Sunday, October 23, 2011

Point Reyes Farmstead

Simply put, "Farmstead" means "from the Farm".

What makes Farmstead cheese so special? The French have a word for it... "Terroir". From the land. About the land. Of the land. The terroir of a farm has everything to do with the end product.

"Our cows eat local grasses all year long. The milk is consistent in our stable coastal climate. The salty, Pacific breezes help cure and age our cheese and we don't rely on milk from any other farm. This allows us the ability to guarantee consistent, supreme quality all year long."
- Bob Giacomini

Family History

The Giacomini commitment to producing superior quality, farmstead dairy products began over 100 years ago in the mountains of Italy. Today Bob Giacomini and his family continue the family tradition with their Point Reyes Original Blue and Toma cheeses.

Bob began milking cows on his Point Reyes dairy in 1959. Over the years, Bob and his wife Dean, together with their four daughters, Karen, Diana, Lynn and Jill, developed a shared vision of bringing an all-natural farmstead product directly from their ranch to the consumer's table. This dream was realized in August, 2000 when they founded Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and produced the first vat of Original Blue™.

The company's mission is plain and simple: to produce the nation's premier brand of high-end, blue table cheese. 
"We chose to make blue cheese out of a two-fold love of food and cooking. As a family that shares a passion for all things "gourmet", blue cheese was a natural because of its versatility in the kitchen and its ability to stand alone as a table cheese." - Jill Giacomini Basch

Morning Milking

The cheese production begins with the morning milking at about 2:00 am. Around 4:00 a.m., the fluid milk is pumped directly into stainless steel vats in the cheese production facility adjacent to the milking barn, guaranteeing a freshness that can’t be duplicated. Several natural ingredients are added to the Grade A, raw milk: cultures for flavor and to increase acidity, enzymes in order for the curd to form, kosher salt for flavor and mold (penicillium roqueforti) to create the blue veins in the cheese. When the milk reaches a specific pH level and the curd feels right (a combination of science and art), the curd is cut, the whey is drained from the curds and the curds are hooped (poured) into forms to make the wheels.

The following day the cheese is removed from the forms and taken to a curing room for about 3 weeks. In the curing room the wheels are hand-salted, turned numerous times by hand and punched with stainless steel needles to introduce oxygen into the body of the cheese. The oxygen is needed to activate the mold and create the blue veins found in Original Blue. The last step is the aging room. Here the wheels are left for 5-6 months. During this long aging process the creamy texture and full-flavors develop. 

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