For cheese lovers, there can never be enough. After all, at the 1964 World’s Fair, it only took 34,000 pounds of cheese to earn the Wisconsin Cheese Foundation the coveted title of World’s Largest Cheese – and it didn’t take long for the six-and-a-half-foot rectangle of goodness to disappear when attendees had at it. Not much has changed in those 62 years since. From goat to Gouda, we cheese lovers are still geeking out over our favorite indulgence.
January 20 is National Cheese Lover’s Day – not to be confused with the 18 other cheese-centric days of the year, ranging from Cheese Soufflé Day on May 18 to National Cheese Day in June, all devoted to those precious curds that make cheese worshippers’ little hearts go pitter-patter. There is even a name for those of us who worship at the altar of cheese – turophile – which, our friends at Merriam-Webster tell us, comes from tyros, the Greek word for cheese, and phile meaning lover.
However you choose to commemorate this holiest of days (along with all the other cheese-related days), without further, ahem, fondue, here are a few places to clink your knives together in celebration of cheese.
Rich Table, San Francisco, California
Nothing says “Eat here!” like a newly Michelin-star appointed restaurant. In the case of Rich Table, however, the whipped Raclette and savory porcini doughnuts need no such validation. Thank goodness this signature appetizer dish is always on the menu since patrons have been known to travel grand distances to indulge in it. Make a reservation at Rich Table.
Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Ontario
Half the fun of trying cheeses is tasting what arrives at the table with them. At Auberge du Pommier, staffers curate for their new service from the Cheese Boutique to serve accompaniments such as a walnut scone and apple butter. The service features four French cheeses and one Quebec cheese. Bonus: Dining at Auberge du Pommier means being surrounded by charming French country décor, so a meal here feels more like a getaway. Make a reservation at Auberge du Pommier.
Cane Rosso, Austin, Texas
Don’t forget pizzerias when searching for cheese this weekend, especially hip eateries where plain pizzas morph into doughy masterpieces. Cane Rosso’s #cheesepull moments include a divine departure from the usual housemade burrata by adding pistachios, cherries, basil, and balsamic. Cane Rosso is also known for wood-fired cheesy bread with garlic butter and poutine cheddar tots with sausage sugo and cheese sauce. Pizza party, indeed. Make a reservation at Cane Rosso.
Fireside Dining at Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
Gasps, ooohs, and ahhhs are par for the cheese course at Deer Valley. There’s been no actual fainting on record, but it’s only a matter of time. When it comes to cheesy paradise, Deer Valley takes the whole wheel. The fireside dining feature at this cozy resort is melty, messy perfection of Raclette cheese and savory accouterments. For cheese lovers, an entree-sized serving of cheese is all in a day’s eats, but Deer Valley applies the ultimate smackdown: two fireplaces dissolve giant chunks of cheese onto dinner plates that are then served alongside steamed new potatoes, pearl onions, cornichons, cured Italian and Swiss meats, fresh baguettes, and, the ultimate cheese binge partner, housemade mustard. Make a reservation at Fireside Dining at Deer Valley.
Bâtard, New York, New York
Bâtard’s managing partner John Winterman has seen a lot of cheese programs in his day, so no wonder cheese is a steadfast part of the menu at this Tribeca eatery. He describes Bâtard’s cheese program as a smart selection to reward the diner as an extension of the wine program, taken beyond France to the Northeastern United States and California. The program includes cheeses from Andante Dairy in Petaluma, California, upcoming 18-month Comté, aged cheeses like Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Wisconsin, and Cato Corner Farm’s brine-washed Hooligan, which Winterman relays is a “big, meaty, monastery-style cheese that sticks to the ribs.” We’re in for the winner’s spoils at the place named for Burgundy’s fabled Bâtard-Montrachet Vineyard. Make a reservation at Bâtard.
An Urban Table, Prairie Village, Kansas
In what will cause some cheese aficionados to decry blasphemy, executive chef Jason Finnerty is fearless. “Yes! We fried burrata!” he and his team often have to say. There’s no pushback after tasting it though, as burrata purists-turned-converts come back for more. He showcases the dish with fresh basil and lemon vinaigrette, but patrons say the Parmesan garlic sauce garnish is so good, it’s almost drinkable. Make a reservation at An Urban Table.
