ART hound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Soulful, spirited, political—the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has a line-up of stories from around the world with an emphasis on Cuban film—it kicks off tonight

Columbian director Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s “Field of Amapolas” (Jardín de Amapolas) addresses the impact of Columbia’s ongoing struggle with corruption through the story of two innocent children.

Columbian director Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s “Field of Amapolas” (Jardín de Amapolas) screens at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014 as part of the popular Vamos Al Cine series. Filmed in Ipiales, in the Nariño region of Colombia, the film addresses the impact of Columbia’s ongoing struggle with corruption through the story of two innocent children. Latin American cinema is hot right now, so much so that in most of the big festival offerings it has nearly replaced Asian cinema. The films are coming not from the old standbys (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil) but from Colombia, Chile, Peru, nations that have had sporadic cinematic output. Columbia in particular is a hotspot for vibrant film. SIFF 17 will offer over a dozen films from Latin America and is showcasing Cuban film.

ARThound loves a great film, one whose story speaks right to my heart.  This year’s 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF), which kicks off tonight, features over 115 hand-selected films from 22 countries—features, documentaries, world cinema, and shorts.  Two hundred filmmakers and celebrities will attend and participate in premieres, Q&A’s and panel discussions spread over five glorious days in Sonoma. The festival is also one long party, offering pass holders world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners in  “The Backlot,” SIFF’s culinary hub, a one-of-a-kind hospitality tent on the North side of Sonoma’s City Hall.  Whether you’re a passholder or come for individual film screenings, this festival has a to offer.  It all starts this evening with an opening night party, two opening night films and an after party.  If you’ve missed my previous coverage of the festival basics and Big Nights, here are the links explaining all about the passes vs going solo—

March 23—The line-up has been announced for the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014…pounce on individual tickets

March 12—Sonoma International Film Festival passes are on sale now and prices will increase on Monday, March 17, 2014

ARThound’s top picks in the World Cinema category:

In choosing these must-see films, I’m looking for something that I won’t be able to see elsewhere, countries that are less represented/new directors generating a buzz, a unique story with an international point of view, and the promise of cinematic magic.  SIFF doesn’t provide critics with screeners, so putting this information together requires lots of research and some guesswork.  Given the ascendency of Latin cinema, I recommend attending as much as you can of this year’s Vamos Al Cine programming.   This wonderful series, initiated three years ago by Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, began as programming for the Spanish speaking community but has morphed into one of the festival’s biggest draws. This year, it offers 10 films, emphasizing distinctive new voices from Columbia (2), Cuba (4), Dominican Republic (1), Mexico (2) and Venezuela (1).  There’s an emphasis on Cuban cinema with 4 Cuban films and several Cuban directors and actors in attendance.

A young Iranian woman is gang raped and must deal with the fall-out in Pourya Avarbaiyany's   "Everything is Fine Here," screening at SIFF 17.

A young Iranian woman is gang raped and must deal with the fall-out in Pourya Avarbaiyany’s “Everything is Fine Here,” screening at SIFF 17.

Everything is Fine Here— Iran | 2012 | 75 min. | Dir. Pourya Avarbaiyany (in attendance)

On the verge of her marriage, Arghavan a 25 year old writer who is newly engaged and acclaimed, with an invitation to lead a prestigious writing workshop in Germany, is gang-raped in a deserted area of Tehran.  In a strict, conservative society where young women are expected to be virgins before marriage, the crime is that of her assailants but the catastrophe is hers. Overwhelmed by rumors, her life turns into a nightmare and her pending marriage and her relationship with her parents are threatened. The film addresses Iran’s perplexing state of gender inequality and the battle of the individual in a discriminatory society to cope when a tragedy occurs. In 2011 in Iran, there were reports from Human Right Agencies chronicling 6 brutal rapes of Iranian women and in some of these cases, Iranian officials blamed the victims. Iran’s women face a host of laws which limit their rights in marriage, divorce and child custody.  In some cases, their testimony in court is regarded as less than half that of a man’s.  This young director is from Tehran.  I can’t wait to hear how he managed to make a film like this.  Screens: Thursday, April 3 (12:15 pm) Vintage House and Friday, April 4 (9:30 pm) Murphy’s Irish Pub

Cuban actors Armando Miguel Gómez and Yuliet Cruz are a couple impacted by the closure of the sugar mill in Carlos Lechuga’s first feature, “Melaza,” screening twice at SIFF 17.

Cuban actors Armando Miguel Gómez and Yuliet Cruz are a couple impacted by the closure of the sugar mill in Carlos Lechuga’s first feature, “Melaza,” screening twice at SIFF 17.

 

Melaza—Cuba | 2012 | 80 min. | Dir. Carlos Lechuga (in attendance)—With the closure of its local sugar mill, the picturesque (fictional) Cuban town of Melaza has become desolate and lifeless. School teacher Aldo (Armando Miguel Gómez) and now-unemployed Monica (Yuliet Cruz) eke out a meager living, going as far as renting out their tiny home to the local prostitute for extra cash. When they get in trouble with the authorities, resulting fines lead to more desperate measures. This beautifully filmed, contemplative first feature explores the social crisis in the Cuban sugar factory neighborhoods following the dismantling of many production units. It poses the question of how to survive in a country in crisis.

This is Lechuga’s first feature film. Director’s statement: “While the post-production process went on, I began to realize that a love story was being told that in the end left an optimistic taste, but which, like molasses (melaza), hides certain bitterness. The bitterness of a tragedy set up in the Tropics, with a brilliant sun, green sugarcane and lovers holding each other’s hands, awaiting the worse.”  Screens: Thursday, April 3 (8:45 pm) Murphy’s Irish Pub and Saturday, April 5 (7:15 pm) La Luz Center

 

 

Chronic Love (Amor Crónico)—Cuba | 2012 | 83 min. | Dir. Jorge Perugorria (in attendance)—This exhilarating and energetic blend of fact and fiction follows flamboyant Cuban-born/New York-based singer and Grammy nominee Cucú Diamantes on her first tour of Cuba. This unique road film interweaves footage of her cabaret-style performances with a fictional love story. A love letter to Cuban cinema, to Cuban music and to its people.  Directed by Cuban actor and visual artist Jorge Perugorría (famous for his part as Diego in Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate), 1994).  Screens: Friday, April 4 (8:00 pm) Sebastani Theater and Saturday, April 5 (5:00 pm) La Luz Center

Yilmaz Erdogan’s “The Butterfly’s Dream” (Kelebeğin Rüyası) was Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar.  Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of the bond between two young poets who both contract tuberculosis and fall in love with the same woman.

Yilmaz Erdogan’s “The Butterfly’s Dream” (Kelebeğin Rüyası) was Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar. Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of the bond between two young poets who both contract tuberculosis and fall in love with the same woman.

 The Butterfly’s Dream (Kelebeğin Rüyası)—Turkey | 138 min. | 2013 | Dir. Yilmaz Erdogan—Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar which had a long gestation period—seven years of screen-writing and two years in pre-production. Set during World War II in impoverished Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of the bond between two young poets long forgotten by history—Muzaffer (Kivanç Tatlitug), the optimist romantic, and Rüştü (Mert Firat)  the pessimist dreamer—whose brotherly camaraderie is based upon their shared loved for the written word and their mutual misfortune. Forced to work in the coal mines, they both contract tuberculosis and fall in love with the same woman, an aristocrat’s daughter, played by star Belçim Bilgin, who is also Erdogan’s wife. The title is from an ancient passage by Chinese thinker Chuang Tzu, in which he pondered his dream of being a butterfly. Erdoğan’s gorgeously-shot film addresses the nature of reality and the power of artistic practice to mitigate hardship. Screens: Saturday, April 5 (3:15 pm) Burlingame Hall and Sunday, April 6 (10:00 am) Murphy’s Irish Pub

 Field of Amapolas (Jardín de Amapolas)— Colombia | 87 min. | Dir. Juan Carlos Melo Guevara— Filmed very close to director Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s hometown of Ipiales in the Nariño region of Colombia, this is the first feature film to ever be shot in the area. When accused of collaborating with the enemy in the ongoing guerilla war in Colombia, farmer Emilio, along with his nine-year- old son Simon, is forced by rebels to vacate his piece of land. After relocating with the help of a relative, Emilio and his son face such an economic struggle that Emilio to takes work in the illegal poppy (Amapolas) fields belonging to a local drug lord, who happens to be his cousin. Meanwhile, Simon meets and befriends Luisa, a girl his own age. She is obsessed with playing with a puppy dog she can’t afford. Simon steals it for her every day, but returns it each night. One day, the cousin discovers Simon’s secret and decides to use him for his own greedy plan.

This is Guevara’s first feature as director, screenwriter and producer. Director’s statement: “The idea was not only make a portrayal unique to the film history of Colombia, but to make a story through the point of view of two kids who can only see their reality with innocence, without speeches or academic criticism; that’s why this is not a film about war, on the contrary, the war is only a stage where life, dreams, and hopes can continue.”Screens: Sunday, April 6 (11:00 am) La Luz Center 

Nigerian director Biye Bandele’s “Half Of A Yellow Sun” finds Chiwetel Ejiofor co-starring opposite Thandie Newton in the adaptation of the bestselling (and Orange Prize for Fiction-winning) novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, set against the backdrop of the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran war.  This is the first Nigerian film to screen at the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Nigerian director Biye Bandele’s “Half Of A Yellow Sun” finds Chiwetel Ejiofor co-starring opposite Thandie Newton in the adaptation of the bestselling (and Orange Prize for Fiction-winning) novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, set against the backdrop of the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran war. This is the first Nigerian film to screen at the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Half of a Yellow Sun Nigeria | 2013 | 113 min. | Dir. Biye Bandele—For the first time, SIFF17 welcomes a film from Nigeria, first time writer-director Biyi Bandele’s acclaimed Half of a Yellow Sun, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel of the same name.

