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Americans love to say cheese! Whether it's an artisanal cheese board, an old-fashioned grilled cheese, or a gooey, chewy slice of pizza. But when it comes to which part of the country has the best on offer, some cities are cheesier than others.
What are 2022’s Best Cities for Cheese Lovers?
To mark National Cheese Lover’s Day on Jan. 20, LawnStarter compared over 180 of the biggest U.S. cities based on cheese access, quality, and affordability, as well as local cheese-focused events. Is your city on these lists?
Say Cheese! It Doesn’t Get Any Cheddar Than Here
1 Chicago, IL
2 Modesto, CA
3 San Francisco, CA
4 Jersey City, NJ
5 New York, NY
6 Boston, MA
7 Madison, WI
8 Los Angeles, CA
9 Washington, DC
10 Milwaukee, WI
Cheese It! You’re Cheddar Off Elsewhere Than Here
172 Honolulu, HI
173 El Paso, TX
174 Vancouver, WA
175 Kansas City, KS
176 Jackson, MS
177 Lincoln, NE
178 Oxnard, CA
179 Amarillo, TX
180 Anchorage, AK
181 Salinas, CA
Highlights and Lowlights
- Chicago: The Windy Cheesy City: Sing the praises of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza all you want, but once you’ve sampled local Chi-Town cheese outside the pie, you’ll be chanting “Cheeses, Take the Wheel” instead. That’s because The Windy City has earned a new nickname as The Cheesiest City in America. Oozing with high-quality queso and melting locals’ hearts with an abundance of cheesy events, Chicago is a true cheese lover’s paradise.
- California Cheesin’ or Meltin’?: Three Golden State cities managed to find their way to our top 10: Modesto at No. 2, followed by San Francisco in third place and Los Angeles in eighth. Zoom out, and you’ll find four other California cities in our top 20. This "grate" performance is no surprise when considering California is the second biggest producer of cheese among the states. But not everything that glitters is gold in the Golden State. Salinas finished last in our ranking, with Oxnard not far behind at No. 178. While these two cities offer plenty of cheesy events to entertain locals, regular access to high-quality cheese is lacking.
- Gouda News for Wisconsin: No ranking of cheese heavens passes a “good taste” test without at least one city from America’s Dairyland in the top 10. And we’re happy to report that both Wisconsin cities in our ranking form part of that elite group: Madison finished seventh, while Milwaukee placed 10th, thanks to high marks across the (charcuterie) board. Green Bay didn’t make our cut because of its size, but if you’re a true Cheesehead, you know the city and state are packed with fans of the dairy products. Wisconsin is by far the largest manufacturer of cheese, producing more than a quarter of all of America’s cheese. It even beats out much larger states like California and Texas.
- Not-So-Modest Queso in Modesto: Wisconsin might produce the most cheese of any state, but one Central California city’s winning strategy is quality over quantity. Modesto, located 92 miles east of San Francisco, took the top spot in our Quality category, helping the city rise to second place overall. In fact, Modesto’s local cheese producers bagged more U.S. Championship Cheese Contest awards in 2019 — the most recent competition — than those of the other 180 cities in our ranking.
The full ranking and analysis can be found here.
For the last few months, OUTvoices Nashville’s print edition featured a new column—our first regular cooking column, “Joe Eats World.” This column is an extension of Morales’ work as a food blogger and chef and part of a larger project in what will soon become OUTvoices TV. Morales recently filmed the pilot episode of a “Joe Eats World” web-based television show.
Morales decided to go to culinary school around 2014, in what he said his husband might call a “midlife crisis”—though he protests that that’s not quite right. “I just felt the need to do something different,” he said. “I like to write, and I like to cook … so when I started talking about going to culinary school, to begin with, I didn’t have a desire to be a restaurant chef.”
Joe Eats World
This was also the real genesis of his food blog. He intended to learn about food, how to cook, and document his journey in his blog. As for his food career, he said, “I decided I’d figure that out along the way!”
He admitted that felt kind of silly. “At my age and having that naivety?”
Once he got started, however, things didn’t follow that plan, either for his blog or his career. “It was going to be more of a diary… I guess that's how it always starts: you always have these good intentions. I started a blog because I was going to document my culinary education … start to finish and then about the restaurant industry and whatever else. Going into culinary school full time, doing side work … it just kind of sat there!”
As far as his attitude toward restaurant work went, that also transformed during culinary school. “I was like, ‘Alright, I absolutely want to get into the restaurant.’ And once I went into a restaurant, it was amazing. Some of the best times I had in the kitchen were in the restaurant!”
