“Franklin’s Teleme is one of the classic Bay Area cheeses. Anyone who grew up near an Italian Deli starts drooling when they think about Teleme on their polenta. Mild, milky, tart, and incredibly satisfying… I use it at home for almost everything.”
Gordon Edgar Cheese Buyer, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative
Franklin making his Teleme Cheese

Third generation cheese maker, Franklin Peluso has made Teleme since 1980. His father taught him and his grandfather taught his father. Peluso uses his hands to squeeze and press mounds of curds and whey to get the ideal texture and moisture content as he produces a batch of his cheese.

Teleme’s production returns to California

by Janet Fletcher Friday, June 8, 2007 San Francisco Chronicle

Giovanni developed the rice flour-coated Teleme cheese, has returned to California after nine months of making and marketing Teleme on the East Coast. Peluso’s wife and children could not bear Maine’s winter weather, so the family repatriated last August and Peluso has resumed Teleme production in San Luis Obispo.

making TelemeBefore moving to Maine, Peluso sold his Peluso Cheese Company in Los Banos (Merced County), so he no longer has rights to the family name. The new proprietors are still making Peluso Teleme, but it doesn’t measure up to the cheese I remember from the presale days. Working out of the dairy plant at California Polytechnic State University, Peluso makes his new Teleme with the same recipe he has always used. The pasteurized cow’s milk is cultured and coagulated, then the curd is cut and lightly cooked to firm it. After draining, the curds are washed to remove whey and minimize acid development. Then they are salted, molded and pressed overnight.

The 6-pound squares are coated in rice flour after about four days of drying, then they are wrapped in wax-coated paper and refrigerated for about a week before shipping. The 2-week-old cheese is soft and mild, but it will become softer still and more complex in flavor over the next 3 to 4 weeks as enzymes break down the fats and proteins. I like it at every stage. When young, it is supple, moist and buttery, with a sour cream smell and a tangy, lactic finish. As it matures, it becomes more runny and silky, with mushroom aromas.

The cheese is about 2 inches thick, off-white internally with the signature surface dusting of rice flour. Packing it in paper instead of an airtight vacuum wrap (as the Los Banos Teleme usually is) allows the cheese to continue to develop and change, but it also invites the formation of harmless surface mold. If you see mold, simply scrape it away.

Franklin’s Teleme, the cheese’s new name, is a California original, perfect for picnics with salumi, crusty sourdough bread and a chilled bottle of rosé. I like to serve it drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and coarsely ground black pepper, and apparently I’m not the only one. Peluso says he will soon be releasing a black pepper Teleme, the first variation on his family’s 75-year-old recipe.

“Rich, luscious, smooth, tangy and creamy….. you can’t ask more in a cheese. Always a favorite on a cheese board, even better on baguette with thin slices of salami and toasted to get that extra special melted sensation.” Sam Mogannam Bi-Rite Market