This weekend was spent with friends in the tourist hub of Asheville, NC. We were up there to hang out of course (and try a couple of the legendary local restaurants and pie joints), but also to try to make some stops on the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail. What is a cheese trail, you ask? It’s a collective effort of a bunch of creameries to provide cheese-minded individuals like myself with a map to local cheese and related stuff production in the Western NC area, enabling us cheese hounds to do cheese tourism by making appointments at the creameries to take tours and suchlike. There’s a comparable trail primarily in the eastern part of the state called simply the North Carolina Cheese Trail, presumably because it’s got some members to the west, but that’s neither here nor there.
We started our cheesy journey at the North Asheville Tailgate Market, because we had good intelligence that several of the cheese trail members would be in attendance. This intelligence turned out to be correct, and we collected seven cheeses ranging from a Havarti-like “Mountain Dane” to the locally made feta, We also picked up side dishes for our incipient cheesy feast. And some cookies, because, well, cookies.
While we were purchasing cheese we mentioned our quest to one of the cheesemongers. He suggested two creameries that might be open for tours, and specifically instructed us to call ahead at one of them. So we did, and no one answered. So we went to the other one, which was waaaaaay out a narrow, twisty, windy bit of mountain highway. But we persevered, only to see a sign when we got there saying “Appointment Only”.
Disappointed, I went to turn around, and a woman came out of the creamery’s cheese store. She told us that there were two people on the tour already, so we could all come along.
So we did, and we tasted delicious goat cheese, and met some goats.
And after that, we were all cheesed out (as opposed to being cheesed off), so we headed back into Asheville from the lovely Round Mountain Creamery, and got on with the rest of our weekend.
As for the cheese, we had it for dinner, though the concept of using a lazy susan as a Wheel of Cheese (as opposed to a wheel of cheese) got dangerous when some of the goat cheese came flying off it.
Clever readers will note that we only made two stops, as opposed to the seventeen or so listed on the trail web site. And that’s OK. We got plenty of cheese, talked to plenty of cheesemakers, and got to pet goats. All in all, a very enjoyable sojourn.
But don’t just take my word for it. If you’re ever in Asheville, go hunt some cheese yourself. You’ll be glad you did.