Shelter-in-place has made most of us somewhat stir crazy, and one of the biggest losses is not being able to experience the county as we normally would. A large part of the Marin experience — aside from nature — is the artisan food scene, so we checked in on some of our local cheesemongers for current updates. All the following West Marin businesses are open and ready to satiate your cravings. Enjoy!
14700 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station
The Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, set on the expanse of the hundred-year-old Giacomini Ranch and supplied by a herd of Holstein cows, is run by Jill Giacomini Basch, Lynn Giacomini Stray and Diana Giacomini Hagan. They carry the legacy of their grandfather, Tobias Giacomini, who founded the ranch, with their efforts towards renewable energy, carbon sequestration and water conservation. In addition, they prioritize employee wellbeing, women’s empowerment, which earned them membership in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and involvement in the community, which they achieve by donating cheese or tours of the ranch. Their cheeses are available in stores around Marin, including Good Earth, Woodlands Markets, and Mollie Stone’s Markets.
Best Seller: Original Blue Cheese
Hours: Free overnight shipping of their products to locations in Northern California between June and September. Enjoy Zoom cheese tastings a few days a week at 5 p.m. In-person tours and tastings resume on June 30th or according to the direction of the county.
80 Fourth Street, Point Reyes Station
In the 1990s, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith moved from San Francisco, in whose culinary scene they had been immersed, to Point Reyes, and founded Tomales Bay Foods to bring the bounty of West Marin to the city. Inspired by the small cheese-making area at the front of their shop, they began experimenting using milk from the nearby Straus Dairy. Thus began Cowgirl Creamery. Almost 30 years later, the pair has expanded their business to two creameries and products available in 500 stores across the country, including Good Earth and Woodlands Markets in Marin. They continue to source from the local artisans of West Marin, using Bivalve Dairy and Straus Dairy for their cheeses and Allstar Organics for their herbs and spices. An active part of its community, Cowgirl Creamery belongs to the American Cheese Society (a group that celebrates cheese) and works with Marin Agricultural Land Trust. In addition to their original shop, they have a location in the San Francisco Ferry Building, at which customers can buy prepared foods or fresh cheeses.
Best Seller: The Mt Tam cheese
Hours: The Cheese Shop at the SF Ferry Building is open Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for pickup and delivery. The Sidekick Cafe at SF Ferry Building is open Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for pickup. The Point Reyes Shop is open Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., selling prepared food and allowing customers to come in following proper social distancing measures.
175 Gericke Road, Tomales
Since its establishment in 2009, Ramini Mozzarella, owned by Audrey Hitchcock, has been supplying communities in and around Marin with their cheeses. They use milk from the 68 water buffalo, all named after rock stars, who live and graze on their ranch in Tomales. Although they are more widely known for their mozzarella di bufala, Ramini also makes a ricotta that is equally popular despite being in more limited stock. They supply 54 Mint and Montesacro, both in San Francisco, or in Pizzalina in San Anselmo. Ramini products can also be found at the farmers markets in Sebastopol, Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, and Santa Rosa, with plans to go to the Civic Center in San Rafael starting on June 20th.
Hours: Grocery markets: Woodlands 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, Oliver’s 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, Farm Stand 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday to Sunday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, and Palace 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Farmers markets: Sebastopol 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sundays, Larkspur 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Santa Rosa on Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and San Rafael 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
5488 Middle Rd., Tomales
Since April 2013, Tomales Farmstead Creamery has been making cheeses from the goats, sheep, and cows in Tomales. Based on Tomales Farms, they honor the history of the land and the Coastal Miwok tribes who were its first cultivators by giving their cheeses names from the Coastal Miwok language and by committing to sustainable agriculture. Although their guided tours (Sundays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.), private tours, and tours with Food & Farm Tours don’t resume until August, customers can find their products in grocery stores such as Good Earth, Driver’s Market, Palace Markets, and Whole Foods; farmers markets at the Agricultural Institute of Marin and in downtown Tomales; and restaurants such as Osteria Stellina.
Best Seller: The Teleeka cheese (which means “three” in Coast Miwok)
Hours: AIM Farmers Market Thursdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tomales market Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Good Earth daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Whole Foods daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Driver’s daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Palace daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
How to Help
For more ways to support local businesses, go here.