This epic chronicle of family drama and tribal violence begins in 1960 and leads up to the Nigerian-Biafran War which ended in 1970. The film tracks war through the story of headstrong twin sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton—Crash, The Pursuit of Happiness) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose), privileged girls from Lagos, who return home after their respective university educations abroad. Both make similarly scandalous decisions. Olanna defies familial expectations and convention not only by becoming a sociology professor herself, but also by moving in with firebrand academic Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor—12 Years A Slave, Children of Men) in the college town of Nsukka. Kainene assumes management of the family business and falls in love with an English – and married – writer (Joseph Mawle). The loyalties of the sisters are tested amidst the horrors of the Nigerian Civil War, and the rise and fall of short-lived republic of Biafra. The main focus is on the Olanna and Odenigbo whose passion is ignited over political protest but things get rocky when Odenigbo’s battle-ax mother (Onyeka Onwenu) comes to visit. An uneducated village woman with a mean and scheming personality, Mama is determined to split up the lovebirds up any way she can, and nearly succeeds.Rich in period atmosphere, evoking a strong sense of how these Nigerians lived their lives day-to-day, and how devastated they are when war and all its atrocities rip that fabric apart. Screens: Friday, April 4 (11:00 am) Murphy’s Irish Pub and Sunday, April 6 (2:30 pm) Vintage House

 

SIFF Details:

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival is April 2-6, 2014. All films are screened in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance along Sonoma’s historic plaza

Click here to purchase all SIFF passes.

Click here for more information, or call 707 933-2600

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Film, Food, Jazz Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The line-up has been announced for the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014…pounce on individual tickets

Catalonian actors Claudia Bassols (L) and Jan Cornet (R) are the central couple in Roger Gual’s “Tasting Menu,” screening at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014.  The foodies made a reservation one year in advance at a world famous three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Barcelona, on the famous Costa Brava.  When the day finally arrives, they’re separated and learn that this will be their last chance to ever eat there as it’s the restaurant’s closing night.  For the sake of haute cuisine, they agree to dine together.  Joining them are the widowed countess who put the place on the map, potential Japanese investors and their dotty interpreter, American food critics and editors, and a mystery guest who has everyone guessing.  With close-ups of hands chopping and sculpting entrees like works of fine art, breathtaking scenery and high drama, “Tasting Menu,” in Catalan, promises to delight. Claudia Bassols will attend.   Image: Magnolia Films

Catalonian actors Claudia Bassols (L) and Jan Cornet (R) are the central couple in Roger Gual’s “Tasting Menu,” screening at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014. The foodies made a reservation one year in advance at a world famous three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Barcelona, on the famous Costa Brava. When the day finally arrives, they’re separated and learn that this will be their last chance to ever eat there as it’s the restaurant’s closing night. For the sake of haute cuisine, they agree to dine together. Joining them are the widowed countess who put the place on the map, potential Japanese investors and their dotty interpreter, American food critics and editors, and a mystery guest who has everyone guessing. With close-ups of hands chopping and sculpting entrees like works of fine art, breathtaking scenery and high drama, “Tasting Menu,” in Catalan, promises to delight. Claudia Bassols will attend. Image: Magnolia Films

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) is just around the corner—April 2-6, 2014—pairing 5 nights and 4 days of nearly non-stop screenings with great food and wine in gorgeous Sonoma. The program and schedule have just been released and, this year, SIFF is presenting 106 new films from 22 countries—25 documentaries, 19 world cinema, 10 American indies, 10 Spanish-language films in “Vamos Al Cine,” 4 shorts programs, 1 children’s program, 1 student program and 1 “Out of The Earth” UFO program. The screenings all take place at eight intimate venues within walking of Sonoma’s historic town plaza. Many of these will offer wonderful samplings of local food, wine and beer along with the film.

SIFF has a lot to offer both locals and destination visitors.  Festival passes are the way to go if you’re interested in easy access to films, the marvelous parties, and the famous Backlot tent, SIFF’s unofficial hub, which keeps pass-holders satisfied with the finest wines, gourmet offerings and music. Click here to read about all the pass options and price points.   If you haven’t bought a festival pass and still want to see some films, individual single tickets are $15 when purchased in advance.  SIFF caters to pass holders and offers just a limited number of these individual tickets, which are available for most screenings, so NOW is the time to lock in those tickets before they are snapped up.

If you’re a gambler with a lot of time on your hands, you can show up at the festival and hang out in front of the screening venue and wait to buy a ticket for $10 cash after the pass holders and ticket pre-purchasers have been seated. The $10 tickets are not a sure thing they can be an awesome score.

Stay-tuned to ARThound for a full review of the line-up.  For now, the Big Nights—

Opening Night—Wednesday, April 2: The festival kicks off on Wednesday evening with a choice of two films and a first ever after hours party with live music from Sonoma’s own Vanguard Jazz Ensemble at Sonoma’s newest nightspot, Burgers & Vine.  Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemignway (2014) screens at the historic Sebastiani Theatre at 7:45 PM. After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he’s owed. Travelling with his best friend Dickie, Dom visits his crime boss (Demián Bichir) in the south of France to claim his reward and then reconnect with his long-lost daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clark). Screens with Peter McEvilley’s six minute French short, Le Sauvetage (2013) which features Peter Olate’s amazing performing rescue dogs. The dogs will give a brief live performance after the short.

 Jude Law (L) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (R) in a scene from Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” (2014), one of two opening night feature films at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival.  Just released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, Dom comes after the money he’s owed for keeping silent and protecting his boss Fontaine (Damian Bechir).  Brash, volatile, profane and angry, this is Jude Law at his complicated best.  Image: Foxlight


Jude Law (L) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (R) in a scene from Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” (2014), one of two opening night feature films at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival. Just released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, Dom (Law) comes after the money he’s owed for keeping silent and protecting his boss Fontaine (Damian Bechir). Brash, volatile, profane and angry, this is Jude Law at his complicated best. Image: Foxlight

Actor and writer Chris Lowell’s directorial debut, Beside Still Waters (2013) screens at 8:15 at Andrews Hall. An ode to the consoling power of deep and abiding friendships, the film observes one night among an intimately connected group of friends in their 20s who reunite at the family lake house of Daniel (played by “90210′s” Ryan Eggold), whose parents have just died in a car crash. Facing the imminent loss of the house, Daniel invites his pals to their old haunt for one last debauched weekend of drinking, dancing, and scheming. An accomplished fine-art photographer, the 28 year-old Lowell uses montages of his own black-and-white photos throughout “Beside Still Waters” to represent Daniel’s haunted memories. Writer & Producer Mo Narang will attend. Screens with Simon Christen’s Adrift (2013), a mesmerizing four minute and 35-second love letter to the fog that surrounds and often engulfs our Bay Area.  Christen worked for two years to capture perfect shots for this masterpiece.

 

Closing Night—Sunday, April 6: From director Amma Asante and the producer of Iron Lady, Damian Jones, comes Belle, a captivating period romance. The film screens at 6 PM at the Sebastiani and is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in 18th century England. Director Amma Assante is attending.

After the Closing Night film, at roughly 8:30 PM, people will gather in the Backlot tent for the presentation of the Jury and Audience Awards, the last hurrah of the festival.

To read ARThound’s festival coverage from March 12, 2014, click here.

Details: The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival is April 2-6, 2014.  Eight screening venues are all within walking distance of the central town plaza.  Street parking is ample.

Passes: Click here to read about and purchase all SIFF passes. Passes were offered at discounted rate until March 17, 2014 and are now full price.

Individual tickets: Click on the festival calendar and then select a film in the daily schedule. If individual tickets are offered for that film, you will see a “tickets” hyperlink which will appear beneath the screening information.

Festival Information: Click here or call 707 933-2600

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has 25 documentaries. “Man Up and Go” (2012), directed by Randy Bacon, speaks to the heart. When Roger went to Ethiopia to get his adopted daughter, she was 6 months old, but weighed only 7 pounds and was dying. Roger asked himself, “Is there a way out of this?” He called his dad and heard words that rocked his core: “Roger, man up! If she dies, at least she will die in the arms of a father.” Roger had to inspire men to be better husbands and fathers, so he launched the Man Up movement. Shot in the U.S., Ethiopia and Rwanda, “Man Up and Go” tells the remarkable story several ordinary men who stepped up to change the lives of orphaned children and were forever changed themselves. Photo of Roger Gibson with orphan at Return Ministries, Uganda, courtesy Wynne Elder

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has 25 documentaries. “Man Up and Go” (2012), directed by Randy Bacon, speaks to the heart. When Roger went to Ethiopia to get his adopted daughter, she was 6 months old, but weighed only 7 pounds and was dying. Roger asked himself, “Is there a way out of this?” He called his dad and heard words that rocked his core: “Roger, man up! If she dies, at least she will die in the arms of a father.” Roger had to inspire men to be better husbands and fathers, so he launched the Man Up movement. Shot in the U.S., Ethiopia and Rwanda, “Man Up and Go” tells the remarkable story several ordinary men who stepped up to change the lives of orphaned children and were forever changed themselves. Photo of Roger Gibson with orphan at Return Ministries, Uganda, courtesy Wynne Elder

 

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s not too late—California’s 8th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival closes Sunday with a marketplace filled with all the new artisan cheeses and outrageously au’courant delicacies for pairing

ARThound fell in LOVE with “Simple & Crisp”  dried fruit crisps, brand new at the 8th California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 21-23, 2014.  These gorgeous blood orange delicacies paired perfectly with Petaluma Port’s “Deco”—a port with essences of dark chocolate— and with Beehive Cheese’s “Barely Buzzed”—a unique espresso and lavender hand-rubbed Jersey cow cheese with subtle notes of butterscotch and caramel.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

