• Washed- Rind Teleme
“At first glance, the oozy, rectangular block of cheese called Teleme might look a lot like Taleggio, but don’t get them confused: whereas Taleggio is dense, Teleme, which was one of, if not the, first cheeses to be produced in the San Francisco Bay Area, is almost supernaturally light and fudgy, with bright flavors of citrus and fresh milk when young, becoming more robust, earthy, and mushroomy as it ages. It’s one of the best cheeses produced on American soil, and Franklin’s Teleme is made by a third-generation cheesemaker whose family has been producing this same exact cheese for 98 years.” – Raymond Hook, The Daily Meal
“Now, you and me, we can admit that a washed-rind Teleme is a Taleggio, right? Even if name-control-wise we can’t call it that. I mean geez, I’ve been selling Teleme as “Taleggio without the washed rind” for a decade and a half now… This sample cheese was awesome. It was falling apart a little. But that was because the ooze factor was so high. Like Teleme, this is not a strong cheese, despite the stink, but a rich slightly pungent one that is super hard to stop eating. I brought our remaining sample to the Bay Area Cheesemonger party last week where it was well-received for sure.” – Gordon Edgar, Author and Cheese Monger
• Franklin’s Teleme
This soft, creamy white cheese has a slightly tangy, even lemony flavor and a pronounced runny quality. It is enjoyed both as a table cheese and as an ingredient cheese by chefs, who use it as a signature cheese in such dishes as risottos and pizzas.
“Franklin’s Teleme is a true, unique original, and is consistently a favorite among our students at The Cheese School of San Francisco. Creamy, buttery, and tangy, it’s a perfect pair with sweet summer peaches or a drizzle of honey. It’s a bit of California heaven. ” Sara Vivenzio , The California Cheese School
FRANKLIN’S TELEME: The Taste of California Cheese Heritage
By Judy Creighton
California’s early cheese heritage was influenced by immigrant cheesemakers world who brought their skills and recipes to their new country. With an abundance of rich pasture and temperate climate, cheesemaking in California has thrived. In the early 1900s, a new cheese was created by a Greek cheesemaker in Pleasanton while trying to make feta. Feta turns crumbly but in a surprise of cheesemaking, but this batch turned creamy. Thus Teleme (tella-may) was born. Its style has the fresh tang and creaminess derived from California milk. Several other cheesemaker families also began producing it. One was a family of Italian heritage, the Pelusos in Los Banos. In 1925 when Giavonni Peluso began production of this cheese, followed by his son, Frank Peluso. It has now become a highly regarded California cheese treasure.
Almost a century later, Franklin Peluso, third generation cheesemaker since1980, continues the family tradition of handmade Teleme production. Each batch of Teleme curds is squeezed and pressed by hand to get exactly the right texture and moisture content. Made exclusively in California, it has become nationally respected in the new American artisan cheese movement. It defines the meaning of a true artisan cheese: handmade, local and original.
Teleme elicits rich praise from cheese experts: Sam Mogannam owner of BiRite Market in San Francisco calls it “rich and luscious…you can’t ask for more in a cheese”. Ray Bair, American Cheese Society judge and owner of Cheese Plus in San Francisco describes it as “quintessential California, sexy and sophisticated with back country charm.
As a Northern California local cheese, it quickly became a favorite of the North Beach Italian delicatessens in San Francisco with its resemblance to the Stracchino cheeses of Italy. It’s seductive simplicity became a local Bay Area secret. Through the years the Peluso Family continued to produce Teleme as all others stopped. This dedication to the production and preservation of a unique California cheese has made the Peluso Family an icon in artisan cheesemaking. Franklin Peluso is now owner of Mid Coast Cheese Company producing his Teleme in the central coast area of Los Banos, California.
Teleme is a soft, creamy cheese that has the tangy mildness of the California milk flavor profile. If one appreciates the “terroir” of local pastures, then this is truly the cheese personality of the West. While Monterey Jacks are made everywhere in the country, Teleme is only made in California. To experience the true taste of California cows milk as made into cheese, try Teleme.
The versatility of Teleme is impressive. When young, it’s mild, slightly tangy and firm and sliceable. As it ages it develops a more complex flavor and creamier texture. Teleme is distinctively dusted with rice flour, then aged while exposed to air. The surface dries forming a crust as the center becomes creamier. When it gets runnier as it ages, Teleme lovers are delighted by its liquid “cheese cream” state. Serving at room temperature is must.
Teleme is a tasty lunch served with olives and salame on sourdough bread or an elegant dessert with apples or pears. The Cheese School of San Francisco serves it on peaches with a drizzle of local honey. Cooking with Teleme offers a flavor and texture unequalled by any other. A dab of Teleme on a hot grilled burger instantly melts, a dollop in polenta or risotto adds magic, lay slices over roasted vegetables on a pizza. Serve simply on toasted baguette for breakfast. Gordon Edgar, Cheese Buyer at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco says “I use it at home for almost everything”.
While it’s made in 6-pound squares and cut to order at your preferred cheese shop. Enjoy Franklin’s Teleme fresh from the cheese market. Serve alone or on a cheeseboard with a glass of Viognier or Pinot Grigio. Teleme should become a part of your basic cheese pantry.
• Nutritional Label