Chef Joe Morales
Out of culinary school, Morales became a sous chef for a Michelin-recommended restaurant, where he worked until they closed in 2019 and relocated to Cleveland. The closure of the restaurant spurred him to rededicate himself to food blogging and teaching.
“I started to teach cooking classes at a local kitchen here in Chicago,” he explained. “There's an LGBTQ owned business that is down the street from us, so I was doing a lot of cooking classes and stuff there for them until the pandemic hit, and all of that stuff got shut down.”
Morales has continued to develop the “Joe Eats World” blog—which took the shape of a full food blog, though primarily focused on recipes and cooking tips—during the pandemic. When it comes to recipes, Morales took a different tack than many contemporary food blogs. Rather than focus primarily on the backstory and history of the dish, with personal asides, his blog entries focus their detail on the execution of the technique and conclude with the formal recipe.
In addition to detailing his perfected recipes, Morales also gives readers a window into the development process professional chefs go through as they experiment with dishes in a section he calls the “Test Kitchen.”
“Basically, the Test Kitchen details when I get these ideas of cooking something or trying something, how I executed it, and then I will tell you whether they fail or not. So far … there's been some failures. You know sometimes something sounds good but in the execution not so much! I did a twist on this chicken and Italian sausage dish that was a little sweeter than the traditional preparation. It sounded great. And then I made it, and I was like, ‘This tastes like shit.’ Sometimes you have to try it to find out!”
Why document the failures? “I struggled with that because everything that people put on their websites—the recipes, or whatever else—they're going for the hero shot and the perfect picture! Nobody likes to talk about their failures, so in my Test Kitchen I document both successes and failures. Like—I don't think I wrote about it yet but—I've done sourdough bread, and I don't know what it is with me and sourdough bread. But my first attempt at sourdough is always a failure. One time I woke up two days later, and the starter was just pitch black. And I had to toss it out. But you know people can learn from our mistakes, so I write about it, focusing on ‘do this, but don't do that’.”
Joe Eats World ... Television?
When asked how the “Joe Eats World” television show idea was born, Morales explained that it kind of came together with the birth of the OUTvoices and Aequalitas Media brands on the one hand and his return to the blog on the other.
“I was going to do videos for YouTube that would supplement the ‘Joe Eats World’ blog—it was basically going to be me filming myself doing recipes and stuff like that. Then, it kind of morphed as people would say, ‘Oh, you should do a cooking show. And maybe you should have drag queens or something like that—you know, some sort gay themed show’.”
Beyond the direct appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, Morales thinks this kind of show brings the added value of both showing that our community’s interests are broader than stereotypes and bringing visibility to LGBTQ+ people in the industry.
“I think that the last year-and-a-half has kind of taught us that there's a lot of things that are unspoken unseen. And I think that having an LGBTQ cooking show could help highlight LGBTQ+ diversity in a positive way. We're more than we're more than what they see on comedy and dramas, or at Pride events.”
“Cooking,” he added, “also has broad appeal. There's enough negative crap going on in the world. And there are a lot of LGBTQ+ people in the industry that aren't getting a lot of visibility. A lot of gay or lesbian or transgender chefs—people within the LGBTQ+ spectrum—aren’t highlighted. They're usually just kind of in the background and doing their thing; they're just trying to make a living, enjoy what they're doing, and create great food. A show like this would bring them front and center.”
A lot of planning remains to be done to bring “Joe Eats World” to little screens around the globe, but Morales was on set last month to shoot a pilot, and planning for the series is proceeding, as OUTvoices continues to develop digital content for its OUTvoices TV and OUTvoices Radio arms.
But you don’t have to wait for video to follow what Chef Joe Morales is up to in the kitchen. Check out “Joe Eats World” each month in OUTvoices Nashville, and read his blog posts at joeeatsworld.com.
Did you know that coffee consumption is up 8% since January 2020, according to the personal-finance website WalletHub.
WalletHub has released its report on 2021's Best Coffee Cities in America, as well as posted accompanying videos and expert commentary, along with its list of top coffee deals and discounts offered by retailers during the holiday.
There are a few surprises in the list, for example, Kansas City, Missouri, has the lowest average price for a pack of coffee, $3.44, which is 2.5 times lower than in Honolulu, the city with the highest at $8.69.
So, why are some folks willing to spend two or three times more for a comparable cup of coffee?
“I think there are several reasons," says Isabel C. Botero, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, University of Louisville. "One is that they like the brand that they are paying for. This means that they believe in the company and the quality of the product and services they are offering. Those that are in this camp do not mind paying more for the quality of the Java and the service that is provided to them. Another reason is that the consumer may like the experience provided by the coffee shop.
