We Wanna Be Friends With: "First Lady of Fromage" Laura Werlin
Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.
Sure, most cheese-loving ladies would like to be called "The First Lady of Fromage," but we'd just be kidding ourselves. Laura Werlin is a James Beard award-winning author, teacher at the SF Cheese School, and has six cheese-related books under her belt, including her most recent Mac & Cheese, Please! which includes 50 insanely delicious recipes.
There are few San Franciscans who inspire us more than Laura (she eats cheese for a living and can still scale SF hills with ease), so interviewing her for our We Wanna Be Friends With Q&A was a no-brainer.
1. What neighborhood do you currently call home? Would you ever move or are you happy in your 'hood?
LW: Lower Pacific Heights – That word “Lower” makes all the difference. It means I’m among people of all kinds and close to the Fillmore Jazz District, the Kabuki theater, Japantown, and SPQR, my fave. Just try moving me. I’m not budging.
2. What's your hands-down, last meal on earth, absolutely favorite thing to eat in SF?
I’d start with any of the 40 or so cheeses in my fridge and put them on Tartine bread.
I’d also want Rich Table’s fennel-studded levain and cultured butter, and as long as I’m having my last meal in starch land, I’d ask Chef Matthew Accarrino from SPQR to whip up his parsnip tortelli, smoked honshimeji mushrooms, and espresso-aged cheese pasta (or my name for that dish: Decadent).
Hopefully, wine chief and SPQR owner Shelley Lindgren would offer one of her stellar Italian wine selections to send me on my way into SF food heaven, though maybe en route, Lindgren’s husband Greg would follow me with his Rye on the Road cocktail business and pour me Manhattans all the way up to the sky.
3. What's your perfect night on the town?
I love cocktails even if they don’t always love me (ahem), so I’ll start with a Negroni at Cotogna. And heck, I’ll stay put and have absolutely anything on the menu. It’s that good. But then, I might go across town to former Cotogna wine director David Lynch’s place, St. Vincent. The wine program there rocks, and the wines? Did I say David Lynch? That’s all you need to know. I’d finish closer to home with a cocktail at Absinthe. Even after all these years, I still love the vibe there.
4. When you need a low-key afternoon, where do you go for down time?
I’m kind of a simpleton at heart, so I’ll just go around the corner from my house to Fraîche, where I’ll get one of their super refreshing organic frozen yogurts, sit on the banquette, and catch up on the weekend before the Sunday NY Times. And yeah, I might bop into the French boutique, Cotélac, or Heidi’s Shoes on Fillmore, where it’s free to look.
5. What's your favorite place to go on a day trip from the city?
I’ve really begun to like Petaluma. I have great friends there, I love the small town vibe (gotta see the Butter & Egg Days Parade for yourself), and some of America’s best cheesemakers are just a stone’s throw from town. One of those–Cowgirl Creamery–is even in town.
Plus, the Artisan Cheese Festival is held there every March, so that dairy town has my name written all over it.
6. Quick-fire round (pick one)
Burrito or Burger?
Presidio or Golden Gate Park?
Ooh. Tough one. Guess I’ve got to go with the Presidio since I run there most days.
BiRite or Mitchell's?
Another tough one. Love the community that gathers at Mitchell’s, so that gets the edge.
Bike or MUNI?
In this city? How ‘bout neither? Walking all the way.
Fort Mason or Dolores Park?
Fort Mason ‘cause it’s closer to my house.
The Independent or the Fillmore?
Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?
Baker Beach. Good memories there.
7. Three words that describe your life in SF?
Writing, eating/drinking (that’s one word, isn’t it?) exercising (in that order).
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