CHEESE TO PLEASE Cheese toasties and smoked salmon with fromage blanc are two breakfast standouts at Cowgirl.
Cowgirl Creamery doesn't really need an introduction. The Petaluma-based company already has solid representation in San Francisco's Ferry Building Market, and West Marin weekend getaways are unimaginable without a stop at the Point Reyes Station shop and creamery.
Since this past June and lasting through Nov. 7, cheese lovers can spend more than a few minutes at the busy Marin County location, thanks to a Saturday breakfast menu, scheduled to coincide with the Point Reyes Station weekend farmers market. And what do you know, cheese is the central breakfast ingredient.
On a typical cloudy Point Reyes Station morning, this felt like an exciting addition to the creamery's Cantina, which now opens an hour earlier on Saturday, at 9am. It's a hit. On my visit, the kitchen was already running out of items an hour into the service.
The menu is short and sweet—or, rather, short and savory. All items are made with excellent cheese, much of it made in-house. Skipping the heavier eggs and grits and the yogurt with granola, we started with a cold snack, smoked salmon bites with fromage blanc ($7.95). The two "bites" turned out to be crispy, buttery toast points, covered with small mountains of tangy, creamy cheese and topped with bits of cured salmon. If the Ikea salmon bagel underwent a Northern California upgrade, this would be it. It's a classic, elegant morning treat.
We also managed to order the very last baked egg sandwich
with sautéed mushrooms, Gruyère and herbs ($7.25), another upscale take on a well-known combo.
The Gruyère is smoky and nuanced, and the mushrooms and thyme flattered its deep flavor.
The best of the lot was a sleeper item, humbly hiding under a golden crust of melted cheese. The menu read "Cheese Toasties": open-faced grilled cheese with Cabot cheddar, caramelized onions and maple mustard ($7.95). One bite and we were hopelessly hooked. The rich onion and sharp cheddar are a perfect match, and the spicy mustard gave the whole thing an unexpected, exotic twist. Utterly delicious, and thanks to its reasonable size, no food coma followed.
The delicate, lavender crème fraîche scone ($3.95) was packed to go and eaten later with great pleasure on the road. Unlike other scones I've had, this one didn't crumble and had a soft, cookie-like texture. It wasn't too sweet either. I can imagine pairing it with Brie or blue cheese.
In the midst of all this cheesy joy, only one thing was missing: plates. The breakfast items were packed in recyclable to-go cartons, and though we ate on the patio, a slightly less picnic-like setting would be nice.
The Cowgirl folks are certainly used to hordes of people buying their goods to nibble on later, but the breakfast is well worth lingering over.
Cowgirl Creamery 80 Fourth St.,
Point Reyes Station. 415.663.9335.