Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from Our Cheesy Family to Yours!

We hope we could help in times of love:

Times of laughter: 

Through tough times:

Let's here it for the cheese!

Seriously folks, thank you all for making us a part of your lives. We couldn't sling cheese without you! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  

We will be closed from Christmas Day until January 8th. We can't wait to see you again in 2013!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Fall Wrap-Up

Hello Loyal Cheese Enthusiasts,

We're over 18mos old, a bona fide toddler, and boy have we grown! So much has happened in the past few months I thought I would write an all-inclusive post to get you all up to speed. October, or (Slammy-Jammy-Tober) was a doozy with Lit Crawl and Off the Grid. Thanks to all who came to Picnic at the Presidio and showed support by buying cheese and charcuterie. We love to work with other small SF-based organizations and show our support, as well as our empathy for all their hard work. Sarah even donated her time to judging cheese at the Good Food Awards (and I was Madame Chairperson). 180 cheeses tasted and she's still a fan of the curds.

Kendra and I smelling the wheels at Garden Variety
October was also Cheese Appreciation Month! We offered passports to try our favorites from across the nation. A local love is Garden Variety Creamery in Royal Oaks. Cheese maker, Rebecca King is the creator of many of your favorite sheep and cow milk beauties: Black Eyed Susan, Holly Hock, Daisy, Monarch, etc. We MCers visited her fairy-tale farm in mid-October and returned with a greater appreciation for sustainably produced, organic cheese.

Night Cheese has been pretty pumpin this fall as well. We had three different events! First was A Lesson in Terroir with Preston Wine and Bleating Heart Creamery. Only products made with a few miles of one another were tasted and paired. Night Cheese 6, Autumn is Awesome, was a tribute to the season with delicious autumnal beers and reserve curds. Most recent, Dessert First, was a celebration of San Francisco small businesses and a welcome toast to our neighbor Dandelion Chocolate Factory. Speaking of chocolate, as of this fall, we make it in-house! Our own Lindsay is creating beautiful truffle delicacies as well as peppermint bark for the winter season.

We hope you all had great Thanksgivings and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a curd-filled new year. We will be closed from Christmas Day until Tuesday, January 8th, so please come in for your holiday cheese before then.

Also, remember folks, nothing says happy holidays better than a Mission Cheese tee or tote bag!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Damerak Love Union

"Damerak" Love Union
Etymology: dameron n. + dvorak n.
     When one dameron and one dvorak join together in nuptial bliss, most often at a remote/idyllic location in the South Tahoe mountains in and around the Eldorado National Forest.

That's right, folks! They did it. Ma and Pa got hitched! It all went down on Saturday, August 11th in the beautiful resort town of Kirkwood, California. I and the rest of the Mission Cheesers were invited to share in the happiness of our love-struck owners. We felt so privileged to be in attendance!

I guess it may seem unusual to most that a group of employees who see each other day in and day out would jump at the the chance to pile in a car for 4.5 hours to attend their bosses' wedding of which they were all invited. We really are a cheesy family at 736 Valencia and Sarah and Oliver truly feel like parental units. How could we not be there to see them finally tie the proverbial knot?

So that's what happened and it was beautiful. It wasn't just beautiful in the way that all weddings are beautiful, but beautiful in a "this just makes sense" sense. I think it was clear to all 120 guests that these two people are supposed to be together. They each found the person that they will continue to grow with and laugh with and cry with and of course to forever love with.

Cheese played a paramount piece in the wedding details, fore a bride-selected flight was the centerpiece of each of the dining tables. There were two cheeses from California: Baserri, a Basque-style sheep's milk from Baranaga Ranch in Marshall; and the flower dotted fresh chevre from Harley Farms in Pescadero. There were also two 'Sconi attendees: Bleu Mont Cheddar from Blue Mounds and Bohemian Blue, a fruity sheep's blue from Westby. Fat Bottom Girl, a delicious semi-hard sheep's milk from Sebastopol was included on the desert table.

So now reality has set in, yet I'm sure in the Damerak's case, the honeymoon is far from over. It is, however, back to the curd-filled grind. So next time you visit Mission Cheese, shout a "congratulations" to the newly married couple. They'll be glad you did.