ARThound fell in LOVE with “Simple & Crisp” dried fruit crisps, brand new at the 8th California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 21-23, 2014. These gorgeous blood orange delicacies paired perfectly with Petaluma Port’s “Deco”—a port with essences of dark chocolate— and with Beehive Cheese’s “Barely Buzzed”—a unique espresso and lavender hand-rubbed Jersey cow cheese with subtle notes of butterscotch and caramel. The festival closes Sunday with a marketplace packed with artisan cheeses and gourmet foods and condiments to taste and buy. Photo: Geneva Anderson

ARThound has spent the past two days at Petaluma’s Sheraton Sonoma County realizing how blessed I am to have so many dedicated artisan cheesemakers nearly in my backyard.  The Artisan Cheese Festival, now in its 8th year, has brought together our most innovative and creative local cheesemakers and paired them with equally creative chefs, winemakers, brewmasters, and even a celebrity Cicerone (Rich Higgins) resulting in a weekend celebrating cheese and discovering all the culinary companions and beverages that passionately enhance its flavor and texture.  If you haven’t been to the festival yet, tomorrow’s Sunday Marketplace is an excellent introduction. Bringing together more than 70 of California’s best artisan cheesemakers, restaurants, breweries and wineries, this walk-around tasting and marketplace is one of the weekend’s most popular events—and for good reason!  With two tents set up outside of the Sheraton, there will be more than 20,000 sq. feet of space—filled with goodies which you can sample to your heart’s content and buy.  Talk about a no brainer for picking up gifts that earn you cudos when you’re been invited to dinner at a friend’s home.  Most everything offered will be locally and sustainably made too, supporting our community and the values that keep it flourishing.  You can chat with the vendors, artisans, cheesemakers, brewers and winemakers, all of whom have amazing pairing advice.   Throughout the day there will be chefs’ demos representing some of the Bay Area’s best chefs, including Brandon Guenther of Valley Ford’s  Rocker Oysterfellers at 1:45 p.m. and Liza Hinman of Santa Rosa’s Spinster Sisters  at 3 p.m. Several of the weekends’ cheesemakers and chefs are also authors and many will be selling and signing their cheese-inspired tomes at the Marketplace. The chefs’ demos will be taking place inside of the Sheraton Sonoma County and the book signings will be taking place inside of the tent throughout the day. Book signings and demos are included with admission to the Marketplace. (Tickets $45 for adults; $20 for children 12 and under, Sheraton Sonoma County, 12 – 4 p.m.)

Most of the artisan cheesemakers at the Artisan Cheese Festival are from Northern California but the family-owned Beehive Cheese Company travelled from Northern Utah to present their award-winning hand-rubbed artisan cheeses. “Barely Buzzed” cheese (above) is covered in grind of lavender and Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s espresso.  “Teahive” has bergamot resulting in a cheese with rich hints of orange blossom. “Seahive” is hand-rubbed with local honey and sea salt.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Most of the artisan cheesemakers at the Artisan Cheese Festival are from Northern California but the family-owned Beehive Cheese Company travelled from Northern Utah to present their award-winning hand-rubbed artisan cheeses. “Barely Buzzed” (above) is a rich Jersey cow cheese rubbed with lavender and Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s “Beehive Blend” espresso coffee. French Superior Lavender buds are ground with the coffee and the mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. The rub imparts notes of butter¬scotch and caramel, which are prevalent near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. This is a full-bodied semi-firm cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture. The company’s “Teahive” is rubbed in a blend of black tea and bergamot oil resulting in a cheese with rich hints of orange blossoms in April. “Seahive” is hand-rubbed with local wildflower honey and REALSALT, a salt harvested from an ancient sea bed near Redmond Utah. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Cheesemakers showcasing their products at the Marketplace include:

Achadinha Cheese Company (Petaluma)
Ancient Heritage Dairy (Madras, Oregon)
Beehive Cheese Company (Uintah, Utah)
Bellwether Farms (Petaluma)
Bleating Heart Cheese (Sebastopol)
Bohemian Creamery (Sebastopol)
Bravo Farms (Traver)
Casitas Valley Farm & Creamery (Carpinteria)
Central Coast Creamery (Paso Robles)
Cowgirl Creamery (Point Reyes Station)
Cypress Grove Chevre (Arcata)
Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Company (Modesto)
Garden Variety (Royal Oaks)
Gypsy Cheese Co. (Valley Ford)
Laura Chenel’s Chevre (Sonoma)
Marin French Cheese Company (Petaluma)
Nicasio Valley Cheese Co. (Nicasio)
Orland Farmstead Creamery (Orland)
Petaluma Creamery/Spring Hill Jersey Cheese (Petaluma)
Pennyroyal Farm (Boonville)
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. (Point Reyes Station)
Pugs Leap (Petaluma)
Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery (Sebastopol)
Schoch Family Farmstead (Salinas)
Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese (Willits)
Tomales Farmstead Creamery/Toluma Farms (Tomales)
Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese (Petaluma)
Valley Ford Cheese Co. (Valley Ford)
Weirauch Farm & Creamery (Penngrove)
Willapa Hills Farmstead & Artisan Cheese (Doty, Washington)

Breweries and wineries pouring their products at the Marketplace include:

AppleGarden Farm (Tomales Bay)
Berryessa Gap Vineyards (Winters)
Black Kite Cellars (Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands)
Bucher Vineyard (Healdsburg)
Clif Family Winery (St. Helena)
Crispin Cider (Colfax)
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
(Half Moon Bay)
Handley Cellars (Philo)
Heidrun Meadery (Point Reyes Station)
Kokomo Winery (Healdsburg)
Lagunitas Brewery (Petaluma)
McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma)
Navarro Vineyards & Winery (Mendocino)
North Coast Brewing Company
(Fort Bragg)
Paul Mathews Vineyards (Graton)
Russian River Vineyards (Forestville)
Sonoma Valley Portworks (Petaluma)
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Oregon)

Artisan food purveyors and other vendors will include:

American Cheese Society (Nationwide)
Black Pig Meat Company (Sebastopol)
Brown Dog Mustard Co. (Concord)
California Artisan Cheese Guild (Oakland)
California Endive Farms (Rio Vista)
Cassata-Sonoma Olive Oil (Glen Ellen)
CC Made Inc. (San Anselmo)
Cheese Shop of Healdsburg (Healdsburg)
Clover Stornetta Farms (Petaluma)
Copperfield’s Books (Petaluma)
Creminelli Fine Meats
(Salt Lake City, Utah)
Culture Magazine (Massachusetts)
Farm Fresh to You (Capay Valley)
Friend in Cheeses Jam (Santa Cruz)
Gary & Kits Gourmet Mtn Mix
(St. Helena)
GrilledCheezeGuy (Oakland)
Humboldt Hot Sauce (Arcata)
ILeoni (Petaluma)
Interiors by Lynn (Rohnert Park)
Kelly’s Jelly (Lake Oswego, Oregon)
L’Artisane Box (Burlingame)
Leafware (Folsom)
Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Marin)
McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma)
McClelland’s Dairy (Petaluma)
Mi Distinctive Tastes (Ukiah)
Negranti Sheep Dairy (Central Coast)
Noci Foods (Walnut Creek)
Petaluma Visitor’s Center (Petaluma)
Poco Dolce (San Francisco)
Potter’s Crackers (Sacramento)
Quesalera (Chico)
Redwood Empire Food Bank (Santa Rosa)
R&J Toffees (San Jose)
Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar (Petaluma)
Rustic Bakery (San Rafael)
Simple & Crisp (Seattle, Washington)
Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa)
The Beverage People (Santa Rosa)
The Garden Wild (Middletown)
Three Twins Ice Cream (Petaluma)
Valley Fig Growers (Fresno)
Village Bakery (Sebastopol)
Yelp (Bay Area)

About California’s Artisan Cheese Festival
A 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival strives to increase cheese appreciation, educate consumers about artisan cheeses, support the cheesemaking community and its sustainability and celebrate the creations of California’s many farmers and cheesemakers. The festival began in March 2007 as the first-ever, weekend-long celebration and exploration of handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California and beyond.  In keeping with its dedication to the community, 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. To date the Artisan Cheese Festival has contributed more than $55,000 to these non-profit organizations that work to support the artisan cheesemaking community and its infrastructure in California.  For more information, visit www.artisancheesefestival.com.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not just film, CAAMFest, has super-sized into an Asian American cultural extravaganza—it starts Wednesday, March 13, and runs for 10 days in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland

New York artist Tenzing Rigdol’s poignant installation is the focus of Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, “Bringing Tibet Home,” screening at CAAMFest 2014, March 13-23, 2014.   Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based.  For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation.  A powerful portrait of artistic determination that explores homeland, exile and the transgressive power of art.  Image: courtesy CAAM

New York artist Tenzing Rigdol’s poignant installation is the focus of Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, “Bringing Tibet Home,” screening at CAAMFest 2014, March 13-23, 2014. Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based. For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation. A powerful portrait of artistic determination that explores homeland, exile and the transgressive power of art. Filmmaker will attend. Image: courtesy CAAM

CAAMFest is 32 this year and no longer just about great film.  The 10 day festival, which takes place between March 13th and 23th , in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, has long showcased the best and newest in Asian American film.  It got restless when it turned 30 though:  it changed its name from SFIAFF (San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival ) to the shorter CAAMFest , named after its sponsor, CAAM , San Francisco’s Center for Asian American Media.  Under the guidance of Festival Director Masashi Niwano, now in his fourth year at the helm, it also responded to changing times by tweaking its programming.  And growing.  And growing.  It now bills itself as the nation’s “largest showcase for new Asian and Asian American film.”

