Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese

A couple of years ago while hanging out at Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building I asked one of their staff whether they ever gave cheese tasting classes. The woman said that they did not, but suggested I contact The Cheese School of San Francisco run by Sara Vivenzio and her staff. I had never heard of the School but it turned out to be a very happy find – since our first class there in September 2007, we have attended a total of 16 of their classes and other events– see list below - and probably tried around 130 different cheeses. For a taste of what we have experienced, at the bottom of this post you will also find photos of the cheeses we had at the three-class series at the end of this year with Janet Fletcher on cheeses of Italy, France and Spain, as well as those we tasted at Lynne Devereux’ Cheeses of California class.

Sara with Mila, a very young Cheese School staffer!

The classes are held at the Cheese School’s facilities – a very comfortable room on the second floor of a building at 2155 Powell Street (at Francisco) in North Beach. There are normally about 25 people in each class. Generally 7-10 cheeses are served each evening accompanied by 3-4 wines, or in the case of some classes, beers. In addition to the cheese, accompaniments such as bread, nuts, fruit, jam or honey are also served. Classes typically run about 2 hours and are generally $65/person.

As one can see from the below list, the classes focus on different themes, generally cheeses of particular country or other area, or pairing cheese with wine. The Cheese School arranges for different instructors to teach the various classes and that both provides a variety of styles and approaches, as well as gives one a good chance to meet some of the members of the “cheese community” here in Northern California. For example, Janet Fletcher, who has taught a number of our classes, has written a number of books on cheese, and also writes the excellent Cheese Course series for the San Francisco Chronicle, copies of which may be found on the Chronicle’s website. Happily we have here both great stores where one can buy a wide range of quality cheeses (Cheese Plus, Cowgirl Creamery, Rainbow Grocery and Bi-Rite are among those at the front of the pack in San Francisco), as well as a number of excellent local producers including Andante Dairy, Bellweather Farms, Cowgirl, Fiscallini, Harley Farms, Matos and Pug’s Leap.

Cass, Alex and Pat at Juliana Uruburu's Cheeses of Spain Class

Although we have sampled quite a few cheeses at the Cheese School there are many more out there and we have signed up for additional classes for the first quarter of the new year (first up, Cheeses of the British Isles in two weeks!). Classes fill up quickly so if anyone is interested one should contact the Cheese School and get on their email mailing list so that you can learn of their classes as soon as they are announced at the beginning of each quarter.


1. Cheeses of France - 9/17/07 – Colette Hatch
2. Basic Cheese Primer - 9/28/07 – Judy Creighton
3. Cheeses of Italy - 10/4/07 – Judy Creighton
4. Cheeses of Spain - 2/8/08 – Juliana Uruburu
5. Belgian Beer & Cheese - 3/27/08 – Sheana Davis
6. Cheeses of California - 5/22/08 – Lynne Devereux
7. Cheeses of Sonoma - 6/24/08 – Sheana Davis
8. American Cheese Society Winners - 8/14/08 - Lynne Devereux
9. Drop In Night - 8/29/08
10. Locavore (Northern California) Cheeses – 9/29/08 – Sheana Davis
11. Cheese & Wine Pairing (1 of 3) – Italy – 10-14-08 – Janet Fletcher
12. Cheese & Olive Oil – 10/24/08 – Laura Martinez
13. Locavore Beer and Cheese – 11/10/08 – Sheana Davis
14. Sheep & Syrah – 11/14/08 – Thalassa Skinner (sub for Wil Edwards)
15. Cheese & Wine Pairing (2 of 3) – France – 11/18/08 – Janet Fletcher
16. Cheese & Wine Pairing (3 of 3) – Spain – 12-9-08 – Janet Fletcher

Cheeses from Lynne Devereux' Cheeses of California Class

Cheeses from Janet Fletcher's Cheeses of Italy Class

Cheeses from Janet Fletcher's Cheeses of France Class

Cheeses from Janet Fletcher's Cheeses of France Class



my arteries said...


Simona said...

Very interesting! I like the photos. The cheese I have been making looks nothing like those beautiful samples: I have a long way to go.