In the North Bay cheesemaking community, roughly four kinds of folks have become cheesemakers – the homegrown 4-H kids, the scientists-turned-cheesemakers, the visionary entrepreneurs and the idealistic back-to-the-land food artisans.
In a new twist, “recovering lawyers” turned cheesemakers, Lauren and Jon Bowne came by the Cotati Oliver's to deliver some of their delicious cheeses and share their story.
“I decided I wanted to become a cheesemaker back when I worked at Whole Foods, back in 1999. I didn't even know how or why.” But in the meanwhile, Lauren Bowne was busy with attaining a law degree and a job in food policy analysis. Growing frustration with the SF rat race and her persistent interest in cheesemaking eventually encouraged this young family to make a move north to Bodega with their then 2-year-old son. They apprenticed with Patty Carlin at Bodega Goat Cheese, and eventually went on to found Gypsy Cheese Co.
“Well, we learned how to make Patty's cheese but now we needed to figure out what our cheeses were going to be!” Lauren was struggling with balancing the needs of her young son with those of a vat of culturing, fermenting curd, especially while Jon continued to work days in SF.
Noted local cheesemaker, Seana Doughty, co-owner of Bleating Heart Cheese, gave some advice that resonated with Lauren and Jon. “Whatever cheese you make has to work with the realities in your life,” Doughty said. That means, “If you need to put your 3-year-old down for a nap, you can't be in your creamery brushing wheels at the same time.”
“Feta was always in the refrigerator at home and it's not an intensively demanding cheese, so we decided to make a feta,” Lauren said. Now this bright, tangy raw goat feta, made from goat milk sourced from small local family farms, can be found in some of the top restaurants in Sonoma, Marin and SF, and in all three Oliver's Markets. Sold in either a whey-brine solution or in a delicious herb marinade fashioned from Sonoma County extra virgin olive oil, Caravan and Caravan Gold are superb, lending a bright richness to salads, roasted root vegetables or whatever dish is in need of a welcome blast of flavor.
So come on by any of the Oliver's cheese counters today. We'll direct you to the Gypsy Cheese Company's products, both their fetas and their raw goat washed-rind cheese, the Gypsy Rose, another full-flavored creation, lovingly handmade by lawyers-turned-cheesemakers with a vision.
For more information visit: www.gypsycheese.com