Osteria Morini, Washington, D.C.
We all scream for ice cream. But what happens when the devilishly clever minds at Osteria Morini pair gelato with Parmesan and balsamic? A tasty cheese trifecta follows. The restaurant has a generous selection of formaggi, so it’s no wonder Osteria Morini’s Parmigiano gelato is gaining traction. It’s made with a creamy whipped Parmesan, topped with a sweet and rich balsamic reduction, and served with crostini. Kind-of makes us question – do we have to eat dinner first? Make a reservation at Osteria Morini.
The Lazy Goat, Greenville, South Carolina
What numbers in the hundreds of thousands, is eaten by hundreds of people every week, and is known as the Lays Potato chips of appetizers because one is never enough? The answer is in Greenville, South Carolina, at The Lazy Goat. They are fried goat cheese balls topped with vanilla honey and pistachios, and the tasty morsels have earned a cult-like following. For Catarina Francisco, that means hand rolling more than 190,000 goat cheese balls annually. As the fried goat cheese maestra for the past decade since the restaurant’s inception, she helps The Lazy Goat sell a couple hundred orders per week. Make a reservation at The Lazy Goat.
360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario
At Canada’s 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower, executive chef John Morris appreciates versatility. His guests have a choice in Canadian cheeses for dessert. This menu alone is enough for hard-core cheese fans to book a plane ticket from the states. Once you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, your cheeses might include Opasatika from Fromagerie Kapuskoise in Ontario, le Bleu d’Elizabeth from Fromagerie du Presbytère in Quebec, Heritage, the only 100 percent pure Guernsey milk cheddar made in Canada from Ontario’s Upper Canada Cheese Company, and Monforte Dairy’s Big Nanny. The emphasis on this recent restaurant addition to the culinary landscape is Canadian ingredients, Canadian wine, and Canadian views — and we’re all over it. Make a reservation at 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower.
El Naranjo, Austin, Texas
Austin is on fire for cheese these days, especially in the hands of uber-chef Iliana De La Vega. Channeling her Oaxacan heritage, she is known for unique pairings of ingredients from traditional Mexican cuisine. She puts the fun in her bowls of queso fundido, which she serves with mushrooms and homemade Oaxacan- style chorizo or poblano strips – or all three for hungry diners. Make a reservation at El Naranjo.
Charlie Palmer Steak DC, Washington, D.C.
Nothing sends cheese lovers into fits of glee like the thought of cheese on wheels and barrels of wine to go with them. In “fromage” to the recent restaurant remodel, Charlie Palmer Steak DC has added the smile-inducing attraction of a tableside mahogany cheese cart. Chef Michael Ellis offers a nightly choice of 10 small-batch cheeses split between the East and West Coasts. The Maryland native even hand selects bi-coastal wines and spirits to pair with each. Some recent goodies have included Buche Ash from Pipe Dreams Fromage in Pennsylvania with Virginia’s Blanc de Chardonnay and Santa Rosa’s Matos Cheese Factory St. George cheese and Sonoma County’s Independence Port from Mauritson Vineyards. Make a reservation at Charlie Palmer Steak DC.
Molyvos, New York, New York
The Greeks always get it right when it comes to cheese and Molyvos is no exception. In a fast-moving cab, blink and you’ll miss it – but Molyvos remains one of Manhattan’s go-to favorites after 20 years in business. Near the Theatre District, Molyvos is an ideal quick stop for cheese lovers on the way to a show to indulge in cheeses sourced directly from Greece. Among the eight varieties, guests can check out three cheese platters for $21, each a meal in itself. At the risk of looking like a tourist, the Ouzo- flamed Haloumi cheese appetizer is still one of the most flavorful ways to get your cheese fix. Make a reservation at Molyvos.
Searsucker, Austin, Texas
Shishito pepper jam, Raclette, and Pecorino dust transform the classic grilled cheese at Searsucker from basic to beyond. This sultry take on the familiar sandwich is a crowd pleaser downtown, where regulars in the know pair it with handcrafted cocktails and some of Austin’s creative craft beers. Make a reservation at Searsucker.
What are your picks for the best restaurants for cheese lovers? Tell us here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.