Oh. Oh. OHHH. One of our favorite cheeses.
The Matos Family's St. Jorge or St. George cheese. It's a pungent, cheddary Portuguese style cheese that hint back at the Azores, where the Matos family grew up.
We've been fans of this local cheese for a long time, so it was one of our most anticipated stops of the whole trip. If we played it right, I theorized, we'd have cheese for the rest of the trip-- maybe the rest of the year...
The farm itself, is a working affair, with perhaps not-so-welcoming cows, and crows that toss fruit at you as you come up the drive.
Perhaps we should say the cows are just disinterested. Almost with that French Normandy Bovine disinterested sort of fashion.
But hey, they look a heckuva lot more happy--nay, entitled-- than the Giacomini Dairy cows whose living quarters next to a pit of their own feces so horrified me that I can't bear the sight of Point Reyes Blue, much less eating it.
The Matos farm is a different story. As we drive up, a dog raises a lazy ear on the driveway, but doesn't budge from his dusty corner, giving us leave to inspect the chickens pecking about in their yard.
As always, the city girl is fascinated by the barnyard animals, but we're here for the cheese. We head for the door to what looks like an extension of the family house, which sets off a startling buzz on opening. We quickly close it behind us and stare around at the absurdly austere, tiny room marked only by a counter, a hunk of cheese, a 12-inch chef's knife, a scale, a register and a few posters.
A young woman, who only speaks Spanish, comes out to handle us. The very first thing she does is hack off a slice, a big slice, and hand it over to us to sample. Yum. Well, we clearly seem to want cheese, but after that, she's a little non-plussed as to what exactly we want. She goes back into a ROOM OF CHEESE, and shows us a WHEEL of CHEESE, albeit one of the smaller ones in the room. She weighs it and indicates--about $77. I'm all excited and ready to take the whole damn thing, but my Omnivore-- perhaps envisioning cheese for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner and supper, not to mention elevenses--balks.
We negotiate in my high school pidgin Spanish and settle on three large chunks of cheese. $44 and a steal.
Matos Cheese Factory
3669 Llano Rd,
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
Back to our itinerary.