Music and Food:  In addition to its 121 films and videos, and stellar presentations and tributes, CAAMFest 2014 includes cutting edge musicians and the fusion of great food and film line-up.  Korean and Vietnamese hip hop and rock music, and leading female performers are the focus of the two “Directions in Sound” evenings. On March 22, 23-year-old rapper, singer and songwriter, Suboi (Hàng Lâm Trang Anh), tagged Vietnam’s Queen of Hiphop, will have her U.S. debut at 111 Minna Gallery.

Suboi, the first female rapper to make it big in Vietnam, makes her U.S. debut at CAAMFest.

Suboi, the first female rapper to make it big in Vietnam, makes her U.S. debut at CAAMFest.

Culinary artists like superstar Chef Martin Yan (of PBS and M.Y. China) and award-winning Chocolatier Windy Lieu of Sôcôla Chocolates are the focus of CAAMfeast,” a high-end tasting party/fundraiser, while three fabulous food films celebrate storytelling around Asian food.

CAAMFEST expands into artsy Oakland:  Promising to engage all the senses is “Super Awesome Launch,” an evening at the Oakland Museum of California (Friday, March 7) that includes a sneak preview of its highly anticipated upcoming spring exhibition, SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot, along with the chance to meet arts visionary and Eric Nakamura, who curated the exhibition.   What? Never heard of Nakamura? Then you’re WAY WAY behind the times and need a serious CAAMFEST infusion. Twenty years ago, in 1994, Nakamura founded Giant Robot, Los Angeles’ Little Osaka based store, magazine, art gallery that became an uber-destination for Asian and Asian American popular culture and art.  You can meet Eric Nakamura and experience the art in person at OMCA, which has become quite the hopping venue on Friday nights. The evening also includes high energy bands from Taiwan, a caravan of food trucks, and a screening of Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco’s Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2013) starring Tamlyn Tomita and Dante Basco.  Easy to see why they call it “Super Awesome Launch.”   And, this year CAAMFEST has its closing night party in Oakland as well (see below), marking what promises to be a sweet partnership with the community’s vibrant arts organizations and galleries.

Big Nights of Film

Opening Night: The festival kicks off this Wednesday, March 13 with the US premiere of Vietnamese American director Ham Tran’s (Journey from the Fall, 2006) romantic comedy, How to Fight in Six Inch Heels, at the historic Castro Theater.  The film was Vietnam’s top box office draw for 2013 and features San Jose native Kathy Uyen as a New York fashion designer who infiltrates Saigon’s high-fashion world to test her fiancé’s fidelity. After the premiere, CAAMFest heads over to the Asian Art Museum for its Opening Night Gala, which features food from local chefs and restaurants, a special presentation by fashion stylists Retrofit Republic, dancing to beats spun by local DJ’s and the Asian’s amazing new exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

How To Fight In Six Inch Heels (Âm Mưu Giày Gót Nhọn)  

Select Special Presentations:  Each year, CAAMFest highlights the works of significant media makers and their contributions to modern cinema.  In Conversation with Grace Lee: Award-winning documentary filmmaker Grace Lee will be in conversation at the Castro Theatre on Saturday, March 16, discussing her new documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013), profiling the extraordinary life of activist and feminist Grace Lee Boggs which screens right after the conversation.  Lee’s narrative feature comedy, American Zombie (2006), screens on Friday, March 14.

American Revolutionary:  The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Tribute: Run Run Shaw:  CAAMFest offers a three film tribute to the legendary movie mogul Sir Run Run Shaw, who over the course of nine decades fostered some of the greatest filmmaking talent in Hong Kong, and produced some American classics such as Blade Runner (1982).  The films—The Kingdom and the Beauty; King Boxer (The Five Fingers of Death); and my personal favorite, Come Drink With Me, will all screen at the Chinatown’s Great Star Theater on March 15th..  The Great Star, refurbished in 2010, hosts both Chinese-language film and Chinese opera.

Set in imperial China, Chinese director Li Han-hsiang’s dazzling musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty” (1959) consolidated the Chinese operetta’s popularity in Hong Kong.  When  restless Chinese emperor (Chao Lei) disguises himself as a commoner and takes a stroll, he falls in love with a country peasant (movie queen Lin Dai) and promises to marry her after spending one night together—only for their budding romance to be abruptly curtailed. The film is part of a three film tribute at Chinatown’s Great Star Theater to Hong Kong entertainment and media mogul Run Run Shaw.

Set in imperial China, Chinese director Li Han-hsiang’s dazzling musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty” (1959) consolidated the Chinese operetta’s popularity in Hong Kong. When restless Chinese emperor (Chao Lei) disguises himself as a commoner and takes a stroll, he falls in love with a country peasant (movie queen Lin Dai) and promises to marry her after spending one night together—only for their budding romance to be abruptly curtailed. The film is part of a three film tribute at Chinatown’s Great Star Theater to Hong Kong entertainment and media mogul Run Run Shaw.

Closing Night: The Closing Night Gala, Sunday, March 23, marks the festival’s expansion to downtown Oakland’s arts district.  The evening starts off at the New Parkway Theater with a screening of Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marissa Aroy’s documentary, Delano Manongs (2013).  A prescient chronicle of the life of Filipino activist Larry Itliong (1913-77), who organized the 1965 Delano Grape Strike and helped launch the United Farm Workers, the documentary explores the vital contribution of Filipinos to the American Farm labor movement.  Following this screening, the Gala moves one block to Vessel Gallery for a closing party that takes place amongst the art exhibition “Periphery: New Works by Cyrus Tilton and Paintings by Tim Rice.”

CAAMFEST expands into Oakland:

Stay-tuned to ARThound for detailed film picks, which will include:

Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo (2013) Winner of the Caméra d”Or at Cannes this May, a mesmerizing portrait of a middle class Indonesian family in crisis that sprang out of the director’s childhood in the Singapore and his nurturing relationship with his Filipina nanny who worked as a domestic helper for his family for 8 years from 1988 to 1997.  (Screens March 15 at 6:30 PM at Pacific Film Archive and March 17 at 6 PM at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.)

Director Yuya Ishii’s The Great Passage (2013), Japan’s 2013 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film about a shy, eccentric young man, who joins the Dictionary Editorial Department of a big Tokyo publishing house to help compile a new dictionary, “The Great Passage” and over the course of years is transformed.  (Screens: March 15 at 2:30 PM at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and March 16 at 3:30 PM at Pacific Film Archive.)

Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, Bringing Tibet Home (2013). Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a remarkable journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based.  For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation. (Screens: March 14 at 5 PM at New People Cinemas and March 19 at 7 PM at Pacific Film Archive.)

CAAMFEST Details:

When/Where: CAAMfest 2014 runs March 13-23, 2014 at 8 screening venues in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland and as well as select museums, galleries, bars and music halls.

Tickets: This popular festival sells outs, so advance ticket purchase is highly recommended for most films and events.  Regular screenings are $12 with $1 to $2 discounts for students, seniors, disabled and current CAAM members.  Special screenings, programs and social events are more.  Festival 6-pack passes are also available for $60 (6 screenings for price of 5). All access passes are $450 for CAAM members and $500 for general.  Click here for ticket purchases online.  Tickets may also be purchased in person and various venue box offices open one hour before the first festival screening of the day.

Unpacking the festival: Click here to see full schedule in day by day calendar format with hyperlinks for film and event descriptions and for ticket purchase.  The official website— CAAMFest 2014.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Dance, Film, Food, Oakland Museum of California | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thistle Meats, downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop and charcuterie, has opened

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop.  Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass fed liver treats for dogs.  $2.50 per pound.  Pawsome!  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new artisan butcher shop. Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass-fed liver treats for dogs. $2.50 per pound. Pawsome! Photo: Geneva Anderson

When I started ARThound four years ago, I said I’d be a hound for art, digging up stories and sniffing out the details.  On Saturday, Jackson, my Rhodesian Ridgeback—the better half of ARThound— scooped me while we were out walking.  Excitedly, he guided me to downtown Petaluma’s new boutique butcher, Thistle Meats, 160 Petaluma Blvd, marked by a life-sized white pig.  It was love at first whiff.  Forced to wait outside while Petalumans entered freely, Jackson uttered a tortured groan and locked busy co-owner Molly Best in a soulful stare.  It worked!  She stepped out to greet him personally with a dried grass fed liver treat that forever put her on his map.  As we left, Jackson did the equivalent of a hound tweet….soon a fetching another ridgeback, Daisy, turned up with her owners and so did an enthusiastic yellow lab, Gunner.  A droolfest for Molly Best!

I’d heard all about Thistle for months—proprietors Molly Best and Lisa Mickley Modica have been on the radar with the arts community due to Molly’s artsy background.  A few years back, when I was covering Cornerstone Sonoma, I discovered her shearing a sheep in a promo clip for the short film, “The Shepherd & the Dollmaker,” about the collaboration between Sonoma’s artists and farmers.  She’s also the grown daughter of local sculptor David Best (art cars and ephemeral temples).  Recently, I was struck by Paige Green’s photograph of Molly and Lisa, accompanying Inside Scoop SF’s update on Thistle—two beaming, talented, and determined women honing a great idea.

