On our three capes drive, we entered the town of Tillamook. Everyone knows this place is home to a huge cheese industry. I don’t remember how many people they employ nor the number of dairy farms in the area. We were hungry and asked at the local Eagles Club for a recommendation for a seafood restaurant. We were sent to this ramshackle, roadside, fish stand that sells basic eats, fish & chips, fish burger, crab salad, fresh oysters, etc. about 10 different items. It’s located directly across the highway from the cheese factory. On each of the four little tables were three or more choices of hot sauce. I tried three of them on my great cod burger but the Irazu, a volcanic hot sauce made from “ghost peppers” was stunningly good and, I do like it hot. I know there are hotter sauces available, because this place has almost every one made, except, one of our favorites, Marie Sharps Habanero. Here is a sampling:
When the cook noticed I’d tried the Irazu, he said, ” We have ghost peppers here. We make jerky out of it.” He brought over a jar of them and carefully offered me a sniff.
I took a light sniff being careful, then the ghost factor kicks in. You don’t smell them at first, then the heat hits your nose. Ghost pepper is just a nickname for some hot peppers that, as the sauce names hint, are potent as in Death, Pecker Pucker, Hemorrhoid Cleaner, and other colorful names. What a hoot! I could kick myself for not picking up some Irazu, but we have one unopened bottle of Blitz we bought in Louisiana last year, and our Marie Sharps is 3/4 full yet.
Cheese at Tillamook is excellent stuff. They allow you to sample it. They don’t go in for anything fancy, just basic cheeses, milk, yogurt, and ice cream. My last visit to a cheese factory was in Pleasanton, CA. in the 50’s where you watched the curds and whey being hand paddled by a guy with huge muscles. The strong smell of sour milk was enough to make you temporarily give up cheese. Here everything is stainless steel, climate controlled, automated, super clean and fascinating to watch the assembly lines. First formed into 30 pound blocks, then cut to the various sizes. Any uneven bits of cheese, or mistakes in the packaging go into a bin for shredded cheese.
Four separate lines on this floor cut medium cheddar, sharp cheddar into one and two-pound sizes. Without stopping the new sized cheese runs into the automatic wrapping and vacuum packaging machines. Each line sends up one package per second. Now that’s a lot of cheese. We stopped in their restaurant for a dish of high quality ice cream.
Our last stop of the day, mainly just a drive by, was a look at one of the largest timbered structures in the world. It was used to house blimps in the days when blimps looked like the new mode of air travel.