Weekly Wanderings: Springfield, Missouri

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Nemec
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A couple of weekends ago, we made the trek to the southern Missouri town of Springfield. We left Topeka at oh-dark-thirty and got to see the sun rise over the misty hills. 

Springfield is yet another college town (I seem strangely drawn to them). There are four colleges in or near Springfield: Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical Community College, Drury University, and Evangel University, totaling nearly 36 thousand students in this metro area that about 385,000 people call home.

Springfield’s Web site boasts: “Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within a 500-mile radius of Springfield, which is Missouri’s third-largest city.” This statistic seems impossible, you can’t reach either of the coasts with a 500-mile drive. But you can reach a startling number of the non-coastal population centers: Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, Omaha, Des Moines, Oklahoma City, Wichita, the list goes on (perhaps this is why Branson is so successful).

It was a beautiful time to visit the Ozarks – the trees were still green, and the water levels high. If you’re interested in hunting, fishing, or just a gorgeous campsite, check out a few of the “more than 7,500 miles of shoreline along accessible lakes and floatable streams and rivers” near Springfield.

On the way home, though, was where we found our gem, nestled next to one of the gorgeous lakes in the area, Truman Lake, and right off highway 13 between Springfield and Clinton.

I freely admit to a love of tourist-destination-type places, and this one fit the bill, nicely. We stopped at Osceola Cheese Company and tasted cheese. We found them open and hoppin’ on a Sunday afternoon.

I developed an interest in cheesy knowledge while working on the cheese-making article in our November/December issue last year (I wrote a sidebar using what I found out).

Osceola Cheese is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to teach your tastebuds the difference between Havarti and Edam. They have many, many types of cheese, from the previously mentioned to chocolate cheese, cheese with chipotle or jalapeño, cherry and blueberry cheese, goat cheese, and tomato and basil cheese. Most kinds have been cubed and placed in tupperware containers along the cheese case. Using the strategically placed toothpicks provided, you can taste before you buy.

We ended up with a cherry white cheddar and a smoked goat-milk Gouda, as well as a few other crunchy tidbits.

You can also get myriad types of mustard, salsa, fruit spreads, and salad dressing, but we were strong and got away without indulging.

The cherry is unique – mild with just a hint of sweetness, and the goat-milk Gouda is incredibly creamy and smooth. I originally promised some to the rest of the GRIT staff, but I find myself hoarding it at home. I suppose that’s the true test – am I willing to part with my hard-won spoils?

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