Located just west of Petaluma in northern California, the Marin French Cheese Company was founded in 1865 by Jefferson A. Thompson, largely as a response to the burgeoning demand for cheese arising from returning Gold Rush miners. Marin French, also known as Rouge et Noir, is the oldest continuously operating creamery in the United States. Milk for cheese production originally came from the company's own herds of cattle that grazed the 700 acres of land surrounding the creamery. However, during the Depression of the 1930's, Marin French decided to focus its efforts entirely on production and try to support its neighbors by buying in milk from local farms. This arrangement continues today.
In addition to classic French-style Brie and Camembert, Marin French Cheese has begun producing a range of tiny cheeses known as ‘petites.’ Many are simply downsized versions of the company’s most popular cheeses, but Petite Blue is an original in itself. It’s a kind of mix between a brie and a blue cheese; it’s a mold-ripened triple crème with a fuzzy rind, but slicing it open reveals, in addition to the creamy paste, speckles of blue veining. The blue veins result from the addition of P. roqueforti during production, the same type of mold that’s found in French Roquefort. Because the cheese isn’t pressed (it’s simply left to drain), air pockets between the curds remain, in which the P. roqueforti finds space to proliferate.
After 21 days in the company’s on-site cellars, the mold has grown just enough to speckle the soft, creamy paste with tiny dots of blue. Taste is subtle and savory, reminiscent of brie with a mildly earthy rind. The blue specks yield only a slight blue essence, contributing notes of salt and seaweed.
Pair it with a California sauvignon blanc, a Rhone blend, a port or a lambic ale.