San Francisco to Mendocino: A Perfect Weekend Getaway

wild lilies mendocino
wild lilies mendocino
Wild lilies along the coast of Mendocino

One of my favorite road trips to take is the one from San Francisco to Mendocino. It only takes a few hours to get there, there’s plenty of farms and wineries to visit on the way and once you get there you feel like you have been transported to another world.

Getting there is half the fun!

Lets start with getting there. This could take you three hours or all day depending on how much time you have and how much you want to see.

Penny Royal Farm
Penny Royal Farm

On my most recent trip we started out by taking the tour at Penny Royal Farm. Biodynamic farming is pretty much the norm up in these parts. Animals and nature do most of the work with the help of some very skilled and passionate farmhands. Penny Royal, in Boonville, is the sister farm to the very popular Navarro Vineyard in Philo. Both towns are easily accessible on your way up to Mendocino.

Penny Royal Farm
Penny Royal Farm

We started our tour at Penny Royal Farm by learning a bit about how they process their goat and sheep’s milk for their farmstead cheeses. Unlike other farms Penny Royal drives the milk up to their creamery and pours it into vats slowly by hand as opposed to pumping it through underground pipes. This prevents the milk from getting overly churned giving their cheeses a smooth velvety texture.

The curing room at Penny Royal Farm
The curing room at Penny Royal Farm

From there we got to meet and pet the goats (including the ridiculously cute baby goats, OMG) and sheep. The animals are separated by age group and are kept in surprisingly clean and neat conditions. Lets just put it this way, if I am coming back reincarnated I want to come back as a Penny Royal goat.

The goats at Penny Royal Farm
The goats at Penny Royal Farm
Baby goats at Penny Royal Farm
Baby goats at Penny Royal Farm
The Sheep at Penny Royal Farm
The Sheep at Penny Royal Farm
Baby daddies at Penny Royal Farm
Baby daddies at Penny Royal Farm

Penny Royal also makes wine. The vines are just tall enough to where they can let miniature Babydoll sheep run through the vineyards to mow the grass but not eat the grapes. A moveable chicken coupe comes along behind the sheep to aerate the soil helping to mix the sheep’s fertilizer into the soil and eat pests. And of course, you can also buy eggs from their chickens in the tasting room. They also have an enormous composting system and an organic garden.

Penny Royal vineyards
Penny Royal vineyards
The garden at Penny Royal Farm
The garden at Penny Royal Farm

The tour finished off with a beautiful wine and cheese tasting and a primer in Bootling – the local (and nearly extinct) jargon of Boonville, since many of their cheeses have  names such as Laychee, which means milk in Bootling.

Penny Royal Cheeses
Penny Royal’s Boont Corners Tomme and Velvet Sister Camembert style Cheese
Fresh and tangy Penny Royal Laychee cheese
Fresh and tangy Penny Royal Laychee cheese

Continuing the drive through Anderson Valley is a tasty one. This is pinot noir country but also home to some very elegant Alsatian style wines like Gewürztraminer and Reisling. You really can’t go wrong at any of the wineries you pass along the 128 but Navarro and Balo Vineyards are two of my favorites. Across the street from Balo you can also taste wines at Drew Family Cellars and have an artisan pizza at Stone and Embers Pizza. Oh, ya and if you are still in Philo in the evening make sure to stop for dinner at The Bewildered Pig, a local favorite specializing in dishes made with local heritage breed meats and produce.

Navarro Vinyards
Navarro Vinyards

If you are up this way in the fall make sure to visit The Apple Farm in Philo. It wasn’t apple season this time when we stopped by but the farm still stocks their homemade jams, apple chips and famous apple juice – probably the best apple juice I’ve ever had in my life. I learned about The Apple Farm, Penny Royal Farm and Navarro Vineyards from Sarah Henry’s book, Farmsteads of the California Coast. If you like to geek out on this kind of stuff like me I recommend picking up a copy. It’s full of fun facts about each farm and the fascinating stories behind the people who run them.

The Apple Farm's apple juice
The Apple Farm’s one ingredient apple juice
The Apple Farm farmstand
The Apple Farm farmstand

Where to stay in Mendocino

If you are staying the night in Mendocino you’re staying in a bed and breakfast. I’ve stayed at a couple of really cool ones – The Algeria Inn and The McCallum House. The Alegria is right on the ocean and serves up a killer breakfast. The McCallum House has, in my option, the best restaurant and cocktail program in Mendocino. Both are centrally located in town and since Mendocino is all of about 3 blocks long,  you really can’t go wrong with either option.

The trail at The Alegria Inn to Big River Beach
The trail at The Alegria Inn to Big River Beach
Big River Beach, Mendocino
Big River Beach, Mendocino

Where to eat in Mendocino

I love the food here. Most restaurants try hard to use organic produce and sustainably farmed meat. As I said before, McCallum House is my fave. Their cocktails and food change seasonally and are always interesting. They also make everything in house from their sourdough bread, to ice-cream for desserts and bitters for drinks.

The cocktail of the day at The McCallum House
The cocktail of the day at The McCallum House

The Mendocino Cafe is my second favorite. Great for lunch or dinner you can always have a really solid meal here. Their menu is sorta all over the place ranging from curries to dumplings to Italian pastas but still manage to do all of them well. We even had meatloaf and mashed potatoes last time we went that would put your Mom’s to shame.

If it’s a nice day have lunch or a glass of wine on the patio at Flow, the only restaurant with an ocean front patio. Trillium is also a great option for dinner if you want to go high end. If you want a throw down local’s joint Patterson’s is a fun Irish pub that serves a huge menu of comfort food like fish and chips and shepard’s pie.

The bluff across the street from Flow Restaurant
The bluff across the street from Flow Restaurant

I even love the grocery stores here. Harvest Market is your main grocery store with all the regular staples plus a great local wine and housewares section.  Corners of the Mouth health food store is a not-for-profit worker operated collective like Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco only smaller. Like Rainbow they have an extensive bulk foods section filled with ingredients like spices, teas, whole grains and misos. They also carry locally made foods and skin care products.

Corners of the Mouth Market
Corners of the Mouth Market

Meandering through Mendocino along its winding beach trails is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. If you are there during the spring the whole bluff pops off with wildflowers, clovers and if you can believe it collard greens!

Wild collard greens
Wild collard greens
Wild clovers and collard greens
Wild clovers and collard greens
Succulents
Succulents
Flower garden made of wood
Flower garden made of wood

Breathtaking views, clean air and a break from the city madness await you when you travel from San Francisco to Mendocino. It is truly the perfect weekend getaway.

Beach trails in Mendocino
Beach trails in Mendocino

 

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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Where is The Nearest Filipino Restaurant Near Me

filipino restaurant near me
filipino restaurant near me
House of Sisig Kamayan Dinner

I can not stop thinking about Filipino food since I started researching it last month. In fact I have caught myself twice this week googling – “nearest filipino restaurant near me”.

It’s a delicious melting pot of different cuisines. Vibrant flavors like tamarind, sweet vinegar and fish sauce swirl through each dish invigorating the taste buds.

I’m not trying to make a generalization here, but in my experience, all of the Filipino friends I have ever made have these things in common – they are all charismatic and funny as hell, the woman are drop dead gorgeous and the essence of the word hospitality is engrained in who they are.

It would make sense then that their cuisine be as equally beautiful and heartwarming as the Filipinos themselves.

A funny thing I’ve picked up on while dining in Filipino establishments.  Every spot I go to always wants me to try their lumpia. Out of all the soups, stews, perfectly grilled meats, noodle dishes and succulent roasted pork these guys wanted me to order, for lack of a better word, fried egg rolls?

I consulted my friends on this and they confirmed it. They often judged a Filipino restaurant on how good the lumpia were. And although this tasty snack is always made with virtually the same ingredients they taste curiously different from place to place.

My favorite Filipino food experiences in San Francisco have all been really different. I’ve tried food trucks, turo turos, kamayan dinners, silog joints and pop ups. Although all of them were special experiences these are the four that stood out for me.

Click on each link below to read their story:

Elena Una

The Salo Series

The Sarap Shop

AJ’s BBQ & Cafe

filipino restaurant near me
Sisig-silog at Tselogs

Other Filipino spots to definitely check out include:

Tselogs

House of Sisig

Pampalasa

Senior Sisig

No Worries – Filipino Vegan Cuisine

The Lumpia Company

FOB Kitchen

Patio Filipino

Mitchell’s Ice-cream – for authentic Filipino flavors like ume and halo halo

I am not exaggerating when I say that Filipinos truly put their heart and soul into their food and the dining experience. Your going to be blown away by how much you are treated like family.

So when you catch yourself googling that phrase “filipino restaurant near me” think of these spots.

And remember, when you go to a Filipino restaurant don’t forget to try the lumpia!

filipino restaurant near me
Another happy customer enjoying the lumpia at AJ’s BBQ & Cafe
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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Elena Una

elena una
elena una
The crispy Lechon at Elena Una

Elena Una is surprisingly what started my journey down the Filipino highway of deliciousness. Ex chef for the President of the Philippines, Janice Lazaga takes this cuisine to the next level. She takes the bold flavors and homestyle cooking of her homeland and transforms them into the highest level of sophistication.

Elena Una
Chef Janice Lazaga

Dishes like the Oxtail Kansi – succulant braised oxtail swimming in a tangy lemongrass broth and Pacham – fried rice with crunchy lechon (slow roasted pork) with fried egg are addictive and comforting yet look like something out of a fine dining restaurant.

Elena Una
Oxtail kansi
Elena Una
Pacham with lechon and fried egg

Although her style is upscale Janice still has fun. Her playful presentation of buttery pandesal bread rolls served in a paper bag with coconut jam and butter evoked nostalgia in the Filipino friends I was dining with.

Elena Una
Pandesal

Her sisig is served traditionally in a cast iron pot with a wedge of lemon. She adds chopped white onion, tomato and jalapeno on top, which gives this rich dish a fresh crunchy element to it. The lumpia are nice and plump stuffed with not only pork but shrimp as well.

Elena Una
Sizzling Sisig

Desserts blew us away. Authentic flavors like ume (purple yam) and halo-halo (basically a hodge podge of ingredients like sweet beans, tropical fruit and evaporated milk) are used to make classic desserts like panna cotta and bread pudding. The bibingka skillet is a traditional Filipino coconut and rice cake baked and served in a cast iron pan and drizzled with caramel tableside. It will make you want to call home. Hurry up and make your reservation now, this pop up ends in April.

Elena Una
halo halo panna cotta and calamansi cheesecake
Elena Una
Berry bread pudding with coconut toffee sauce
Elena Una
Bibingka skillet

Elena Una

3347 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94123

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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The Salo Series

salo series
salo series
Yana Gilbuena presents 7 courses with JP and Kristen of The Sarap Shop at her pop up NOLI: Pag-ibig

The Salo Series hosted by my girl Yana Gilbuena, a Feastly Chef, brought Filipino cuisine to 50 states in 50 weeks. This self-proclaimed nomad travels the world putting on her pop ups and collaborating with other chefs she meets along the way. She picks up local help wherever she goes only arriving in each city with a vision. Yana credits her success to social media and says her followers contact her in advance volunteering to help out the next time her pop up lands in their city.

On the night I went to her pop up in San Francisco she was partnering with the owners of The Sarap Shop food truck. The pop up for the evening was called NOLI: Pag-ibig. This traditional kamayan dinner had untraditional twists like silverware and fancy plate presentations.

Yana met the Sarap shop guys at a Filipino food festival called  Savor Oakland last year. Together they served seven courses spread out before us on a bed of banana leaves. Yana bringing the flavors of Visayas and Sarap shop countering each course with their vegan comfort food version. Both Yana and the Sarap shop duo delivered creative riffs on classics showcasing bright, sweet and sour flavors and varied textures.

My favorite dish of Yana’s is a spin on poke. Diced salmon marinated in the flavors of Singang ,which included tamarind, soy sauce, fish sauce and thai chilies for heat. She adds a crunchy element to the dish by sprinkling chopped cornicks on top, a Filipino version of corn nuts. Sarap shop made a lovely vegan version of this with fresh diced tomato, watermelon and cucumber.

The next course was Binakol na pugo. Yana served crispy quail over an aromatic sweet and sour broth made of coconut water, coconut meat, ginger, lemongrass and moringa leaf – a medicinal plant grown in tropical climates used in Indian, Thai and Filipino cuisine. Sarap shop created what they called a “Chinese goose” – shiitake and oyster mushrooms enveloped in a bean curd wrapper floating in the same delicious broth.

