Tasty Marin-Sonoma Sojourn: The Cheese Trail

Venture to West Marin for a tasty day not far from Tomales Bay.

CULINARY ADVENTURE: When you point your vehicle in the direction of Tomales Bay, you understand that A) view-enjoying shall be had (and how) and B) food-savoring will be experienced and C) family stories and histories will likely come in to play, given West Marin's layered history of farms, fishing, and sustenance-makery. Doing all of this at a bay-close spread that's weathered a century and a half, quite handsomely, only ups the general vibe of "I'm on a flavorful field trip that is delivering on several positive fronts." For you've got one of California's nicest nooks of tucked-into-land ocean water, you've got the possibility of quality cheese enjoyment, and you've got Straus Home Ranch, an organic spread in Marshall, a spot right on Highway 1, on Tomales Bay, next to Cypress Grove (as if the general location pleasingness factor could not be further upped).

YOUR CHEESE TRAIL BASE: Helmed by siblings Michael, Miriam, and Vivien Straus, the farm, and what it represents, is a family birthright of sorts, or at least a rustic yet stately symbol of the bucolic pleasures of the area. The trio's mom co-founded the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and Vivien's work on the popular Cheese Trails app will be known to anyone who has ever goat-cheese'd and gouda'd their way around the county. If a field trip to nosh around a bit while staying at a ranch straight out of the 1800s -- with a few charming modcons, of course -- tempts, then make for the...

THE CHEESE TRAIL... which has, via Vivien, culinary and familial connection to the rentable ranch. You don't have to book the property for a weekend to head out onto the creamy byways of both Sonoma and Marin -- the ranch and The Cheese Trail are separate, save in spirit and family ties -- so if all you can muster is some muenster-tasting, and a few hours spent with schloss and brie, that's a-ok to do, too. You can find the open-to-the-public Cheese Trail participants here, and info on The Cheese Trail app created by Ms. Straus. As for the ranch? Pretty pictures this way. As for cheese-fragrant daydreams and vistas along the Tomales Bay? We'll accurately predict those to be inside your head and heart, but they can be, with a pinch of planning, made real.

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