Bland cheese in restaurants


#1

Goodness, where were you traveling that you got “bland” cheese? We’ve got fabulous domestic and imported cheeses. Your dinner sounds terrific.


What's for dinner? #2 - The Second Coming- through 10/31//2015
(John Hartley) #2

This trip was three weeks in Florida. I’m talking about the tasteless and pointless cheese that anyone selling sandwiches, burgers, etc thinks improves their sandwich. Trust me - it doesnt.

During the trip, we only came across one restaurant offering cheese. It was a choice of one from four - two imported, two domestic. Considered ordering one of the domestics, but they had desserts we fancied more. That was probably a mistake.


#3

Ah, Florida. I guess here on the Left Coast we’re pretty spoiled. But I hope you had a good albeit cheese deprived trip. C


#4

@harters,

don’t know how disappointing the dessert was, but Florida is not someplace I would go in the states for outstanding cheese, even in a high-end restaurant.


(Robin ) #5

I beg to differ. We are the cheesiest state in the U.S… :sunglasses:


#6

If you ate :bland cheeses in America, that’s on you! We’ve got it all, from everywhere, in almost every venue.

Hmmph. :wink:


(John Hartley) #7

Tell you what, Stone. In a few days, when I post my reviews of something in excess of 20 dinners, suggest you go and check out online the menus of even just a few of those places. Then see whether you’d still hold to your view that cheese is available “in almost every venue”. If you were sufficiently arsed, you could also go back to Chowhound and look for where we ate in our three week trips in both 2012 and 2013 and similarly check out restaurant menus.


#8

I don’t know what “arsed” is, but it doesn’t sound very friendly! :smile:

You may have overestimated the depth of my interest in your dining choices and underestimated the robust variety and availability of every kind of cheese in the U.S. whether from local artisanal farm cheese makers or the rest of the world’s best cheese makers.

I’m sorry your dining choices were disappointing.


#9

I think it’s likely that what is available in restaurants is a far, far cry from what’s available at a good cheese shop or even WF. If their diners aren’t going to order cheese very often, it’s a pretty expensive thing to just have hanging around.


#10

Florida is such a wealthy place, and with so many immigrants (domestic and foreign) plus tourists galore, that I don’t doubt for a second that one can find The Most Great Cheeses of America and the World in Floridian stores and restaurants with proper guidance.

That said, I cannot for the life me imagine what kind of cheese could be being produced in a climate so very inhospitable to cheese-making and, therefore, how far is the good cheese traveling to get to Florida, and under what circumstances? Is there no loss of flavor? If one is accustomed to eating cheese in the UK from producers not far away, maybe the flavor loss is perceptible.

In many parts of Italy, where cheese is made, it is fabulously delicious to eat because it is never refrigerated. In the very hottest parts of Italy, most of the cheese is highly perishable, very soft and fresh, eaten fairly immediately. There are only a few exceptions of hard cheeses in southern Italy that are smoked to preserve them.

Writing this post makes me think that perhaps someone could make a fortune in Florida importing water buffalo and making fresh mozzarella locally. But the tropics are not generally cheese making or cheese eating places (and I myself don’t think I’d have much appetite for cheese in Florida – but the reality is that many restaurants throughout America put cheese on pratically everything, because Americans like it, even if the cheese is poor).


(John Hartley) #11

Not so at all. We didnt have a bad dinner in the three weeks. A few very good, most just fine. All you can do as a visitor is look for the online advice and form a view. At the time of planning, the recommendations came from Chowhound - with the exception of one place I saw an advert for and really liked what they were doing. Dinner there was one of the very good ones - a committment to local produce wherever possible and they were not mucking about with it too much. As with all but one of the places, they didnt have cheese on the menu either.


#12

Well, then, I’m glad you dined well, even if not due to cheese finds.


(John Hartley) #13

Exactly my original point, HT. And the same goes for the sandwich making places - even the small independent ones who, if they were sufficiently arsed about, could buy good cheeses. They certainly exist in America - I ate very good Vermont ones in a place in New England (that was also the only restaurant on that three week trip that had cheese on the menu))


#14

Vermont has exceptionally great dairy products.

