I was looking for a specific kind of caramel sauce – one I knew I could find in Seattle, but I didn’t have time to get to Seattle. I was visiting the Edmonds area for my husband’s class reunion a few weeks ago. Trust me, this caramel sauce is worth the plane ticket.
My friend told me PCC carried the sauce so I headed over there with a sick feeling in my stomach. Here’s the thing: The organic movement makes me nuts. The current “foodie” trend makes me crazy. I feel like both are motivated by fear and under-education instead of facts and honesty. I avoid organic food and roll my eyes at the food labels that say “sustainable” or “GMO-free.” I was already standing in the Puget Sound region – a mecca for these movements. Now I was going into the belly of the beast.
Yes, the store was filled with the things I hate. People who like to tell me they care about sustainable food and the environment. That they only buy locally. Yet, they drive imported cars and wear $200 imported shoes. The people who find what happens on our family dairy “cruel” but splash milk in their coffee and blend whey powder in their shakes. Hypocrites. But they probably don’t know better.
When I arrived, I also found it be spotless. Clean. Bright. And when I couldn’t find the product I needed, the staff was entirely helpful.
I was starting to lose my hatred.
I wandered through the store. Aisles were wide. Produce was fresh and neatly displayed. Then …. I found the cheese counter.
It was the kind of cheese counter a junkie like me could curl up inside and take a nap.
First, I just stood there and inhaled. I tried not to handle each type of cheese. But I think I might have touched each kind. The counter attendant asked me if she could help me. I might have looked slightly creepy. Standing there. Touching cheese.
“No,” I said. “I just want to look.”
I continued to study each package of cheese. Local cheese, cow’s milk cheese, sheep’s milk cheese, goat’s milk cheese – nirvana.
Finally, I asked if I could take a picture. I had to preserve this moment.
She said she’d have to get permission. I said I understood. I explained I was just a cheese junkie who had fallen in love with the cheese case. She tracked down her store manager.
While she did, I tried to decide which kind of cheese to buy. First I tried a sample of a cheese spread from Willipa Hills Cheese. It was a blue cheese/cranberry/cream cheese blend.
Let me try to explain to you how good this was. It truly stopped me in my tracks. I rather absent-mindedly grabbed a sample from the display as I was walking past. It danced over my tongue and slapped me silly. It was so good, I whirled around and grabbed a container and cradled it like a baby.
I found out later they make a bacon-flavored spread. Had I seen that while in the store, I probably would have passed out right then and there.
The next cheese I tried was called “Rogue Gold Blue,” which came wrapped in a PCC label. Cheese is meant to be tasted at room temperature, and that is certainly true in this case. Taste it cold and it has a nasty bite on the back of your tongue. Let it warm just a little, and it’s wonderful.
I also picked up a small chunk of “New Moon” from Mt. Townsend Creamery. It’s made in Port Townsend, Washington, one of my favorite places, and the label said, “New Moon – If the Moon was Cheese,” which went straight to my heart. The cheese is fine. Functional. According to the creamery’s website, it’s won several awards, but it wasn’t spectacular for me.
The manager finally got back to me and, of course, wanted to know where I planned to use the photo I would take in his store. It was here I had to quickly make a decision. At the time, I really didn’t think I’d do much with it. I really just thought it was a great cheese case. But I thought I might use it on my Facebook page or my personal blog (I hadn’t even thought about using it here) so I decided I had to be honest.
“Look, I’ll be honest. I tend to be anti-organic. I probably am not the kind of person that would shop your store and I’m pretty vocal about that online. But really, I just want a picture of your cheese case because I love cheese and I really like your cheese case. I’m just a cheese junkie.”
He rolled his eyes, but gave me permission. I could have lied and said I loved what the store stood for, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of the policies. But here’s what I do agree with: good quality food and clean and friendly employees who provide excellent customer service.
If I lived in the area, would I shop there? On occasion, if I needed something specific. Was I a hypocrite for even going in? Yes, probably. But I finally decided it was more important to go in and see what the store was about than to stay out and not really know. Just make assumptions? I could – but that is what other people do about the farming industry and it makes me furious. It would be pretty lousy of me to do the same.