The SF Bay Area is fanatical about cheese, and we have some amazing, local cheeses to support our enthusiastic appreciation.
A stroll through our cheese department you can find an incredible variety of cheeses from all over the globe. And, on closer examination, it is impressive how well our region is represented. Northern California boasts of an inspired abundance of local cheesemakers of the highest quality. And, this issue is dedicated to these cheeses.
To get started, here is a roll-call of the local cheeses we carry in our shop.
They say that when it comes to fresh cheese, it is better to import the cheesemaker than the cheese. And that is just what Belfiore did. The Belfiore Cheese Company is one of the few remaining small, family-owned cheese making operations in the Bay Area. We are currently carrying their Burrata, Feta, Farmer's Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella (in multiple sizes and shapes), Ricotta, and Fior di Latte.
Bellwether Farms, located and just minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Petaluma is an artisanal cheesemaker where everything is made in one place, at their creamery, by hand. They have garnered prestigious awards from around the world. Currently we are carrying their Crème Fraîche and Crescenza.
Cacique is the number Brand of Hispanic Cheeses. For over 40 years Cacique has remained a family-owned company dedicated to producing the highest-quality authentic products in Monrovia, CA. Their Queso Fresco is the quintessential embodiment of Mexican cheese. And, their Cotija, named after the town of Cotija, Michoacán, has a strong, salty flavor and mostly used as a topping or mixed into sauces.
At Piedmont Grocery, we are huge fans of Cowgirl Creamery. They were at the forefront of the American artisan cheese movement, and are still making award-winning cheeses in Petaluma in delicious variety, using milk from nearby dairies. We are currently carrying their Red Hawk, Mt Tam, Chimney Rock, Wagon Wheel, and Hop Along.
The delicate yet pronounced flavor profiles of Cypress Grove soft-ripened goat cheeses increase in complexity, creating a mind-blowing contrast between the mushroomy rind, gooey creamline, and dense paste. Located in Arcata, each handcrafted wheel of their Humboldt Fog cheese features a distinctive ribbon of edible vegetable ash.
Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows handcrafts artisan dairy goods in micro-batches here in Willows, California proudly using northern CA natural and Organic milk with no artificial ingredients.Their Gina Marie Cream Cheese nearly has a cult following because of its lighter, fluffier texture and genuinely fresh, creamy flavor. No other cream cheese tastes like it, and you just may never go back to your old brand.
Laura Chenel Cheese in Sonoma helps define the culinary landscape of Northern California. They reflect the fresh, bright flavor of our California climate and geography. Laura Chenel makes some amazingly fresh-tasting goat cheese. We carry their Creamy Original Spreadable Goat Cheese (in the 15-ounce tub), Garlic & Chive, Black Truffle, Kalamata Olive, Orange Blossom Honey, Four Peppercorns, Thyme & Rosemary, and Original.
Marin French, the longest continually-operating cheese company in America, is right here in West Marin County. Marin French crafts their distinctive cheeses in small batches, uses traditional cultures, and coaxes the distinctly coastal terrior and flavor into every cheese. We carry their Petite Breakfast, Petite Camembert, and Supreme Brie.
Located in the Nicasio Valley of Western Marin County
Foggy Morning is their most honored cheese. In 2015, Foggy Morning was named the Best Fromage Blanc style cheese made in North America. It’s soft with a very subtle tang. Excellent on its own or paired with either savory or sweet accompaniments. Foggy Morning with Basil & Garlic has the perfect hint of basil and garlic. A great addition to any salad or pasta.
Taste the terroir of these handcrafted, artisan cheeses made by cheesemakers raised by Western Marin County dairy ranchers. The Pacific coastal fog so often settles over and lightly salts the pastures of Giacomini Ranch where the cows live who make the milk for Point Reyes Cheese Co’s award-winning cheeses. The crisp, pristine air and the lush, rye grass clearly bring a healthy freshness to the cheeses made at the Farmstead. We are currently carrying their Original Blue and Toma.
We reach for Sonoma Jack Cheeses for all our Mexican (and Mexican-inspired) recipes. These classics are delicious, locally crafted, and versatile. In fact, Piedmont Grocery has been selling Sonoma Creamery cheeses forever, over 30 years. We are currently carrying their Sonoma Jack in Traditional and Habanero Jack.
Rumiano Family Organics
Started on a small dairy farm in 1919, Rumiano Cheese Company is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California. All of the dairies that supply milk for Rumiano in Coastal Humboldt and Del Norte counties are proudly organic, producing superior milk that in turn creates the incredible cheeses you’ve grown to love. We carry their Mozzarella, Sharp and Mild Cheddar, Havarti, Pepper Jack, Gouda, and both Shredded Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella in 6-ounce bags.
