And I DID have grilled cheese for lunch. Wink

\Credits: Home Cookin’ by Connie Prince


Before Pita Café in Novi, Michigan was Pita Café, it was Koch’s Deli. At Koch’s you could get the greatest grilled cheese sandwich in the world! It was made with Havarti, cheddar and Muenster on crusty whole grain bread; the BEST grilled cheese EVER!

Cheese has always been a staple in my life, but not the made with oil processed American cheese; GOOD cheese! Maybe that’s a little first generation American snob in me. One of the first cheeses I remember truly loving was Tuma. Tuma is an Italian cheese that is similar in look and flavor to Muenster, but softer. At room temperature it is almost spreadable and Noni always had a big piece of it that she used on sandwiches.

Pop would always bring home “fancy cheeses.” Some of them were really good like the cheddars and Colby cheese. My young palate liked brick cheese and mozzarella too. Okay, maybe the mozzarella affection was more influenced by one of my young favorite American dishes; pizza, but you couldn’t beat homemade lasagna with ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella!

When we traveled as a family, there was often a stop at a cheese shop or local deli. When we went camping one of our highlight stops was Wilson’s Cheese Shop in Pinconning, Michigan, the state’s “cheese capital.” Wilson’s was our stop of choice in Pinconning because they had, still do, a giant mouse enjoying a wedge of cheese on the roof. Pinconning cheese, which is sort of a cross of Colby and cheddar, was a favorite of mine and as I became older, I found myself liking it sharper and sharper. I buy extra sharp Pinconning when I’m there now!

One of the cool things about Wilson’s was the covered dishes in the cheese coolers with toothpicks to sample any of the wrapped cheeses for sale. I wasn’t a big fan of Swiss as a kid, but the port wine spreadable was good. I said I wasn’t a fan of oily processed cheese slices, but there are ways of making processed cheese very good! Pop and Mom both tried one cheese they weren’t crazy about and didn’t think my brother and I would like it either, but I HAD to try it; Chocolate cheese! As a little chocoholic who loved cheese how could I not like it? Well how about cocoa and cheese without sweetener for a way not to like it. It was not bite-size pieces of chocolate cheesecake which I was probably expecting. Still, I think I might want to let me adult palliate give it a whirl if I get the chance.

I still love going to cheese shops with Pop, although we don’t get that opportunity so often anymore. Visiting my father for a light meal always means he has a piece of some kind or another of fabulous cheese to cut a chunk from. The last new cheese Pop introduced me to was Parmesan Reggiano, a hard cheese with a sharp flavor that just melts in your mouth! The imported is considerably more expensive than the domestic, but the domestic isn’t cheap either and the imported is pure cheese heaven. If I’m going to splurge on nibbling cheese, I’m gonna go all the way with the imported!

Today I’d say my favorite cheeses are Havarti, Asiago and very sharp cheddar or Pinconning. Of course the Parmesan Reggiano is a treat whenever I can afford it and I won’t turn down Gouda or fresh Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil, preferable both from the garden or a farmers market. I’d still love to try chocolate cheese again and my inner child is screaming for a salami sandwich with Tuma. For now though, I’m thinking I really need to collect the ingredients to make one of those incredible three-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches.