Artisan Cheese Elevates an American Classic

by Cara Brechler, Marketing Manager, and Liz Sullivan, Project Assistant

PeopleKaren Giacomini Howard and Jill Giacomini Basch show off their family dairy's history and cheese

The grilled-cheese sandwich has come a long way; long gone are the days of butter-soaked white bread embracing a slice of American cheese. Entire restaurants dedicated to this comfort food have sprung up. Recently, the Bon Appétit Cisco team in San Jose joined the celebration by highlighting the melty goodness of a well-made artisan grilled cheese in the cafés.

Bon Appétit Farm to Fork partner Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company collaborated with each café, challenging the chefs to use Toma, their newest cheese. Toma is a semi-hard farmstead cheese produced by the Giacomini family on their third-generation West Marin dairy farm. Intended to be a simple cheese for those who don’t like blues, Toma has a creamy texture, buttery flavor, and tangy-grassy finish.

At the Market Café's “Say (Grilled) Cheese” event, sisters Karen Giacomini Howard and Jill Giacomini Basch hosted a farm table offering samples, selling retail-size wedges in a pre-packed take-home cooler, and educating patrons about what makes farmstead cheese so special. To be classified as farmstead cheese, the milk must come from the producers' own herd of cows, goats, or sheep. Much of the production of farmstead cheese is done by hand, and as it’s made in a single location from a single herd of animals, it develops a unique flavor profile based on the animal’s feed, the climate, and the natural microbes in the air.  

All those factors must be just right for Point Reyes, because patrons left happy and smiling, carrying their coolers.  Now they will be well-equipped to go home and develop their own one-of-a-kind sandwiches! 

Photo by Cara Brechler