San Francisco’s Mission district is a unique section of this incredible town, a mix between artsy, edgy and trendy. A place where you will discover stylish boutiques next to dive bars. My kind of place.

Where else can you find the stinkiest cheese and stuffed rats on the same street?

Peter and my mission in the Mission was to get pre-dinner wine and a flight of cheese. After parking at the Mission Barlett garage we strolled down Valencia towards Mission Cheese. With that name, they must have hunks of fromage.

We passed an intriguing shop along the way, Paxton Gate, and the unicorn in the window enticed me to enter. Unicorns get me every time.

Paxton Gate is a shop filled with treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and natural sciences.

After the unicorn, I was hit with a capybara skull for $325. Okay, this store could be interesting.

There was also a nice selection of glass eyeballs, framed bugs and animal skeletons. Even with the aforementioned list of oddities, the item that captivated me most was the taxidermy mice.

Maybe because I was heading to get cheese?

The taxidermist must have had plenty of Barbies growing up, because these critters were dressed in the cutest outfits. There was even a pair for a wedding cake topper. How romantic.

Who owns one of these…any why?

I began to wonder if they were some sort of sign to not eat cheese today. Or were they stuffed for cheese safety, prevention of holes in my queso? Either way it was ruining my appetite.

But, these little critters weren’t going to keep me from the reason I am on this road…CHEESE.

Mission Cheese is a specialty cheese shop with a quaint wine selection. It is reminiscent of the tiny enotecas I fell in love with in Italy.

You can order your flight at the counter by category; California, New York or Midwest. And then there was the Monger’s Choice…for the adventurous cheese eater.

I’m adventurous. I ordered the Mongers Choice.

The first question after the order was placed was “are you okay with stinky cheese?”

Apparently, stinky is the adventurous part. Bring on the stink.

The monger came over to explain the selection, the first being the Inverness from Cow Girl Creamery, made with organic jersey cow milk. I’m certain that mouse would have loved this one. Too bad. The next was the Fat Bottom Girl from Bleating Heart Cheese which was completely created in the North Bay Area of California. This sheep’s milk cheese was mild and I ate all of it.

Lastly, was the stinkiest of them all, the Haystack Mountain Red Cloud.

“With its punchy, barnyard aromas tempered by hints of toasted nuts and freshly-cut grass, this complex, washed rind round is likely to appeal even to those who fear the funk.” Haystack Mountain

It was so potent I had to push it to the other side of the table where it could not reach my nasal passages. If no one was sitting at the next table, it would have taken home over there.

I took the tiniest sampling of the stinky cheese and Peter ate all the rest, just as he did the time I ordered lamb brains and lambs tongue. He makes for a good garbage disposal.

Would you ever buy a stuffed rat? Have you had stinky cheese?

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