Welcome, once again, to the wonderful world of artisan cheese: now in its sixth year, ~CALIFORNIA’S ARTISAN CHEESE FESTIVAL~ will offer quite the lineup of local farm tours, grand tasting events, beer and wine pairings, and cooking demos. The festival’s homebase will be the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma, with lots of events happening off site. Get your tickets now ‘cause many events are already sold out (you cheese phreeks, you). Taste, learn, appreciate, and repeat all weekend long, March 23rd-25th.
See the full schedule online with all its opportunities to try limited-production, rare artisan cheeses and to learn about the art of making cheese from local and sustainable farmers and cheesemakers.
The Friday farm tours are a chance to look behind the scenes at local farms and creameries, and they sell out fast. Slots are still open for Farm to Creamery: Two Sebastopol Dairies ($75). This tour takes you from relative newcomer Bleating Heart to the 40-year-old Redwood Hill Farm, the first certified humane goat dairy in the U.S. New this year is the Lagunitas Brewery tour and cheese-pairing dinner ($135), which includes a six-course dinner prepared by chef Danny Mai (Tolay Restaurant).
Saturday is seminar day with local industry experts, chefs, and cheesemakers leading interactive seminars and demos. All seminars include catered lunch, nice. Topics include The Cheesemaker and the Chef: Milk’s Mysteries Explored from the Creamery and Into the Kitchen with Peggy Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery, Cheese Making Workshop: Fresh Cultured Cheeses, and even The Hows and Whys of Fermented Foods. $65/session.
Saturday evening, 6pm-10pm, it’s showdown time at the Grand Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition. Top Bay Area chefs highligt artisan cheeses in their dishes, from soufflés to sandwiches; you vote for your favorite. Wineries and breweries are in on the action too. $75.
Another new event this year is the very tasty-sounding VIP brunch Sunday at 9:30am: Bacon, Bubbles and Brunch + More Great Cheeses with Duskie Estes. Nosh on a cheese-filled breakfast featuring Black Pig bacon, sip on Iron Horse bubbly, and enjoy a cooking demonstration with the chef-owner of Zazu, Bovolo, and The Black Pig Meat Co. $100, includes VIP access to the Marketplace.
Don’t forget the big one, the expanded Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace on Sunday starting at noon. Sample the wares of 65 artisan producers, winemakers, brewers, and chefs, and discover new cheese products, books, and recipes. Enjoy more cooking demos with wine country chefs, and fill up your ACF insulated cheese tote bag with your faves to take home. $45.
Wanna stay the night? There are discounted rates on Sheraton rooms. The Artisan Cheese Festival donates 10% of all ticket proceeds to Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Petaluma Future Farmers of America, California Artisan Cheese Guild, and Redwood Empire Food Bank. Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma, 745 Baywood Dr. at Lakeville Hwy., Petaluma.
Friday Mar 23, 2012
– Sunday Mar 25, 2012
Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma
745 Baywood Dr. at Lakeville Hwy., Petaluma