Thanks for reading and get your tickets Here for our next event coming up in September!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Thank You for an Amazing Year!

I vaguely remember the opening jitters this time last year. Out of time, out of money, running on pure adrenaline Oliver & I along with 4 very brave cheese-loving souls embarked on an epic adventure. From what I can remember the general feeling was something like...Are we ready?!? No! Oh shit!

Much like stories I've heard about giving birth (there's that analogy again), I think we forget the worst of we contemplate doing it again. I know there was utter chaos, I know there were tearful moments, I know my klutzy tendencies were at an all time high...but I don't remember it, really. Day after day we learned more about how to work in our space and what customers would use us for & when. We continue to learn, but it's far from utter chaos.

Since last year we have grown to an AMAZING team of 8 (& planning to grow that number by at least 1 in the near future if you know anyone interested). We have added a plethora of beverages to the menu (beyond the coffee and water available on day 1...ha...that one always gets me). We have added charcuterie, some of which is made in-house by Eric. Busted a purse & iPhone snatching thief. We visited 4 dairies & 1 winery. We hosted 3 SF Beer Week events, a Litquake reading, a SFBC Tour de Fromage, & 4 Night Cheese pairings. We make our own pickles. We have had the amazing pleasure of chatting cheese with San Franciscans & many others passing through. We were even in a Brazilian tour guide...and then there was that sweet mention in the New York Times.

The most exciting part is that we have served up over 10,000 "cheese flights" of American beauties. All delivered with a story and a whole lot of love. Go ahead, throw up a fist feels good.

We have had an epic year, and we are planning for the future.

The latest plan come to fruition is our new & improved outdoor seating...affectionately known as the Cheese Garden. The outdoor space now seats up to 16 cheese-lovers...and it's cozy!

Next up is extending our hours. The #1 question at the shop, by far is, "Why do you close at 8?" or "Why so early?" or "Are you really closed?" We hear you, and we're working on it. Our liquor license currently has an 8pm close as a condition of operation. We have to wait one full year from when our license was granted to apply to change this condition. So, as of April 19 we will be applying to extend our hours to close at 10pm. Come on ABC...for the love of fermentation, let the people have their cheese, wine, & beer!

Also in the works is a know, it's on the list.

We have received unbelievable support from the Mission community & beyond, and it is 100% the reason why we are not only still kicking, but thriving. The list of thanks could go on for days, but here is my best effort at the short & sweet version. Giant mountains of curds of gratitude to...

Steve, Liz, & Kendra for cheesing it up from the very beginning & to Lindsay, Eric, & Sarah for being the best possible additions since. I'm not even sure what to say, but I am certain that anyone who has walked through the MC doors knows how much you guys rock. I am forever grateful. Team photo coming soon.

My parents (left), Richard & Dianne Dvorak, for being the bravest 'rents on the planet. Thank you for the sound system, the tiling, the extra outlet, the chairs, and for believing in the cheese dream. You are heros.

Oliver, the best fiance, web guy, opps guy, bookkeeper, therapist, cheese-baby's daddy, & dishwasher alive. Heaps & heaps & heaps of love & curds to you!

We also would not have a shop if it were not for the amazing cheesemakers & distributors that supply us with the goods. Then of course the winemakers & brewers...and most importantly YOU! We are so grateful for you & your cheese-loving tendencies. Thank you for making Mission Cheese a special place.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Come On, Eileen!

If you've had a chance to try the "California Flight" in the last few weeks, you may have been privileged to sample the incredibly delicious Carabiner, a creamy Alpine-style cow's milk cheese from Weirauch Creamery in Petaluma. Our team was recently invited by proprietors, Joel and Carleen Weirauch to tour the property and learn how their organic cow's milk and farmstead sheep's milk cheeses are made.

"Eating well and taking it slowly" is the motto that Joel and Carleen live by at Weirauch. They believe that theirs, along with other small, family farms in Northern California, is an integral component to the network that is sustainable, local agriculture. They strive in the making of organic cheese and the raising of pasture raised sheep to connect people to the land and with it their food sources.

