Truth be told, life to the north of the Golden Gate might as well be country living to most city folk. Say what you will about it, the country still has some advantages even city purists can’t deny, notably cheese and wine. You can get a gourmet taste of that country life this month at California’s Artisan Cheese Festival.
The indulgence takes place March 21st through the 23rd at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma. To celebrate all things cheese, the festival also brings together all the great things that taste good with it. Think of it as a tasting party of sorts; Artisan cheesemakers, chefs, wineries, and brewers get together for three days of cooking, eating and farming. There are seminars, pairings, tastings, farm tours, hands-on cheese-making classes, and cheese-focused demonstrations. It's not a good place to be on a diet.
See the Farms
Five farm tours are scheduled for the first day of the festival. They highlight the steps of cheesemaking while showing off locales many Bay Area natives don’t realize exist. Think cows, sheep, water buffalo, goats, grass as far as the eye can see, and the cheesemakers responsible for the farms' delicious products.
Meet the CheeseMakers
Friday night’s Meet the Cheesemakers Reception features a Fantasy Cheese Table so it goes without saying, do not eat dinner before you go. Skipping lunch might not be such a bad idea either. Saturday is also chock full of seminars, cooking, and pairing demonstrations. Come dinnertime guests taste and drink their way around the Grand Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition nibbling on dishes from more than two dozen Bay Area chefs. If you haven’t fulfilled your calorie count yet, get up for the Sunday Brunch with a Surprise Celebrity Chef or check out the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace.
All events are priced separately, ranging from $35 to $135, so you can taste as much or as little as you want. The Artisan Cheese Festival is a non-profit organization and donates 10% of all ticket proceeds to some great organizations like the Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Petaluma Future Farmers of America, and the Redwood Empire Food Bank. The total amount donated to date is more than $55,000. So no cheesy guilt as you eat and drink, it’s for a good cause.