November 10, 2009

Day 2 Speakers: Cowgirl Creamery Tasting with Sue Conley

It's no secret that I love cheese so getting to meet and listen to Sue Conley, Cowgirl Creamery's co-founder, at the 1st annual Foodbuzz Festival was an exciting opportunity.  Plus she brought along 4 different cheese for us to sample, including a new cheese that has yet to be released to the public.

Cowgirl Creamery is one of my favorite stores in the Ferry Building. Their artisan organic cheeses are wonderfully varied and all taste fresh and delicious.

Sue mentioned that the store was only one of three pioneering vendors (the others were Acme Bread Company and McEvoy Ranch) that set up shop in the Ferry Building after every one else pulled out after the financial collapse in 2001 (9/11 and the Tech bubble burst).   

Cowgirl Creamery was named after she and co-founder Peggy Smith told their friend, Ellen Straus of Straus Family Creamery,  about their desire to make cheese, she told them, “It’s the Wild West out there, ladies.”  So they knew that they had to become "cowgirls" to succeed.

We started the tasting with the very first cheese produced by Cowgirl Creamery:  Fromage Blanc

The Fromage Blanc was soft, creamy, and slightly sour.
In addition to the milk, culture, rennet, and salt, they also used creme fraiche to make the cheese so silky.

Our second cheese taste was for Inverness:  So soft and creamy, the rind was surprisingly not bitter.  This cow's milk cheese is made in the style of the French chaource and was very, very easy to eat!

The third cheese was is my favorite type, Mt Tam.
Mt Tam is 70% buttermilk and is incredibly rich, buttery, and similar to brie; however, it's not runny because it used a gouda recipe.  The funny anecdote that Sue told us was that this cheese resulted because their cheese producer intern at the time could only make gouda cheeses - and the end result was a success! 
Named after Mt. Tamalpais, the mountain just north of San Fran, this cheese has a nice soft, earthy flavor.

And our final cheese was Wagon Wheel, the new cheese that will be released in time for the holiday season.  Sue briefly lifted this 25 lbs cheese wheel to demonstrate its weight - and though there was a collective sigh when we all realized we missed a great photo op, no one wanted to ask her to do it again after it collapsed back onto the table with a loud thud!

After trying this harder, "everyday" cheese (perfect for grilled cheese!), I know that this'll be another popular Cowgirl Creamery cheese!

Cowgirl Creamery has over 500 restaurant accounts in the Bay area and just set up a new store in D.C. Though there's no store yet in NYC, their cheeses are distributed nationwide through Whole Foods.

Thanks to Mardi (who had to give up her seat in order to prep for her fantastic Bertolli presentation - photos to come in future posts), Lindsay, Meghan, and I got to check out this great cheese lecture.  So much fun and many more SF posts to come!


  1. Awww... can we go back and do this over?! I want more cheese!

  2. I miss Sue! Mt. Tam is one of my favorites, I also enjoy Red Hawk. If you have an opportunity someday you might find it be a good adventure to visit Cowgirl in Point Reyes, just half an hour north of SF. Hog Island is also very close by.

  3. Sigh..... Thanks for the recap! I will just have to wait until next summer to have my own CG tasting menu!!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. We didn't get to the cheese tasting. :( Not like we needed more food, but it would've been fun! The Mt. Tam in our gift bag was eaten as soon as we arrived home.


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