Updated 8/18/2014: Point Reyes Bay Blue, which is included in this cheese plate, won 2nd Place at the 2014 ACS Cheese Competition earlier this month in Sacramento.
… and yes, Susie (who, incidentally, knows everyone), I know we are in Penngrove… but the cheeses were mostly purchased in Petaluma… After our cheese adventure yesterday that began at Point Reyes Station and Cowgirl Creamery, we created a cheese plate for “The Boys” (aka Jud and The Man) and dinner… We all agreed, it was definitely a 4 paws cheese plate.
We began with Cowgirl’s Creamery Inverness, a two-week surface-ripened lovely made in the tradition of St. Marcellin. It’s only sold on Saturday’s at the Point Reyes Station location, the original “home” of Cowgirl Creamery. Founders, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, opened CC in 1994 and remained there for seventeen years. They still make their Red Hawk at this location because it’s the perfect atmosphere for the B.linens that make Red Hawk special. The picture to the right is Red Hawk aging at Cowgirl Creamery at the station.
Inverness is made with Organic Jersey milk using traditional rennet and is lactic set. This cheese is tangy, creamy and toothsome. A big hit with the four of us and the first cheese to completely disappear from the plate… Jud liked it with a local apricot jam made by Sonoma County’s Kozlowski Farms. Susie and I added a touch of Just Like Grandma’s Pepper Jelly, another local product only available at the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. The Man just swooned and ate it naked…
The second cheese on the plate was Picolo from local Adante Dairy. This triple creme was still young and probably would have been better a week from now. That being said, it was still lactic with just a hint of citrus.
Next up was Northern Gold from local Pedrozo Dairy, a natural rind, raw cow’s milk cheese made with traditional rennet. Northern Gold and their other cheeses are all farmsteaded enabling the cheesemaker to control quality from milk to the aged cheese. Named after its gorgeous mellow yellow color, this cheese is buttery and melts in your mouth.
After the Northern Gold, we tasted another local farmstead, natural rind, St. George, made by the Matos Family. The Matos live in the Santa Rosa area. Joe, the fifth generation cheesemaker, cares for the herd of Holstein cows and his wife Mary and their daughter, Silvia make the cheese. Northern Gold is a cross between Monterey Jack and Cheddar with a pale yellow, open paste. It’s mild and makes no pretentions at being anything other than a deliscious cheese at home on a cheese board or in your favorite mac n cheese. This cheese reminds me of one of my favorite cheeses, Sleeping Beauty from Cascadia Creamery in Washington State.
Along with the wedges, we bought Spring Hills Organic Jersey Cheese Curds. Susie and I barely had a taste… The Boys devoured the curds in fast order… none left to use in a grilled cheese. Tasty and milky, you can never go wrong with a few curds included on a cheese plate.
The final cheese on the plate was a mellow blue, Point Reyes Bay Blue, from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese. A fudgy, mild blue with a gorgeous natural rind, this cow’s milk is pasteurized with mushroomy notes and a salty caramel finish. A perfect ending to a perfect cheese plate.
We added some local parm crisps from Kali, The Baking Goddess, some stone ground wheat crackers, uncured salami and Roasted Almonds from La Saison. The almonds were dusted with hickory smoked sea salt and Herbs de Provence and a little virgin olive oil.
It’s been a fun weekend, relaxing with family. Today The Man and I head for Sacramento for #CheeseSociety14… and a few stops along the way to check out cheeses along the way…