"Those in this camp are buying coffee, but are also buying the experience around that coffee. That is, they may want to sit down and enjoy their coffee, or they may want to bring their work to the coffee shop. For these customers, the cost is worth the experience. A third group of customers may do this for convenience. For this group, they may get their coffee on their way to work or to school and the place that is close to them is where they will buy it, independent of the cost.”
Did you know that Gilbert, Arizona, has the highest share of households that own a single-cup/pod-brewing coffee maker, 28.11 percent, which is 2.6 times higher than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the lowest at 10.93 percent.
Scottsdale, AZ placed #32 overall as one of the better coffee cities in the US. Tucson and Chandler came in at #56 and #57. Phoenix placed in at #64.
To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
Two important food days in September are National Double Cheeseburger Day and National Cheeseburger Day. Burgers are one of the most versatile foods out there. You can load it up, you can have it plain, or you can mix and match condiments to your liking. You could eat a burger every day and never eat the same burger and toppings twice (unless you want to).
There is definitely no shortage of Best Burger categories on the internet. You can find just about any place in the country telling us who has the best hamburger or the best cheeseburger. I'm not talking about fast food chains such as Burger King or McDonald's, I'm talking about celebrating National Cheeseburger day at those local greasy spoon diners or anywhere that serves up the classic burger.
The Food and Wine did an article on the best burger in every state, Food Network gave their take on the top 5 burgers in America, Thrillist gave their input on 47 American Burger Spots, and even Today talked about the 10 Best Burgers in the US. It's hard to not take these publications seriously given their prominence in the food media industry. Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree, or maybe you have your own favorite burger joint, that's ok because I do.
I'm not going to put together a list to rank any burgers because that's already been done time and time again. Instead, I'm going to talk to you about cheeseburger (and burger) components. When you BBQ or grill your own burgers, you need to know what to put on it and how it should be put together.
What makes the perfect burger?
The perfect burger is what you make of it. Sure there are people that will tell you that you have to have only a few toppings or that the burger should be thick and juicy but what makes a good burger starts with the meat. You can use 80/20 ground chuck but try mixing your ground meat with a little ground bacon or ground brisket. Add different meat for different flavors. For vegetarian or vegan burger lovers, you can go with plant-based burgers that are non-GMO or soy-free. The Beyond burger and the Impossible burger are making great strides in the burger market.
The best toppings to put on a cheeseburger
- Dill pickle
When it comes to lettuce, it needs to have that crisp crunch and not be wilted. The onion should be cut thin because they tend to be very strong in flavor, the tomato slice needs to be a little thicker than the onion. I love mayo and tend to slather it on, which is probably bad but I can't help it. The mustard and ketchup are a must-have as well as dill pickles, bacon, and cheddar cheese (sometimes American cheese).
How to construct a cheeseburger
- Buns: Toast or not to toast, that is the question.
- The top bun always has ketchup and mayo. Sometimes I sub the ketchup for BBQ sauce.
- The bottom bun has a layer of mustard.
- The burger goes on the bottom bun.
- Melted cheese on the burger.
- Bacon on top of the cheese
- Dill pickle on top of the bacon
- Tomato on top of the dill pickle
- Onion on top of the tomato
- Lettuce on top of the onion
It's all about stacking the ingredients so they don't slip and squish off of the burger, which it usually does. Let's talk about the burger itself though. I do love a good smash burger because it's thin, has a great flavor, and has those crispy edges that add to the crunch. Sure I'll go for a thicker burger if the smash burger isn't available but sometimes it can be too thick. A quarter-pound hamburger is probably my limit because you have to factor in French Fries or my personal favorite, tater tots. Yes, I said tater tots. I still love the tater tots from my childhood and as a man of a certain age, I must have them. It's the crispy crunch outside and the soft mushy inside dipped in ketchup or ranch…but I digress.
- When is National Cheeseburger Day? For those that don't know or may have forgotten (like me), National Double Cheeseburger Day falls on September 15th and National Cheeseburger Day falls on September 18th every year.
- Where was the cheeseburger invented? The cheeseburger was invented in 1924 by 16-year-old Lionel Sternberger who was working in his dad's sandwich shop.
- What type of cheese do you use on a hamburger? This is a big debate in the US. Most prefer American cheese but it is quickly followed by cheddar cheese.
- What do hamburgers look like? You would think that all hamburgers and cheeseburgers are the same, but they aren't. While most are thick and round, some are square, and some are even hot dog-shaped.
No matter how you enjoy your hamburger, cheeseburger, or even your vegan burger, celebrate national cheeseburger day as often as you can, not just on its national day. Mix up the condiments and ingredients customize it to your liking. Just remember, National Cheeseburger Day can be celebrated throughout the year!