6 Reasons to Visit A Farm

pennyroyal

Especially if you love cows, goats & sheep!

Spring is one of the best times to visit a cheesemaker’s farm. You’ll have sunny days and plenty of time to interact with all the hardworking girls who make cheese possible!

On a tour you might see the loafing barns, the milking parlor or the cheese plant. It depends on the farm, so check ahead of time. And you always get tastes of cheese.

Whether cows, goats or sheep, each cheese has its own distinct flavor.

In general, cow’s milk, with larger fat molecules, has an earthy taste. The smaller fat molecules in goat’s milk contribute to a slightly tangier flavor profile. Sheep’s milk has the highest content of fat molecules which leads to a more nutty taste.

Achadinha Cheese by Appointment

Each girl on Achadinha Cheese Co has its own name and personality. You’ll meet William’s Jersey Cow Macy (#77) who has a tendency to walk in front of the cheese plant so she can look at her own reflection in the windows.

garden variety
Garden Variety Cheese by Appointment

At Monkey Flower Ranch, there are over 100 ewes providing milk for Garden Variety Cheese. Each ewe is named after a garden flower and produces milk for about 6 months of the year.

Harley Farms – Open to the Public

In addition all the dairy goats, Harley Farms also has guardian llamas, Anatolian shepherds and Rosie the Donkey. Rosie will look at you with a pleading, hungry face. But resist feeding her!

Long Dream Farm by Appointment

At Long Dream Farm, you’ll catch gorgeous heritage cattle roaming around the farm. They live outside year-round!

Pennyroyal Farm – Open to the Public

Cheese is made seasonally at Pennyroyal Farm. Each cheese is named from Boontling, a unique language that originated from Boonville and the surrounding hills at the end of the 19th century.

Spring Hill Farmstead Cheese by Appointment

At Spring Hill Farmstead Goat Cheese, you’ll find La Mancha dairy goats roaming around the farm.

Use our list of cheesemakers to plan out your next visit to a California cheese maker!

Jenny MacKenzie of Tomales Farmstead Creamery

Original Interview by Hilary Green, ACS CCP at Marin Co. Monger

Jenny MacKenzie in the barn at Tomales Farmstead Creamery. Photo Courtesy Jenny MacKenzie

Four miles inland from the mighty Pacific ocean, a small Marin County dairy is making some of the best cheese in America. Tomales Farmstead Creamery is a 160-acre sheep and goat dairy in Tomales, California. Founded in 2003, owners Tamara Hicks and David Jablons dedicated four years to the restoration of the land, and after careful coordination with sustainable land management organizations, the farm became an Animal Welfare Approved goat and sheep dairy in 2007.

This year, Tomales Farmstead won second in its category at the American Cheese Society conference for Atika– a sheep and goat blended cheese with a beautiful, basket-weave natural rind. At the helm (or vat, as it were) for this winning batch: assistant cheesemaker Jenny MacKenzie. In my quest to better understand the world of West Marin cheese producers, I reached out to Jenny for an interview this month. Jenny is an East coast transplant with a love of cheese and sustainable agriculture. What’s the story of a micro-dairy cheesemaker whose work wins a national award? Continue below for Jenny’s story!


August 26, 2018

Marin Co. Monger: What brought you to the world of sustainable agriculture?

Jenny MacKenzie:  I started making cheese in 2014 on a very small, farmstead goat dairy, Appleton Creamery, in Appleton, ME. Working on such a a small farm and being surrounded by other types of small organic/sustainable/diverse farms at the farmer’s markets where we sold cheese really sparked my interest in sustainable agriculture. After attending the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, ME that same year I really fell in love with small sustainable farms. Just being immersed in agriculture and learning the harms it can cause but being fortunate to see how it can be done correctly with little to no impact was so fascinating to me. I really don’t see why anyone would want to farm any other way!

To read the rest of the article visit Marin Co Monger

Hilary Green, ACS CCP

Freaky Fricos

Fricos – shredded cheese baked into a crunchy wafer.

Perfect for a snack, or a crumble for your salad or meal, Frico, an Italian dish traditionally made with Parmesan, was originally made to reuse cheese rinds. But you can get creative with which cheese you use…just make it a firmer cheese that’s easily grated.

Cheese Fricos

(from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks Book)

4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (or any grating cheese)

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Use a tablespoon to measure a spoonful of the grated cheese. With your fingers, shape the cheese into mounds, arranged around 4 inches apart.

Bake just until the fricos begin to color, turning golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. It’s easy to burn them, so as soon as you notice them darken and smell their fragrance, take them out of the oven. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer the fricos to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you like, you can make these up to 2 days ahead. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark spot with wax paper between them so they don’t stick together.

Or click HERE to try Toma Frico with Nuts and Seeds from Point Reyes Farmstead.

Retrospective 2018 Part 2: San Francisco Cheese Festival

What happened last fall, will happen again! Each year at the San Francisco Cheese Festival cheesemakers and cheese eaters gather to support the California Artisan Cheese Guild, a nonprofit for the California artisan cheese making community.

There’s music, dancing, wine and chatter. Both new and iconic cheeses are unveiled and tasted. It’s tasty, hip and fun. Below are a few photos of the cheesemakers (and cheese eaters!) who attend.

It’s good vibes all night. Can’t wait until next year!

