Glorious Cheese – Anaviv & Cowgirl Creamery

 

At Anaviv we instinctively understand that at the center of celebrating life is food. We are committed to facilitating your celebration’s with the best possible food, and service. One of our signature offerings are mouthwatering cheese boards. A glorious cheese board brings joy to every guest. At Anaviv cheese is serious business, and it starts with sourcing our cheeses from the best possible cheese makers in Northern California. Our very own Director of Operations, Dee Wagner is a serious cheese aficionado and is responsible for building close relationships with our preferred purveyors of organic cheese. One of our closest relationships is with the award-winning Cow Girl Creamery in Northern California.

Cow Girl Creamery

About an hour north of San Francisco in the picturesque city of Point Reyes, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith in 1997 launched Cowgirl Creamery. Their goal was to make handcrafted, fresh, cheeses – such as forage blanc and creme fraiche with organic cow’s milk sourced from Marin and Sonoma counties. Since then that small dairy business has grown into a nationwide artisan cheese powerhouse; and the main supplier of cheeses for Anaviv.

Cow Girl’s Creamery commitment to quality and craftsmanship has won them over 70 plus awards for their cheeses. As Smith says “Our products reflect the bounty of Marin County, and support the viability of local agriculture.”

Their most well known cheeses are the infamous Mt Tam (named after Mt. Tamalpais – an elegant triple cream) and Red Hawk (made using native and wild bacteria to West Marin).

Under the direction of Head Cheesemaker, Maureen Cunnie – Cow Girl Creamery now offers 4 seasonal kinds of cheese: Devils Gulch in winter, St Pat in spring, Pierce Pt in summer, and Chimney Rock in fall. All the cheeses are made with milk from John Taverna’s Jersey Dairy. As Conley puts it “We’re simply trying to make delicious cheeses that reflect the unique quality of the milk that we use.”

Curating a Cheese Board
Curating a cheese board for all of Anvil’s events is the purview of Dee Wagner, and we asked her to demystify the science and art of putting together a sublime cheese offering. Dee starts by opening a conversation with a client and discussing any existing preferences for different variety of cheeses. Dee agrees with the recommendation of the American Cheese Society to typically offer 4 to 5 kinds of cheese, as too many can overwhelm the palate.

When choosing cheeses Dee recommends incorporating different types of milk (sheep, cow, goat – and blends), and textural variety (soft, semi-hard, hard, and aged). One important consideration is to serve cheese at room temperature for optimum flavor. In addition, Dee recommends cutting cheese in advance of serving, not too thinly, and to be cautious against letting cheese dry out. Soft crumbly cheeses benefit from being cut with a wire, and all others with a sharp knife to maintain the initial integrity and shape of the cheese. When arranging the cheese on the board space the cheese evenly, consider scale, rhythm, and the focal feature of each cheese.

Cheese Accompaniments

The pairing of other foods with cheese should focus on being visually enticing, we eat with our eyes after all; and focused on complimenting the flavor of the cheese. Dee suggests serving before-dinner cheese accompanied by savory olives, nuts, and chutneys. Alternatively, if the cheese is being served as a dessert or an after-dinner amuse bouche, then consider dried fruits, grapes, apples, pear, strawberries, blackberries, figs, honey, and jams. Always be mindful of the cheese’s texture when paired with various accompaniments, and the choice of crusty bread or crackers. At your next event don’t forget to add a cheese offering, it is sure to delight the taste buds of every guest, and at Anaviv we can facilitate the sourcing of the best cheese in Northern California.

If you’d like to try the Cow Girl Creamery cheeses they are located at Pt Reyes Shop & Creamery, Tomales Bay Foods: 80 Fourth Street, Point Reyes Station, Ca 94956, Tel: (415) 663-9335

New Mexico Comfort Food

Pozole

Comfort Food At Christmas

Everyone has their version of the “must have” dish during the holidays and usually these dishes have roots in our shared family experiences. Chef Ed Vigil, of Anaviv’s Table in Richmond says that Pozole is the dish that reminds him most of home with his grandparents in New Mexico. Vigil, an army brat, grew up all over the world but both of his parents are from New Mexico—-The Vigil’s near Albuquerque and the Garcia’s near Sante Fe. Both families make Pozole—pronounced Po-zo-le for Christmas Dinner but with slight variations. Pozole’s primary ingredient is hominy made from shelled dried corn. It is puffy and slightly resembles the flavor of a corn tortilla. The dish is thought to have originated with the Aztec Indians who worshiped the Corn God and made the dish during feasts and celebrations. According the Vigil, the beauty of pozole—kind of a cross between a stew and a soup—-is that it allows you lots of freedom to create your personal version. Pozole can be made with chicken but pork is really the way to go for traditional flavors. Vigil prefers pork neck bones as the base but says pork shoulder (preferred by Grandma Vigil) works just as well. 

Pozole is usually made either with red chiles or green chiles but Vigil makes the one common in New Mexico Pozole Blanco with  both red and green Chile sauces on the side along with lots of other tasty condiments. This dish takes some time but it only gets better as a left over. It’s a great dish for a chilly December night. 

 

Makes one Hefty Pot serves 10

Ingredient List

Soup Base

8 quarts of water or chicken stock for richer broth

4  8 oz cans pozole or 1 number 10 can

4 tablespoons Mexican oregano

2 Beers of your choice lighter the better

4 pounds cubed pork shoulder

5 pounds of pork neck bones

2 white onions  chopped

6 cloves garlic  chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin, coriander

1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup of fat of your choice (olive oil, lard, bacon drippings, duck fat)

Heat up stock pot with 1/4 cup of fat, brown all ingredients except liquid,  oregano and pozole until slightly caramelized.  Add beer and cook until reduced. Add water or stock bring to boil reduce and simmer 1 hour and add pozole and oregano continue cooking for 1 1/2 more until meat falling off bone. Keep at simmer entire time. Let cool and remove bones if you desire.

Green Chile Sauce makes 2 quarts (will keep in fridge)

1 large white onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano

1 bay leaf

6 4 oz cans of hatch green chiles (trader joes)

8 ounces cold water

Salt and pepper sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

In a 6 quart sauce pan combine all ingredients simmer for 45 minutes taste for salt, pepper, cumin.Blend in blender in small batches  while still warm. Make sure blender set on low to avoid large mess in kitchen. Can serve that day but better the next day serve room temperature

Red Chile Sauce

12 to 14 Dried Red New Mexico Chile Pods destemmed with some seeds shaken out. Cut into ribbons with a pair of kitchen shears. 

1 large white onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano

1 bay leaf

Rind from 1/2 an orange

8 ounces cold water

Salt and pepper sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

In a 6 quart sauce pan combine all ingredients simmer for 45 minutes taste for salt, pepper, cumin.Blend in blender in small batches  while still warm. Make sure blender set on low to avoid large mess in kitchen. Can serve that day but better the next day serve room temperature

Other condiments:Shaved Red Cabbage, Shaved Radishes, Limes, Flour or Corn Tortillas. 

Heat up pozole, serve in bowls with Chile sauces and condiments on the side.