Most people know Cowgirl Creamery for its flagship cheese, the decadent bloomy-rinded triple cream Mt Tam. But Cowgirl actually began – more than 20 years ago – with fresh cheese, which offered not only a quick-to-market turnaround but an ideal way to showcase the high quality organic cow’s milk being produced by the Straus Family Dairy on Tomales Bay in West Marin.
Fromage blanc and crème fraiche were among the first cheeses to be turned out of Cowgirl’s small creamery in Point Reyes Station, along with their clabbered cottage cheese, a unique creation that was nothing like the gummy, small curd cheese that you’d find in many supermarkets. Over the years, Cowgirl’s cottage cheese developed a loyal following. But unfortunately, its production became too much for the small creamery to handle, and in 2012 the company decided to stop making it.
Last year the cottage cheese faithful rejoiced when Cowgirl, with the opening of a new, larger creamery in Petaluma, was able to begin producing this fresh cheese again. The two-day process starts with skimmed milk, which is cultured and left to set and develop flavor overnight. The coagulated milk is then cut into large, pillowy curds, which are dressed in a mixture of cultured milk, or “clabber,” and crème fraiche.
Cowgirl cottage cheese is available at shops throughout the Bay Area, and is starting to make its way to retailers across the country. It can also be found in the specialty case at Northern California Whole Foods stores under the name “Curds & Cream.”