1. Wilde weide “This farmhouse raw-milk, 15-month-old Gouda comes from a small island on a lake. The cheese-maker comes to meet me by boat, which is not that unusual in Holland. The cheese has hints of butterscotch, and while it’s creamy, there’s a sandiness in the texture too.” Cowgirl Creamery (Embarcadero)
2. Basseri “Farmer and cheese-maker Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch makes Basque-style cheeses up in Marin. This is a lovely six-month-old hard sheep milk cheese with a sweetness to it and a slight crunch.” Cowgirl Creamery
3. Winnimere “Frankly, there are few cheeses that I just fall over for, and this is one of them. Made by Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont, it’s a cow milk, washed-rind cheese, which means it’s tacky and stinky. Belted with spruce bark, it’s oozing with pine aromas.” Bi-Rite Market (Mission)
4. Piacentino di enna “This fantastic pecorino is 100 percent sheep milk and bright yellow because they use saffron—the medicinal whiff from it delights me every time. It also has black pepper, so it’s a bit of a joker on the plate.” Paradise Foods (Marin)
5. Crottin “In 2006, Sonoma-based Laura Chenel Chevre was sold to French company Laiterie Tribbalat. They brought in incredible cheese-making talent and converted her cheese to become something delicious. Though the crottin is made in a large artisanal production, the rind is delicate, and the cheese is tangy. I love it.” Good Life Grocery (Bernal Heights).
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