As with all the most garish pleasures—sex, bullfighting, NASCAR—the pleasures of cheese are tinged with some distant, attractive cousin of repulsion. What normal person isn't, however lightly and temporarily, repulsed by a gooey new lap, or a bleeding bull, or a wad of coagulated milk seeded with fungus then left in a humid cellar? But in confronting and overcoming this whiff of the repugnant, subjects are exposed to sensational riches—most notably in the arena of cheese, home to numerous singular delights, especially for vegetarians, for whom ambitious cheeses remain premier surrogates for steak. (And woe unto the cheeseless vegan.)

Such cheesy riches are at the center of the Seattle Cheese Festival, a three-day extravaganza of educational seminars, cooking demonstrations, and artisanal cheese showcases stinking up Pike Place Market from Friday, May 12 to Sunday, May 14.

But three days are hardly enough to celebrate the vast riches of cheese; hence the two-week run of the "Cheese Fest Best," wherein a number of beloved Seattle restaurants will offer a featured menu item "celebrating artisanal cheese" from Monday, May 1 to Sunday, May 14. Among the participants: Brasa, Cafe Juanita, Chez Shea, Crave, Crow, Crush, Dandelion, Earth & Ocean, Eva, Lark, Matt's in the Market, Moxie, Nell's, Osteria la Spiga, Salumi—each of whose chefs promises to do something spectacular with a Cheese Fest cheese. (And if you're looking for a thriftier way to celebrate, head directly to Broadway's Bleu Bistro, home of the legendary $3 grilled (blue) cheese sandwich.)

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