And, they are simply the loveliest people you could ever meet.

We had heard it was "lambing season" at Weirauch Farm, two words that made it that much easier to pile into the mini van on our day off that Monday morning. Shortly after driving up the gravel path, we were greeted by four feet and four hooves. Joel and Carleen had recently adopted a baby...lamb that is.

Eileen is the newest addition to the Weirauch home, after being rejected by her mother, Meatball, at birth three days prior. She was fuzzy and warm and smelled like heaven.

Besides the fuzzy newborns on the pasture, delicious cheese was being born in the creamery's aging facility. In the off season for sheep's milk, Joel and Carleen purchase organic cow's milk, mostly Jersey, from a neighboring farm. Trained in Europe, Joel experiments with alpine, washed-rind, and tomme fraiche varieties.

His creamery and aging room are all hand built by him and he is constantly refining his methods and techniques.

We were lucky enough to taste his lovely washed rind, Peau de Peche; the Alpine, Carabiner; and an unnamed experiment right from the aging room's pine slats.

After our cheese business was done, we got down to some serious frolicking in the pasture. Eileen and the other lambs have plenty of space to roam and play and the ewes seemed just as carefree. Heck, I'd be more than happy to come back as a lamb on Weirauch Farm. Just look at the beauty:

Our day ended with a wonderful lunch of salad, charcuterie, and of course, cheese. It was a glorious visit. Thanks to Joel and Carleen Weirauch for inviting us into their home and on their majestic property. And thanks to Eileen for providing ample cuteness.

Come to Mission Cheese to try all of Weirauch's cow's milk varieties and stay tuned for the sheep cheese to come!

Blogged by Liz Rubin

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Paste, Slurry, Evaluate: Pairing Precepts 101

I hope all you SFers participated in the recent Beer Week, a citywide celebration of local brews, brewers, and terroir. We at Mission Cheese were so thrilled to hold three different events in honor of the lauded libation.

The week began on February 13th with a visit from Drakes Brewing of San Leandro, followed by a day with Lucky Hand on the 15th, culminating in a tribute to farmers inspired by Almanac Beer.

The events afforded us not only an avenue to further our partnerships with like minded agricultural agents, but also, the opportunity to educate a wider audience about the delicious versatility cheese brings to the table. For this blog post, I'd like to give a short run-down on the precepts of pairing.


This first step is the most second-nature to us all. See cheese, eat cheese is basically the way it works. Instead of swallowing, create a paste with the cheese to then be paired with your beverage of choice. We chose many different genres of American artisanal cheese for the Beer Week events. Here are just a few:

Cabra Blanca (goat) - This semi-soft goats' milk cheese from Avalanche Creamery in Basalt, Colorado, offers a complex grassiness that we thought would pair well with lighter wheat and hopped ales. Cabra's notes of lemon and other citrus temper it's tang and its creamy texture balances well with an acidic beverage.

Classico (goat) - The nutty, sweet taste of Classico, Tumalo Farm's gouda-style goat, imparts a flavor that can stand up to a richer beer. The caramelized flavors of ambers, abbeys, and even scotch ales would would surely be enhanced by the taste and texture of this aged goats' milk cheese.

Shepherdista (sheep) - The earthy qualities of Shepherdista, an aged sheeps' milk from Bleating Heart Creamery in Sebastopol, easily paired it to many of the beers we tried it with. It's salty center and grassy, almost leafy rind create a sublime communion with pale ales and farmhouse Belgians.

Bohemian Blue (sheep) - It can be more difficult sometimes to pair strong cheeses, like blues, with beers, but the sweet, fruity flavor of this sheeps' milk blue from Hidden Springs in Westby, Wisconsin is excellent with most Belgians and Barleywines.

Dunbarton Blue (cow) - Beer and cheddar, DUH.

Winnimere (cow) - Winnie, as we lovingly call her, is a Vacherin-style cheese made at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. This cheese has been washed in beer and wrapped in spruce bark. It has an almost bacon-like meatiness that creates majesty with smoked beers, rich stouts, and nutty Belgians.

