The larger of our two cheeses is called Baserri, which means farmhouse in Basque. This cheese is a 4- to 5-pound tomme. The green Basque countryside in France and Spain is dotted with ancient tile-roofed baserris where Basque farmers still make their living in traditional ways, often milking their sheep by hand and making small batches of cheese that they sell locally. Our Baserri is made in that spirit, in small batches, by hand. It is a West Marin interpretation of the Basque cheeses you can buy from farmhouses in the Basque country. Baserri is aged for 6 months before it is released for sale. Baserri won First Place in its category in the 2016 American Cheese Society competition, Best in Division in the 2015 California State Cheese Competition, and won a Double Gold medal at the 2013 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
Txiki, which means “little” in Basque, is a smaller version of Baserri, a 1.5- to 2-pound tommette-sized cheese made from the same recipe as Baserri. The shape produces a different relationship of paste to rind, and a more rapid aging. Txiki is released for sale after 3 months of age. Txiki won Best in Show at the 2012 California State Cheese Competition, and has won Silver Medals at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Cheese Awards competition.
Baserri has the terroir of West Marin; it tastes like sheep's milk and like the grass they eat on those beautiful hills."
The integrity with which Marcia's cheeses are made is equaled only by the explosive flavors in her cheeses that result. Baserri and Txiki are two of America's best cheeses.
The taste is pleasant, light, nutty, and mild throughout. Like an ultra-mild farmstead cheddar without the sharpness, but without losing the complexity. There's a hint of fruitiness, and a note of the tropics.
The flavors are vibrant. The milk is sweet and buttery like a cow’s, lemony and lightly grassy like a goat’s, and nutty and earthy like a sheep’s. It’s sweet and tangy and spicy and shows the beauty of farmhouse cheeses that impress because they never try too hard- they’re stunning in their simplicity and are made from beautiful milk.
This rich Basque-style sheep’s-milk cheese smells like soil after a rain. The deep, earthy flavor goes on and on.
In Sepetmber 2016 I retired from cheesemaking, and the last of my 2016 wheels of Baserri are on sale now, in selected shops around the Bay Area, including Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco and Pt Reyes Station. If you can’t find our cheese at a cheese shop near you, join our mailing list! I will be offering one final chance for direct mail-order sale at the end of March. By March 31st, all my commercial cheese will be out of my aging room and the creamery will be closed. It is a bittersweet time for me; I have loved making this cheese, but it is time to free up my time for other responsibilities. I will keep my sheep, and continue selling lamb. There will be no more mailing list or newsletters, however, after March. For news of the ranch, please continue to visit my web site and blog.