St. George (Matos)
Joe and Mary Matos represent the fourth and fifth generation of cheesemakers in the Matos family. Originally from the island of Sao Jorge in the Azores, Mary and Joe immigrated to California in 1979 and started their family farm. Joe cares for the herd of 50 Holstein and Jersey cows, while Mary and her daughter Silvia make the chcese.
There is a large Portugese community in the Santa Rosa area and originally Mary made St. George with a view to selling to the locals, who wold queue up to buy the cheeses after church on Sundays.
St. George is made to a recipe from their homeland. Mary recalls that it was frequently used as a method of payment in lieu of money, to pay, for instance, the doctor or some other unforeseen expense. As such, cheeses in the Azores were often made in a loaf shape, whereas those that are made in California are formed in circular molds. Mary will still make a batch of loaf shaped cheeses upon request.
Matos St George is like a cross between cheddar and Monterey Jack. It is a wonderfully unpretentious and honest cheese.
The natural rind is hard and waxy, while the paste is light yellow to ivory, depending on the time of year and the feed. Occasinally there is a light dusting of white mold on the rind.
Texture is open, yet firm and supple and can be slightly crumbly depending on the batch.