Restaurant News & Reviews

Top Dish: The Cheese Shop near Ferndale serves up sandwiches

Name: The Cheese Shop at Appel Farms, which has a café that serves breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Location: 6065 Northwest Road near West Pole Road in the Ferndale area. Look for it near Boxx Berry Farm and Small’s Garden. Contact: 360-312-1431, Facebook (search for Appel Farms Cheese) and thecheesefarm.net.

Quick bite: I found a new cheese to enjoy while munching on a Cuban melt at The Cheese Shop, where I stopped in recently to get a taste of local flavor from the dairy farm and creamery owned by the Appel family.

The menu showcases their creations, from a roast beef sandwich with sharp cheddar to a barbecue pulled pork with smoked Gouda (a traditional Dutch cheese), or a loaded bagel with your choice of cheese. If you’re feeling really cheesy, the shop also has small and large Appel cheese plates.

I picked the Cuban melt on sourdough bread for $10, including chips. It was a salty meld of roast pork, ham, mustard and dill pickles balanced by the nutty flavor and creamy texture of the Maasdammer cheese.

The sandwich was good — though on the edge of being overly salty — but I fell for the Maasdammer, which is Appel’s newest cheese. The recipe for this semi-hard cheese originated in Maasdam in the Netherlands. It is described as a Swiss-style cheese. I prefer the more rounded taste and creamier texture of the Dutch version made by Appel Farms.

Or try the loaded bagel for $6.50. My lunch date’s version featured egg, bacon and turkey, cheddar, lettuce, caramelized onion and tomato in a soft plain bagel. She’s a picky eater, so I was surprised to hear her say the bagel was well-done and that she appreciated the flavor being carried by the cheese and other juices without reliance on condiments.

Try also ... I couldn’t resist the blackberry mocha shake, which starts with a chocolatey coffee flavor and ends on a fruity note. A 12-ounce shake cost $4.

The story of ... We have family patriarch, the late Jack Appel, to thank for giving Whatcom County residents our own cheese-maker. He emigrated from Holland in the Netherlands to become a dairy farmer in Washington state. Back in Europe, he had worked at a dairy farm in France where he made Gouda cheese. The family has been making cheese commercially since 1985.

Side: If you like the cheese in your meal, you can take some home with you. The Cheese Shop sells packaged cheddar, feta, Gouda, paneer, quark and squeakers in a variety of flavors. Don’t know whether you’ll like the bacon cheddar or cumin Gouda? Ask for a taste, and the helpful staff will give you a slice from the cheeses in the deli case. They’ll also cut up chunks for you to take home, if you prefer your cheese to come from the deli case. Appel Farms cheeses also are sold in grocery stores in Whatcom County.

Ambiance: The cafe, which evokes a rustic farmhouse, is airy and comfortable. There are small couches near a fireplace that make for a cozy stay on rainy days.

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