Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cows Say "Cheese!"

So, I went to junior high and high school with this guy named Jim. Jim married this gal named Nicole. I became Facebook friends with Nicole after my 20 year high school reunion, and then on a plane one day I got a group message from Nicole to her friend Mary Rumiano and me. She said, “I want to introduce you two. Mary’s family owns a cheese company and Billie dresses up in a cow suit, so it seems like you two should meet.” Or something like that.  On a four hour flight with the plane’s wifi, I had ample time to “stock” Mary’s profile. When I saw that the cheese company was in Crescent City, California…I KNEW THE COW SUIT WOULD GET THERE!

My mom didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but one thing she budgeted for was a week vacation each summer. We had two different ones to the Oregon and northern California coast and our FAVORITE hotel and FAVORITE beach were in Crescent City. I’ve been back once about ten years ago and decided to make another trip this year. Yeah, yeah…seeing the redwoods and the Oregon Coast and the kites and the waves and the tide pools are all great things for kids (and adults) to experience, but COWS SEEING HOW CHEESE IS MADE???  That doesn’t happen every day, but by golly, it happened on our vacation.
This is Jack. On our way to try some Jack Cheese!
So…this cheese factory…let me tell you. These people are amazing!  They were so nice and gave us a great explanation of their operations and history.  They could really use to get their employees some cow suits though. One of the gals in the office looked at us so wistfully.  To heck with casual Friday—how about was Cow Suit Tuesday!
The calves' older teenage sister took this pic.
We invite her every time to wear a suit,
and...well,  her reaction is udderly normal.
Rumiano Cheese is fourth generation run. FOUR GENERATIONS.  Pictured here are Baird and his son Joby. Baird casually said at one point, “Our signature cheese will be transported and aged in cellars that my grandfather built in 1921.”  Whoa.  Nineteen. Twenty. One. 

Baird added that his chief cheese makers have been with them for over 30 years.  I hadn’t had a sample at this point.  It got a little harder to pay attention the more he talked about their flavors and manufacturing methods.

To ensure their top quality operations are maintained, they aren't able to offer tours, but you can get a glimpse through the window in their store. And we were some lucky cows to know one of the Rumiano herd who arranged our lesson in the cheese manufacturing flow. 
Getting a glimpse of their udderly amazing operations!
On the day that we stopped by to say “Moo”, they were making some reduced fat cheddar specifically for school lunch programs. They talked us through their processes from the brown cows that provide the milk (pft—not the black and white Holsteins like us), the machines that make the curds and whey, when the actual cheese forms, how it’s packaged, how the whey protein is extracted into the most pure and finest concentration of whey protein in the world (in the world!), how they test for purity, and then how they treat their waste water and recycle it.

A snapshot of any given aspect of Rumiano Cheese could offer business class examples of best practices and success. One of my favorite aspects of their operations is that they are Non GMO certified, USDA Organic and the cows that provide their milk have year-round access to pasture. They are certified American Humane.  And we can attest—they were sooo nice to us cows!!
They've got a great little store and they ship!
(more so in the winter months when the
quality of their product can be easier maintained)
Be on the lookout for Rumiano cheese! The cows favorites are the mild cheddar and smoked dry jack. And the curds… the cows LOVED Rumiano cheese curds! Of course we did. Who wouldn’t? Especially after getting the inside look at Rumiano Cheese—curd-esy of Baird and Joby. Moooochas gracias!

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