a couple's adventures in eating
What: Ashe County Cheese Factory
Location: 106 E Main Street West Jefferson, NC
The Critique: Ahh, the honeymoon. Reflecting on it now just days after our return to Florida and we are already hating this new fangled thing called reality. Being the simple, thrifty folk we are, we decided to head to the beautiful smoky mountains of North Carolina for a chilly, rustic retreat in my parents’ cabin which is literally planted on top of a mountain. Not a bad getaway for a pair of actors who spend most of their time in the Florida sun. West Jefferson is probably a place you’ve never heard of. It doesn’t want for fame or touristy glory like some places we know (cough- Orlando-cough). It’s just a simple one stoplight (literally) town with humble stores with old school hours (closed Sundays and Monday and lights out by 5pm each day) tucked in the foggy valley of crimson and orange colored Fall mountains. It’s my idea of perfection.
Now, what does this have to with cheese? Well, aside from Ashe County being one of the largest suppliers of Christmas trees in the country, they also produce much of North Carolina’s cheese. And cheese is our JAM. Having been to this little place a number of times on family vacations, I was thrilled to introduce my brand new husband to this sweet little slice of heaven.
Ashe County Cheese is perfectly laden with small town charm and high class cheese. The experience is two-fold. You have the Ashe County Cheese Plant which can’t be missed as three massive tanks-turned-cows line the entrance. Customers can hop into the viewing room to get a behind the scenes look of cheese curds being made and, trust us, it’s a glorious sight. Directly across the street is the Ashe County Cheese store which, albeit small, packs in a slew of cheese varieties and locally canned jams, salsas, jellies, relish and more. There’s an unsuspecting ice cream parlor as you first walk in coupled with, my favorite, a sampling station of cheeses and fudge. The cheese selection is incredible: fresh mozzarella, swiss, bleu, cheddar, colby jack, pepperjack, hoop cheese, farmer’s cheese, BACON cheese, Caraway, garlic & dill- you name it, they’ve got it. Our personal favorite? The Ashe County specialty: delicious, freshly made cheese curds. Who would have thought teeth squeaking food could be so enjoyable?
Don’t expect to walk away with a heavy wallet, though. Fine cheese comes at a not-so-fine price. Most cheese blocks ring in at about 7.25 for a 12 ounce block.
The Verdict: A beautiful store. Incredible cheese made with distinguished, heartfelt care and precision.
NOTE: First time reading this blog? Well, you should probably know that this entry isn’t how things always run here at The Short And Tall of Food. We, Candace & Timothy, are Orlando-based food bloggers scouring Central Florida for the best eats we can find. Right now, we’re focusing our blog on our recent wedding which took place Oct. 6, 2012. Enjoy the highlights from our North Carolina wedding and honeymoon as we say, “I Do” to not only each other, but delicious cuisine!