A Staff Favorite
Point Reyes Original Blue is California's only classic style blue cheese. It has an addictive flavor and is bold with hints of sweet milk and a peppery finish.
In August of 2000 the first wheels of Original Blue were introduced to Bay Area consumers, adding to a family legacy of farming that dates back well over 100 years. Since then, the selection of cheeses crafted by Point Reyes Cheese Company has grown.
Original Blue Tasting Notes
Milky white in color with blue-green veins throughout
Ultra-creamy texture with medium-strong blue mold flavor
Sweet, fresh milk with a medium-to-strong punch of blue flavor
Uses and pairing suggestions
Original Blue is great as a stand-alone table cheese, for topping salads, melting onto burgers and steak, mixing into pasta or risotto, incorporating into scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes, and so much more.
Pair with red wine like Cabernet and Zinfandel, where the fruit-forward berry flavors and a hint of spicy chocolate play nicely with the peppery finish of the cheese. Pair with malt-centric beers such as Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Hairy Eyeball and Imperial Stout. Last but certainly not least, Original Blue and vintage port are outstanding together!
News & Events
While OMCA may be closed, the are still committed to stay connected with community. Their website is filled with videos exploring past exhibitions and events, educational resources for students and teachers, favorite works from their collection, shopping, and more.
Learn at Home is a collection of activities and resources for at-home learning. Explore art, history, and natural sciences.
OMCA Collection takes you through the online collections.
Virtual Tours let you explore Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism, You Are Here: California Stories on the Map, and Black Power from home with an online tour.
Dorothea Lange Digital Archive—explore OMCA's collection of Dorothea Lange's personal archive.
Nest in Place helps you discover the world of California birds in the Gallery of California Natural Sciences from you home.
Object of the Week is a reflection by the OMCA staff on an object from the Museum's extensive collections. They share insights and inspiration.
Virtual Friday Nights feature OMCA Friday Night's playlist.
OMCA Online Store—go shopping for unique gifts, support local artists, browse handmade jewelry, and find some great books.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot
What do you eat when it feels like you’re living on the face of the sun? I have lived in California my whole life and yes, in August and even into September, we typically will get days that are in the 100s. The lightning show we had over the weekend is definitely not typical nor is the humidity that went with it. I don’t know how people who live in hot and humid locations do it. Personally, I don’t handle it well.
My sister and her husband lived in Atlanta for a few years and I remember visiting them and felling like I was going to pass out—and it wasn’t even the height of the summer! You walk out the door freshly showered and you’re immediately sticky. I’ll take the dry heat, thank you. Even without the humidity just the thought of making something for dinner in the hot weather makes me sweat.
I am not a salad person per se. I like salads but they are not my go-to first choice for an actual meal. I usually have them with a meal so that I don’t go looking for a snack an hour later. The exception to that is when it’s hot outside. For the past week I have been enjoying a number of heartier salads including a couple of chef’s salads as well as various tomato salads. My tomatoes are loving the weather even if I am not. So, we have been trying to eat them as fast as we can.
Salads work for me in the heat for two reasons. First, not having to turn on a hot stove, oven or even the grill is an obvious benefit. Second, I tend to not eat as much in the heat so what would normally leave me hungry in an hour, actually fills me up just fine.
This recipe for Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad is perfect for summer weather because it combines some of the best produce of the season with cheese. How could you possibly go wrong? The original recipe calls for peaches but I prefer nectarines. (Mainly because I’m not a fan of the fuzziness of the peach skin.) I have made this according to the original recipe many times, but I have also made it with the addition of fresh mango and/or cucumber to the mix. It’s tasty and cooling at the same time…
A Staff Favorite
This bread is the best!
Alvarado Street makes a delicious, hearty sandwich loaf that holds up to spreads and piles of fixings. It is wonderful toasted and makes a mean grilled cheese. Sprouted California Wheat is packed with protein from sprouted whole grains and legumes. This tender loaf has a hearty crumb that is studded with crunchy millet. Plus, it keeps well in the freezer. This superior loaf is lightly sweetened with honey and barley malt.
Alvarado Street has been baking organic breads since the seventies. Located in nearby Petaluma, their mission is to provide the finest quality baked goods by utilizing a worker-owned and managed cooperative business structure. They use whole-grain, organic, and non-GMO ingredients and support sustainable agricultural practices. What's not to love?
Make your next sandwich a nutritional powerhouse with Alvarado California Style bread!
A Cookbook Recommendation
By Marissa Mullen
A how-to guide for crafting beautiful and delicious cheese boards for entertaining and self-care..
