Sunday, December 7, 2014

Marin French Cheese Company ~ An American Original

Road Sign marking the Marin French Cheese Factory
Marin French Cheese Factory Road Sign
The words “idyllic” and “pastoral” were invented to describe places like the Marin French Cheese Company.  Also known as The Cheese Factory and by its brand, Rouge et Noir, the company was established in 1865, making it the oldest cheese manufacturer in the United States.

Located half way between Petaluma and Point Reyes Station on Red Hill Road, the Marin French Cheese Company is surrounded by rolling green countryside and nearby olive orchards.  A large duck pond and picnic area welcome visitors on their approach to the unassuming production facility and retail store.

Cheese showcase at the Marin Cheese Factory retail store
Showcase at Marin French retail store
Specializing in soft-ripened European style cheeses, the company first sold its products to saloons in San Francisco for consumption by miners and dock workers. The label on its Rouge et Noir Breakfast Cheese even proclaims it as San Francsico’s first cheese. Soon, though, the Marin French Cheese Company will truly be French.  According to an April 2011 press release, Rians, a family-owned French cheese company has bought Marin French.  By all accounts, this relationship is expected to benefit both companies.

Wedges of Rouge et Noir Blue Cheese and Schlosskranz
Rouge et Noir Blue Cheese and Schlosskranz
Although Brie and Camembert may be the best known cheeses at Marin French, our personal favorites are the Rouge et Noir Schlosskranz and the Marin French Blue. Soft, creamy and subtle, the Blue is a delicate delight on the tongue while the smear-ripened Schlosskranz is a sharp, pungent and unforgettable Marin French original.

Anyone who doesn't yet have a favorite Rouge et Noir cheese has plenty of options for discovering one.  Affordable variety packages are available at hundreds of retail locations and through their online store.

 If at all possible, though, the best introduction to Rouge et Noir cheeses is to visit their factory and store on Red Hill Road.  It's like going back to a time and place that few would ever want to leave.