I truly enjoy eating cheeses and I like the fact that, at the farmers market dotting the city, I can taste the cheeses before making the purchase.
I am happy to let you know that I've recently discovered the joys of cheese tasting by sampling artisan cheeses at their source. The first stop was at The Petaluma Creamery. Yummerz!
Aside from wine tasting and site seeing, part of the allure of the wine country in my opinion is what I call the culinary pursuits. This includes dining at wine country restaurants, cafes, and visiting public markets to sample local fares. In one of my visits to our local grocer Canyon Market, I've picked up this map called the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail and I made a mental note to include a visit to these local cheese makers the next time we are in an area near one.
And that's exactly what we did the last time we were in Sonoma. We went to the Petaluma Creamery. I've sampled and bought cheeses from them before at the Saturday farmers market at the Ferry Building but I've never been to their shops in Sonoma.
Their facility is near the old town Petaluma and I have to admit that it was hard for me to romantize the industrial looks of the creamery from its view from Western Avenue. I guess I was expecting to see rolling hills dotted by happy California cows but instead saw these big white warehouses and giant steel vats.
Their shop is very modest looking and no long lines of people in front. Their store is more like a cafe selling coffee, ice cream, and of course, cheeses. Their cheeses are located on the far end of the store and the cheeses are arranged by type and open plastic containers containing cheese samples. Use the clean toothpicks to sample the cheeses. There are toothpick holders with twist knobs next to the cheeses. There was no charge to sample the cheeses.
However modest their store may look like but the variety and the quality of their cheeses are more than enough to romanticize this place. I was tasting lots of creamy and delicious cheeses - herby, earthy, pungent, creamy, milky, spicy, soft, semi soft, hard. Suddenly, I was faced with the tough task of narrowing down my cheese selection.
It was fun but a bit overwhelming, to tell you the truth. Since this was my first artisan cheese tasting at the source, I didn't have a proven selection procedure the way I do it with wines, food and clothes. I needed more time to decide. There were times I went back to cheeses I've tasted already. In the end, I chose the Sage Cheddar and Garlic Jack for their additional layers of flavors.
Back at home, I paired the cheeses with a red wine blend from the Rhone region of France, focaccia breads from Acme Bread Company, corn salad and crab cakes from our friendly neighborhood Canyon Market.
Cheese tasting allows me to taste the cheeses before making the purchase. This is to make sure that the cheeses I am buying are the ones Mijo and I will like and enjoy. It was double the fun to taste cheese at the source. I later learned from our trip to Petaluma Creamery that they offer a tour of the facility. Maybe we'll do that next time. :)
Petaluma Creamery is located on Western Avenue in Petaluma, California.