Archive for the 'Cheese' Category

Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Where Are You?

Monday, February 6th, 2006

So… Not all dairies are open to the public. But I really, really wanted to stop by the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co, which is known for their blue cheeses. Point Reyes Original Blue, in particular. I looked on the internet. I went on their site. I noticed that they listed a PO Box as their address, and there was no visitor info. Granted, I knew I could probably buy it at the gourmet shops in St Helena and Napa, but I wanted it from the source.

But I also knew that it was run by the Giacomini family. So, as I was leaving Point Reyes Station, I drove past one sign for the Giacomini dairy… and then another one about 1/8 mile past…. so I veered into the driveway. Maybe I could score some after all.

This kind of “road” continued quite a ways over rolling hills, and forked into the earlier driveway. No dairy was in sight. I wanted to go back to the highway but it was clear that a certain first rule of Napa also applies in Point Reyes… First rule of Napa: there are no u-turns in Napa.

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We did reach the dairy eventually. A muddy, black, bird-infested, cow-staring complex of buildings. I finally was able to turn around. And fast.

No blue cheese for me.

Cowgirl Creamery – Point Reyes Station

Monday, February 6th, 2006

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Brilliant name, eh? Actually, I guess the name of the store is Tomales Bay Foods, but their cheeses are made under the Cowgirl Creamery banner and I think that’s just way cooler. The cowgirls in question are veterans of Bay Area restaurants such as Chez Panisse and Bette’s Oceanview Diner.

Their store has a selection of organic produce, jams, a deli with pates (including rabbit), and a glorious cheese selection. Behold some of their hard cheeses…

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(more…)

Marin French Cheese Co – Petaluma

Sunday, February 5th, 2006
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We set out from Napa at about 8:45am, and by 9:30am, we reached our first stop: the Marin French Cheese Co on the rural outskirts of the town of Petaluma (Marin County is the county to the west of Sonoma–which is to the west of Napa–so the drive looks something like this).

The Marin French Cheese Co sells under the label Rouge et Noir, and they have been making cheese in the same location since 1865. They specialize in soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, chevre, and quark. Their cheeses are said to be hand crafted in the French style. All their cheeses are pasteurized, though, unlike the some of the illegal-in-the-US unpasteurized cheeses made in France.

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They open at 8:30am, but I think we were the first customers on this winter Saturday morning. As we quietly browsed the cheeses, jams, and wine accoutrements (plus a truly gorgeous martini gear carrying case), a worker quietly opened packages of their cheeses to put out as samples…. Probably about 12 in total. This was one of our first breakfasts.

Just as I am not a wine aficionado, I am not a cheese one either, although I do enjoy it immensely. What I’ve noticed from wine tasting, though, is that a winery will often have a certain style that goes through all their wines–certain flavors and tones that permeate throughout its products. At Marin French Cheese Co, the flavor of the farm permeated, in the best way. A brie or camembert might begin with its creamy freshness, but by the end, notes of grass and hay of a farmhouse linger, as if the cheese had its own terroir. Oui, comme les fromages de France.

It was hard to choose among the cheeses, but in the end, I ended up getting their yellow buck chevre with its grassy notes and their fresh blackberry quark, which was rather purple-ish and jammy and sweet–too sweet for Chad, who said he couldn’t even taste the cheese. But I’ve always liked to mix cream cheese with jam, and this was the apotheosis of that combination. There was also a buttery “Breakfast Cheese” that was tempting.

Outside, there is also a duck pond to spend time at for a picnic. They sell sandwiches and wine and there’s a small deli section, but of course, you can bring your own breads and wines, too.

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The above picture suggests a somewhat busier landscape than there really is….

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1 Day, 237 Photos, 11 Food/Wine Places, ??? Calories

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

After Chad arrived on Friday, I let him in on my madcap scheme to do a day long Cheese, Wine, and Pastry Tour of Sonoma and Marin counties on Saturday. I’d spent an afternoon plotting out the stops and the route. We didn’t get to all of my 16 choices, but 11 was certainly enough–well, probably too much–for our brave stomachs. So, instead of one monster post, I think I’m going to have to parse this out over the week. Stay tuned. 🙂

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