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Lisa Mickley Modica has a background in land conservation and small business and non-profit management.  She was introduced to Best through mutual friends in the community and they both have children who are close in age.  “I knew immediately that we would hit it off,” said Modica.  “I really wanted to start something that was central to our community and to bridge that gap between downtown Petaluma and what we’re surrounded by, which is this beautiful agriculture, and our ability to experience it first-hand. Teaming up with Molly was a natural progression from that.”   Thistle Meats, a whole animal butchery—with three butchers on staff—strives to celebrate Petaluma’s local bounty by offering really good locally raised meats from farms and ranchers that Molly and Lisa have selected for their quality.  Thistle will also offer a charcuterie program with a range of unique pates, salumi, terrines and other cured meats as well as local produce and eggs and prepared foods.  The process is incremental, taking time to do it right with an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors and banking on culinary-minded Petaluma following suit.

ARThound is on board—it’s high time that downtown Petaluma balance itself out…how many more upscale thrift and furniture stores do we need?  The small shop has a great clean minimalist vibe to it…white tile walls, expansive glass cases showcasing fresh cuts of meat and poultry, and all the tools of the trade on display.  There’s a gorgeous antique bronze bull head on the wall at the front of the shop…refinished by sculptor David Best who is also responsible for the gifting the pig outdoors, which had been in the family for some time.  “The pig landed in our laps and we just love the character it adds,” said Modica.

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies.  A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies. A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Business was hopping when I popped in on Saturday afternoon.  An attention grabber was the Atriaux, a gorgeous and traditional Old World delicacy, a 35-32-33 combo of pork, liver, and heart, wrapped in caul fat, a striated lacey fat membrane, resembling fancy stockings, that holds the intestinal lining together.  Chef butcher John Richter, who was working the counter on Saturday, told me that he had started the day with a huge double-stacked platter and, by late afternoon, had just a few patties left.  “It’s just amazing stuff,” he boasted.   I bought a plump one (total cost $2.76) and went home and grilled it and served it with sautéed mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce, all over a bed of greens…yummm.

Knowing full well that both women had been working non-stop for weeks to get Thistle launched, I jokingly asked Modica if they both planned to work in the shop all the time.  She let out a frenzied groan, “Let’s say we are still exploring how to do that in a healthy way.”

Details:  Thistle Meats is located at 160 Petaluma Blvd, see the life-sized white pig.   Hours: Monday –Saturday 10 to 7 and Sunday 11 to 4.  Phone: 707 772-5442.  Not much detail on their webpage yet but visit their Facebook page for the latest updates and specials https://www.facebook.com/thistlemeats

March 3, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pounce! Tickets are now on sale for California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, March 21-23, in Petaluma—the Farm Tours are almost sold out

The 8th annual California's Artisan Cheese Festival welcomes back Laura Werlin who will give “MELT!,” a two-hour seminar on Saturday melted cheese.  Understanding flavor is the key to pairing cheese and wine.  Participants will taste several cheeses—melted, grilled, baked—and discover the wines that pair best with each cheesy gooey bite.  Cheese insider Werlin is the author of numerous authoritative cheese books including “Gilled Cheese, Please.”    Photo: courtesy The Oregonian

California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, March 21-23, 2014, offers over a dozen cheese seminars. Cheese insider Laura Werlin returns with “MELT!,” a two-hour seminar on melted cheese. Understanding flavor is the key to pairing cheese and wine. There are eight styles of cheese and the texture of a cheese is a window into its flavor. Participants will taste several cheeses—melted, grilled, baked—and discover the wines that pair best with each cheesy gooey bite. Werlin is the author of numerous authoritative cheese books including “Gilled Cheese, Please.” Photo: courtesy The Oregonian

California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, is back for its eighth year, March 21-23, 2014, at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma.  Tickets just went on sale. If you are interested in a farm tour, where you get to meet local cheesemakers and “ooh and ahh” their baby goats and watch them create their awesome cheeses, get your tickets now as the tours sell out immediately.

The popular festival brings together artisan cheesemakers, authors, chefs, brewers, wineries and enthusiastic guests for three days of cheese seminars, pairings, tastings, farm tours, hands-on cheese-making classes and cheese-focused demonstrations.  Of course, eating is key! Guests sample new, limited-production, and rare artisan cheeses (paired with gourmet delights) and learn all about the art of making cheese.  The festival has non-profit status and its proceeds support California farmers and cheesemakers in their ongoing effort to advance sustainability. Tickets are now on sale and available through www.artisancheesefestival.com.

“The festival is a much-anticipated, cheese-lover’s paradise that allows guests to see every step of the farm-to-table process of cheesemaking,” said Festival Executive Director Judy Groverman Walker, a Sonoma County native and 4-H alum who also organizes the Luther Burbank Rose Parade.  “From farm tours where people can interact with the animals and meet the cheesemakers to tastings, hands-on classes and culinary demos, there truly is something for everyone.”

The 2014 schedule includes the following events:

Friday, March 21:

morning—Farm Tours & Lunch:

Back by popular demand are five intimate farm tours where guests are guided on walking tours of various area farms to meet the cheesemakers, see how the cheeses are made and, of course, taste the fruits of their labor. The tours allow guests to observe every step of the cheesemaking process and interact with cows, sheep, water buffalo and goats in their natural environment. Each tour includes round-trip transportation from the Sheraton Sonoma County, cheese tastings and lunch. A three-course, sit-down lunch is included in Tours A and B at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company’s The Fork with guest chef Louis Maldonado, executive chef at Spoonbar in Healdsburg and Top Chef Contestant; Tour D will stop for an adventurous farm-to-table lunch at Zazu Kitchen & Farm at The Barlow in Sebastopol; and Tour E, an exploration of Petaluma-based cheese talent, will conclude with a beer and cheese-pairing lunch on the patio of Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma. All other tours will include a delicious box lunch to be enjoyed on site. Cheese is available for purchase on the farm tours.  (Tickets $75/$135, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)

carries on a family tradition that began in the 1950’s when Jim’s Portuguese parents founded their dairy farm near Bodega Bay

An image that surely would have inspired Vermeer. Local farm tours are the highlight of the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival. Jim and Donna Pacheco’s Achadinha (Osh-a-deen-a) Cheese Company, on Chileno Valley Road, carries on a family tradition that began in the 1950’s when Jim’s Portuguese parents founded their dairy farm near Bodega Bay. Achadinha struck gold with its delectable and award-winning “Capricious” aged goat cheese. Their “California Crazy Curd,” fresh cow and goat’s milk curds, are trending big time. Image: courtesy Achadinha Cheese Company

These are still available—

Farm Tour D – Goats, Sheep & ZaZu, Oh MY!  — Bleating Heart Cheese; Toluma Farms & Tomales Farmstead Creamery; ZaZu Kitchen & Farm; Bohemian Creamery

There is no better way to start the day than with a scenic drive through western Sonoma and northern Marin counties.  Your first stop will be to visit Seana Doughty of Bleating Heart Cheese.  In 2009 Seana bought ten pregnant ewes from a sheep dairy in Wisconsin and drove them to California as the start of her flock.  Hear about Seana’s adventures as you tour her brand new creamery built to meet the ever increasing demand for her cheeses.  Continuing through Tomales, Toluma Farms & Tomales Farmstead Cheese is next on the agenda where you’ll meet their beloved goats and sheep!  We will visit the newly opened creamery and taste their amazing farmstead goat and mixed milk cheeses.  Heading north to Sebastopol we make a lunch stop at the “new” ZaZu Kitchen & Farm at The Barlow.  Owners/chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart are “farm-to-table” specialists and long-time supporters of the California artisan cheese movement. This dynamic duo will serve up a cheese-centric lunch in their always delightful New American-Northern Italian style. The menu will be paired with some of California’s best wines and/or beers.  For your final stop of the day we drive just one mile from Sebastopol to a hilltop overlooking the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Mayacama Mountains.  Here you’ll meet Lisa Gottreich at the Bohemian Creamery and her herd of Alpine dairy goats.  Find out why she decided to break out of her midlife mold and fill new ones with innovative and compelling curds. You’ll have the opportunity to taste a variety of Italian-style cheeses!  You won’t want to miss this tour!  $135.00 per person.

Farm Tour E – Petaluma Passionate and Perfect  –  Achadinha Cheese Company; Marin French Cheese Company; Weirauch Farm & Creamery; Lagunitas Brewing Company

This culinary adventure proves that perfection exists in our own “back pasture.” Your first stop on this delightful tour will be at Jim and Donna Pacheco’s ranch and family run Achadinha Cheese Company. We will taste their goat and mixed milk cheeses that have received extensive media attention. Next stop, the award winning  Marin French Cheese Company to meet the cheese makers who will walk us through the cheese making process and give us a special presentation of their recently renovated creamery followed by a tasting of their landmark cheeses. Our last farmstead visit will be at the beautiful Weirauch Farm & Creamery. Joel and Carleen Weirauch have been slowly developing their flock of dairy sheep since 2004. Their recognized expertise in making artisan organic cow and farmstead sheep cheese is matched by their commitment to sustainable agriculture, expressed on every level of farming  – rotational pasture management, green building, water re-use from the creamery for irrigation, and integrative solar. Lunch will be at the always fun, always delicious Lagunitas Brewing Company. Tour the brewery, taste some of their world renown beers and enjoy a wonderful cheese focused lunch, served on the patio and matched with those amazing, award winning Lagunitas microbrews!  $135.00 per person

Seanna Doughty of Bleating Heart Cheese wears silver farm boots and produces cheeses with the coolest names—“Ewelicious Blue,” “Fat Bottom Girl,”and “Shepherdista”—a play on the words 'shepherd' and 'fashionista.'  In 2013, Doughty fulfilled her dream of owning her own micro-creamery, which is based at the Thornton Ranch in the little town of Tamales.  Farm tour participants can meet Doughty and her beloved flock of ewes in person.  Photo: courtesy Bleating Heart Cheese

Seanna Doughty of Bleating Heart Cheese wears silver farm boots and produces cheeses with the coolest names—“Ewelicious Blue,” “Fat Bottom Girl,”and “Shepherdista”—a play on the words ‘shepherd’ and ‘fashionista.’ In 2013, Doughty fulfilled her dream of owning her own micro-creamery, which is based at the Thornton Ranch in the little town of Tamales. Farm tour participants can meet Doughty and her beloved flock of bleating heart ewes in person. Photo: courtesy Bleating Heart Cheese

Friday evening—Meet the Cheesemakers Reception

Guests meet the cheesemakers in person at this evening reception and cheese tasting. More than 20 participating cheesemakers will offer samples of their products, along with artisan wineries and breweries at this informal walk-around reception to kick off the weekend. There is also a “Fantasy Cheese Table” featuring a spectacular cheese display for guests to sample as much as they like. (Tickets $35, Sheraton Sonoma County, 5 – 7 p.m.)

