At 6:30 in the morning three times a week, Benoît de Korsak drives his biodiesel truck down the windy, straw-colored hills around Bodega, a small town in northern California just a few miles east of the Pacific Ocean, to pick up 80 gallons of fresh milk from a nearby dairy. Bianchi’s Dairy raises only pasture-fed Jersey cows—lean brown cows that somehow remind me of goats—and produce what in Benoît’s opinion is the best-tasting milk. He brings the milk back to a small dairy facility shared with a cheesemaker, where he and his brother, David, make small batches of artisanal yogurt that they package in charmingly old-fashioned ceramic cups.
“We wanted to do everything locally and make a product that would be representative of this land,” says Benoît. He and David, who are from the French alpine region of Savoie, experimented with different types of milk and recipes before settling on their current formula. “We found that when we were using 100% Jersey milk, the taste was so much better. Since our plain yogurt is just milk and cultures, the milk we use makes a big difference,” says Benoît.
Making Saint Benoît Yogurt
Their Saint Benoît Yogurt, named after the Benedictine monks who are known for making delicious food using the products of their land, is rich and creamy and milder than most commercial yogurts sold in the United States. It’s a bit sweeter, too, even without the addition of sugar. That’s because they make it in the French style, using gentle cultures from France (the only nonlocal ingredient they use). In addition to their plain yogurt, the de Korsaks also make honey and fruit-flavored yogurts using honey from local beehives and natural fruit spreads from a neighboring farm. Their trademark ceramic containers not only contribute a traditional, handcrafted feel but are also environmentally friendly, as customers are encouraged to reuse them or take them back where they bought them. Benoît and David sell their yogurts at local farmers’ markets and at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in San Francisco. They also distribute them to several grocery stores in the area, including Whole Foods and Dean & DeLuca.
For more information, visit www.stbenoit.com.