For dessert Yana brewed up a hot chocolate she called Tsokolate-ey made with Thai chilies, coconut cream, semisweet chocolate, pure cacao and pinipig – pounded young rice, which was sprinkled on top for texture. While Sarap shop threw down 3 innovative takes on classic Filipino desserts – Deep fried suman – a glutinous steamed rice cake, spicy flan and a raspberry cornmeal cake topped with crumbled vegan bacon and diced mango.

All dishes were elegantly plated and accompanied by live Filipino music which consisted of  a woman on acoustic guitar and a man on the ukulele. Their beautiful voices and brought the food, music and rum cocktails into perfect harmony. If you closed your eyes you could almost hear the ocean.

Since I consider Yana an authority on Filipino cusine in America I asked for her opinion on this surge of Filipino cuisine in the bay area. She said, “Filipino cuisine is a lot like our culture, a beautiful mutt. We had so many strains of cultures come and contribute to our existing one right now from Malay, to India, to Saudi Arabia to Chinese, to Japanese, to Spanish and American. Our islands are as different and diverse, as are the people who inhabit it. That is our strength and it should be celebrated. We are highly adaptable wherever we are. Our cusine is still hard to define, especially in the American standpoint because a lot of people are alreay creating mutations and adaptations of it before it even has a chance to stand on its own. I think there should be a clear definition of Filipino food versus Filipino-American food versus Filipino-inspired.  Since it’s a “young” emerging cuisine here in the U.S., it’s best to educate people first of what it is, versus trying so hard to “Americanize” or “Frenchify” it. We don’t need western cuisines to “elevate” ours or western culinary leaders to “approve” and say, “oh, it’s great” when they have never even had “real Filipino food”. I love that Filipino cuisine is spreading all over the nation, not just the bay area. I’m really big on history and why food was made the way it was and I would love to implore other Filipino/ Filipino-American food leaders to not only serve the food, but also educate people about it.”

When I asked her what Filipino cuisine specifically meant to her, she replied simply, “family”.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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The Sarap Shop

The Sarap Shop
The Sarap Shop
The Sarap Shop

You can not help but fall in love with owners JP Reyes and Kristen Brillantes of The Sarap Shop. With his cooking chops and her passion for business they have created some of the most innovative and tasty “meals on wheels” in the bay area. If you have ever thought about opening your own food truck or you’re a sucker for love stories, I recommend checking out their article – How We Opened A Food Truck In 6 Days. It’s pretty amazing.

From the moment I read the menu with dishes like “I love my adobro” and “Why you laing” I was sold. The Sarap Shop uses their sense of humor and playfulness to make Filipino food approachable for everyone. Their menu has 50% vegan and 50% meat offerings and are all unapologetically Filipino-American. The portions are huge and all of their dishes have that classic American comfort food feel with a Filipino twist. Sarap, meaning something that is delicious and makes you feel good, defines their food.  Filipino food to JP means bringing people together. He describes his culture as “welcoming” and I agree with that 100%. His truck is family run and everyone pulls shifts as needed.

The Sarap Shop
Dynamite lumpia, I love my adobro and the vegan sisig sandwich

The vegan sisig sandwich, which JP claims started it all, consists of diced tofu cooked with vinegar and serrano chilies, stuffed in pita bread with French fries, cornices (Filipino corn nuts) and cabbage slaw, drizzled with tamarind-garlic aioli. I found it much easier to eat with a fork than to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich. It’s a hot mess (and I mean that in the best of ways) and it is ridiculously delicious.

The I love my Adobro over rice is a plate made up of crispy pork belly cooked in soy, vinegar and garlic, rice colored neon yellow with annatto seed, sweet corn and truck-made pickled bitter melon.

They have fun with their version of lumpia creating sort of a take on the jalapeño popper. Whole serrano chilies are scooped out, stuffed with ground pork and vegetables, wrapped in a lumpia wrapper and deep fried. They are served authentically with sweet chile sauce, which actually calms the heat of the spicy serranos down a bit. Warning, these are a bit addictive.

