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Laura Werlin in Point Reyes Station

Norma Cordova

Photos by Norma Cordova.

I am a freak for nature (better than a freak of, I suppose), which means that while my urban self relishes the offerings of San Francisco, where I live, it also craves the views of the rugged Pacific Ocean, the hiking trails that line it and the redwood groves to the north.

I also love cheese. And so it was that I recently decided to head to the scenic town of Point Reyes Station, about 45 miles northwest of San Francisco, where shops and great food, including cheese, are packed into a three-block-long stretch. As Point Reyes’ Cowgirl Creamery co-owner Sue Conley puts it, “Point Reyes is where city folks go to breathe.”

       
Nicasio Valley Cheese Company.

       

I took my first breath even before I got to Point Reyes, stopping outside of town at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company to sample the Lafranchi family’s handmade organic cheeses. I then made a ten-minute detour to California’s oldest continuously operating cheese operation, Marin French Cheese Co. (aka The Cheese Factory), to eye the bucolic picnic grounds and buy French-style cheeses.

Winding west, I arrived in Point Reyes Station (pop. 853), so named for its railroad roots. I immediately ducked into Point Reyes Books to browse the shelves before heading across the street to Toby’s Feed Barn to peruse its eclectic mix of food products, art, produce and, yes, hay and grain.

My next stop was Cowgirl Creamery, a temple of cheese making, cheese selling and unparalleled picnic food located in a converted barn. Luckily, I arrived when they were making their knockout organic cheese called RED HAWK. I watched through the glass, mesmerized, before heading north of town to Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, where I tasted its award-winning cheeses in The Fork culinary and education center, which offers a monthly farm dinner. Speaking of dinner, I picked up an oyster and leek pizza from Christian Caiazzo’s restaurant jewel, Osteria Stellina, and called it a day.

Next visit, I’ll rent a kayak to paddle the nearby Tomales Bay, watch the herons soar overhead and definitely eat a little more cheese along the way. //


Laura Werlin is a James Beard award-winning author and one of the country’s foremost authorities on cheese.

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