Local Company Makes One of Oprah’s ‘Favorite Things’ of the Year

The much-anticipated Favorites list has been released in November for the last 27 years. This isn’t the first North Bay food business to get a boost from it.

A gift basket from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. has landed on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list for 2023.

The Marin-based company, owned by sisters Jill Giacomini Basch, Lynn Giacomini Stray and Diana Giacomini Hagan, creates award-winning cheeses, including their Point Reyes Blue (still produced at the family dairy), Toma, Gouda and soft-ripened Quinta. The production facility for pasteurized cheeses is in Petaluma.

The company’s Cheese Celebration Collection ($110) was crafted just for Oprah and includes the Italian-inspired Toma table cheese (best for grilled cheese sandwiches); TomaProvence with basil, rosemary and thyme; TomaRashi, infused with Japanese togarashi spices and chile; and TomaTruffle, studded with Italian black truffles. The collection also features Quinta, a Brie-like soft cheese, and Bay Blue, a mellow blue cheese, along with cheese-board accompaniments — a cheese knife, pecan biscuits and raspberry jalapeño jam. All of the additional items are from women-owned companies.

“It’s true that you could bring all the handcrafted, award-winning cheeses from this women-owned family farm to a holiday event. But trust me when I say you might want to save the TomaTruffle for a grilled cheese,” says the Favorite Things website, which lists more than 100 wellness, beauty, food, kitchen and lifestyle gifts chosen by Oprah and her staff each year.

At Sonoma Magazine and The Press Democrat, we’re torn between the earthy, mushroomy TomaTruffle (you can find it locally at many supermarkets) that’s oh-so-perfect in a thin omelet, and the TomaRashi that’s great for grating into gourmet tacos or creating a perfect grilled cheese on Japanese milk bread.

This isn’t the first North Bay food business to get a boost from Oprah’s list. In 2016, Oprah put Guerneville’s Big Bottom Market on the map for their now famous biscuit mix which even spawned a Big Bottom Biscuit cookbook. Big Bottom Market was sold earlier this year and became Piknik Town Market, but the biscuit lives on with the new owner Margaret van der Veen.

The much-anticipated “Favorite Things” list has been released in November for the last 27 years. Before the Oprah Winfrey Show ended in 2011, it was a fun occasion for those lucky audience members who happened to attend the taping of the show on the day the list was released — they got a lot of goodies to bring home.

Landing on the list can be a blessing — it often launches small-scale, artisan producers onto the national stage. But it also can be a curse, as thousands of Oprah fans eagerly purchasing her recommendations for holiday gifts can overwhelm a fledgling business.

The list is curated by a small team of staff members using Oprah’s suggestions and insights from her best friend, Gayle King. This year, the list included a pick from Meghan (“yes, that Meghan,” according to the website) Markle, Duchess of Sussex and a fan of Clevr lattes.

Find the complete list at oprahdaily.com and the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. gift basket at pointreyescheese.com.

Press Democrat Staff Writer Jennifer Graue contributed to this article.