The Sarap Shop
Owner JP of The Sarap Shop

JP plans to eventually sell hot sauces and beverages called “coolers” with flavors like Jasime and pineapple in addition to their truck grub. I had to laugh one day when I was speaking with a good friend of mine who is married to a Filipino. She said she wishes she could eat Filipino food but she cant because she is a vegetarian. I smiled and said, “I know just the place for you”.

The Sarap Shop

@SOMA Street Food Park

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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AJ’s BBQ and Cafe

AJ's bbq sf
AJ's bbq sf
Owner Kevin Guevarra behind the counter at AJ’s BBQ and Cafe

AJ’s BBQ & Cafe is a turo turo,  a quick service restaurant consisting of steam tables filled with delicious home-style Filipino cooking. This turo turo was passed down to Kevin Guevarra by his family and re-opened as AJ’s BBQ & Cafe, named after his son, a couple years ago. And from what I can see he is definitely doing the family proud.

This place starts out the day by serving breakfast. Kevin makes a killer cup of coffee and sells boba teas with flavors like taro and Thai iced tea. Other morning items include donuts, breakfast burritos and more traditional Filipino fare like house-made longsilog –  pork and garlic breakfast sausages served with garlic rice and fried egg. There’s a steady stream of passerby’s who come through to grab a quick breakfast on their way to work.

Aj's bbq sf
Thai iced tea and taro root bobas and Kevin’s famous lumpia

You can find Kevin most days behind the counter cooking and chatting it up with his regulars. He’s clearly passionate about what he does and it shows. He’s not just running a business he is back there doing what he loves – cooking the foods he grew up on and making everyone feel at home. Out of all of the Filipino restaurants I’ve been to this place is like a primer on the cuisine. He was serving just about every dish I had read about and was more than happy to explain each one to me.

His lumpia shanghai are hand rolled and made with ground pork, vegetables and black pepper. He also makes a mean Sinagang consisting of pork shoulder, bok choy, green beans, ginger, eggplant, tamarind, soy sauce and fish sauce. The chicken adobo he admits is an Americanized version made simply with soy, sweet vinegar, garlic, onion and black pepper. The Laing could give the best steak houses in the city a run for their money. It’s basically creamed spinach, but not just any creamed spinach. It’s cooked with minced pork, coconut milk, ginger, fish sauce, onion and garlic. OMG.

Aj's bbq sf
Sinigang

The chicken afritada consists of chicken legs braised in tomato, chicken broth, potato, carrot, yellow onion, celery and garlic. Pancit, I learned,  is a noodle dish traditionally eaten at birthday parties. The long noodles represent long life. Kevin uses rice stick noodles for his version and cooks them down in beef broth until the broth has completely reduced. Then garlic, scallion and cabbage are tossed in which are lightly steamed by the hot noodles.

Aj's bbq sf
Pork and Chicken BBQ Skewers

You would think it couldn’t get any better than that but it does. AJ’s is known for their BBQ chicken and pork skewers. Nice fatty pieces with the skin left lends a nice crispy texture. The skewers are marinated overnight with soy, sugar and surprisingly 7-up, drained, cooked on flat top grill, taken off to rest and then grilled one again over an open fire. The result are sticks of smoky, sweet and succulent chunks of meat.

Aj's bbq sf
BBQ skewers, Boba teas, Laing, Longanisa, Chicken Afritada, Pancit and Chicken Adobo

Kevin says “every Filipino restaurant is different”. Filipino cuisine means “home cooking passed down from family” to him. He comes from Pampanga where it is known for its good cooks. He is currently messing around with a lumpia burger to put on the menu. He envisions a patty made of lumpia filling topped with a special sauce that he is still dreaming up. If it’s anything like the rest of his food I will be first in line for that.

AJ’s BBQ & Cafe

2275 San Jose ave, San Francisco, CA 94112

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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Local Spotlight – Eric Miller on a Cheese Mission

Local cheese

When you look at lists of America’s favorite foods cheese is always ranked way up there. In fact pizza lands in the number one spot on most polls.

Local cheese
Top left to right: Local cheese plate, Eric at Weirauch Farm in Petaluma, Cheese class at The Cheese School of SF, Eric competing at the Cheesemonger Invitational. Bottom left to right: House-made duck rillettes and quince paste, Eric at Preston Family Vineyards, Wheels of Pleasant Ridge Reserve at Uplands Dairy, Wisconsin. Photo by: Page Berteisen

That’s pretty interesting seeing as there are millions of Americans with a lactose intolerance.

