The Cowgirls produce 10 different cheeses, seven in Petaluma (a town boasting other major creameries like Clover Stornetta and Three Twins), and three in their original, smaller Point Reyes facility. Peg notes that in Europe keeping cheeses regionally uniform — like Camembert in Camembert, France, for example — means strict style regulations. "We are lucky to have such great variety of cheeses here," she told me, celebrating the freedom of experimentation led to some of the most popular Cowgirl cheeses.
Besides an idyllic lunch at Sue's house, the day's high point came in sampling Mt. Tam in numerous states of age, from an hours' old, just-brined specimen that tasted salty-sour-tart to a meaty, acidic example at seven days, and finishing with a creamy, nutty 32-day chunk. (Mt. Tam is usually sold in the mid 20-30 day range.)
Schedule a tour of Cowgirl (tours resume in the Spring) or the Straus farm (group tours only), and you may come away as I did, with an increased appreciation for cheese, cows, our diverse region, and the artisans who strive to create the best... and change the world while they're at it. *
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