Last week, the weather here in Sacramento took a turn and became quite uncharacteristically hot for April. To escape the heat and to have some fun, my friend Amanda and I decided to head out of town for a day trip. Embracing Henry Miller's saying of "One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things," we decided to hit up the small town of Petaluma and learn how some of our favorite cheeses are made at the Cowgirl Creamery. We arrived a little early so we decided to wander about the little industrial area where the creamery is housed. While reading a flyer about the town's annual Butter and Eggs Days in the window of a small café (Aqus Café), we were approached by a friendly Irishman. He turned out to be the proprietor of the stylish coffee house and was kind enough to walk us over to our destination. Glad he did because we might have passed by the creamery completely--walking by on the road, it's easy to miss the inconspicuous sign jutting out high above.

Inside the creamery, we were greeted by Vivien Straus of the Strauss Creamery in Marshall. (Cowgirl Creamery gets a lot of their dairy from the Straus farm.) Vivien was the perfect person to guide our tour- she's sweet, enthusiastic and has a true love for her work. The tour started with a simple demonstration on how cheese in general is made. We then moved onto learning about how the Straus family got involved in the making of cheeses with Cowgirl Creamery, how the various artisanal cheeses are created and packaged and how the Marin Agricultural Land Trust was formed. This was followed by a guided tour of the cheesemaking facility and of course the tasting of an assortment of delicious cheeses (including the Mt. Tam in various points of the aging process). My favorites were the Red Hawk (a pungent triple crème with a washed rind, that is very full-flavored with a slight hint of tang) and the ever popular Mt. Tam (a smooth triple crème with an edible bloomy rind and buttery taste). Can you say cheese nirvana? Yum.

At the conclusion of the tour, we were sent home with a couple of issues of Culture magazine (a publication devoted to cheese) and little Cowgirl Creamery refrigerated lunch bags that included a wrapped round of Mt. Tam, a container of Fromage Blanc (a clean tasting creamed cheese) and a cute little cheese knife.

419 First Street,  Petaluma, CA 94952. (866) 433-7834

* Tours are held on Wednesdays at 11:30am and are about a hour long. $30
* Reservations required.
* This facility does not offer retail sales.
* More info can be found here: Cowgirl Creamery Tour

After our tour, we headed over to downtown Petaluma. We decided to have some lunch at Della Fattoria on Petaluma Boulevard. In hindsight, I wish we had chosen somewhere else. Although the décor of the bistro was quite adorable, the food was nothing to write home about and the service downright awful. To make up for our craptacular meal, we decide to walk down the street and check out the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Store. This store is housed in a gorgeous historic building (it was constructed in the 1920's and formerly housed the Sonoma County National Bank) and offers a plethora of heirloom seeds (1200 varieties!), plants, gardening supplies, books and gourmet spices.


If you go downstairs, they have various gardening gifts and a small room devoted to air plants. While the sheer choice of seeds will awe you, make sure to look up and check out the ceiling of the store. The architecture is breathtaking.

(Photo of Seed Bank interior by Amanda Blosser)

* 199 Petaluma Blvd. N, Petaluma, CA 94952. (707) 773-1336.
* Closed Saturdays and major holidays.

All in all, the town of Petaluma is quite charming. The weather was great, there's a lot of fun shops and businesses to explore and it's just a short drive from Sacramento. For those who are interested- the Butter and Eggs Days is coming up on April 27th & 18th. You can find out more info here: Petaluma's Butter and Eggs Days 2013
2 Responses
  1. Ruby Says:

    Your blog design is so great! Now reading your post, I have a goal to see that seed store!!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Sounded like a nice daytrip! I <3 Cowgirl Creamery!

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