So is it our obsession with cheese that’s making us intolerant and sick or is it the type of dairy we are consuming?

This week I sat down with Eric Miller, a local cheesemonger who promotes high quality cheeses made by local small farms.

We chatted about his top 3 favorite local cheese makers, Mission Cheese where Eric currently works and Makers Common, which is the highly anticipated sequel to Mission Cheese expected to open next year.

I couldn’t help but to think, if Americans ate cheese like the ones Eric promotes would we be healthier with less lactose intolerance? Not to mention the impact we could make by spending our dollars supporting small dairy farmers and cheesemakers versus the factory farmed dairy industry. And finally, what if we all ate artisan cheese made from pastured animals off of a plate with a fork and knife like civilized human beings instead of cramming commodity dairy processed cheese into our face with no thought at all?. Things that make you go hmmmmm…..

Makers Common
Recipe testing for Makers Common, left to right: Dutch baby with caramelized pears, Truffled egg toast, Focaccia with leeks and mushrooms, Fresno chili hot sauce, House-made coppa cotta and Llano Seco beans with poached egg. Photo by: Page Berteisen

How did you get interested in cheese?

EM: I’d have to say it was an experience eating Saint-Marcellin (which I loved) and Petit Livarot (which I hated – at the time.) I just started eating a lot of cheese, bringing cheese to parties, cooking with it at home. I won’t say I was obsessed but a lot of money was spent on cheese at home.

Do you have any formal cheesemongering education?

EM: I’m not sure there’s much in the way of formal education. I’d say most of the people I know started at a cheese counter or a restaurant that had a good cheese program. There are some great books like Mastering Cheese by Max McCalman, or Cheese Primer by Steve Jenkins. They’re good companions to the on-the-job training, which is going to be your best resource.

How long have you been working as a cheesemonger and how did you get into the industry?

EM: Eventually, work got to a point where I thought that it was time to get out of my industry and get into gourmet food. I started volunteering in the Murray’s Cheese classroom in New York as an assistant and spent over 100 hours there learning whatever I could. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the change at that time – nothing was available and I wasn’t ready to take the huge pay cut. A couple of years later it was time to make the jump and leave the cubicle behind – money be damned! San Francisco was the place and Mission Cheese is where I got my start. It really counts as my first job in food. I’ve been working with Mission Cheese for over five years at this point. I’m definitely a cheesemonger.

Do you make any cheeses yourself?

EM: I’ve only made a few fresh cheeses myself. Making super small batches of cheese is more complex than you’d think when you only have a five-gallon pot at home.

In your opinion, who are the top 3 cheese makers in the bay area right now?

EM: Such a difficult question! The Bay Area really crushes it on the cheese front these days. If I had to pick a few that are shining really bright at the moment I’d roll with Bleating Heart – they just took 2nd place at the American Cheese Society’s annual conference for Buff Blue. Barinaga Ranch who took 1st place in their category for Baserri. It’s bittersweet for the industry because Marcia Barinaga is retiring. And I was just snacking on some cheese from Garden Variety – it’s been a while since I’ve had any of their cheese and it’s still amazing!

What are they doing that makes them stand out from the others?

EM: Bleating Heart is really creative and making some truly inspired blue cheese that’s different from everyone else. I love the different blues they make. They really stand out. Barinaga and Garden Variety are some amazing farmstead cheesemakers that not only love their animals, but they love their land just as much. They know that if the land isn’t cared for you’re not going to have the best cheese.

What are your favorite cheeses of theirs?

EM: Right now, Buff Blue from Bleating Heart, Baserri from Barinaga, and Black Eyed Susan from Garden Variety.

Tell me about Mission Cheese.

EM: Mission Cheese is here to celebrate they amazing work of American artisan cheesemakers. The American cheese movement is relatively young in comparison to the industry in Europe and for years has been grossly underrepresented at cheese counters in America. The owners of Mission Cheese, Sarah & Oliver, have really made it clear that we’re here to support this industry in every way we possibly can. So we serve up beautiful cheese flights, grilled cheese sandwiches, and killer Mac n Cheese, and more. I started our pickling and in-house charcuterie programs several years ago and it’s been doing really well.

