If you’re driving somewhere stunning on the coast, you can certainly stop at Marin French Cheese Co. and buy provisions – the company’s famous artisanal cheeses, fresh sandwiches, wine – for a delicious picnic.
But here’s another idea: make this Marin cheese company your destination. Set amid rolling hills on a 700-acre farm in Hicks Valley, its cheese shop and spacious picnic areas offer a glimpse into West Marin’s pastoral paradise.
The company’s iconic sign along Point Reyes-Petaluma Road west of Novato invites passersby to stop and linger awhile. For locals, the cheese company, known simply as “The Cheese Factory”, has long been a destination to spend the day. It’s especially popular with families looking for a cute lunch spot where the kids can run around.
The cheese shop is housed in a classic farm-style building. The surrounding property is home to cows, chickens, a pig farm and a vegetable garden. And the historic cheese factory behind the shop has been making award-winning Brie and Camembert-style cheeses since 1865, making it the oldest cheese company in the United States.
Using traditional French techniques, founder Jefferson Thompson created his classic Petite Breakfast cheese to feed San Francisco’s growing population of longshoremen after the Gold Rush. Since then, the company has expanded its repertoire to please contemporary palates, creating Brie-like cheeses made with mustard seeds, jalapeños or imported French truffles.
West Marin’s terroir and climate – cloudy mornings, cool ocean breezes and warm afternoons – help give these cheeses their signature flavors, and the weather also makes this an especially pleasant picnic spot any time of the year, but especially in the spring. spring, summer and early fall.
Most visitors gravitate towards the lagoon, where ducks and geese sometimes paddle. Picnic-goers spread out blankets on its grassy banks, shaded by trees. There are picnic tables and Adirondack chairs, and behind the dairy are more picnic areas, including a huge lawn where children can run and play.
The Picnic: The shop stocks just about everything you need for a picnic, from local wines and ciders to 4-ounce wheels of cheese, salads and toasted ham, turkey or vegetable sandwiches that feature the company’s Triple Cream Brie or Petite Mustard Brie. Small glass chocolate jars and snickerdoodle cream jars made by Sonoma’s St. Benoit Creamery are perfect for dessert.
The details: The cheese shop and picnic areas are typically open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily during the summer and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter at 7510 Point Reyes-Petaluma Road in Petaluma; https://marinfrenchcheese. with. Dogs on leash are welcome in the picnic area.
Extras: Check out the dairy’s Facebook page — www.facebook.com/marinfrenchcheesecompany — for recipes, pairing ideas and details on tasting events with local chocolate makers, bakers and other producers. Consider making a day of it with stops at other Marin or Sonoma County cheesemakers along the California Cheese Trail; https://cheesetrail.org.
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