Monday, September 28, 2009

CA Artisan Cheese Guild Fundraiser

On Friday, Noah and I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual CA Artisan Cheese Guild Fundraiser held at The Cheese School of San Francisco. It was a "meet the Cheesemakers" event in cocktail party format - so much fun! In attendance were some of my favorite local Cheesemakers (Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove, and Laura Chenel to name a few) as well as some less familiar to me (Shamrock, and Barinaga for example).

I was particularly intrigued by a new cheese called Baserri made by Marcia Barinaga (Barinaga Ranch). This 4 - 5 lb sheep's milk tomme is made using the cheesemaking traditions of Marcia's Basque family and ancestors in Spain. The cheese is produced in small hand-made batches, and aged for 60 days. The brine used to wash the rind during the aging process encourages the growth of B. linens which gives the cheese a reddish coloring, and the richness of the sheep's milk coupled with this natural rind provides a brilliant nutty taste. I simply loved the light, fresh, earthy flavor resulting from the use of high quality raw milk, and the mild finish had just the right amount of saltiness to it. I'm sure when I get my hands on a hunk of this cheese I'll think of some interesting uses for it, but I have to say it's perfection on its own!

You know, pretty much everyone I've met in the world of artisanal cheese is really friendly so chatting it up with all the Cheesemakers Friday night was delightful. I spoke with Jennifer Bice (founder, Redwood Hill Farm) and got to try their latest creation, Roasted Chile Chevre, and I have one word: delicious! It reminded me of when I was young and if my parents were having a "fancy" party, my mom would make a concoction of cream cheese and canned sweet peppers (which she served with Wheat Thins). Naturally, the RWH Roasted Chile Chevre is a MUCH more sophisticated version of that but I love anything that brings up fond childhood memories. Jennifer said they'd send someone down to do an in-store tasting at Village Cheese House sometime before the holidays so stay tuned...

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