Sunday, November 28, 2010

From Maggia to Nicasio - A Cheese Tradition

This past May, during our family vacation in Sonoma, our friend Sheana Davis from the Epicurean Connection stopped by to provide a fantastic wine and cheese tasting. Among the cheeses that Sheana introduced us to that day was a recent entrant into the Marin cheese scene - a mild bloomy-rind table cheese named "Formagella" produced by the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. It was a big hit.

The Lafranchi Dairy was founded in 1919 by Fredolino Lafranchi who immigrated to America from Maggia, Switzerland. However, it was only recently that Fredolino's descendants decided to establish the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company to start producing cheese to cope with fluctuating milk prices. When they did so, they turned to their roots and sought the assistance of Swiss master cheese maker, Maurizio Lorenzetti, from their ancestral town of Maggia.

This past Friday Andrew, Connie, Alex, Cassie and I decided to drive up to Nicasio and visit the company's production facility which is located on the outskirts of the town of Nicasio on Nicasio Valley Road.

The company's tasting area is modest but they provide samples of all six of the cheeses they are currently offering.

We picked up a wide selection. Although the cheeses are not very complex, they are extremely tasty and versatile. They can now be found in many retail outlets in Marin, Sonoma, San Francisco and the East Bay, as well as at the Sunday farmers market at the San Rafael Civic Center.

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