2. Slurry

This step is where the beer comes in to play. The paste becomes a slurry once beer is introduced. This is the magic moment where new flavors are produced on the palate. Here are a few of the beers that were tasted during Beer Week:

Cabra Blanca with Almanac Winter Wit
Drakes Amber with Classico
Shepherdista with Almanac Autumn Pale Ale
Bohemian Blue with Almanac Summer Belgian Ale
Dunbarton Blue with Lucky Hand Black Lager
Winnimere with Drakes Seasonal Smoked Stout

3. Evaluate

When evaluating a pairing, there are simple rules to remember:

First, integrity of elements. It is important that both individual elements of the pairing can be tasted when combined. This being said, a single element, the cheese or the beer, should not overpower the other.For instance, when pairing a more delicate, fresh cheese with a robust, bitter beer, the cheese will more than likely acquiesce to the beer's more forthright flavors.

Secondly, a successful pairing will be evocative. It is quite lovely when a cheese can evoke flavor nuances from the libation it is paired with and vice versa. We found, for example, that when paired with Bohemian Blue, subtle grassy notes could be tasted in the Almanac Summer Ale.

Third, a good pairing is one that is delicious. Just because flavors are evoked by the pairing does not mean they are always palatable.

Finally, the ultimate pairing produces the elusive and extremely technical, alchemical mouth explosion. This occurs when an entirely new and extremely delicious flavor is introduced by the pairing union. It's that WTF moment that elicits instant happiness.

I hope this simple run-down of pairing precepts answers some of your questions and inspires you to pair cheese with beer, wine, and spirits. If you were not able to enjoy the delicious pairings during Beer Week, be sure to watch our website for upcoming Night Cheese events.

Blogged by Liz Rubin

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our Trip to Lucas Winery

It's hard to believe it's 2012 -- little MC is growing up and is quickly becoming a full-fledged asset to the cheese community in San Francisco and to our little neighborhood on Valencia Street. We couldn't have survived the last 10 months without the help of our partners, specifically, the cheese makers, brewers, and wine makers whose passion-filled products fortify our menu and our lives with quality, not to mention heart and soul.

It's time to pay tribute to one such amazing partner, Lucas Winery. Last November, we were invited to beautiful Lodi, California for a tasting and vineyard foray at Lucas, the producers of our delicious CTZN Zinfandel and Zinfandel Rose. The winemakers, Buck Lucas, David Lucas, and Heather Pyle-Lucas, (not to exclude Harlow the dog), greeted us with pruning shears in hand and immediately set us to work trimming the over 30 year old vines in their ZinStar vineyard.
We were told how to maintain the candelabra-like shape to best reflect sunlight and retain heat. It was difficult to manage the pruning with a glass of the beautiful 2010 Rose in one hand, but we were proficient in our duty.

Next treat was barrel tasting in the spectacular barrel room designed by Heather, whose oenological pedigree includes the names Mondavi and Opus 1. It was utterly fascinating to sample the same wine from different barrels -- French versus Russian; Aged versus new.

The resulting sample was completely different in character and flavor and gave credence to the importance of all steps in the process from vine to glass.

I think my favorite part of the day was (not surprisingly, if you've met me) lunch. A large, wooden communal table was set up in the barrel room. The place setting included two glasses - one for the CTZN zin and one for the Estate. Where the CTZN is bright, grassy and forest floor, the Estate zin imparts approachable oak and a prune-like finish. Both wines worked in tandem to enhance the main course -- Heather's beef stew. During lunch Heather and David discussed the early beginnings of Lucas. The passion in their voices was palpable to all us there and we listened with insatiable attention.

Finally, the cheese made an appearance: Reading Raclette (cow), Txiki (sheep), and Coupole (goat) came to the table to make friends with the Lucas old vine zinfandel dessert wine. The pairings were equally delicious and put a satisfying capstone on the meal.

Thank you, Lucas family for your hospitality and spirit. We feel so honored to carry the CTZN wines and so privileged to include you all in the Mission Cheese family.

Blogged by Liz Rubin