[Marissa Mullen] takes the guesswork out of the coolest, most solid thing to bring to any party or potluck: the cheese platter.
With her gorgeous, show-stopping cheese boards, Marissa Mullen takes cheese to a whole new level. Her simple, step-by-step Cheese by Numbers method breaks the cheese plate down into its basic components—cheese, meat, produce, crunch, dip, garnish—allowing you to create stunning spreads for any occasion.
This beautifully designed book goes beyond preparation techniques. According to Mullen, cheese plates can be an important form of artistic self-care, like flower arranging or meditative coloring books--but you can eat the results! That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life celebrates the ways in which cheese brings people together, and how crafting a cheese plate can be a calming, creativity-bolstering act.
With fifty exquisite, easy-to-make cheese plates for all dietary preferences, this book will teach you how to relax, enjoy, and indulge—to find your cheesy bliss.
And, check out Marissa's Instagram account @thatcheeseplate.
News & Events
Best of the Fest!
Stern Grove just completed its first-ever virtual season and it lived up to every expectation. They have proved that even though we're physically apart, we can still share the power of music to unite us and bring joy.
They wrapped up their 83rd season with a special, one-hour edition of Best of the Fest that is available to watch online. Favorite artists recorded exclusive performances including Los Lobos, Michael Franti, Ben Gibbard (from Death Cab for Cutie), Bebel Gilberto, ALO, Fantastic Negrito with special guest Tarriona "Tank" Ball (from Tank & the Bangas), and Con Brio.
You can watch the full Best of the Fest episode and also the full lineup from the summer season.
A Staff Favorite
BelGioioso Mascarpone is versatile, indulgent, and so easy to use.
Mascarpone is an ivory-colored, exceptionally smooth, and easily spreadable fresh cream cheese. The flavor is milky and slightly sweet. The rich, buttery texture comes from the high butterfat content. It is best known as a key ingredient in tiramisu, it adds rich texture to savory dishes, and is delicious in desserts. There are so many ways you can incorporate Mascarpone into your everyday cooking.
Add mascarpone to pasta sauce or use it in place of cream in nearly any dish. It can also be used to thicken soups, stuff chicken breasts, and as a spread on pancakes, toast, or sandwiches. It is great on pasta and pizzas. Dollop it on roasted vegetables or mix it into your scrambled eggs. For an easy dip, whisk fresh herbs, salt, and garlic into the mascarpone. For dessert, enjoy a big spoonful of mascarpone with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, chocolate shavings, or a drizzle of honey on top. Serve it with fresh berries, fruit, or cookies.
Mascarpone originated in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy during the Renaissance. And, in 1990, BelGioioso became the first American company to produce this fresh Italian specialty cheese in the United States. They craft this naturally sweet, yet surprisingly light cheese is produced from only the freshest cream.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Tart of the Matter
When you think of mascarpone cheese what comes to mind? OK, wait. I’m being presumptuous. Does anyone else actually ponder mascarpone cheese? Or is that just me? On second thought, don’t answer that. Let me just live in my happy little bubble where everyone spends significant time considering the wonders of spreadable Italian cheeses…
I love mascarpone cheese. It’s essentially Italy’s cream cheese and I actually like it better than the tried and true Philly cream cheese because it’s got a fresher more mild flavor than the American version. Don’t get me wrong I’m still here for a good cream cheese frosting and you don’t get that with mascarpone. You do however get fantastic things like tiramisu with mascarpone and you can swap out your whipped cream for a dollop of mascarpone next time you find yourself with a bowl of fresh summer berries.
To quote Forest Gump, "Fresh fruits and mascarpone go together like peas and carrots."
For your tart you can use peaches or plums with raspberries or blueberries. Any combination will work. Strawberries are always insanely good when paired with a little mascarpone. Even better if they come together in a tart. Lately I have enjoyed a mix of all of ‘em.
This recipe for a Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart below is what I call a good start. It’s a basic recipe that can be adapted to suit your own taste. You can play with the crust. Personally, I like to make it with a graham cracker crust or r you could go this route with a rye crust
. Our recipe uses a traditional Pâté Sucrée (French sweet pastry) crust.
This is definitely a dessert best prepared and served on the weekend as it doesn’t hold up too well overnight.
News & Events
It looks like the kids will be schooling at home again, and for the foreseeable future. And, since there is no realistic way to keep them from regularly raiding the snack drawer, we are working on solutions for making healthy snacks available that are both delicious and have decent nutritional content. This way you can take a step back from monitoring their trips to the fridge.
