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Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure

Cheese Crawl

Sisiutl Nov 14, 2006 02:32 PM

I'd like to plan a weekend drive devoted to cheese. Can the good folks on this board point me to the (Bay Area) artisanal creameries or other cheesy destinations that welcome visitors? What I have in mind is sightseeing, visiting, stopping for lunch/picnic somewhere, generally indulging in yummy cheese and other goodies.

Thanks for your help

  1. Lori SF Nov 16, 2006 03:09 PM

    Cheese School

    I just thought this was interesting

    1. jeffyd Nov 16, 2006 01:55 PM

      if you're looking for cheese factories, I'd add cowgirl creamery in Pt reyes and marin french (rouge et noir) on the petaluma-novato road to the ones listed above

      if you're looking for cheese shops, the bay area has a myriad of fine stores.

      ask and i'll post a rec or two, depending upon where you are and where you want to go

      1. e
        exbarkeep Nov 15, 2006 05:23 PM

        If you're anywhere near the SF Ferry Building, the cheese shop there is great (as is the whole place).

        1. HungryMojo Nov 15, 2006 04:41 PM

          I'm not anything close to a cheese freak, but I recommend stopping in downtown Sonoma (Sonoma Plaza) if it's not too far out of the way. There are two cheese companies within a few blocks of each other that I think are worth checking out: (1) Vella Cheese Company and (2) Sonoma Cheese Factory.

          Vella Cheese Company, in particular, is a good place to taste, ask questions, and buy their cheese at below retail prices. Their factory and tiny retail store is a few blocks away from the Plaza. I like the "smallness" of their retail store and, of course, their prices. They sliced samples for me like a "real" cheese store should. If you want to try their cheese before driving all the way out there, I'm pretty sure your local Whole Foods sells their more popular cheeses (at a higher price).

          IMO, Sonoma Cheese Factory isn't so great, but I think it's worth dropping in (and tasting a few samples) if you're already in the area. Located right in the Plaza, I think it's like a big crowded tourist gift shop. Their samples were pre-cut cubes on plates with toothpicks. It's worth going once, though.

          The huge Sebastiani winery is also within a few blocks of the Plaza and I recommend their tasting room if you have any interest in wine (and you're not a wine snob). They're pretty good at a variety of wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) at several price levels (about $13 to $80+). When I was there last Christmas Eve (after buying a bunch of cheese at Vella), they were offering free tastes of their "Sonoma County" Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (both very good for $13). I forgot how much the tasting fee was for the rest of their wines, but I think it was average for big Sonoma/Napa wineries.

          Marin French Cheese company (Petaluma between Highway 1 and 101) is probably not "artisinal" enough for most cheese connoisseurs, but it's very visitor-friendly and might be a convenient place to have a picnic. Lots of samples, kid-friendly, and a picnic area around a duck pond. Good photo of their picnic area on their home page: http://www.marinfrenchcheese.com/

          1. Melanie Wong Nov 15, 2006 04:41 AM

            Here's a link to the report and itinerary for the 2003 chow tour of a Saturday devoted to cheese for some ideas.

            1. scarmoza Nov 14, 2006 03:13 PM

              Here's a good itinerary:


              (I wouldn't skip the Matos Cheese Factory)

              1 Reply
              1. re: scarmoza
                Mick Ruthven Nov 15, 2006 04:54 AM

                A few days ago I had the St. George cheese from Matos Cheese Factory at a friend's house and it was really good. Next time up that way I'm going there.

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