Northeast Ohio Cheese

Say, Cheese, Northeast Ohio!

Northeast Ohio is the heart of the cheese wheel! Great cheese shops and houses with delicious varieties abound. But know this: nothing is more untrue than the saying, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” Be sure to visit Guggisberg, Heini’s, Middlefield, Shisler’s, and others. Each one is a treat!

Formerly a Northeastern Ohioan, I’ve played house in Southwest Ohio for over 20 years. Holidays and special occasions mean trekking up I-71 from Cincinnati to Cleveland to see the rest of the family. My daughter was in from Washington, D.C., and shared that her friends are amazed that she’s never been to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. I had to admit that I had never been either. She laughed and said something to the effect of, “Some OhioTraveler you are.”

Well, I couldn’t let that stand. I saw the billboard and counted the miles. Exiting, my daughter perked up, noticing this was no ordinary pitstop. As we rolled into the parking lot, only a few hundred feet off the highway, we rattled my son’s cocoon to tell him to get ready to get out. It was cold, snowy, and quite crowded. It was a novel place, quaint and grand at the same time, attracting locals and travelers alike.

We spent much longer browsing and shopping than we ever thought we would. Even the college-age son was impressed, and that doesn’t happen often. Albeit, it took him a bit to come around. Maybe it was his sister filming him with her phone when the song Dominic the Donkey started playing across the store. His name is Dominic, and he learned to despise the festive holiday sing-a-long because his family and friends always targeted him when it played. Anyway, he smiled and bobbed his head and shoulders with the tune like a good sport until he subtly shared a hand gesture with perfect rhythm for his sister to see. She squeaked an approving laugh, proud of her teasing.

Our basket turned into baskets. In them went Amish country jams, local honey, home-smoked meats, cheese, cheese, and more cheese.

Oh, my goodness, homemade chocolates and fudge, too!

It’s good that this was the holiday season, so we didn’t have to barter with a weight-weary conscience. Anything goes until the New Year!

My daughter started blurting out strange words like “Charcuterie” and pairing our selected cheese varieties. My eyes glazed over until my attention turned to the history of this cheese establishment, which dates back to 1978.

It’s the tale of two grandpas. Grandpa Yarman came on the scene a little over a hundred years ago. After selling his prized portable RCA radio for his first wheel of Ohio Swiss cheese, he fell in love and opened his own cheese house in West Salem, Ohio. But Grandpa’s Cheesebarn in Ashland, Ohio, was started by Yarman’s daughter Vera and her husband, known as Grandpa Baum, along with their daughter and son-in-law. The generational handing of the baton created the family tradition of seeking the best cheese makers around. And today, two additional locations are in Norton and the Summit Mall in Fairlawn.

Grandpa’s Cheesebarn’s collection of 120 kinds of cheese features varieties produced by small local Amish farms and nearby Holmes County cheese makers. They also import from Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Holland, and elsewhere.

Just as we rang up the grocery list that we didn’t know we had, my daughter exclaimed, “Now let’s go over to the other building where there’s a café and CHOCOLATE.

Plan a trip to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn and Sweeties Chocolates at https://www.grandpascheesebarn.com/. And as the sign says, “Savor the Experience.” We did!

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun 

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