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Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Local Cheese Recommendations

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Valley Ford's Estero Gold. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • 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.

Valley Ford's Estero Gold. 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).

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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