As some of you may know, by day, I am a trademark/copyright lawyer. It’s not every day that I get to go into detail about BOTH cheese and trademark law with the same person, so imagine my delight at speaking with Carlos Yescas, co-owner of Lactography whose name regularly crops up on Culture. Lactography’s team, consisting of experts in accounting, logistics, food production, and safety, among other fields, is largely devoted to promoting artisanal Mexican cheeses in the United States. Outside of the cheese world, he is a trained lawyer (in Ireland) and is currently working toward his doctorate degree at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
This is Part 4 of a multi-article series about a recent visit to Point Reyes Cheese Company in Point Reyes, California.
Karen, one of the Giacomini sisters, had taken out cheese to taste about an hour prior, so it was at room temperature by the time we returned from our tour. In addition to the Original Blue, New Blue, and Toma, she had laid out pecans, apricots, and Rustic Bakery crackers. And she had mason jar glasses! So cute! I love mason jars, but then again, who doesn’t?
This article is part 3 of a series of articles about my recent visit to Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company in Point Reyes, California.
As Chief Marketing Officer Jill Basch Giacomini finished describing Pt. Reyes’ cheese production, we heard some sad mooing coming from the barn next door. That, Jill pointed out, was the hospital barn. With about 700 cows on the property, some animals are bound to have some medical issues at any given moment. We couldn’t tell exactly what was wrong with the two in the hospital barn, but I hope they recover soon!
***I updated this post at 5/15/2012, 10:10am PDT, to correct the Giacominis' official job titles.***
To reach the Fork on this beautiful spring day in April, the new educational and event building at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, my cheese photographer Gavin and I had to first leave San Francisco, drive past miles of fields punctuated by knobby, massive boulders, and climb a single-lane road flanked by roaming cattle. Actually, the drive was only an hour long. I still can’t get over how suddenly the scenery shifts once I leave San Francisco and its somewhat precious bedroom communities.
I had to save the best post (for me) for last, the one that lets me talk about goats. I don't know what it is about cuddly animals, but I can't resist them!
After a whirl around Achadinha Cheese Company’s creamery, Donna led us around to the “teenager” area of the farm. Here, adolescent goats can frolic in their own space before joining the rest of the herd in their enormous barn and pastures. From this vantage point, we had a superb view of Donna’s nearly 300 acres, vast emerald green fields with rolling hills. Larry Peter of Petaluma Creamery is a neighbor, and across the way, we saw McEvoy Ranch (think olive oil). All we heard were goats, birds of prey, and the wind. It was awesome. The farm cat, adopted from Peter, immediately came to inspect us newcomers as we held out our hands for the goats to sniff/nibble.
Here is part 2 of a series of 3 posts about visiting Achadinha Cheese Company in Petaluma, CA.
Just before we left the Achadinha creamery, where owner Donna Pacheco's full-time employee Fernando and another helper were packaging cheese for market, Donna invited my photographer Gavin and myself to taste some. We started with curds made the week before. They were almost bright yellow, wonderfully full-flavored, slightly tangy, and slightly springy. (I don’t think they were squeaky, for those who are asking.) It’s not surprising that a good amount of Achadinha’s sales are in curds. We tasted some fresh curd as well, made that morning, originally destined for Broncha. This mixed-milk curd tasted almost like sweet butter, but with a fluffy marshmallowy consistency (squeak!). I could have easily eaten just curds, but we had to move on to the cheeses.
Farm visits are always exciting to me. After a certain point, cheese alone doesn’t satisfy me, and I really begin to hunger for the history behind the plate. My recent visit to Achadinha Cheese Company in Petaluma, California, was richly rewarding. Joined today by my friend Gavin (wedding photographer by day, cheese and farm photographer a couple times a year), we wound our way along Chileno Valley Road, past rolling green hills, up to the wagon wheels gracing the Pacheco Dairy entrance. Along the driveway, we could see grazing goats, but also nearly 30 cows, some chickens, a dog, and a cat. There are also pigs on the property, but I think they kept out of sight that day.
Last weekend, I had the chance to volunteer at the California Artisan Cheese Guild booth at the California Artisan Cheese Festival’s Sunday Marketplace! This was actually my first. I had only been to the Oregon Artisan Cheese Festival before that. Cheese events had been going on throughout the week, such as facility visits and seminars, but I could only pull myself away from work on Sunday. My shift began bright and early that morning. It had been pouring rain for the past few days, and fellow festivalgoers were wary about the weather. The marketplace was, after all, taking place under a massive tent on the Petaluma Sheraton’s parking lot. Luckily, the sky cleared up just in time.
Before leaving for my recent trip to Vietnam and Hong Kong, I was able to squeeze in one last business lunch. With who? Will Fertman, of course. Why? Because we’re going to try posting Miss Cheesemonger articles to the Culture blog on a regular basis. Are you excited? I sure am!
I told him about my upcoming Asia trip, and so, as we parted ways, the last words I heard floating back to me on the wind were, “If you do find cheese in Vietnam and Hong Kong, that would be amazing.”