Monday, February 24, 2014

Point Reyes Toma

Hello everyone!

I hope you all are doing well. Last week my girlfriend and I were lucky enough to have a private tour of the Point Reyes Creamery in Point Reyes Station, CA. Lynn (one of the four Giacomini sisters) was gracious enough to give us a tour and talk about all the amazing things they do at their farmstead facility. I have TONS of pictures that I want to share with you all on the farm, but I'm still getting them all collected. I will have another post in a couple of days or so with the pictures of the farm, so stay tuned!

The cheese that I would like to talk about today is one of the cheeses made at Point Reyes Creamery - Toma.

Picture borrowed from
Cheese: Toma
Producers: The Giacomini family at Point Reyes Creamery
Location: Point Reyes Station, CA
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

Toma in Italian means "cheese made by the farmer himself." It is a truly delectable California version of this typically Italian cheese. The Point Reyes Creamery is 100% farmstead (meaning they use the milk from their own animals to make the cheese onsite). There is a level of passion that you don't always see with cheesemakers when you talk to the Giacomini family. They really believe in quality and being stewards of the land as much as they possibly can. Their herd looked very happy and healthy - perfect for making quality milk!
As you can see in the picture above, the Toma is a natural rind cheese. By allowing some bacteria and other fun molds to grow (to an extent) on the outside, the cheese is allowed to develop flavors that are unique to the milk and the pasture on which the cows graze.
As for the flavor, the Toma is super duper approachable and versatile! It has a smooth, creamy, almost buttery paste that just melts in your mouth. The paste is dotted with a few eyes, but for the most part is fairly uniform. The flavor is subtle, yet still has quite the personality and charm. You get the buttery cream from the cow's milk and then little hints of grass on the tail end. It's super luscious, yet mellow at the same time. I would pair the Toma with fresh fruit or jams as the acidity in the fruit would really harmonize nicely with the buttery, creamy flavor of the Toma.
Visiting the creamery has led me to really "rediscover" this cheese in a way. I haven't had it in ages and after trying it again, I don't know why that was the case. I will definitely be featuring the Toma more prominently in many of my cheese plates and cheese classes in the future.
That being said, I will be teaching a cooking class at the California Artisan Cheese Festival on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 1:30 - 3:30. The class is $65 and here is the description:
Seminar No. 15:  Cheese All Ways, (Fondue Too!)
Presenter: Leah McFadden, ACS Certified Cheese Professional and Whole Foods Markets Cheese Specialist

Leah McFadden, ACS Certified Cheese Professional and Whole Foods Markets cheese specialist, will show you, wedge by wedge, how to expand your cheese repertoire beyond the usual cheese course or appetizer platter. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, cheese, glorious cheese, can be the centerpiece of any meal with the right recipes, attitude and accompaniments.  Leah will even demonstrate two fun fondue recipes that will get you dusting off those forgotten fondue pots – “retro” has never been so delicious!   $65.00 per person.
I hope to see many of you there!
Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I've Always Loved Reading!

Good afternoon!

We've just kicked off our February promotions and I'm really excited about one of the cheese we have brought in... Reading from Springbrook Farm. It's a wonderfully delicious cheese and it's on sale!

PLUS, if you want to save big on cheese... tomorrow and tomorrow only in all of your Northern California Whole Foods you can get 20% off on all bulk specialty cheese! How exciting! You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be visiting at least one cheese counter tomorrow. We've never done anything like this before, so I'm really excited....

Cheese: Reading
Producer: Spring Brook Farm with milk from both Fox Valley Farm and Jericho Hill Farm
Location: Reading, Vermont
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Spring Brook Farm was first known for it's Tarentaise (which is a whole other blog post to come very, very soon) and the Reading was their second cheese that followed. They experimented to come up with this cheese for about a year. The goal was to find a unique cheese that would still work well with the existing equipment at the farm. Reading was born out of these experimentations...

Reading is a washed rind cheese made in a Raclette-style with 100% Jersey milk. It is a pretty fragrant cheese when it comes to room temperature. I had it at my desk today at work (a wonderful addition to my lunch) and I'm fairly certain that the people in the cubicles next to me could smell it - but in a good way! It has that familiar funk washed rinds are known for, but a bit more earthy/grassy. The flavor is killer - not really what I expected when I was told it was made in the Raclette-style. It was more buttery and less funky that what I think of when I think of Raclette. But that was fine with me! The nutty, buttery flavor was a huge hit at my office today...

I also think the addition of the duck salami might have helped its popularity at the office today. The salty, fatty salami blended perfectly with the Reading. And as you would expect, this cheese is an exceptional melter... use it like you would Raclette or get creative! I'm going to be making fondue for my girlfriend this Valentine's Day and the Reading may make a guest appearance.

One other thing to note that is special about the Reading is that the milk is from two small Vermont farms that are local to Spring Brook. Spring Brook chose to work with them in order to provide stability and sustainability to their operations by paying a fixed premium milk price. In return, these farms have committed to produce the highest quality milk to meet their exact standards, including no chemical fertilizers, no fermented feed and production of dry hay to feed the cows when they're not on pasture. That's quite a partnership!

So, if this cheese sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you swing by a Whole Foods Market cheese counter tomorrow (if you want to take advantage of an extra 20% off) or in the near future. I hope you enjoy the delectable delicacy! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!