Cheese Please!

Cheese Please!

Posted by Kathleen Logan on 13th Apr 2023

Grilled Cheese

June 2016, The Yorkshire Dales, it’s raining and I wipe the window of the tour bus so that the view is visible. Green, stone walls and cloudy grey is the view. That day we began in the Lake District and circumnavigated the Yorkshire Dales, stopping at 1000 year old pubs, the Wensleydale Cheese Factory and for lunch at a pub where the regulars played pool, and the stone floors showed signs of centuries of wear and tear. My Aunt Jan and I sat in a bow window where you could see the raining clouds slide through the valley. The chalk board outside said the soup special was Creamy Blue Cheese (Stilton) Cauliflower soup.

Blue Cheese was the “stinky gross cheese” my mother, her sister and my uncle ate when I was a child. We, the kids, were served the grilled cheese of my 1960’s childhood, white bread, Kraft processed cheese slices, sometimes Velveeta, quickly grilled on a non-stick fry pan. The sandwich was cut into pieces and we dipped them into Campbell’s Soup, tomato, mushroom or vegetable beef.

Mom and Dad ate the cheese from my Aunt May and Uncle Roy’s store. It came in huge rounds, deep orange old cheddar. Uncle Roy cut it with a big sharp knife in pie shaped pieces, placed it on brown waxed paper, carefully wrapped it and then with string hanging from the cone above him, he wrapped and knotted it closed with special care. This cheese was eaten with fresh apple pie or just apples cut in quarters with Dad’s pocket knife.

Mom made the sauce for her macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, and Welsh Rarebit from this strong cheddar. Comfort food in our house.

Gordon, the dairy and vegetable truck man came to our house on Wednesdays. He drove from the Comox Valley and delivered milk and cheese and fresh veggies. He would lift the door on the back of the truck and Mom would carefully choose milk, cottage cheese, and cheddar for our family of seven.

Comox cheese was a softer light cheddar that was easy to cut with a paring knife to make cheese and crackers with cucumber or zucchini pickle for after school snacks. Today I enjoy Comox Brie and Camembert with hot pepper jelly on crackers with a little white wine to celebrate the end of many days.

When I left home to go to university I learned of Brie cheese on croissants with fresh strawberries coupled with a cappuccino. This was a life affirming moment.

When I lived in Calgary I discovered the wondrous joy of sheep feta that came in wooden barrels filled with brine. A trip to the Kalamata Grocery on 11th ave. SW was a regular occurrence. The man behind the counter would lift a big round out of the brine take a big knife and cut about $20.00 of feta for me each time. Carefully placed in a zip lock bag with salty brine to keep the cheese fresh I would open immediately and taste the soft gentle tangy flavour knowing that this cheese had taken a long journey from the mountains of Greece.

When we moved to the Okanagan in 2011 I continued my exploration of cheese. Wherever it is made here in the valley I take the time to taste. I have learned to love “stinky gross cheese”, soft melty cheese, aged filled with crystals, and blue cheese.

The grilled cheese sandwiches in my life always have onions in them. This is Steve’s favourite. I add tomatoes and in the summer when the peppers are ripe I thinly slice peppers and place on top of the cheese. Pesto is alway a favourite in the summer as well with thickly sliced Italian White Bread. Tajai, our grandson, likes parmesan in his grilled cheese with sliced mushrooms, no condiments.

So today as I consider breakfast and my second cup of coffee I peruse the fridge and discover that all of the cheeses that I love are available to me. I’m thinking brie cheese on rye toast covered with a poached egg enhanced by a little jalapeño jelly.

Here’s to all of the cheeses in the world.