Each month, if not more frequently, my husband and I head out for a culinary adventure throughout Sonoma County. This month, we split our trip between historical culinary treasure Willie Bird Turkeys and new-to-the-culinary scene Moonside Creamery. Together they absolutely represent Sonoma County as a whole plate! If you combine the products produced by both companies, you have so many options as to what to make for dinner. I have provided you with a few simple suggestions along with a couple of recipes that combine these epicurean delights.

Moonside Creamery, located in the town of Bodega, produces artisan Jersey cow milk cheeses along with mixed milk cheeses, including buffalo milk from nearby Double 8 Dairy and Jersey cow milk from neighboring Lepori Dairy, which is certified organic. Cheesemaker Jennifer Kirkham has been producing cheese professionally in Sonoma County for four years. She started as cheesemaker at both Pug’s Leap Cheese and Tomales Farmstead Creamery, where she earned national awards for her cheesemaking skills.

Now, having established her own creamery, she produces two delicious cheeses: Lunetta and Grady’s Wheel. Lunetta is a pure Jersey cow milk cheese, which produces a rich creamy flavor, and the Grady’s Wheel blends Jersey cow milk and Buffalo milk, creating a unique and silky flavor.
Currently Moonside Creamery does not offer farm tours, although you may find her cheeses at Freestone Cheese Shop and your local Oliver’s Markets and Petaluma Market. Look for Moonside Creamery cheeses on the menu at Willie’s Wine Bar—and as she grows her company, we will see her cheeses throughout Sonoma County.

Willie Bird Turkeys are synonymous with Sonoma County. I first had Willie Bird turkey at a Select Sonoma County Event at Saralee’s Vineyard when I was in culinary school. This event was way ahead of its time, as Saralee’s hosted “Taste of Sonoma County,” enabling guests to enjoy tastes of all-foods-Sonoma County, including Willie Bird turkeys.

Our family has a few favorites, including the turkey bacon and turkey links. By far our longtime family favorite is the smoked turkey breast. We purchase the 5-pound-ish smoked turkey breast and have it sliced paper-thin, then we tend to enjoy it on just about everything, from sandwiches or tossed in an omelet to mixed in pasta or a soup. Recently we enjoyed mini-slider rolls from Costeaux French Bakery with sliced Willie Bird turkey, Kozlowski Farms mustard, melted Joe Matos St. George cheese and fresh salad greens from Green String Farm. Yes, it was delicious, and it was very Sonoma County!

Willie Bird Turkeys are known for their high quality, free-range meats. They continue to use low sodium in all their meats, which make them always taste fresh and delicious and which is why so many chefs around the county love their products. Their smokehouse, where they smoke all-natural, no-added flavors and use sweet maple and hardwoods for their smoke, is located in East Sonoma County (not open to the public). Their retail shop is located in West Santa Rosa, where there is a deli and meat shop take-out. This is a must-stop for a true taste of Sonoma. Look for Willie Bird Turkeys in the Williams Sonoma catalogue, your local butcher shop and, of course, drop in and say hi and enjoy a taste. Next time you think turkey, think Willie Bird Turkeys.   SD

Moonside Creamery Fondue
Created by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection

Yields fondue for 4-6 guests

1/2 pound Moonside Creamery Grady’s Wheel, shredded
1/2 pound Lunetta cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, sifted
1 garlic clove, pressed and save juice
1 cup Sonoma County Chardonnay
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
*Optional to add in 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme and 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Combine grated cheeses in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch and dry mustard, coating cheese evenly.
In a heavy-bottom pot, over medium heat, add the wine, lemon juice and garlic and bring to a simmer. Whisk in salt and pepper, gradually whisking in the cheese. Once smooth and creamy, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with roasted vegetables, fresh baked breads and roasted Willie Bird turkey sausages. Enjoy with a glass of Merry Edwards Chardonnay or a glass of Horse and Plow hard apple cider.

‘A Taste of Sonoma County’ Sandwich
Created by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection

Willie Bird turkey, Kozlowski Farms mustard, melted Moonside Creamery Lunetta cheese and fresh salad greens from Green String Farm, served on a Costeaux French Bakery brioche slider roll.

Moonside Creamery, facebook.com/moonsidecreamery/
Willie Bird Turkeys, williebird.com
Merry Edwards Winery, merryedwards.com
Horse and Plow, horseandplow.com