Of the many fictional food holidays, National Cheese Lovers Day on January 20th might just be the gooiest. From baked blue cheese to pull-apart pimento, there’s nothing quite like a cheesy appetizer.
If you need inspiration for your own National Cheese Lovers Day celebration, Mindy Bianca rounded up a few amazing dishes that you can find in restaurants across the Eastern U.S.
Restaurant Dishes for National Cheese Lovers Day
Pimento Cheese Fritters – Spartanburg, SC
It wasn’t hard for me to figure out which entry to list first, given my passion for pimento cheese. I’m also a big fan of the Cribb family, which has helped redefine the culinary culture of Spartanburg. If you’re partial to mozzarella sticks – as I am – you’ll love the Southern spin that Cribbs Kitchen puts on the classic appetizer. Instead of marinara sauce, these bite-sized balls of gooeyness are served with a sweet and tangy tomato jam. So Southern! So delicious! You’ll find them on the menu under “Small Plates & Table Shares,” but I’m not sharing these with anyone.
Editors note: For another great cheese destination in the Carolinas, be sure to read our article about Ashe County!
Flaming Fried Cheese – Mandeville, LA
The husband-and-wife team of Bulent and Ozgur (Ozzy) Duman have been making pizza together for 10 years, and in 2016 they opened the chic-but-casual Duman Pizza Artisan Kitchen in charming Old Mandeville, a lakefront town in the part of the state called “Louisiana Northshore.” This pyrotechnic masterpiece is simply a slab of cheese that’s fried, then lit on fire as it’s served … thanks to a little dose of cognac. That gives it a distinct flavor, as does a bit of lemon juice. Smear the melty cheese on fresh-baked bread and you’ll be transported to culinary heaven.
Blue Cheese Souffle – Cooperstown, NY
Everyone thinks of Cooperstown for baseball, but I’m here to tell you that there’s also a great culinary scene there. The Bailey Hazen Blue Cheese Souffle is part of a seasonal menu at 1909, the fine-dining restaurant at the famed Otesaga Resort Hotel. The dining room is named for the year this historic resort opened. The souffle is a vegetarian appetizer served with salt-roasted beets, Marcona almonds, and crostini. It’s pure deliciousness. The cheese comes from Vermont, and the beets hail from Chicory Creek Farms, a local farm that partners with the resort.
Mardi Gras Cheesecake – Lake Charles, LA
Mardi Gras means it’s time for king cake. I love what so many restaurants and bakeries do at this time of year, finding clever ways to provide their own delicious take on a classic Louisiana delicacy. Cypi’s Cake Box, a bakery in Southwest Louisiana, has its own spin on the traditional favorite, transforming it into a cheesecake. Slightly larger than a cupcake, this individual serving is a mini version of the standard cheesecake. It sits on a bed of cream cheese and is then topped with even more cream cheese, cinnamon sugar, and purple, green, and gold sprinkles. I’ll take a dozen, please!
Goat Cheese Fondue – Ridgedale, MO
Billed as “America’s Premier Wilderness Resort,” Big Cedar Lodge was the brainchild of Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. Morris hails from this part of the Ozark Mountains and – as part of his ongoing commitment to appreciating and protecting our natural resources – he created the lodge as a place for people to truly connect with nature. The resort is home to several restaurants, but my favorite is called Devil’s Pool. (Sunday brunch there is AMAZING.) Anyway, their Goat Cheese Fondue is a popular appetizer. The team at the lodge was kind enough to share this special recipe with you!