More than 20 participating cheesemakers will offer samples of their products at Friday’s popular “Meet the Cheesemakers Reception,” an informal walk-around reception that kicks off the weekend of cheese.  Participants can also sample pairings offered by artisan wineries and breweries and cracker makers.  Photo: courtesy Artisan Cheese Festival

More than 20 participating cheesemakers will offer samples of their products at Friday’s popular “Meet the Cheesemakers Reception,” an informal walk-around reception that kicks off the weekend of cheese. Participants can also sample pairings offered by artisan wineries and breweries and cracker makers. Photo: courtesy Artisan Cheese Festival

Saturday, March 22:

morning and afternoon—Seminars, Cooking and Pairing Demonstrations

The 2014 event presents a variety of seminars from which to choose, giving guests the opportunity to learn from industry experts as they discover new cheeses, learn how to make cheese, cook with different cheeses, experience diverse wine, cider and beer pairings and much, much more. Confirmed instructors include Judy Creighton, an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional (CCP); Janet Fletcher of the San Francisco Chronicle; author and cheese expert Laura Werlin; training and merchandising manager of Atlanta Foods International and American Cheese Society CCP Michael Landis; Mission Cheese owner Sarah Dvorak; Master Cicerone Rich Higgins; and the San Francisco Milk Maid, Louella Hill. The seminars include a catered lunch by Petaluma Market. During the lunch break and after the afternoon seminars authors will be available for book signings. (Tickets $65-95, Sheraton Sonoma County, Seminars 9:30 -11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., with lunch provided at 12 – 1 p.m.)

“Terroir” will became a key term in your cheese vocabulary after attending a fun and informative seminar led by master cicerones Rich Higgins and Certified Cheese Professional Michael Landis as they delve into delicious beer and cheese pairings that illustrate the concept of terroir.  Higgins was the third person in the world to earn the master cicerone title for his beer expertise (there are now seven), an accreditation which certifies him as an excellent interpreter of palate and the ways in which beer develops and heightens a meaningful dining experience.  Higgins brewed professionally for eight years and owns the consulting company, Consultant à la Bière.  Naturally, the seminar will offer exquisite beer and cheese pairings.  Here, Rich Higgins eyes a snifter of Thirsty Bear Brewing Company’s Irish Coffee, a bourbon-barrel aged espresso imperial stout. Photo: Bart Nagel

“Terroir” will became a key term in your cheese vocabulary after attending a fun and informative seminar led by master cicerone Rich Higgins and Certified Cheese Professional Michael Landis as they delve into delicious beer and cheese pairings that illustrate the concept of terroir. Higgins was the third person in the world to earn the master cicerone title for his beer expertise (there are now seven), an accreditation which certifies him as an excellent interpreter of palate and the ways in which beer develops and heightens a meaningful dining experience. Higgins brewed professionally for eight years and owns the consulting company, Consultant à la Bière. Naturally, the seminar will offer exquisite beer and cheese pairings. Here, Rich Higgins eyes a snifter of Thirsty Bear Brewing Company’s “Irish Coffee,” a bourbon-barrel aged espresso imperial stout. Photo: Bart Nagel

This looked great to me—

Seminar No. 3:  Terroir de Sonoma: Exploring the Unique Flavors and Attitudes of Sonoma Beer and Cheese
Presenters:  Rich Higgins, Master Cicerone, Brewmaster and Consultant a la Biere; Michael Landis, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional, Training & Merchandising Manager at  Gourmet Foods International
Terroir is the French term for how a food or beverage expresses a sense of place. Often used in reference to wine, terroir can be expressed by craft beer as well. Sonoma County is rich in agriculture, micro climates, and character, and its breweries and dairies embrace Sonoma’s local flavors, ingredients, and attitudes. Join Master Cicerone Rich Higgins and Certified Cheese Professional Michael Landis as they delve into delicious beer and cheese pairings that illustrate the concept of terroir. Together you will taste and celebrate the flavors and uniqueness of Sonoma County.  $65.00 per person.

Saturday evening—Grand Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition

In the ultimate culinary challenge, guests taste their way around this event, sampling dishes from 25 of the Bay Area’s best chefs and caterers, each incorporating their favorite locally made cheese into a dish for attendees.  Guests cast their vote for their favorite “cheesiest” dish and the winner is announced on-site during this lighthearted and festive competition. Artisan wineries and breweries will be on hand to provide beverages to complement each dish.  (Tickets $75, Sheraton Sonoma County, 6 – 9 p.m.)

Sunday, March 23:

morning—Sunday Bubbles and Brunch with Surprise Celebrity Chef

Join a surprise celebrity guest chef for Sunday brunch celebrating cheese at every course along with a live cooking demonstration.  Tickets include brunch, sparkling wine and coveted early entry into the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace at 11 a.m. before it opens to the public at 12 p.m.  (Tickets $115, Sheraton Sonoma County, 9:30 – 11 a.m.)

afternoon—Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace

The grand finale of the Festival, the Marketplace brings together more than 75 artisan cheesemakers, winemakers, brewers and chefs to sample and sell their products directly to attendees in this feast for the senses. Guests can discover the next wave of local, hand-crafted cheeses, boutique wines and artisan-brewed beers as well as interesting cheese products, books and recipes.  Each ticket includes entry to the Marketplace, an insulated cheese tote bag and a signature wine glass. (Tickets $45 for adults; $20 for children 12 and under, Sheraton Sonoma County, 12 – 4 p.m.)

Complimentary Cooking Demonstrations

In between tasting and buying cheeses at the Marketplace, guests are invited to watch several cooking demonstrations conducted by local chefs and cheese experts. (Admission is free with a Marketplace ticket; Sheraton Sonoma County; demonstrations are at 1 – 2 p.m.; 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.; and 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.)

Those interested can also follow updates by “liking” the Artisan Cheese Festival on Facebook and following the event on Twitter. All events are priced separately and the Sheraton Sonoma County – Petaluma is offering special discounted rates on rooms for festival-goers.

More about California’s Artisan Cheese Festival: A 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival strives to increase cheese appreciation, educate consumers about artisan cheeses, support the cheesemaking community and its sustainability and celebrate the creations of California’s many farmers and cheesemakers. The festival began in March 2007 as the first-ever, weekend-long celebration and exploration of handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California and beyond.  In keeping with its dedication to the community, 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. To date the Artisan Cheese Festival has contributed more than $55,000 to these non-profit organizations that work to support the artisan cheesemaking community and its infrastructure in California.  For more information, visit http://www.artisancheesefestival.com.

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kendall Jackson’s 17th Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival—we came, we ate, we learned!

THE sandwich of the day at the 17th Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival—peanut butter, banana, roasted pork belly and heirloom tomato jelly— people came back in droves for thirds and fourths and fifths!

THE sandwich of the day at the 17th Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival—peanut butter, banana, roasted pork belly and heirloom tomato jelly— people came back in droves for thirds and fourths and fifths! Photo: Geneva Anderson

With all the events we pack tightly into the remaining weekends of our wonderfully warm fall, what happened yesterday can easily become a blur.  Saturday’s Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is well worth mentioning.   It sold out, as it always does, and those 3,000 lucky enough to attend were in for some culinary treats.  This year’s festival was bigger and better than ever and featured some amazing and instructive pairings of wines and flavorful heirloom-tomato centric foods.  Most of the food vendors gave out recipe cards explaining how to recreate the heirloom tomato marvels they’d whipped up.  Those who didn’t have cards were happy to chat.   I attended an interesting seminar on the nuances of tomato growing and came away with a plan for enhancing my end-of-season yield—cut off the blossoms and cut back the plants so that all energy goes into the fruit on the vine now.  A confession: before hitting the festival in the early afternoon, I dropped by the Apple Store in Santa Rosa to buy a Nike Fuelband which a lot of my friends are wearing to track their activities and help them manage their weight.  The madness inside the store—the new iPhone—was just insane, so I drove straight up to the festival and right into some HEAVY duty temptation.  With no one watching, I managed to find some outrageously delicious and creative tomato treats.  A special call-out goes to Fiorello’s Artisan Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Gelato….it was cool, refreshing and so satisfying.  Every year, San Rafael-based gelato company outdoes itself and comes up with yet another mouthwatering gelato that draws long lines and big smiles.   Many of the delicacies served were intentionally low-fat, and used sliced fresh juicy heirlooms as their prime ingredient….but volume is my downfall.  Today, I’m on the wagon!

A great idea!  A popsicle made of tomato water is refreshing, delicious and low-cal.

A great idea! A popsicle made of tomato water is refreshing, delicious and low-cal. With a serving team like this, it verged on theatre of the tomato. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The ever popular heirloom tomato tasting table is just one of the ways that Kendall Jackson celebrates the heirloom tomato—a chance to taste over 150 varieties all side by side and decide which ones are just right for you.

