Being raised in the Northwest means that there is only one kind of cheese: Tillamook cheese. I have loved it, my whole family has loved it, for as long as I can remember. It was always stocked in our fridge when I was growing up and you will most definitely find it in my fridge now that I’m raising a family of my own. You seriously cannot beat Tillamook Medium Cheddar. And I’m totally not being paid to say this. It is, hands down, my absolute favorite.
Tillamook products in general are always in my fridge. On any given day you’ll find several different products. We’ve always got Tillamook Ice Cream, a few different kinds of Tillamook Cheese, their all natural Sour Cream and their new Farmstyle Greek Yogurt. Like I said. We’re a Tillamook Family.
So when I was invited by the fine folks at Tillamook to come visit their factory for a special bloggers visit, I was beyond thrilled because despite my love for the cheese, despite growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I had never been to the factory before. Crazy huh?
Our trip started out with a visit to Portland. I grew up in Vancouver, just across the bridge, so it was nice to get back home to my old stomping grounds. There was of course a stop at Voodoo Doughnuts which is known for it’s maple bacon doughnut and doughnuts with names that are bound to make you blush when you order them. I enjoyed a scrumptious doughnut. The name of the doughnut I would share if I knew that my grandpa didn’t read the blog. But he does. So we’ll just say it was chocolaty doughnut perfection and leave it at that. (Hi grandpa!)
After Voodoo, we had a delicious dinner, with Tillamook products abound. My favorite was the Oregon Hazelnut and Salated Caramel Ice Cream with Gingernsaps. It tasted like Christmas. Note to self: Recreate for the blog soon!
The next day we got up bright and early head down to Tillamook to tour the factory. The factory is pretty amazing. Did you know that they make 171 THOUSAND pounds of cheese every day?? It’s kind of my idea of heaven. And they naturally age their cheese too. No artificial stuff to make it age. I think that is probably why I love it so much. They say it tastes better because it’s made better. And it’s true. You can really taste the difference.
We got a tour from Dale who has worked at Tillamook for 45 years. Forty. Five. Years. He loves his cheese. His passion for cheese and the cheese making process made me want to drop everything I’m doing and start making my own.
While we were visiting we also got to meet Jill. She is the Manager of Product Quality at Tillamook and guys, this girl’s palate is INSANE. She has even been a judge at the World Championship Cheese Contest and at the International Cheese Awards. Here she is showing us how to pull a plug from cheese. Which I totally did by the way. Not nearly as skillfully as Jill but I still got my bite of cheese!
After touring the factory we headed to the Inn at Cape Kawanda where every room had a view. This was mine. Not too shabby huh?
After a couple hours of relaxation looking at this view, we headed down to the beach for dinner. That’s right. Dinner right there on the beach with sand between our toes. It was complete with to die for crab fritters, 3 year aged Tillamook white cheddar, s’mores and Tillabars. Have you tried Tillabars yet? If not, you need to get yourself some. Start with the Mooocha Latte. They are ice cream bar heaven.
The next day, before heading home, we got to visit a dairy farm run by dairy farmers Wendy and Ryan. Did you know that Tillamook is a farmer owned co-op? There are over 100 farming families that produce the milk that goes into the cheese that we all love. These two showed us their farm and gave us a little insight into what it takes to be a dairy farmer. Yes, they get to be around adorable cows all day but it’s tough work. Getting up at 2AM tough.
Did you also know that cows only moo when they are hungry or when they are trying to alert other cows of something? Wendy told us that no moo-ing is a good thing. We heard very little moo-ing on our visit. These were indeed happy cows. And pretty too.
I had a blast visiting Tillamook and getting to see what really goes into the making of some of my favorite products. With the factory so close, I know that I’ll be taking my boys very soon. They’ll try all the ice cream. Me? I’m going for the cheese.