Friday, July 9, 2010

La Vie Bohemian Creamery!

Several months removed from the Great American Cheese Tour, and patiently waiting for the most perfect space for Mission Cheese to call home, it's time to get back to the heart of this mission...the cheese & its makers.

First stop, Bohemian Creamery! Founded by Lisa Gottreich & Miriam Block, ladies sick of life at a desk with a serious zest for life...and cheese. Former home cheesemakers, Lisa & Miriam followed a passion & a wild hair to create Bohemian Creamery & a variety of hand crafted artisan cheeses from sustainably farmed goat, cow, & sheep milks. (Hooray!) Their mission began in Bodega Bay leasing space from a small goat farm with a micro cheesemaking facility. Recently, they scored their own digs in Sebastopol & after an intense retrofit, have been officially making cheese there for about 1 month. This is the delightful operation which I was lucky enough to visit.

T'was cheesemaking day & Lisa was hard at work making Boho Bel (a Bel Paese style cheese made with organic jersey cow's milk & aged for 6-8 as the rind, flavor, & texture of this beauty come together). I arrived just after Lisa had added the rennet & was waiting for the curd to set, which was a perfect opportunity to visit her beautiful family of goats. A wonderful crew of saanen & alpine goats all baring bohemian names & ready to give their left utter, or a little horn jab to their neighbor for some love from Lisa. These social butterflies are the pride & joy of this outfit, and I am pretty sure both Lisa & I would have been happy as clams to hang out with them until sundown, but the curd is the boss.

A good half hour had passed & we head back to the creamery for a taste of the Boho Bel & Lisa suited up for curd cutting. I was in heaven grabbing giant whiffs of the sweet buttery aroma of the rich jersey curd. (It seriously looked like an enormous creme brulee & took every ounce of self control to keep my wits about me & avoid taking a scoop straight to my face.) After Lisa got the curd right where she wanted it, it was time to release the whey transfer the curd into the hoops, or molds, for further draining. Aside from life & cheese chatting, my task was to alert Lisa of rogue curds coming out of the drain at right. As you can see in this new set up there is a bit of crafty improvising until the official system is in place...but it certainly does the trick. I only failed at my task once...it was so lovely chatting with Lisa that I lost focus and some curd was sacrificed...lucky for their dog who was the proud recipient of the run-a-way curd. I may, or may not have been slightly jealous.

The curds were happily cuddling in their hoops (which now looks like a delicious souffle or breakie strada...YUM!) & whey continues to drain as Lisa begins the intense cleaning process that follows cheesemaking & often takes just as much time. (If only it produced an equally delicious outcome...saaay bacon?...life would be nearly perfect. haha...ok, I'll stop.) After the scrub Lisa sent me home with 2 rounds of cheese, both Boho Bel & Bo Peep (a sheep & cow's milk soft ripened cheese modeled after a Corsican basket cheese), a wonderful hug, and a renewed Mission Cheese glow. Loving food is wonderful, but connecting with those that produce it, to me, is nirvana.

I love this mission & I cannot wait to share!

Curds of thanks to Lisa for showing me around...and for making delicious cheese for all to enjoy.



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