It may start to seem like Kathy and I do nothing but cheese-related events, but this is not true. Currently we are not in production-mode with the theatre company, so we have only our day jobs keeping us busy.
Thanks to CSAA’s VIA Magazine (California State Automobile Association; Northern California’s Triple-A), and an article about Pescadero, California (only about an hour’s drive from San Francisco), we were reminded of Harley Farms’ excellent goat milk cheeses that we tried at the beginning of April at the California Artisan Cheese Guild’s fundraising event at the San Francisco Cheese School. Sunday’s weather (April 27th, 2008) was absolutely perfect. Kathy called ahead to see if we could take the farm’s tour (by reservation), but naturally with perfect weather, AND the article in Via just having come out, the tour was booked solid.
Artisan cheese making is not an easy task, and to be successful it takes not only a desire to make great cheese, but also a great business sense. I’m under the distinct impression that Harley Farm’s founder, Dee Harley, has a lot of both. The goat milk cheeses from Harley’s are amongst the the freshest local cheeses I have had in quite awhile. Naturally all of the milk must be pasteurized since U.S. regulations require 60 days of aging for any raw milk cheeses [don't forget to attend the Commonwealth Club's Panel Discussion on Raw Milk Cheeses on May 19th, 2008 if this subject interests you], but the fact that the milk is freshly provided right there from Harley Farm its self, it makes a huge difference in taste of these young cheeses. Also, by using the milk only from their own goats, the farm is able to control the quality of the milk. This is not only by maintaining the health of the goat herd, but also by regulating exactly what the herd eats. The fresh ocean air (the beach is only 2.4 miles away) also ultimately plays a part in the taste of the end product.
Despite not having the chance to take the tour (this time), Kathy and I found Harley Farm’s store to be very inviting. Artisan goat milk cheese is by no means inexpensive, but you truly get what you pay for. After sampling everything (perhaps twice), Kathy and I agreed to get some fresh Ricotta, and a cranberry walnut topped 7-inch round of their firmer goat cheese. We’ve got a bit of a stock-pile of cheese in the fridge at home right now. If you know us, you might want to invite yourself over for to share a cheese plate with us…
As I hope the pictures illustrate, the farm and the 1910 buildings are as inviting as they are picturesque. Pescadero, small as it is, has a lot to offer. Besides Harley Farms, I also strongly suggest making a stop at Duarte’s Tavern. If going for dinner, call for a reservation. Duarte’s is one of those excellent road-side restaurants which has made a name for its self by serving excellently prepared foods, and uses locally grown and produced foods. Since Pescadero is surrounded by some of California’s best artichokes, be sure to try some there as it comes into season. For me, any restaurant where I can have a martini in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other is pure perfection. Duarte’s is also one of the only nearby places I can think of that bakes up fresh olallieberry pies, so if you can’t get a table, think about getting a pie to bring home (and don’t forget to serve cheese with the pie!).
As a last thought to this post, I leave you with a bit of Spring; the video below is of baby kid goats running at Haley Farm.