|Valley Ford's Estero Gold.|
Valley Ford's Estero Gold.
This week, as I was tasting local cheeses for today's SFoodie's 92 segment
, I called a number of pros to ask them about cheeses they thought I should know about. Three ― Jens at Say Cheese, Ellen at 24th Street Cheese Company, and the amazing Laura Werlin ― cited the Nicasio Square, which was already on my shortlist. Consensus!
But my phone calls yielded a few additional recs worth tracking down. You can try most of these next Sunday at the Artisan Cheese Marketplace
, part of the fifth annual Artisan Cheese Festival
taking place in Petaluma.
I picked up a wedge of Estero Gold (pictured above) at Rainbow last week and enjoyed its rich, golden flavor, which landed somewhere between Gouda and a good Emmental. I called up Debra Dickerson from Cowgirl Creamery
to learn more about the cheese. "The cheese itself is about a nine-pound wheel and a beautiful, firm rind," she says. "It's a brined, pressed cheese, and the flavor, like most Jersey-cow milk cheeses, tends to be deep, with these rich, creamy, green-grass flavors." Like the owners of Nicasio Valley Cheese, the Bianchi family who make Estero Gold are fifth-generation Swiss-Italian dairy farmers.
Barinaga Ranch's Txiki.
Dickerson and Laura Werlin
, author of Cheese Essentials
and the newly released Grilled Cheese, Please
, both recommended this sheep's milk cheese from Marcia Barinaga
who has a small herd of sheep in Tomales Bay and makes several types of
Basque-style sheep's milk cheeses. "The Txiki tastes a little like an Ossau-Iraty," says Werlin, who likes the smaller of Barinaga's two
cheeses best, "but it's its own thing." Right now, the cheeses are
out of season ― look for them in the late spring.
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company's Toma.
Another newish cheese from West Marin, the Toma is a semihard cow's milk cheese. Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese is, of course, famous for its blue;
and the Toma's so new that it's not offered through the
you can purchase it from the cheese maker's website
as part of the "farm fresh" cheese package
. Werlin says, "it's one of those cheeses that reveals itself, and when you stop to listen, you realize how special it is. Plus, as a grilled cheese fanatic, I happen to know it's one heck of a melting cheese."
Other new cheeses that the pros mentioned: Cowgirl Creamery's new Wagon Wheel
, Franklin's teleme
(okay, that's a little older), Bleating Heart's sheep's milk cheeses
, and Two Rock Valley's aged goat cheese (the cheese maker doesn't have a website yet).