Grilled Cheese Tour Recap
May 8, 2009
CUESA’s latest vendor tour took us to Petaluma, where two acclaimed Ferry Plaza artisans shine.
Cowgirl Creamery has certainly grown in the last several years, but our time at their new Petaluma facility reaffirmed these artisans’ commitment to slow, sustainable growth. Having more space does mean larger batches, but founders Sue Conley and Peggy Smith still ensure that a lot of the work is done by hand. Cowgirl sources all of their milk from Straus Family Creamery, slow pasteurizes the milk, and carefully ages the cheese the old fashioned way. “We’re making as many Mt. Tam [cheeses] as we want to make,” said Sue as she led the group around the space. “If we grow, it’ll be so we can develop more new cheeses [like “Buckaroo,” the soft Asiago they intend to introduce this year that was conceived to be easy for chefs to work with and will have a lower price point]. We never want to be a factory.”
A visit to the Della Fattoria bakery is like a visit to someone’s home. That might be because the bakery was literally built over what was once owners Kathleen and Ed Weber’s deck, adjacent to their home. The house and bakery sit on a gorgeous piece of land that was once an egg farm on the outskirts of Petaluma. The bakery is a small, efficient operation built around two wood-fired ovens and family’s appreciation for high quality food (Kathleen’s son Aaron now oversees the bakery and her daughter Elisa runs their downtown cafe). The next time we taste their bread, we’ll probably all be reminded of what it was like to meet the whole Della Fattoria family (including two helpful grandsons and seven dogs) and sit down to dinner at the long wooden table in their front yard.
Photos by Barry Jan