Something I noticed when I lived in London for six months a very long time ago is how much richer and better tasting UK milk is. It was just miles better, grassy in taste and richer in fat content (especially if you bought the high-fat brands with cream floating on top!) I don’t know if the UK has been able to hang on to that high-quality, but if it has, I think the fundamental milk going into the cheese is just tastier than what you find in even some of the nicest pastures in America – and Vermont is a stand out for high quality milk.

I was under the mistaken impression you spent all of your vacation in Florida.


(Robin ) #15

If you are talking $, not really. Fl is just like any other place in terms of monetary wealth. Some places are in the money, some are in the middle and some dont have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. Now, if you are talking about the shoreline, lakes, wonderful seafood, beautiful forests…then yes, wealthy indeed.

This is another misconception about Fl. One third of the state has 20 degree temps during the winter. Every winter. Not a fluke and not all tropical.

I am not being contrary, just wanted to share.

I am looking forward to reading Harters trip report :wink:


#16

Glad I don’t live in those areas. Where have you found that to be true please?


#17

I have found cheese on EVERYTHING just about anywhere outside of the major cities without hipster enclaves. When I travel through America outside of NYC, I have to go to unsophisticated places in Pennsylvania, Oregon, the Carolinas, Texas, Rhode Island, you name it – and everything on the menu has cheese in it: salads, soups, sandwiches, meat entrees, even seafood entrees. Breakfast. At a hotel in Oregon last June that had a breakfast grill station, I asked the person doing the grlling for a vegetable omelet without cheese, and while she didn’t exactly argue, she offered me a choice 4 different kinds of cheeses (including cream cheese), and finally plaintively asked “Are you sure you don’t want even a little cheese?” For her, apparently, it would be like eating cereal without milk to eat an omelet without cheese.

99 percent of the cheese I picked off steaks, salads, from inside sandwiches, scraped out of omelets or the cavities of shellfish, is industrial cheese, and most of it is dead cold and tasteless. There is another America – a very large one – that isn’t eating good artisinal cheese, wrapped in waxed paper and stored in a cool place.

These might be fighting words, but when I lived in America, I thought Trader Joe’s marketed some of the worst cheese I have ever tasted.

As for Florida, I don’t mind being corrected, and I didn’t mean to suggest there wasn’t economic diversity there, but just to point out it has more than its share of the 1 percent, plus a lot of affluent tourism, so I would think high-end food stores and restaurants do very well there, and there is a demand for imported foods.

As for whether the overall climate of Florida is fairly described as tropical, I guess not, but I struggle to imagine finding a good place to produce cheese in the state. I can imagine mozzarella or some other fresh cheeses getting a foothold, but you need to go much further north in the US to start getting into areas with the elements for making good aged cheese.


(John Hartley) #18

HT pretty much identifies my own experience (I don’t know if s/he is American or, like me, just a visitor). I’ve been visiting the States regularly since 1980 and have now been to all the east coast states and several that are adjacent to the coastal states. There does indeed seem to be almost a requirement there that cheese will be put on almost anything, as HT describes. And it’s not good cheese - it’s generally the tasteless sort of stuff that you might often see in thin squares put on burgers. Over that time, I can only recall two occasions when I’ve seen cheese offered as an alternative to dessert in a restaurant (as I’d see in pretty much any UK restaurant). Now, of course, that may well be accounted for by cultural differences ( I enjoy visiting the States as it’s so different from the European countries I visit) but cheese doesnt seem to often be a stand-alone product in American cuisine, seemingly mainly used as a topping for other things.


#19

There are only some few parts of Italy where you would find a cheese selection routinely offered in lieu of a sweet dessert or plain fruit, although many parts of Italy will offer cheese as a stand-alone antipasti. The habit of shredding and sprinkling and melting cheese onto everything in American restaurants seems to have followed the development of the most popular cuisines in America now being Italian, Mexican and burgers. Cheese sells.


(John Hartley) #20

Indeed so, HT. It would be similar in Spain - where you will regularly see cheese offered as a tapa but rarely at the end of a meal. In France, of course, it’s offered as a stand-alone course served before dessert which, to my mind, is better than our custom in the UK of serving after dessert (if it’s being served as a separate course). Cheese in place of dessert is pretty much a universal menu option in British restaurants - as, for example, in this little bistro type place a short drive from me - http://www.no4dineandwine.com/menu-html.php?menu=3