I’m a native Southerner and until a few months ago, I had never heard (or don’t remember hearing) the term hoop cheese. One slightly hungover Sunday morning, my fiance Ryan, myself, and a couple other friends were heading back to Athens after a friend’s wedding (having camped at the reception site..another story entirely). Thankfully we found a roadside country market to get to satisfy our need for rations- aka egg and cheese biscuits. As I finished my order, the counter woman asked which cheese I wanted because hoop cheese was extra. Having no idea what she was saying at the time (accent as thick as molasses), I just smiled and pointed at the one that looked like cheddar. Ryan later filled me in on what she said.
If you’ve never heard of hoop cheese, here’s some back story…Similar to farmer’s cheese, hoop cheese used to be something you could buy in any Southern grocery or general store, often sold in the same town it was made in, never traveling too far from it’s birthplace. This is because it’s not aged very long and keeps for a week or two. The ‘hoop’ refers to the shaping molds used in the cheese making process. The mild, slightly salty taste of hoop cheese makes it ideal for flavoring, finishing cooked dishes or just snacking.
On a survey trip today, my partner and I saw a bright white sign advertising hoop cheese among other enticing advertisements, so we had to stop.
Aptly named the Highway 36 Grocery, this quaint family owned business has been a staple in Barnesville, Georgia for years. It’s definitely THE breakfast spot; we know now that to guarantee yourself one of their biscuits, you better be there well before 9:30am. They sell a variety of local meats, prepared meals and sides, sandwiches made to order, even birdhouses made by one of the granddaughters. I scored some classic Southern chicken salad- loaded with mayo, S&P, grapes, and walnuts, brunswick stew, a mini-pecan pie, and a wedge of the hoop. Can’t wait to go back and get a biscuit!
ps check out this fellow blogger’s post on hoop cheese