Last weekend I had a chance to check out Freestone Artisan Cheese. Wild Flour Bread Bakery, a stone’s throw away and the town’s main attraction, was overrun, judging from the cars parked helter-skelter on the road, and this cheese shop was buzzing too on Saturday.
Omar Mueller is the owner and cheesemonger. The cheeses are mostly from Sonoma and Marin counties, and as far as I could tell, all domestic. Besides cheese, locally produced olive oils and vinegars are available for tasting. Despite the constant peppering of questions and requests for tastes from the many potential customers clustered in front of him, Mueller managed to keep up and made each of us feel looked after and well served. With his engaging manner and generous sampling, it seemed to me that everyone leaves with a purchase.
Maybe I took longer studying the case than others do. Soon he said, “You’re the ideal kind of clients. You hang back, study all the labels, keep to yourself. Just ask, you’re welcome to taste anything.” I replied, “Well, I’m trying to find something I haven’t tasted before.” Though I didn’t mean to throw down the gauntlet, he seemed to enjoy the challenge of attempting to introduce me to something new. We wound up trying more than 20 cheeses, all in impeccable condition, and I’ve posted about some of them on the Cheese Board.
Gypsy Rose by Gypsy Cheese Co. of Valley Ford CA [Sonoma County]
Kenne by Tomales Farmstead Creamery [Marin County]
Bay Blue by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. [Marin County]
Mayor of Nye Beach Washed Rind [Oregon]
Buffalo Manchego by North Bay Curds and Whey [Valley Ford, Sonoma County]
Harbison from Jasper Hill
Eventually we bought a couple old favorites: Harbison and Fiscalini San Joaquin Gold, plus the new (to me) Gypsy Rose. Best cheese of the day though was a water buffalo blue that has not been released for sale yet. Mueller said it should be ready in a couple weeks.
The cheese inventory is not marked with prices . . . which bugs me. Cheeses are pegged at three price points: $19, $27 and $34 per pound. The level of service, carefully curated selection and excellent condition found here don’t come cheap. While the shop is too far out of the way and the cost too dear to be my regular cheese source, this is the place to discover small production North Coast cheeses that have very limited distribution.
Freestone Artisan Cheese
380 Bohemian Hwy
Freestone, CA 95472