Visit Point Reyes' Cowgirl Creamery for Picnics, Cheese and More
In recent years, the tiny West Marin town of Point Reyes Station has become something of a foodie hot spot, and one of the reasons for this is Cowgirl Creamery, creator of amazing artisanal cheeses crafted from locally produced milk. When you're visiting Point Reyes Station or passing through on the way to the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore, Cowgirl Creamery and Cowgirl Cantina are worth a stop to not only pick up some delicious locally produced foods, but to see how artisan and farmstead cheese is made as well.
Step through the doors of the weathered wood Tomales Bay Foods building on Point Reyes Station's 4th Street (around the corner from the town's main drag), and you'll be greeted by a cheese counter holding a bewildering variety of cheeses, many of which are the products of Cowgirl Creamery. Don't be afraid to ask for samples, which the cheesemongers will happily give.
We usually grab a round of our favorite Cowgirl Creamery cheese, the creamy, dreamy, and mild Mt. Tam, and a fresh baguette, still warm from the oven, from nearby Brickmaiden Breads or maybe some artisan crackers from Larkspur's Rustic Bakery. Cowgirl Creamery's cheese is certainly not inexpensive, but it's a delicious special treat, and it's so rich that a little really goes a long way.
While much of Cowgirl Creamery's production has switched to a larger facility in Petaluma, their signature washed-rind Red Hawk cheese is still made in Point Reyes Station. You can even watch as cheese is made on-site through large picture windows that look in on the cheese-making room, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 2 pm.
If you want more than cheese and bread, the Cowgirl Cantina offers a wide variety of gourmet salads, charcuterie, soups, sandwiches, hot entrees from the kitchen, and desserts like organic ice cream from Three Twins and Earl Grey tea panna cotta, as well as wine and soft drinks.
The menu changes to reflect seasonal ingredients, but features artisan cheeses (of course), Brickmaiden breads, and local meats and produce. On our last visit, offerings included potato leek soup, a Mt. Tam cheese and ham sandwich, a Cabot clothbound cheddar toastie (with optional tomato soup), roasted beets, and mixed chicory salad with Caracara navel oranges, walnuts, and Stilton cheese.
On a nice day, grab some lunch and head outside. On the east side of the Tomales Bay Foods building you'll find an expansive green lawn, perfect for a family picnic. Find a table by the lawn or spread out your picnic blanket. There are usually a bunch of kids running around here, so it's a great place to relax, eat, and play. You'll find additional seating, shaded by olive trees, on the side of the building.
If you're really interested in cheese making, sign up for Cowgirl's Cheese 101 cheese class and tasting, held on Fridays at 11:30 pm. Learn more about the company, watch a curd-making demonstration, and take a guided tasting tour of all the Cowgirl Creamery cheeses. The class is suitable for adults and children 7 and up, and costs $5. Reservations are recommended, which you can book online here.
If You Go
Cowgirl Creamery and Cantina at Tomales Bay Foods is located at 80 4th Street in Point Reyes Station (between B and C Streets), and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. For more information, call (415) 663-9335 or visit www.cowgirlcreamery.com. There's another retail store at the San Francisco Ferry Building, and tours are available at their Petaluma creamery, too; check their website for details.
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