Do you carry any local seasonal cheeses there? What would be an example of a seasonal cheese?

EM: All the cheeses that I mentioned before would be examples of seasonal cheeses. Pretty much all of the sheep’s milk cheese we get is seasonal – sheep aren’t as cooperative at breeding outside of their natural cycle like goats and cows. There are a lot of cow and goat cheeses that are seasonal but probably almost as many that are made year ‘round.

Tell me about Makers Common.

EM: I’ve partnered up with Sarah and Oliver to open Maker’s Common and couldn’t be more excited! We’re going to take everything we’ve done at Mission Cheese and expand upon it. We’ll still focus on American artisan cheese, charcuterie, wine, and beer but will also have a full kitchen, and a dedicated retail area with a cheese and charcuterie counter and more.

We’ve already signed a ten-year lease in downtown Berkeley and construction will start in the beginning of November. The space is about three times bigger than Mission Cheese and will have a nice big outdoor patio. This will allow us to do family-style dinners, produce more in-house charcuterie, and increase our pickle production.

We’re still raising money through a Direct Public Offering so anyone in the state of California can actually invest. To date we’ve raised over $400,000 that has come mostly from the Bay Area. I encourage everyone to check out the Maker’s Common website and get involved. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

What is your role going to be there?

EM: Well, it’s a small business so it’ll definitely be some of everything, ha! But I’ll be taking the role of GM, Culinary Director, and Charcuterie Guy. Of course, the plan is to get someone on board that can take on more menu development and such but I’m working on the opening menu. I’ll also have to become a state certified Meat Processing Facility Inspector for our charcuterie production. Jealous?

That’s cool! Which local vendors will you be using at Makers common?

EM: We work with a lot of cheesemakers directly in the Bay Area but we’ll also use Tomales Bay Foods, Cream & The Crop, Food Matters Again, Chef’s Warehouse, and a few others for cheese and charcuterie. For produce we’ll do as much farm-direct as we can. For meat we have some great relationships with some of our cheesemakers that keep hogs but also look forward to working with Llano Seco as much as possible. We haven’t even gotten into the wine and beer side!

Tell me more about the charcuterie program you are developing for Makers Common. 

EM: We’ll have cooked items like pates, terrines, and such but for fermented items like salami or whole muscle cuts like a coppa I want to make everything we do transparent. It drives me crazy that there are still so many restaurants that make delicious meats but keep it all hidden from the inspectors – and the public! Having staged at Olympia Provisions as well as Trou Normand in production makes me want to make the best product I can make.

I hope to work with Llano Seco as well as some local farmers that will be able to hook me up with some of their hogs, lambs, and goats.

What is your favorite thing about working in the restaurant industry in San Francisco?

EM: I really love that every one I’ve worked with shares their techniques, recipes, and processes. This is how we all learn to be better cooks and producers. We’re all trying to up our game and you just can’t do that if you’re not willing to explore ideas with others. When you work in a vacuum you’re working with one hand tied behind your back. You need people around to provide inspiration.

After talking with Eric besides, being hungry for cheese, I was inspired. People like him and restaurants like these are the driving force behind supporting your community and farm to table foods. I am in love with Mission Cheese and can’t wait for Makers Common to open.

I know when I am in the mood for some cheesy goodness I would much rather eat a product that was made by hard-working people who take pride in their work and care about the impact they are making on our environment than something that resembles rubber and is made from sick animals. But hey, that’s just me.

 

Eric Miller
Photo by: Page Berteisen

Eric is the director of the in-house charcuterie program and cheesemonger at Mission Cheese. After escaping his former cubicle life, he is now creating traditional charcuterie with an American flair, along with pickles, and desserts, and other delicious items as part of his new project, Maker’s Common. A native New Yorker, Eric has spent numerous hours helping educate the masses about the art of meats and cheeses at the legendary Murray’s Cheese. As an enthusiastic transplant to the west coast, he’s always excited about bringing his New York know-how to San Francisco’s fresh food scene.

To learn more about Makers Common click here or shoot Eric an email at eric@makerscommon.net

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.
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