Love on a Plank
There are only three things in life that Chow, Baby can count on: death, taxes, and my inability to find a good cheese plate in this town. I love cheese in ways my therapist disapproves of. But it seems like every time I order a plate of the stuff at a local restaurant, there’s something wrong with it.
I’ve had plates served with the kind of dried fruit sold at Sam’s, covered in honey, and all sorts of other high crimes. But the most unforgivable sin in this department is loading the plate with bad or bland fromages. I was once served a plate with a blueberry goat cheese that could have been mistaken for Boo-Berry cereal. And don’t get me started on the one that came with just cheddar and Swiss. I’ve had more creative Lunchables.
Considering how feta-d up I am with area cheese plates, I felt a kind of nervous excitement walking into Magnolia Cheese Co. (1251 W. Magnolia Ave.). The first thing I noticed was the deli case full of more than a dozen cheeses. It looked like the refrigerator in my fantasy life, sans the Black Forest cake from the Swiss Pastry Shop (3936 W. Vickery Blvd.). The mismatched tables and chairs set a laid-back, artsy vibe that fits well with the ever-growing Magnolia restaurant row. It’s a walk-up counter operation, and a server brings your order to the table.
I was excited about the selection on the local cheese plank ($16). The board was stocked with a French-style cheddar cheese called Tomme de Hood from Granbury, a jalapeño cheddar from Dublin, a “faintly blue” cheese from Haut Goat in Longview, and others. All the Texas cheeses were delicious, exciting both my palate and my curiosity. Luckily, the woman working the room had an encyclopedic knowledge of the company’s wares. Accompanying the cheese selection were curried San Saba pecans, a smattering of honey, pomegranate seeds … and my old nemesis: toast points.
(I wanted to start this column with a rant about toast points, but my editor lit that paragraph on fire and scattered the ashes over a Velveeta box.)
For the first time in my long and troubled history with toast points, Magnolia Cheese Co. actually did them well. They were crisp but not overcooked. I bit into a toast point without fear of it piercing my cheek like a glass shard.
There’s more to Magnolia than cheese. The kitchen offers a good selection of sandwiches, including the standout: a combo of cherry-wood smoked bacon, prosciutto, and Eagle Mountain gouda, with sweet chile slaw and pickled red onion on a baguette, served with delicious kale chips. There is also a small selection of cheesy desserts, but Chow, Baby was all cheesed out after that plank and sandwich.
I thought I’d never trust again, but Magnolia Cheese Co. just might overcome my issues. If only death and taxes were so easily vanquished.
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