I have a problem. He was soft, thick, and creamy and his name was Mt. Tam. He was the most popular artisan cheese at the Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop. And he wouldn’t stop staring at me until I bought him. While my pocket book is ready to break up with me I’m ok because I have a new, dangerous, exciting love in my life. I’m afraid I am in an unhealthy (no pun inten–oh who am I kidding) relationship with cheese and I don’t see us breaking up anytime soon.
Who doesn’t love cheese? I mean it can be hard, soft, tangy, smooth, you can melt it, make it sweet or savory, and it’s everyone’s favorite scapegoat, as Ricky Gervais illustrates in this interview. (Skip to minute 3:00 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing). There’s just something about cheese that makes it hard to quit.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Farmstead Cheese Company and learned more about the production of cheese and running a dairy farm than I ever knew there was to know! After the tour we tasted through some fantastic cheeses from both Farmstead Cheese Company and Cowgirl Creamery, a local business specializing in high quality artisan cheese, founded in the mid nineties by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith.
Farmstead Cheese company is one of just a handful of multi-generational farms left in the Western Marin/ Point Reyes area north of San Francisco, and while idyllic in setting, the day to day life of working the farm was, appropriately so, stripped of romance as our tour guide took us through just a fraction of what’s involved.
As one might expect, the tasting took us through each cheese, starting with the most mild and moving through the stronger, stinkier cheese until we reached the blues. Now, I’m not a fan of blue cheese but while this didn’t necessarily change my mind, it was quite a treat to taste such well made, perfectly balanced blue cheese. In choosing my favorite of all eight cheeses (mozzarella not pictured) we tried I’m torn between the Inverness and the Mt. Tam. Both are delectably gooey and soft, which I find impossible to resist.
We were also treated to a delicious meal featuring some of the cheeses we’d sampled earlier. Of everything we tried, what stood out by a mile was the Earl Grey Panna Cotta (perhaps because it was a welcome break from all that cheese–delicious as it was!). Served in a mini mason jar, it was the perfect balance of sweet creaminess and excellent flavor from the Earl Grey, which gave it a fantastic aroma as well. I really should have gotten a room…cheating on Mt. Tam as I was.
It was a fantastic day, and I’d recommend the experience to anyone. It’s always such a valuable thing to see and get to appreciate where our food comes from, and plus: baby cows!! How could you resist this face:
Do you have a similarly dysfunctional relationship with artisan cheese? Share your woes in the comments!
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