Anje – San Francisco Resident

Cheese Eaters at the SF Cheese Fest
Cheese Eaters at the SF Cheese Fest
Nicasio Valley Cheese
Folly Cheese Co
Cowgirl Creamery
Tomales Farmstead
Achadinha Cheese Co
WM Cofield Cheesemakers
Orland Farmstead
Central Coast Creamery
Rumiano Cheese
Stuyt Dairy Farmstead Cheese

If you haven’t attended before, you’ll have another chance this fall. Get your name on an email list HERE.

Retrospective 2018 Part 1: American Cheese Society Competition

Boonters Blue

As we get into the new year, here is a recap of the California Cheesemakers who took home medals at the ACS 2018 cheese competition for their award winning cheeses.

ACS Logo

Cheddars

Blue Mold Cheeses

Boonters Blue
Boonters Blue

Fresh Unripened Cheeses

Soft-Ripened Cheeses

Hispanic & Portuguese Style Cheeses

  • Karoun Dairies, 3rd Place GM, Para Freir, Jaime Graca
  • Marquez Brothers, 1st Place GM, Menonita, Queso Menonita

Italian Type Cheeses

  • Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, 3rd Place HY, Point Reyes Fresh Mozzarella, Kuba Hemmerling
  • Belfiore Cheese Company, 2nd Place IC, Feta Cheese in Brine, Lino Esposito
  • Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, 2nd Place IG, Bella Capra Goat Feta, Ben Gregersen

American Made / International Style

  • Oakdale Cheese, 2nd Place DD, Mild Gouda, John Bulk

American Originals

  • Rumiano Cheese Company, 3rd Place CD, Uncoated Dry Jack rBST Free
  • Rumiano Cheese Company, 2nd Place CD, Peppercorn Dry Jack rBST Free
  • Fagundes Old-World Cheese, 3rd Place CJ, Hanford Jack, John Fagundes
  • Peluso Cheese, 2nd Place CT, Teleme Cheese, Joseph Reynoso
  • Marin French Cheese Company, 2nd Place CC, Petite Breakfast
  • Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, 2nd Place CC, Point Reyes Toma, Kuba Hemmerling
  • Central Coast Creamery, 1st Place CC, Bishops Peak, Reggie Jones
  • Cypress Grove, 2nd Place CG, Humboldt Fog Grande
  • Central Coast Creamery, 1st Place CS, Ewereka, Reggie Jones
Ewereka

Flavored Cheeses

  • Nicolau Farms, 3rd Place KD, Black Truffle Casiago, Walter Nicolau III
  • Oakdale Cheese & Specialties, 1st Place KD, Cumin Gouda, John Bulk
  • Nicasio Valley Cheese Co, 3rd Place KF, Foggy Morning with Garlic and Basil, Aaron Langdon
  • Fiscalini Cheese Co, 2nd Place KF, Hopscotch, Mariano Gonzalez
  • Karoun Dairies, 2nd Place KG, Para Freir with Jalapeno, Jaime Graca
  • Cypress Grove, 3rd Place KN, PsycheDillic
  • Bellwether Farms, 1st Place KO, Pepato, Liam
  • Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, 3rd Place KS, The Fork Pimento Cheese, Kuba Hemmerling
  • Bellwether Farms, 3rd Place KC, Blackstone, Liam Callahan
Pepato

Smoked Cheeses

  • Rumiano Cheese Company, 1st Place LM, Smoked Mozzarella rBST Free

Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

  • Bellwether Farms, 3rd Place OU, San Andreas, Liam Callahan
  • Central Coast Creamery, 1st Place OU, Ewenique, Reggie Jones

Marinated Cheeses

Washed Rind Cheeses

Farmstead Cheeses

  • Pennyroyal Farm, 2nd Place MX, Boont Corners 2mo, Erika McKenzie-Chapter

For a full list of results from the cheese competition, you can visit the ACS 2018 Results

Visit This Cheesemaker: Nicasio Valley Cheese Co.

As a Bay Area resident, there’s nothing like taking a drive out to the coast. As you head out towards Point Reyes from Petaluma or Marin, slip down a side road to find the only farmstead, organic cow cheesemaker in California, located in the one-block town of Nicasio, population 96.

There you’ll see St. Mary’s, a sweet church built in 1871, Rancho Nicasio, a restaurant with live music (they get some pretty hot bands) and Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, a tiny creamery & retail shop filled with yummy cheese and other goodies.

The Lafranchi family, originally from Maggia, Switzerland, dairy farmers in the U.S. for 3 generations, have the ONLY farmstead, certified-organic cow dairy making cheese in California.

Farmstead means that the cheese is made on the farm with milk from the farmer’s own herd (which is right down the road from the shop).

At their creamery, you can watch them make cheese through the floor to ceiling window (best during the week), sample each and every one of their cheese, and purchase cheese and other picnic items. Tomino and Locano are their latest creations. They’re gooey and absolutely fine. I’m especially in love with the Tomino, a washed-rind (it has a lot of flavor!) and their fresh Foggy Morning. But you’ll find your own favorite, of course.

The shop is open 7 days a week, 10-5.  Nicasio Valley Cheese Company is on the Marin County Cheese Trail, just a short jaunt off the Point Reyes Petaluma Road or, coming from the other side:  Sir Francis Drake or Lucas Valley Road.