The ever popular heirloom tomato tasting table is just one of the ways that Kendall Jackson celebrates the heirloom tomato—a chance to taste over 175 varieties all side by side and decide which ones are just right for you. This year, there were several rare varieties of green heirlooms to sample. Photo: Geneva Anderson

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wet juicy tomato-inspired bites…Kendall Jackson’s Heirloom Tomato Festival is Saturday, September 28, 2013

Japanese Black Trifele (truffle) is a 3 to 4" inch long pear-shaped, deep purple-black Russian heirloom tomato with gorgeous green shoulders and an unforgettable rich deep smoky, chocolaty flavor.  More than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes will be available for tasting, along with tomato-inspired dishes from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants, chefs, and food purveyors at the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Japanese Black Trifele (truffle) is a 3 to 4″ inch long pear-shaped, deep purple-black Russian heirloom tomato with gorgeous green shoulders and an unforgettable rich deep smoky, chocolaty flavor. More than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes will be available for tasting, along with tomato-inspired dishes from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants, chefs, and food purveyors at the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Those of us lucky enough to grow heirloom tomatoes know that absolutely nothing beats the exquisite sensation of biting into a sun-ripened juicy fruit in its peak.  For those of us in the Bay Area, tomato time is now!  As we pursue the great tomato hunt, there’s one stand-out event, the annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, which returns on Saturday, September 28, 2013, for a one-of-a-kind celebration of Sonoma County’s seasonal bounty.  Now in its 17th year, the popular festival has a cult like following, attracting tomato lovers from all over the West Coast.   Highlights include—a tasting table with more than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to sample (grown in the Kendall-Jackson culinary gardens); Heirloom
Tomato Grower’s Competition
; a chef competition featuring Bravo’s Top Chef® contenders; and tomato-inspired dishes from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants chefs and food purveyors. Guests will also enjoy wine tasting, live music and educational wine and garden seminars.  The event, which utilizes nearly 10,000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, benefits the Cooking With Kids Foundation, founded by uber-celeb chef Guy Fieri in 2010 to encourage youth to cook.

ARThound’s favorite part of the day is engaging complete strangers in tomato talk —what’s the best tasting heirloom tomato? What’s the best way to grow them?  Of course, it’s foolhardy to even attempt to answer these questions but it’s the kind of talk that happily engages any tomato fanatic—for hours.

NEW THIS YEAR:

VIP event package: This year, Kendall-Jackson is introducing a VIP event package featuring exclusive wine and food pairings and limited production reserve wines poured by the winery’s Master Sommelier.  Additional privileges include access to a private lounge tent, valet parking and a special entrance to the event.  Tickets for this extra special VIP experience are $150 per person.

Tomato tasting tent replaced!  For the first time, the event’s popular heirloom tomato tasting, which normally takes place in a huge central tented area, will take place in the gardens to celebrate these just-picked tomatoes fresh from the source.

Black cherry—a perfectly round cherry tomato that resembles a dusky purple-brown grape.  It has an irresistibly delicious classic black tomato flavor, sweet, yet rich, smoky and complex.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Black cherry—a perfectly round cherry tomato that resembles a dusky purple-brown grape. It has an irresistibly delicious classic black tomato flavor, sweet, yet rich, smoky and complex. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Tour KJ’s expanded gardens: In addition to wine and food, guests at the 2013 Tomato Festival can discover the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate’s recently expanded culinary and sensory gardens. Culinary gardener Tucker Taylor will lead tours throughout the day to reveal the captivating garden transformation, including an exploration of the garden’s wide variety of organic specialty produce and beautiful design enhancements.

About Kendall-Jackson Winery: Kendall-Jackson is one of America’s most beloved family-owned and operated wineries.  Founded by entrepreneur Jess Jackson and now led by his wife Barbara Banke and their children, Kendall-Jackson is based in Sonoma County and offers a range of acclaimed wines grown on the family’s estate vineyards along the coastal ridges of California.  A leader in sustainable vineyard and winery practices including solar cogeneration, water conservation, and natural pest control, 100% of Kendall-Jackson’s vineyards in California are SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice).  Learn more online at http://www.kj.com, and follow KJ on Facebook. Engage in this year’s Tomato Festival conversation on Twitter via @KJWines and #Kjtomfest.

Details: The 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 11AM to 4 PM.  Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens are located 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton CA  95439.  Advance ticket purchase is essential as the event sells out every year.  Purchase tickets online hereGeneral Admission tickets: $95; VIP Package $150. Wear Sun Protection to this outdoor event.

Directions:  From Highway 101 going NORTH, take River Road exit.  Come to stop light and turn LEFT going over the freeway.  Travel approximately 1 1/4 mile to first stoplight, which is Fulton Road.  Turn RIGHT at Fulton Road.

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens is less than 1/2 mile on the LEFT side of the road.  (If you go over the Hwy 101 overpass on Fulton, you’ve gone too far.)

From Highway 101 going SOUTH, take Fulton Road exit.  The FIRST driveway on the right is the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens.

2013 Food Vendors

A La Heart Catering Nicasio Valley   Cheese
Agave Mexican   Restaurant & Tequila Bar Nick’s Cove
Applewood Inn &   Restaurant Opa Helmut’s Rub
Backyard Partake
Bay View Resturant Peloton Catering
Beehive Cheese   Company Rocker Oysterfellers   Kitchen + Saloon
Catelli’s Savory Spice Shop
Chole’s French Cafe Sea Thai Bistro
Cookie… Take a   Bite Shoki Ramen House
Costeaux French   Bakery Smash Foods
Duck Club at Bodega   Bay Lodge & Spa Sonoma Latina Grill
Equus Restaurant SooFoo
Fiorello’s Summerfield Foods
G & G Market/   Harris Ranch Sosu Ketchup
Heirloom Ketchup Sur La Table
Jackson’s Bar &   Oven Taverna Sofia
John Ash &   Company Taylor Maid Farms   Organic Coffee & Tea
Johnny Garlic’s The Smoked Olive LLC
Lucero Olive Oil The Spinster Sisters
Marin French Cheese   Co. Tolay Sonoma County   Cuisine
Mary’s Pizza Shack Trader Joe’s
Montibella Sausage Whole Vine Products
Nectar, Hilton   Sonoma Wine County Zin Resturant &   Wine Bar

September 20, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magnificent morsels…that add up to a feast—Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 24, 2013

If you blink, you’ll miss tiny SPEAKEASY, a new bistro-style tapas restaurant located in Helen Putnam Plaza, which is new to Taste of Petaluma.  Once you try Chef Patrick Tafoya’s simple but perfectly satisfying dishes, like his heirloom melon soup topped with basil crema and crisp prosciutto crumbles, you’ll be in for more.  But do make a reservation—SPEAKEASY can accommodate just 12 indoor diners at a time but it is open for dinner from 5 PM til 2 AM seven days a week. Photo: Geneva Anderson

If you blink, you’ll miss tiny SPEAKEASY, a new bistro-style tapas restaurant located in Helen Putnam Plaza, which is new to Taste of Petaluma. Once you try Chef Patrick Tafoya’s simple but perfectly satisfying dishes, like his heirloom tomato gazpacho shooter garnished with a grilled marinated tiger prawn or his heirloom melon soup topped with basil crema and crisp prosciutto crumbles, you’ll be in for more. But do make a reservation—SPEAKEASY can accommodate just 12 indoor diners at a time but it is open for dinner from 5 PM til 2 AM seven days a week. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The 8th annual Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 24, and it’s all about eating your way—bite by bite—across Petaluma and connecting with its small-city charm and rich sense of community.  Taste is a benefit for Cinnabar Theater’s youth repertory programs and, this year, the event has over 50 Petaluma restaurants and food, wine and beverage purveyors participating and is expected to draw people from all over the Bay Area.  Enjoy everything from “A” (Artisan Angus Beef gluten free meatballs with Arrabbiata Tomato Sauce at Wild Goat Bistro in the historic Petaluma Mill) to “V” (Vegetable Tikka Kabobs at Everest Indian Restaurant in River Plaza) and along the way stop to take in the live musical entertainment from 17 Bay Area solo and group performers offering just as promising a musical menu (full performance schedule here).

“Everyone wins with Taste,” explained the event’s founder Laura Sunday who estimates that 1,000 people will turn out. “This is the only tasting event I know of where people actually get to go into a restaurant and check out the environment and sample so generously.  Most of these things are held in tents and operate like food fairs.  Our restaurants do this year after year because they enjoy giving back to Petaluma and to Cinnabar Theater and it’s the best advertising around.”

Stay-tuned to ARThound for more on Taste of Petaluma.

More About Cinnabar Theater:  Cinnabar Theater, located in the 1908 Cinnabar Schoolhouse on Petaluma Blvd and Skillman Lane, is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit.  It opens its 41st season with Craig Wright’s The Pavilion, a tender story of two former lovers who encounter each other at a high-school reunion. Against the backdrop of old tunes Peter and Kari dance around big questions. Is happily ever after still possible… or is that just in fairy tales?  A terrific cast takes the stage for this enthralling and lyrical play about the mysteries of forgiveness.  Runs: Sept 6-22, 2013; tickets $25.

Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Theater opens its season the musical Annie, based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip created by Harold Gray.  This charming adaptation of Thomas Meehan’s beloved children’s book Annie, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin is the perfect family-friendly musical.

