Cheese is a staple in the Roy family. It frequently gets incorporated into our regular three square meals and usually a snack or two. And while we think the standard grocery-store varieties are great, our recent immersion into Ohio’s cheese scene has opened our taste buds to an entirely new universe of possibilities.
If you’re a cheese fan, too, Ohio has a number of cheesy destinations calling your name. We recently stopped by a few of them to get the (probably-not-so) skinny.
1. Heini’s Cheese Chalet. Located just around the corner from the quaint-yet-bustling town of Berlin in the heart of Amish Country, this haven of all things cheese begs to be discovered. We joined a long line of visitors that wound through a vast selection of samples, ranging from the standard (Swiss, cheddar, colby) to the not-so-standard (blueberry cheesecake). On weekdays, visitors can watch through a window as the cheese is being made; an adjacent gift shop peddles fudge, candy and “The Best Butter in the World,” also made in Amish Country. We tried some and we agree.
2. Guggisberg Cheese. This Millersburg cheese house takes its claim as “Home of the Original Swiss” very seriously. In a picturesque chalet-style building (across the road from the super-tasty Chalet in the Valley restaurant), Guggisberg peddles various types of cheese in addition to a selection of local spreads, sauces and other goods — plus every other cheese-related kitchen implement you’ll ever need. We thought the Baby Swiss was top-notch, as well as the Amish Butter Cheese.
3. Middlefield Cheese. True to its Switzerland roots, this family-owned Geauga County cheese house is a great place to sample and learn about the history of cheese. Visitors can walk through a visual timeline of Middlefield’s beginnings, the process of cheese-making from yesteryear through today and the heritage that contributes to Middlefield’s award-winning Swiss — among other types of cheese. Browse through a great selection of cheese and local goods and don’t forget to grab a sandwich from the deli counter with your favorite type.
4. Pearl Valley Cheese. A beautiful drive through the hills of rural Ohio, Coshocton County’s Pearl Valley Cheese is clearly a favorite with locals. The store was bustling on a Saturday morning with folks who clearly know where to get the best dairy in the area. The friendly staff allowed us to sample a number of their bestsellers — including, of course, the Swiss. We went home with a package of the Jumpin’ Jack, whose jalapenos added just the right amount of kick to allow Mommy and Daddy to keep it all for ourselves.
5. Walnut Creek Cheese. Stocked with not just cheese but baking supplies, bulk candy and a generous sampling of local goods, Walnut Creek — five minutes away from Heini’s — is a great place to pick up a local version of everything on your grocery list. From a pickup truck and slide-in refrigerated box in 1977 to a 60,000 square-foot facility that employs more than 200, Walnut Creek is a must-see on your cheese list.