Visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory

The Tillamook cheese factory is a thing of beauty. When we arrived, my pants were still soaked with saltwater from my first meeting with an ocean since 2004….so I was gleeful. Being from Wisconsin, you’d think I’d have already had a big cheese factory experience – but I’m not sure we have a cheese mecca such as this. (If we do, please advise.) We were told by the lady in the gift shop that this place sees almost 3,000 visitors per day.  The free cheese samples alone would have made this a destination, so you can imagine my wonderment:

That’s right folks, all cheddar. As it turns out, Oregon seems to know a few things about cheese. (Wisconsinites, I look forward to your emails.) I was elated to discover their cafe served a grilled cheese.  Being that I’m used to there being only one on a menu, when I saw the words, “grilled cheese,” I read no further. (Sadly, had I read on, I would have seen that there were, in fact, seven.) As it turned out, I was quite pleased with the one I ordered, but tragically bummed that I missed an opportunity to try a grilled cheese called “The Pacific,” made with Tillamook cheddar and shrimp. And before you ask, no: there was no way I could have eaten another bite. (Although I still managed to make room for free cheese samples and three scoops of ice cream.) The drive east was uncomfortable.

Review to follow.

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@ The Grilled Cheese Grill, in Portland

“The Jaime:” Mascarpone, nutella, and grilled banana on cinnamon swirl bread. We obviously saved (my first) dessert (grilled cheese) for last. It was delicious, naturally, but somehow very reminiscent of these:

The guts of the thing were super scrumptious. I wish, though, that the bread would have been a little less processed. Something local and fresh would have really made this something mind-blowing. If you’re listening, GCG: go get a little old lady to make you some homemade cinnamon bread. Charge us more for it, we will pay. I gave it a 8/10.  ($5.50)

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@ The Grilled Cheese Grill, in Portland

“The Jalapeno Popper:” Roasted jalapenos, colby, cream cheese, and corn chips on sourdough. This wouldn’t normally be something that would jump off a menu for me – but as I was doing my research, it kept coming up, again and again. I was a little apprehensive about the cream cheese, only because historically, I’ve never really been a fan of hot cream cheese. (i.e. crab rangoons.) However, being that it was such a staple, I felt I had an obligation. It wasn’t bad. I admit, I immediately loved the corn chips. Same as with the “Gabby,” the bread was good and grilling was just right. I really wanted to love it, but ultimately found it to be a little dry. To be fair, I did say “easy on the cream cheese” when I ordered, so that may have been my own doing. Regardless, it definitely needed another cheese to hold it together, probably a processed one. I also probably could have done with less jalapenos, but that’s just personal preference. (My accomplice notes: they [the jalepenos] were making my face “all blotchy.”) In the end, I gave it 6/10….which I admit is a little unfair, as it clearly just wasn’t my thing. It got me to thinking, though: there is serious potential here. Grilled Cheese Grill, if you’re reading this, hear me out: “It’s Nacho Grilled Cheese” sandwich: sharp cheddar, fritos, diced jalepenos, and american / velveeta on artisan bread. Maybe with salsa served on this side. It could be epic. Just sayin. ($5)

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@ The Grilled Cheese Grill, in Portland

“The Gabby:” cheddar, swiss, colby jack, mozzarella, pickles, and potato chips on sourdough. Before I first perused their menu, it would not have occurred to me to put chips on a grilled cheese. That said, the more I thought about it, the more sure I was of how awesome it was going to be. (Further, after the rotten success of the  Husdon’s “Ultimate” experiment,  I’m fighting an urge to put pickles on all of them.) It was the first one I grabbed when our “Fromage a trois” arrived. (Their fun-to-say, three sandwich combo.)  It was fantastically cheesy, and easily the favorite of the three we sampled. Good bread, perfectly grilled and greasy, and the potato chips provided a most-delightful crunch. I awarded it a (delightful) 9/10.   ($5)

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Visit to the Grilled Cheese Grill

The Grilled Cheese Grill, (which opened in spring of 2009,) became a blip on my radar about two months ago, when I first decided I’d be visiting Oregon. Immediately, I began to google, “best grilled cheese in Portland.” Obviously, this popped up first. I was pretty geeked to discover not only was Oregon turning out to be a hotbed for grilled cheese sandwiches, but here was this whole grilled cheese DESTINATION. Grilled cheese served out of an airstream?

School bus dining car?

More than one grilled cheese on the menu?! Insanity. How do I eat ALL of them? After scouring pages of Yelp reviews, and several days of careful thought and consideration, I knew exactly what I wanted. When I landed in Portland at 1:16 PM on Wednesday, it was sunny and beautiful…. and I could think of little but grilled cheese.  When we arrived, I was immediately disapointed to discover they were out of shirts. Fortunately, my disappointment didn’t last that long. Many thanks, Edward. You’re an artist.

(Reviews to follow.)

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@ Hudson’s Grill

“The Ultimate Grilled Cheese.” Take note, Denny’s – this is how it’s done: melted cheddar, jack and american cheeses, crispy bacon, and FRIED FUCKING PICKLES on three slices of sourdough. (Mind-grenade, right?) In the interest of full disclosure, fried pickles don’t exactly come standard on this thing…but not only did the waitress not even bat an eye, I’m pretty sure I didn’t even get charged for them. (See “Fried Dilly’s” on Hudson’s appetizer menu.) Well, I won’t keep you in suspense, it was EPIC. Perfectly grilled, soaked in butter, cheeses falling out of it on all four sides….and mmmm pickles. I could only eat half. This was a guilt-inducing 10/10. I might be ruined for the others. ($7.99)


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@ The Filling Station, in Wausau

The “grilled cheese and soup” special – american on wheat. Let me start right there. Now, maybe I’m off base here, but I was a little perturbed to discover they’d made my sandwich on wheat bread without asking me. (Don’t misunderstand me – plain old white bread is not my preference…but it IS the standard, like it or not.) This sandwich was tiny and dry, and a ‘kid’s-menu-grilled-cheese’ in every sense. I knew going in that it was nothing special, but still had some expectations. Fortunately, I had chicken dumpling soup to dunk it in – which was actually quite good. I try to be fair when I order sandwiches take-out, (styrofoam is not kind) but it was an eight block drive. I’m not grading on a curve for that. To be fair, I ordered this over the phone without a menu. What I was actually after, was their “deluxe grilled cheese,” which sounds super tasty. (There is hope for redemption!) Had I known it was their $2.84 kids menu grilled cheese, by my very own rules, I wouldn’t have ordered it. This was a disappointing 2/10. It’s important to note, though, my co-worker had their burger and house fries and raved that they were both scrumptious.   ($2.84)

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