So, here is a list of great products that will not only save you time in the kitchen, but also make certain your young'uns are well fed. By the way, this list is perfectly applicable to us adults who are working at home, too!
Of course, cut-up veggies is a good start, and they will go down smoothly with some delicious dips. Check out our selection of Piedmont's Own Dips and Spreads
in our cheese department.
You will need to visit our blog to read the full list of product recommendations which includes, dairy, bars and cookies, salty snacks, soup cups, fruit, frozen foods, frozen deserts, jerky, and nuts and granola. It is just too long to publish here!
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
The Paloma Mexico’s other favorite tequila cocktail. Rose colored and bittersweet, this grapefruit and tequila highball gets a fizzy finish with a splash of grapefruit soda. It is the perfect accompaniment to Mexican food or simple chips and guac.
Using fresh fruit juice makes all the difference in a Paloma. Technically, all you need is grapefruit soda and tequila, but fresh, citrus changes everything. We are posting two recipes, the first is more complex in both ingredients and flavor, and the second can potentially be made from staples you have on hand. Even if all you have is grapefruit La Croix, go for it—and add some simple syrup to taste.
And finally, save the aged tequila for sipping. The Paloma is best mixed with blanco or silver tequila.
News & Events
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives has a robust website filled with home art and film experiences. You can stream a curated film, view a virtual exhibition, attend an online event, and even engage in art making with projects for both adults and children.
Take a few moments to check out these great resources and do what you can to support this local cultural institution!
Get your independent cinema fix at home with recent releases, new restorations, and more, handpicked for you by PFA film curators. When you rent through their website, you support filmmakers and BAMPFA.
View the current exhibitions including Diving Women, Divine Wisdom, Art Wall: Edie Fake, Ron Nagle: Handsome Drifter, Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective, and When All That Is Solid Melts into Air.
BAMPFA online events include a variety of musical performances and author readings as well as talks about specific artists.
Art Lab at Home
BAMPFA Art Lab offers new art projects each week to try at home. Share your work using the hashtag #bampfaartlab or email them to share your projects and ideas, and get updates about new Art Lab offerings.
Virtual Second Saturdays, Gallery and Studio workshops, and Roundtable Reading are three of the categories of virtual events for the family.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Normally, when the temperatures get toasty, I do a lot of grilling. Grilling outside means that the house stays cooler inside. I had planned to write about cooking pizzas on the grill for this week but, circumstances being what they are, grilling isn’t an option.
Once again the Golden State is dealing with horrific fires that have burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes, and taken lives. And, all of that on top of an ongoing pandemic. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting. Not to mention devastating to those who are experiencing it first hand. The air quality just does not lend itself to outside pizza making. But, I’m still in the mood to make some pizza. So, I have been looking for alternative ways to get my cheese and carb fix.
I found this recipe for Focaccia-Style Sheet Pan Pizza in a recent copy of Milk Street magazine. While it does qualify as pizza, it is not your typical neighborhood delivery type pie. It’s actually got a crust more like focaccia. (Okay, my mouth just started watering at the mention of focaccia…) The dough for this crust is pretty wet, so the trick to making this sheet pan pizza is to not use fresh mozzarella and to top it with ingredients that do not have a lot of moisture to keep the top from getting too soggy. You can try regular pizza sauce—but use it sparingly. Lightly brushing it on with a pastry brush would be ideal. This is what I have had to do because the original recipe called for sliced up cherry tomatoes on top and that is a no go for a few people in my household. You just want enough to give it some tomato flavor without wetting it down. Also, if you want a little more bang for your buck, you can chop up some fresh rosemary to add to the crust dough to give it some tasty fresh flavor.
Recipes from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
We have perused our recipe archive for cheese-forward dishes and selected the best, local cheeses for each recipe.
We have made ours with a Maple Bacon Onion jam that we sell at the store. And, it would also be good with a Balsamic Onion Jam or even a Fig Jam. Of course, anything spicy would work well too—like a little Thai Sweet Chili sauce. We are recommending two possible local cheese for this dish. Either would be delicious
Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam or Marin French Camembert
Bel Fiore Burrata
Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad
is perfect for summer weather because it combines some of the best produce of the season with cheese. How could you possibly go wrong?
Bel Fiore Mediterranean Feta
David Lebovitz offers a beautiful Shashuka
recipe that is adapted from both Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and Secrets of the Best Chefs
by Adam Roberts.
Watermelon Gazpacho with Chile and Feta Cheese is
good…really good. And it is made almost entirely in the blender. Nothing is easier than that. Add to that the fact that my tomatoes are abundant and melons are at the peak of their season, and you just can’t go wrong with this one.
