Cowgirl Creamery: Hand-Crafted San Francisco Cheese

After decades in the restaurant business, friends Peggy Smith and Sue Conley started Cowgirl Creamery north of San Francisco in Point Reyes Station with the intention of using the wholesome dairy from the region to make high-quality, artisanal cheese. As luck would have it, their most award-winning cheese, Red Hawk, was created by accident. See what other rich stories are behind their hand-crafted cheeses.

Released on 6/18/2014

Credits

Starring: Sue Conley and Peggy Smith

Music / Songspub: Title: "Live Til We Die" ; Title: "Morning Light"; Title "Spoiled"; Title: "Where We Wanna Be"

Transcript

00:00
[Customer] It's so fantastic because
00:01
it's a triple cream, you just want
00:04
to bathe in it, it's unbelievable.
00:11
(guitar strumming)
00:16
[Sue] We started Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station
00:19
to showcase the milk from Albert Straus's dairy.
00:23
His mother, Ellen, taught us a little bit about
00:25
cheese making and our name, Cowgirl Creamery
00:28
came from a couple of cowgirls hitchin'
00:30
their horses across the street.
00:33
Ellen said, You know, this place
00:34
is the wild West out here.
00:36
And I said, I know, so we must be cowgirls, right?
00:39
I'm Peg Smith.
00:41
And I'm Sue Conley from Cowgirl Creamery.
00:44
We make cheese.
00:46
We're located in Point Reyes Station, right at
00:49
the base of the Tomales Bay.
00:51
This area has a lot of dairies around it
00:54
that were founded during the Gold Rush.
00:57
[Sue] The most challenging thing was really finding
00:59
a high-quality, consistently delicious milk.
01:03
So we were lucky we had the Straus family to work with,
01:06
and now we have Bivalve Dairy, which is
01:08
three miles from this creamery and has
01:11
a very rich, high in protein,
01:13
high in butter fat, grass-fed milk.
01:17
Milk is the most complicated ingredient
01:19
that you could ever work with.
01:21
There's so much going on: The seasonality of the milk,
01:25
what the animals are eating, the breed, even the weather
01:28
changes the time the curds take to set.
01:33
It takes some time to figure out
01:35
the best way to make a specific cheese.
01:39
[Sue] The Red Hawk was a mistake in the cheese room.
01:42
Our friend and cheesemonger Kate Arding
01:45
brought in some Stilton.
01:47
Stilton has those little holes in the rind
01:50
that are created by cheese mites.
01:53
The mites jumped off the Stilton onto my Mt. Tam.
01:56
And that retarded the growth of the white mold.
01:59
Instead, this red bacteria grew, called bacterium linen.
02:03
I was so distressed I just threw
02:05
those back in the ageing room.
02:07
Two weeks later, Kate had the nerve to
02:09
cut into one and taste it.
02:11
And said, Sue, this is the best cheese you've ever made.
02:15
And in 2003, we won Best Cheese Made in America.
02:18
So, that was our lucky mistake.
02:23
One thing we found in France, especially, is it's
02:25
kind of intimidating to go into a cheese shop.
02:28
You shouldn't touch anything, and you
02:30
shouldn't ask too many questions.
02:32
So, we tried to change that at our shop in San Francisco.
02:41
We want you to touch the cheese, we want
02:43
you to taste it, we want you to try everything.
02:46
[Peggy] The Mt. Tam is a triple-crème cheese,
02:48
which means that we add cream to it.
02:50
[Sue] It has a soft, mushroom flavor.
02:54
It does develop some nuttiness and still has a lemony tang.
02:59
And then we do the seasonal cheeses, and with each
03:01
season we have a different rind treatment.
03:04
[Peggy] It really does have a flavor of stewed artichoke
03:07
or asparagus, but the flavor is really in the milk.
03:12
[Sue] Cheese is not a fancy food, it's like the original
03:14
soul food, so we want people to
03:17
come in and have a good time.
03:19
(crunch)
03:20
It's creamy, maybe a little bit
03:22
of nuttiness in it. It's delicious.
03:26
Peggy and I have worked every part of this business.
03:28
We have driven the truck, we have worked the
03:30
farmer's market, we've made the cheese, we've
03:32
made the sandwich, so, it brings me
03:35
great satisfaction to see it all working together.
03:38
It's pretty neat, what we do.
03:40
Yeah.
03:43
My favorite cheese is Red Hawk. What's yours?
03:46
Comment below or Tweet us at:
03:49
At Cowgirl Creamery at EpiCurious
03:53
slashtag... Epicuriosity.
03:58
(laughter)
03:59
Is it hashtag?
04:00
Slash.
04:01
(laughter)