From goat gouda made by Central Coast Creamery in Paso Robles to fresh burrata by Di Stefano in Baldwin Park, these artisanal cheeses reveal the passion of some extremely dedicated California cheese makers. A special thanks to C'est Cheese in Santa Barbara for pointing us in the right direction on the search for some of California's best dairy products!
Rinconada Dairy's La Panza Gold: The name for this award winning rustic sheep's milk cheese comes from the gold mining region of Central California's La Panza Mountains: The rind is washed in sheep's milk whey until it turns into a golden hue. The dairy was founded in 1999 with eight ewes, and has grown to a flock of more than 200 East Friesian sheep. Rinconada offers visitors farm stays at their hacienda-style ranch house. Guests can even try their hand at making cheese.
Fiscalini's San Joaquin Gold: The Fiscalini dairy farm was founded in Modesto in 1912 by John Fiscalini's grandfather, who was following the traditions of their Swiss heritage. The San Joaquin Gold was originally intended to be a Fontina, but turned out to be in a delicious category of its own, with the rich aromas and flavors of butter and toasted nuts. This family-owned dairy has also won numerous awards for their old-fashioned bandage-wrapped aged cheddars.
Central Coast Creamery's Goat Gouda: The cheese makers at Central Coast Creamery in Paso Robles have made a name for themselves with their award-wining aged goat gouda. With a nutty flavor and caramel scent, this gouda is made from 100% whole goat's milk and goat cream, both sourced from a nearby farm. Also notable at Central Coast Creamery is their semi-soft cheddar-style Seascape, made from a blend of cow's and goat's milk.
Di Stefano Cheese's Burrata: The name burrata comes from the Italian word "burro," or "butter." Chef Vic Casanova at the Four Seasons tipped us off to the wonders of the Di Stefano version. He serves it atop whole tomatoes in his Caprese salad, and considers it to be on par with the best burratas in Italy. The cheese makers at this boutique dairy in Baldwin Park make a variety of products, but these luscious orbs of mozzarella and cream are the crown jewel.
Schoch Family Farmstead's East of Edam: In Monterey, Schoch Dairy makes hand-crafted jack, gouda, Swiss feta, and their signature East of Edam. Similar to gouda, this rich raw cow's milk cheese is covered in a natural edible salt-brined rind. This family dairy has been operating in Salinas since 1944, but cheese making is a more recent endeavor. After Beau and Seth Schoch took a course in artisan cheese making at Cal Poly, they began to make batches as a hobby. Now it's become an integral part of the family business, with the Schochs making at least 16 wheels a week.
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