Last weekend I had the pleasure of working at the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma for the second year. I helped build a fantasy cheese table with Nancy Brunner from the Petaluma Whole Foods on Friday night and on Saturday taught a super fun cooking with cheese seminar. I will post pictures of this event in the next day or so as I'm still compiling them.
It was at this festival that I discovered the cheese that I would like to talk about today - Baserri.
Cheesemaker: Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch
Location: Marshall, CA
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
The Baserri is the first cheese that came from Barinaga Ranch. Marcia Barinaga, the cheesemaker, was inspired by her Basque heritage. She and her husband wanted to make cheese similar to the cheeses made in the Basque region with milk from their own sheep. As a result, Baserri was born! In the Basque region there are ancient tile-roofed huts used for cheesemaking called Basseri, the inspiration for this cheese's name.
The cheese itself is a natural rind cheese that is aged for at least 60 days. It is on the firmer side, but easy to cut once it comes to room temperature. The aroma is a little musty from the natural rind while the paste is fresh and milky. When I tasted the Baserri I was pleased to find that it is an incredibly balanced cheese that would go nicely with just about everything. Not overly gamey, slightly salty and is nutty and creamy at the same time. It is definitely a cheese that I will buy again.
We do live in a time where the incredibly stinky or strong cheeses are becoming slightly more popular, so it's nice to be reminded of the other simple straightforward delicious flavors available in great artisan cheese.
Not every Whole Foods Market counter will have this cheese (I bought it at the Blossom Hill location in San Jose), but if you see it, be sure to ask for a sample. You won't be disappointed.
Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!