Out There: A gouda time on the way to Kamloops
One of the advantages of having a retired dad who is into guns is that he enjoys road-tripping hither and yon to all kinds of gun shows. This works well for me because I enjoy the benefits of getting free trips hither and yon where I can do things not associated with gun shows. Take for instance, this past weekend: the biggest gun show in BC took place in Kamloops – a whopping 500 tables, my father enthused! – and it happened that I have a couple of very close friends in that city I rarely get to see. So, I am very happy my dad has this passion because I get to hang with my BFFs, go shopping, eat at cool restaurants, and basically get a nice little mini break I otherwise wouldn’t gotten. But my dad has other passions besides guns, and one of those passions is cheese. Dad is a cheese freak, a cheese fanatic, a cheese connoisseur. He has, at any given time, a selection of exotic cheeses in his fridge that would rival a chi-chi cheese shop in Paris. And what could possibly be better than a trip to Kamloops for a gun show than a trip to Kamloops for a gun show that includes two side trips to two artisan fromageries along the way? Another of my father’s passions is bread. He adores artisan breads – but they cannot have any white flour in them and they must be completely whole grain. I’m a baker, so I at least get this. My dad will go out of the way – way out of the way – to get good bread and good cheese. This is why we found ourselves taking the longer but more scenic, more cheesy route to Kamloops via the Slocan Valley, Nakusp, and the Needles ferry. Because my dad takes this route to Kamloops and Vernon, for gun shows, mostly, he knows where to stop to get his bread and cheese fix. Our first stop was in the unincorporated village of Burton, which is just before Fauquier and the Needles ferry. The go-to place here is the Country Rose Coffee Shop, where my dad once had an excellent coffee (another of Dad’s passions) and where the proprietor makes homemade breads, which my father had previously raved about. It’s a gorgeous spot in a funky building, and it has a huge deck out in the front. We arrived at 11:30 and were starving. The Country Rose is a casual establishment without a formal menu. The proprietor, whose name I failed to obtain, told us that she is the menu, and that since she was having a turkey dinner special on that evening for $9.95 (no, I’m not joking), she had the fixings for an excellent clubhouse sandwich. As you may recall from this [https://rosslandtelegraph.com/news/oped/out-there-pecking-along-crowsnest-10332], I am a clubhouse fanatic. We both ordered a clubhouse and the soup of the day, a hearty ham, scalloped potato and sweet corn affair that was absolutely delicious. The only problem was that the bread was not yet out of the oven and we would have to wait 15 minutes or so for it to finish baking. My father couldn’t have been happier. We enjoyed a coffee and our soup while our mouths watered at the scent of baking bread, and when our sandwiches finally arrived, we found that they were worth the wait. The homemade sourdough multigrain bread was amazing, and my dad snagged a whole loaf for himself, hot out of the oven, for a cool $3.75, which was a steal because the loaf must have weighed over 2lbs. But there is a bit of cheesy foreshadowing in this part of the story. While munching on our sandwiches, my dad leaned over and whispered to me, “Can you taste that? The cheese in here is an extra aged cheddar!” That was a mere sampling of what was yet to come that day. Our next stop was in Cherryville, on the way to Lumby, home of Triple Island Farms, a newcomer on the Okanagan cheese scene. Owned by a family that immigrated here from the Netherlands, the Tuijtels, TIF produces gouda, one of Dad’s favourite cheeses. They also do a maasdammer. The farm is home to 25 Holsteins lowing away in a picturesque little valley along Highway 6. Now because TIF is fairly new, they don’t have much in the way of aged goudas, and when it comes to my dad, the older and smellier the cheese, the better. TIF’s relatively mild offerings didn’t deter my dad from buying an amount of cheese that represented a full two weeks of my own food budget. Of course, we sampled first. I’m not really into cheese, but I did try a smoked gouda that was delicious; the owner told us he takes it to a smokehouse in Vernon no less. We also sampled some maasdammer, which is similar to emmenthal; I didn’t care for it, but Dad bought a chunk. My dad has some investigative skills of his own, and we discovered that there is more money per litre of milk in making gouda than there is in selling milk itself. The owner said he’d only make about 70ȼ/L for selling milk but for turning that milk into gouda, he makes about $1.76/L. A Holstein seems like a pretty good investment, then. Our second cheesy stop of the day was at Gort’s Gouda http://www.gortsgoudacheese.bc.ca/ in Salmon Arm. This meant bypassing the Highway 97 shortcut from Vernon to Kamloops, but that’s OK because I had my own reason for wanting to go this route: the Rogers Mill Store, just outside of Vernon. Like I said, I’m a baker, and I’m a bit of a flour geek, and the best place for fresh flour at the best price is the Roger’s Mill Store. They also have a huge bulk selection and the prices there for spices and other baking ingredients cannot be beaten anywhere. My dad was more than happy to oblige as he benefits from my flour collecting; in fact, he even bought me some rye flour to make some nice rye breads with. But I digress. We wound up at Gort’s two minutes before they were due to close, which was supposed to be at 5pm.Gort’s is a much more established fromagerie, which thrills my dad to bits because they have extra aged gouda in stock all the time. Dad bought a 9lb wheel of it, after sampling, of course, and had the wheel quartered and three of the quarters vacuum-sealed so they’ll last longer. The fourth quarter he had wrapped in plastic wrap since that’s the one he’ll start eating right away. Dad also bought a smaller wheel of smoked gouda. While dad was sampling and chatting to the Gort’s staff about the alarming lack of a legendary blue gouda he’s only seen once in his life, I went to visit the goats and cows in the barn next door. Gort’s is a very family friendly place and you can go and visit the animals while you wait for your parents to finish their business in the store. But even after visiting the calves and goats, my dad was still in the store gabbing about gouda! We wound up keeping the very patient staff there until 5:35. My dad plunked down a similarly large amount of money at Gort’s as he did at TIF. But at least we were finally on the home stretch to Kamloops…Except…the car began to stink. Even though dad brought a cooler for all his cheese, we rolled up into my friend’s driveway smelling like a ripe old mold factory. I didn’t need to ring the doorbell because the cheesy miasma was announcement of our arrival enough. It was embarrassing. He later told me the cheese stank up his hotel room, too, where there was a fridge he stored his goudas in. I had to put up with that stench all the way home on Sunday. By the way, Dad bought 14 loaves of multi-grain bread at Cobs Bakery[http://www.cobsbread.com/home/] in Kamloops. The car was literally stuffed to the roof with bread and cheese. You couldn’t open a door without a loaf of bread falling out or experiencing a waft of gouda fumes. But such are the things we put up with for a great weekend away! Dad enjoyed the gun show and I had a great time with my friends, and the weather was glorious, so a bit of cheesy stink was well worth it it the end. There is a gun show in Vernon next month, and although I won’t be going on that trip, I guarantee you my father will be stopping by these cheese factories because he’ll need more gouda by then. He just can’t resist. And in case you’re wondering, yes, we are well aware of the Village Cheese Factory in Armstrong. It’s just not up to Dad’s snuff so we usually skip it.