From Cleveland with Love, From Keighty

November 19, 2010 at 11:49 am

I just got back from a trip to Cleveland. All I knew about this city was what I’ve learned on 30 Rock and those ridiculous Cleveland videos on YouTube. We went there for a wedding so we didn’t have too much time to sight-see, but let’s say it’s not like Liz Lemon describes it.

Regardless, we did get to see a few places. One being the Great Lakes Brewery Company. Their beer is delicious and I’ve been drinking it for years but I’ve never seen where it is made. Truly proud of Cleveland and the Mid West, this company names all their beers after less than fortunate events that have happened nearby, including Burning River Pale Ale (named after the fact that the beaches of Cleveland are so polluted you can light them on fire) and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (named after the greatest disaster in Great Lake shipping).

The brewery was settled on an adorable street right near the West Side Market which was our next stop. This place is very similar to the big market in Seattle except this one is completely enclosed. When we got there it was so packed and we instantly lost our friends in the crowd. But my  husband and I walked around looking for what I’m always looking for: a new cheese to try.

 We found a few booths selling cheese but could only stop at one so we chose the Cheese Shop. When I walked up and asked the clerk if they had any local cheeses for sale, he sighed and pointed me to the few he had. The recent surge of “locavores” has probably caused him to hear that question 20 times a day. He didn’t seem too pleased with my questions so I just looked around myself. I found a number of cheeses from Wisconsin and Indiana, a few from Ohio (Amish style), and one from Michigan ( a gouda). The labels did not say which dairy farm produced each product. The local cheese selection consisted of cheddar, goat, gouda, blue – the standards.

 I was eager to try some but alas, no samples. I decided on the Michigan gouda to snack on with our giant loaf of bread we bought at another booth. Transaction over with, we hurried outside to try the cheese. When I opened the bag it was actually a 3 year-old gouda from Holland. I went back to tell the clerk the mistake but she said that was what I ordered and they would not take it back. Rather than spend all my money at this place buying more cheese, I took my Dutch cheese and left.  On a side note, while it wasn’t local, this cheese was delicious with crunchy bits of calcium deposits created after the years of aging.

 It was definitely a weird experience at the West Side Market but all that to say, if you find yourself in Cleveland and in search of local cheese you can find it at the Cheese Shop. I’ll give the employees the a break as it was very crowded in there and it was nearing closing time. Maybe visit the shop early in the day when tempers are calmer. Customer service aside, they did offer local cheeses and while I didn’t try them they looked delicious!