last call: this weekend’s 5th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival is sold-out except for Sunday’s all day marketplace
For a growing number of fine cheese lovers who are traveling to cheese gatherings across the country, this weekend’s 5th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival (March 25-28, 2011), in Petaluma, holds the promise of glorious immersion in cheese. From new small-batch cheeses to those that have already garnered international recognition, the spotlight is on the vibrant hues, bold aromas, and surprising flavors that make our region’s cheeses so unique, the local farmers who produce them and the industry that has emerged to promote them. But unless you’ve already registered, this 3 day extravaganza Friday through Sunday (March 25-28, 2011) at Petaluma’s Sheraton Hotel is completely sold out, except for the Sunday’s big tent Artisan Cheese Marketplace from 11 AM to 4 PM.
This year’s festival is going to be both enlightening and entertaining. (Full Schedule) Friday’s day-long farm tours to Strauss Family Creamery, Toluma Farms, The Fork at Point Reyes, and Bellweather Farms sold out almost as soon as they were posted. The opportunity to get the low-down on what makes our area’s cheese so special right from the farmers who produce it was too good to pass up, even at $145. A number of Saturday’s 14 seminars covering all topics cheese by leading experts in the field sold out well over a month ago too. Subjects range from making cheese (what does it actually take to become a cheese maker? a primer on essential molds, a lesson in curd stretching) to the politics of cheese (the transhumance movement, proposed legislation that seeks to regulate raw milk cheeses) to the nuances of evaluating cheese. There are fabulous opportunities to eat some revamped classics too, like mac and cheese, and to try some new “hidden cheeses of California.” You’ll learn that most of California’s elite cheeses don’t venture far from home and we in Petaluma are smack dab in cheese paradise for both producing and consuming.
On Sunday, you can still meet over 73 artisan producers and try the finest local cheese, gourmet accompaniments, and wine and beer. Throughout the day, acclaimed chefs Mary Karlin, Kristine Kidd, Boris Portnoy and Jacquelyn Buchanan will each be demonstrating an original recipe with artisan cheese and Clark Wolf will be both mc’ing and signing his own best-seller American Cheeses.
$45 ticket includes Sunday admission, all sampling, access to chef demos and author book signings, a festival wine glass and an insulated cheese tote bag to hold your precious purchases. Tickets will be sold online through Friday evening and then 100 will be made available on a first come-first served basis at the door on Sunday, starting at 11AM. There is no wait list for any of the sold-out events. All events on Friday and Saturday are already sold out.
Book Signings on Sunday:
12:30 p.m. Laura Werlin (launching her fifth book at the festival Grilled Cheese, Please! 50 Scrumptiously Cheesy Recipes (2011) , and author of The New American Cheese Profiles of America’s Great Cheesemakers and Recipes for Cooking with Cheese, The All American Cheese and Wine Book: Pairings, Profiles and Recipe, Great Grilled Cheese 50 Recipes for Stovetop, Grill, and Sandwich Maker, Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials An Insider’s Guide to Buying and Serving Cheese
1:00 p.m. Maggie Foard Goat Cheese (2008)
1:30 p.m. Mary Karlin Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses (2011), Wood-Fired Cooking: Techniques and Recipes for the Grill, Backyard Oven, Fireplace, and Campfire (2009)
2:00 p.m. Lenny Rice & Clark Wolf Lenny Rice: Fondue (2007), Clark Wolf: American Cheeses: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses, Who Makes Them, and Where to Find Them (2008)
2:30 p.m. Kristine Kidd, Weeknight Fresh + Fast (2011) Kristine Kidd has written a number of books for Williams Sonoma Kitchen Library.
3:00 p.m. Andrea Mugnaini The Art of Wood-Fired Cooking(2010) Anna Mugnaini and the Mugnaini crew will be baking wood fired pizzas in a portable pizza oven on working the Pizza Patio on Sunday too. Enjoy artisan cheese and fresh wood fired pizza?
Cheese Wiz: in researching the various symposiums associated with the conference, I learned
- The first cheese was made over 4000 years ago by nomadic peoples. It is believed that someone tried to store or transport fresh milk in a water bag made from an animal stomach. Later, when the milk was needed, the first cheese was discovered (the rennet in the lining of the bag would have caused the milk to separate into curds and whey).
- Asian travelers likely brought cheese production to Europe where cheesemaking flourished among monks during the Middle Ages.
- In 1620, cheese was on the Mayflower when the Pilgrims journeyed to America.
- Spanish priests first made cheese from the milk of mission livestock in the early 1800s. Later, during the Gold Rush, European immigrants built dairies on the Point Reyes peninsula to supply butter and cheese to gold miners in San Francisco.
- Sonoma and Marin counties—the Normandy of Northern California—are home to the largest concentration of artisan cheesemakers in California, if not the country. Our unique foggy, grassy terrain has roughly 22,000 acres of land dedicated to making cheese and fermented milk products. To celebrate this and educate, the Marin Economic Forum (MEF) just introduced the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail map [PDF], the first-ever map to local artisan cheesemakers.
21 Artisan Cheese Producers will participate Sunday:
Achadinha Cheese Co.
Beehive Cheese Co.
Central Coast Creamery
Cypress Grove Chevre
Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese
Laura Chenel’s Chevre
Mt. Townsend Creamery
Marin French Cheese
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.
Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery
Nicasio Valley Cheese Co.
Shamrock Artisan Cheese
Sierra Nevada Cheese Co.
Tumalo Farms, Bend, OR
Valley Ford Cheese Co.
Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese