where you can buy lunch made of that cheese. (I had the special, a Buffalo chicken grilled cheese. Tasty.) There’s a food shop, a gift shop and an ice cream shop. (I had the Caramel Toffee Crunch on a waffle cone. So, along with the doughnuts from the night before, this was not the healthiest weekend I’ve ever spent.)
What might surprise is the reason we chose this particular weekend to go down there. This was the First Annual Grilled Cheese Contest. Yes, they put out a request for entries for the best grilled cheese recipe, and out of 48 entries, three women were the finalists. We sat in the cafe and watched them grill up their entries. One was a chicken ranch concoction. One was a cilantro lime entry. And one had maple bacon and apples. Perhaps unfortunately, I was so full of other stuff, I couldn’t actually taste the entries, but my companions did. Two liked the cilantro lime, one liked the bacon apple. Despite the feelings of my friends, bacon apple took the day. (This picture shows the runner up getting her basket, with the winner trying desperately not to crow too much.)