This past veteran’s day weekend, I finally got around to executing a long delayed trip to San Francisco to visit my college friend—who is studying at UC Berkeley. Not only did I get to do some sightseeing, but I also got to discover some new cheese on the west coast.
My friend suggested I check out a local shop in Berkeley called The Cheese Board Collective, which is comprised of Cheese Board Bakery & Cheese and Cheese Board Pizza. Although I did not have time to try the pizza, the queue trailing out past several storefronts should serve as an obvious indicator of the excellent quality and popularity of these pies.
Red Hawk might have been a little too strong for my friend and I—neither of us having much experience with washed rind cheeses—in other words, it was kind of smelly. It was very creamy, but the Wagon Wheel was definitely more our speed; and, was something that I figured we could enjoy eating picnic-style on a bench on the UC Berkeley campus.
Wagon Wheel is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Pt Reyes Station, CA—which is basically the beach. This cheese, aged for 2 months and produced in 15 to 25 pound wheels, is Cowgirl Creamery’s first foray into firm cheeses. It was developed as an “everyday” cheese, which essentially means does just as well on a cheese plate as it would in cooking or sliced over a sandwich—the flavor profile isn’t too over powering, but at the same time has a unique taste.
From the Berkeley BARC station we hopped on a train and headed into San Francisco, where we found ourselves at the Ferry Building Marketplace right across from the Embarcadero BART train station. The marketplace is actually pretty cool; there are a ton of different San Francisco area-based gourmet foods including Blue Bottle Coffee, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, and, as luck would have it, there was also a Cowgirl Creamery—the brand of cheese I had bought a couple hours earlier at The Cheese Board Collective.
I would definitely recommend that you pick up some Wagon Wheel. Cowgirl Creamery cheeses are sold pretty much everywhere in California but I haven’t seen it on the east coast yet—I know they have a store in Washinton, DC—come to New York, guys! They even sold it in the airport when I was leaving. Obviously, it’s fresher in California so if you’re lucky enough to get out there, stop by a purveyor of cheese and ask to try some. My schedule didn’t really allow me to do so, but supposedly Wagon Wheel is most delicious when melted; so, make yourself a panini or fondue. Also, Mt Tam is said to be the most popular cheese from Cowgirl Creamery; unfortunately, I didn’t get around to trying it, but I will next time!