My friend has an outgoing son named Jack.  Before he was two, when his vocabulary was relatively limited, he used to stand in front of the refrigerator, throw his head back and yell, “Cheese…Cheese” with a passion that possessed his little body.

This morning at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market I had to hold myself back from doing this same thing in front of the Bodega and Yerba Santa Goat Dairy booth.  Being a fan of goat cheese and small, local farmers, I felt my heart quicken when I saw a mesmerizing array of goat cheeses.   The man behind the table reached out to me with a small square of Queso Fresco, speared by a toothpick.  I took the sample, popped it in my mouth and closed my eyes. Soft, flavorful with a slight hint of sea salt, it was perfect. I felt joy.  This first taste was immediately followed by an invitation to try Queso Crema, a beautiful, billowy goat cheese, sharing a cracker with Marin Gourmet’s Aubergine roasted eggplant puree.  The softness and subtle flavor of the Queso Crema combined with the tangy, smoky flavor of the Aubergine made me want to bury my face in the tub and take up permanent residence with this farmer.

I slowly emerged from my euphoria and learned more about the origins of this incredible cheese.  Javier Salmon, a third generation cheese maker from Peru made the cheese himself at their farm in Lakeport, CA.  His father made cheese for 30 years in Peru, where Javier learned cheese making as a boy. This craft has since been passed on to Daniel, Javier’s brother and the youngest son in the family, who apprenticed with Javier.

If you find yourself at the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco between April and November, seek out a spot in front of the Bodega and Yerba Santa Goat Dairy booth.  You may also find yourself seized with the pure, unfiltered passion of a toddler by this full and creative cheese and its farmer.

These cheeses are art, finely crafted through a meaningful family tradition.

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines Fan, Tara Hardesty