Bel Fiore Fresh Mozzarella and Ricotta
Streamlined Baked Manicotti uses both the Mozzarella and Ricotta. This recipe is adapted from
collection that Cook’s Illustrated put out called All-Time Best Make-Ahead Recipes.
Summer Watermelon Salad uses the Mozzarella. We
like this simple recipe because it seems more like a salad and you get the best of summer produce—plus it looks pretty on the platter.
Focaccia-Style Sheet Pan Pizza uses the Mozzarella.
While it does qualify as pizza, it is not your typical neighborhood delivery type pie. It’s actually got a crust more like focaccia.
Bel Fiore Ricotta
Belweather Farms Crème Fraîche
Stuffed French Toast is some out-of-this-world French Toast. It is worth going the extra mile to make this recipe. Here we are replacing the ricotta with crème fraîche.
Bellweather Farms Crescenza
Spinach Gratin is just so stinkin' good!
It’s rich, creamy, and makes any meal special.
Cacique Queso Fresco
Tri-Colored Orzo Salad—
Every time we make it people ask for the recipe.The key is to use good quality olive oil. Try this with anything grilled and any left-overs are great as a light lunch the next day!
Fresh Elote Salad
takes a favorite street foods and reworks it into a much easier-to-eat form. And it includes enough cheese and other goodness to make anyone happy.
Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel or Hop Along
Gina Marie Cream Cheese
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
gives cream cheese frosting a twist. It is filled with that sweet cheese flavor in a layer that is thick and decadent.
Laura Chenel Spreadable Goat Cheese or Rosemary and Thyme
Point Reyes Blue
Point Reyes Toma
Green Chili Rice Casserole
is the easiest thing in the world to make, though it’s definitely not diet food. And, it is a family favorite especially with barbecued chicken or ribs.
Rumio Pepper Jack
Mushroom Poblano Tortas add some excitement to weeknight dinners. And,
if you make enough of the filling, you have options for meals the next day.
Rumio Sharp Cheddar and Mild Cheddar
Andouille Mac & Cheese, a Cajun-inspired dish, is simply delicious because of the addition of the flavorful sausage.
Mac & Cheese Two Ways
is delcious either as baked macaroni, or a creamy, stovetop macaroni. Your choice, depending upon how your day is going.
Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese
has the glamour of the lobster, heartiness for the hungry, and the comfort food factor to help those of us who are wondering what the world is coming to.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
This might just be the perfect summer drink! It is clean and crisp and filled with late summer garden flavors: melon, cucumber, grape, lime, and fresh herbs. It has a light sparkle from the Prosecco and sparkling water. And, the sangria can be given more intensity with the addition of white rum.
We like to use a thin-skinned cucumber (like Persian) and leave the skins on, If you are using a thick-skinned variety, peel the skins before slicing.
Vendor of the Month
Marin French, the longest continually-operating cheese company in America, is right here in West Marin County. They have been in the same location for nearly 150 years. (That’s even longer than Piedmont Grocery!) And, we have been selling Marin French cheeses for decades…even before they were famous.
Marin French crafts their distinctive cheeses in small batches, uses traditional cultures, and coaxes the distinctly coastal terrior and flavor into every cheese. They are an internationally-respected cheesemaker with national and international awards too numerous to mention. They operate with respect for the land and dedication to creating cheeses of distinctive quality and character.
What we carry at the store
Petite Breakfast (mini and 8 ounce) is an iconic cheese in production since 1865. Petite Breakfast is sold fresh and young—an unnamed brie with a tangy flavor and a slightly spongy texture, reminiscent of creamy cheese curds. Because of its texture, Petite Breakfast is versatile for hot and cold usages, such as salads or pastries. Pair with a Sauvignon Blanc or wheat beer.
Petite Camembert (mini and 8 ounce) has a complex, aromatic character as it ages. Its interior is creamy and has a deep golden color and thin white rind. The flavor is robust with hints of mushroom. Camembert differs distinctly from Brie by the cultures used to produce Camembert’s authentic earthy flavor and flowing texture. Pair with a California Rhone Blend or Stout.
Supreme Brie is inspired by the triple crèmes of France with pure extra crème decadence. Small batch buckets are used during the making process, which allows for gentle stirring and cutting of the curds so a fluffy whipped-cream texture can be achieved. The slightly firm, yet lush interior has a milky aroma and a lemony sour flavor, while the snow white rind brings a slight bite to the creamy finish. Pair with a sparkling wine or wheat beer.
Temporary Store Hours During Shelter-in-Place
10 AM to 8 PM
Special shopping hour for seniors
9 AM to 10 AM
We will update you with any new hours as the shelter-in-place situation unfolds.
4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.