Marin County is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the finest artisanal cheese regions not only in the United States, but in the entire world. The area’s Mediterranean climate helps provide rich pasture land for the herds of dairy cows roaming the foothills. But, it is the cheesemakers that deserve the credit for the growing international reputation of Marin County cheese. One of the most elite of all the Marin cheesemakers is Marin French Cheese.
Marin French Cheese started out as the Thompson Brothers Dairy in 1865. In the early 1900’s San Francisco experienced a massive egg shortage as failed miners came pouring into the city. Jefferson A. Thompson, the founder of the Thompson Brothers Dairy, began selling fresh cheese to the saloons as a substitute for pickled eggs.
As the dairy grew, so did its offerings. Thompson added cream cheese and aged cheeses such as Schloss, Brie, and Camembert. He also reorganized the dairy into one of California’s first corporations, Marin French Cheese.
While the Thompson decedents are no longer involved with the company, the new owners of Marin French—Rians, a family-owned consortium of creameries throughout France, still follows the traditions started by its founder. The fresh cheese Thompson sold to the saloons is now called Petite Breakfast, and remains one of the most popular offerings in its cheese shop today.
Great cheese starts with great milk. All of the milk used at Marin French Cheese is purchased from dairies within 20 miles of the creamery and is never more than 24 hours old when it is received.
The Brie and Camembert cheeses are made from traditional cultures that awaken when mixed with the fresh warm milk. The mixture is added to a maturation tank and left to age.
At Marin French Cheese, cheesemaking is still an art and not the product of mass production. Cheese is made in small batches, in 20-gallon buckets. This ensures each batch is of the highest quality.
After the carefully monitored forming and aging, the cheese is packaged in special plastic paper that allows for the cheese to be exposed to just the right amount of air to ensure the cheese continues to age well until it is eaten.
Award Winning Cheeses
The creamery’s Triple Crème Brie was entered into the World Cheese Awards and won a gold medal, becoming the first U.S. cheese to beat the French in the Brie category.
After its international debut, Marin French Cheese’s Triple Crème Brie continues to win awards and new fans every year. Like its most famous cheese, Marin French Cheese also continues to gain local, national, and international attention with its unique selection, and incredible attention to detail. The newest Petite Brie-style cheese, Dark Moon, was recently recognized as a Sofi™ Finalist by the Specialty Food Association, and Marin French took home 11 awards (7 Gold, 4 Silver) in the 2016 California State Cheese Competition.
Marin French Cheese is a great example of what makes Marin County such a special place to live and work.
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