Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese
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.
When humans want to make an offspring, it’s pretty simple; egg, sperm, nine month incubation. The Accidental Locavore was wondering while tasting the second piece of the new masterpiece from Point Reyes Farmstead, how exactly do you design a cheese? What's the jumping-off point? Does it start with a cow, goat or sheep, or all of the above? Do you just have a flavor profile in your head and work towards making that real? Once you have a starting point, how do you maneuver such fickle ingredients as milk, mold, temperature and time? In cooking, when you have an idea, you assemble ingredients, cook them and see how the results are to your vision… generally not too time consuming. If you screw up, it's time for a quick re-do, or a call for Chinese delivery. With cheesemaking, I imagine there's a lot less instant gratification. So, do you have several versions at various stages of aging?
I was shopping to prepare for hurricane Irene. I bought staple items like bacon and butter, as well as flour and other ingredients to make bread. The Point Reyes Tomme that arrived that day fit perfectly into my hurricane preparations. The letter that was enclosed said to savor it with a fine scotch or Tawny Port which suddenly made squirreling it all away impossible. So we set it out to warm up and poured the port.
After going through the motions of emergency preparedness, for Irene, the Accidental Locavore started to focus on the important stuff: what we were going to eat if there was no power. Cooking through the contents of a full fridge and big freezer was an option, however some things that didn’t need much if any preparation would probably be a good idea. Smoking a chicken seemed like a good idea, so I butterflied one and, after brining it overnight tossed it on the smoker. Three hours later, beautiful bird and one that would keep if the power were off for a while.
Since the Locavore was near the Culinary Institute early on Thursday, I stopped by to pick up a dozen croissants from the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. That proved to be the closest to a psycho-drama as the whole hurricane experience provided. Turns out, they don’t want you stocking up, so they’re now rationing croissants…but there’s a work-around for that (comment if you want to know what it is).