SONOMA CHEESE

This past week I had the awesome opportunity to tag along with Francesco, the chef of Fish. restaurant on a cheese tasting adventure in Sonoma.  The Sonoma coast is amazing, maybe even more so on a cloudy gray day. 

 
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Finding some of these cheese makers' takes a little treasure hunting.  Even with a "Sonoma Cheese Trail" map, it was difficult to find some of the places listed... some had no address listed, only phone numbers, and calling often meant leaving a voicemail (maybe they are too busy making cheese?).  We ended up at one creamery with goats, a yurt, and a cheese processing building, but no one around to talk to.

Finally we were able to speak to a cheese maker in person at Matos Farm in Santa Rosa.  Joe Matos and his family brought their recipe for Sao Jorge unpasteurized cheese over from Portugal in the 1970's.

 
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{Cows at Matos Farm, Santa Rosa}

 
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{Sign for Matos Farm & Sao Jorge Cow Cheese in aging room}

 
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{Aging room at Matos Farm}

After visiting Matos we were able to head over to Achadinha Cheese Company in Petaluma.  Jim and Donna Pacheco, along with their kids, raise goats and pigs on their farm.  When we arrived, Donna was finishing up a new batch of feta.  As you talk to Donna, you understand how deeply she cares about her family, her farm, her animals, the cheese she makes, and the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how it is made.  It was fascinating to hear her explain the processes their cheese goes through from milking to aging.  In a batch of fresh curds, Donna loves when she can taste the grass the animals ate.  As she looks at the aging cheese she explains that each wheel needs to be hand brushed with olive oil to prevent them from drying out too much.  To see this kind of care and attention paid to the food she produces was exciting.  I absolutely loved my tour of their farm.  You can find cheese from Achadinha at many local farmer's markets.  Please support them!

 
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We were able to taste curds, feta, capricious, and brancha cheese at Achadinha.

To top it all off, Donna's daughter let me hold a baby goat.  Jim estimates that 10 new babies are being born per week!  Again, amazing scenery, awesome cheese, wonderful down to earth people.