Ciabatta Muffaletta Sandwich with made in-house Spicy Coppa, Fennel Salami & Olive Tapenade.  Sugo Trattoria’s owners and chefs, Peter and Annette White, are passionate about handcrafting their gourmet offerings.  From Peter’s cured meats to their whole grain mustards and hand-formed pastas, everything is artfully presented.  Sugo is located at 5 Petaluma Blvd. South, in Town Center.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Ciabatta Muffaletta Sandwich with made in-house Spicy Coppa, Fennel Salami & Olive Tapenade. Sugo Trattoria’s owners and chefs, Peter and Annette White, are passionate about handcrafting their gourmet offerings. From Peter’s cured meats to their whole grain mustards and hand-formed pastas, everything is artfully presented. Sugo is located at 5 Petaluma Blvd. South, in Town Center. Photo: Geneva Anderson

With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan ANNIE charms everyone’s hearts, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, ANNIE escapes to the wondrous and magical world of NYC.  In adventure after fun-filled adventure, ANNIE foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations and befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She finds a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.  Runs:  November 29-December 15, 2013.  Tickets: $15 ages 22 and over; $10 ages 21 and under.

Details:  Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 24, 2013 from 11:30 AM to 4 PM.  Advance tickets are discounted at $35 through Friday, August 23, the day before the event.  Tickets are $40 at the event.   Ticket packages consist of 10 tasting tickets, good for 1 taste each. Additional tickers can be purchased for $4 each on the day of the event.  Buy advance tickets from Cinnabar Theater between 10-2 weekdays (707) 763-8920, online here (with fee), or in person at the following venues—
Gallery One – 209 Western Ave., Petaluma
Velvet Ice Collections – 140 2nd Street, Theater Square,
Blush Collections – 117 Kentucky Street

Advance tickets can be picked up at WILL CALL at Helen Putnam Plaza (129 Petaluma Blvd. North) after 10:30 AM on the day of the event.

The first 1,000 guest to purchase tickets will receive a free Taste of Petaluma tote bag.  All participants receive a plastic wine glass.

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s organizer, enjoys a luscious heirloom melon cocktail outdoors at Social Club.  GM Damion Wallace runs a notoriously well-stocked bar and scours the local farmer's markets for the freshest ingredients with a breadth of rich colors and tastes for his extraordinary cocktail concoctions.  Social club will sample its Applewood Smoked Pork Shoulder and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil and Mint.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s organizer, enjoys a luscious heirloom melon cocktail outdoors at Social Club. GM Damion Wallace runs a notoriously well-stocked bar and scours the local farmer’s markets for the freshest ingredients with a breadth of rich colors and tastes for his extraordinary cocktail concoctions. Social club will sample its Applewood Smoked Pork Shoulder and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil and Mint. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not-Cakes, owned by Petaluma baker and cake artist Sally Ann Mcgrath, creates uniquely delicious cakes that are all made from scratch with the finest ingredients. Sisters Elizabeth (L) and Mary-Frances Miller will serve a selection of cupcakes at Blush at 133 Kentucky Street.  Surprisingly, these treats look rich but they are not too sweet or heavy.  Each packs a special mouthwatering surprise—the interior is filled with dollop of scrumptious creamy homemade fruit conserve, caramel or dark chocolate.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not Cakes, owned by Petaluma baker and cake artist Sally Ann Mcgrath, creates uniquely delicious cakes that are all made from scratch with the finest ingredients. Elizabeth (L) and Mary-Frances Miller (R) (sisters and co-workers) will serve a selection of cupcakes at Blush at 133 Kentucky Street. Surprisingly, these treats look rich but they are not too sweet or heavy. Each packs a special mouthwatering surprise—the interior is filled with dollop of scrumptious creamy homemade fruit conserve, caramel or dark chocolate. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not-Cakes will offer a gorgeous edible palette of cupcakes at Taste of Petaluma. Left: Blackberry cupcake—the cake is a special vanilla buttermilk recipe passed down through baker Sally Ann Mcgrath’s family. The filling is a homemade blackberry conserve. The topping is a light vanilla buttercream and blackberry conserve frosting.  Right:  Tropical chocolate cupcake—dark chocolate cake with passion-fruit curd filling and coconut buttercream frosting.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not Cakes will offer a gorgeous edible palette of cupcakes at Taste of Petaluma. Left: Blackberry cupcake—the cake is a special vanilla buttermilk recipe passed down through baker Sally Ann Mcgrath’s family. The filling is a homemade blackberry conserve. The topping is a light vanilla buttercream and blackberry conserve frosting. Right: Tropical chocolate cupcake—dark chocolate cake with passion-fruit curd filling and coconut buttercream frosting. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Top and center in perfect sync—Petaluma baker Sally Ann McGrath uses a special tool to hull out a portion of each cupcake’s center after it’s been baked and then pipes in a small bite of homemade filling.  A gorgeous fresh raspberry conserve (fresh fruit and raw sugar reduction) combines perfectly with her delectable whipped raspberry buttercream frosting.  McGrath is one of a handful of gourmet bakers and purveyors who do not have a storefront presence in Petaluma, so this is your chance to see and sample her artful cakes. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Top and center in perfect sync—Petaluma baker Sally Ann McGrath uses a special tool to hull out a portion of each cupcake’s center after it’s been baked and then pipes in a small bite of homemade filling. A gorgeous fresh raspberry conserve (fresh fruit and raw sugar reduction) combines perfectly with her delectable whipped raspberry buttercream frosting. McGrath is one of a handful of gourmet bakers and purveyors who do not have a storefront presence in Petaluma, so this is your chance to see and sample her artful cakes. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Pie Powered Petaluma Couple—Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino.  Petaluma Pie Company keeps them hopping but Lina Hoshino is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have screened at festivals all over the world.  Her latest doc, “Living Along the Fenceline”  (Best Documentary Feature at Female Eye Festival 2013) focuses on women grassroots activists living in communities that have been adversely impacted by military bases they host.  Photo:  Geneva Anderson

Pie Powered Petaluma Couple—Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino. Petaluma Pie Company keeps them hopping but Lina Hoshino is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have screened at festivals all over the world. Her latest doc, “Living Along the Fenceline” (Best Documentary Feature at Female Eye Festival 2013) focuses on women grassroots activists living in communities that have been adversely impacted by military bases they host. Photo: Geneva Anderson

In just two years, pie enthusiasts, Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino have turned Petaluma Pie Company into a Petaluma icon.  Noted for their sweet and savory pies made from the freshest local ingredients and their commitment to supporting the community, Petaluma Pie will serve juicy slow cooked Pastured Pork paired with Rhubarb and Chutney enclosed in their outta-this-world buttery Pie Crust and a taste of Cold Beer. Photo: Geneva Anderson

In just two years, pie enthusiasts, Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino have turned Petaluma Pie Company into a Petaluma icon. Noted for their sweet and savory pies made from the freshest local ingredients and their commitment to supporting the community, Petaluma Pie will serve juicy slow cooked Pastured Pork paired with Rhubarb and Chutney enclosed in their outta-this-world buttery Pie Crust and a taste of Cold Beer. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Tim Bush, Corkscrew Wine Bar’s manager, grabbed the bar faucet for support when he calculated the number of chocolate truffles and pulled pork sliders that hundreds of guests will sample this Saturday’s Taste.  Bush pinch-hits with all sorts of duties for the elegant new establishment, including organizing and participating in Junk Parlor, a music exclusive featuring Gypsy jazz improv on Corkscrew’s Tuesday music nights.  (100 Petaluma Blvd. North near Western Ave) Photo: Geneva Anderson

Tim Bush, Corkscrew Wine Bar’s manager, grabbed the bar faucet for support when he calculated the number of chocolate truffles and pulled pork sliders that hundreds of guests will sample this Saturday’s Taste. Bush pinch-hits with all sorts of duties for the elegant new establishment, including organizing and participating in Junk Parlor, a music exclusive featuring Gypsy jazz improv on Corkscrew’s Tuesday music nights. (100 Petaluma Blvd. North near Western Ave) Photo: Geneva Anderson

Gopal Gauchan, owner/chef at Everest Indian Restaurant, 56 East Washington in “River Plaza,” will be serving his delectible kabobs.  Choose the Chicken Tikka Kabob - Chicken Breast, Red Onion, Broccoli, Sweet Pepper or the Vegetable Tikka Kabob - Red Onion, Scallion, Brussel Sprout, Carrot, Sweet Pepper. Gopal's menu offers a fusion of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan foods.  Photo:  Geneva Anderson

Gopal Gauchan, owner/chef at Everest Indian Restaurant, 56 East Washington in “River Plaza,” will be serving his delectible kabobs. Choose the Chicken Tikka Kabob – Chicken Breast, Red Onion, Broccoli, Sweet Pepper or the Vegetable Tikka Kabob – Red Onion, Scallion, Brussel Sprout, Carrot, Sweet Pepper. Gopal’s menu offers a fusion of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan foods. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Chef/owner Andy Ma of Andy’s Kitchen & Sushi Bar, at 212 Western Avenue, is a new to Taste of Petaluma and will serve his signature Samurai Roll (Crab, Avocado, Unagi; deep fried; topped with spicy mayo and unagi sauce) and (not pictured) Mini Corn Sticks w/ Thai Sweet Chili Dip. Don’t miss his walls, which are always packed with interesting local art.  Photo:  Geneva Anderson

Chef/owner Andy Ma of Andy’s Kitchen & Sushi Bar, at 212 Western Avenue, is a new to Taste of Petaluma and will serve his signature Samurai Roll (Crab, Avocado, Unagi; deep fried; topped with spicy mayo and unagi sauce) and (not pictured) Mini Corn Sticks w/ Thai Sweet Chili Dip. Don’t miss his walls, which are always packed with interesting local art. Photo: Geneva Anderson

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Food, Theatre, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Lavender Season! See it, Savor it, and Discover it at Matanzas Creek Winery’s 17th Annual “Days of Wine & Lavender,” Saturday, June 29th

Matanzas Creek Winery's Lavender Garden features over 5,000 lavender plants. Terraced rows of the cultivars "Grosso" and "Provence" line the winery's entrance and are the basis of its Estate Grown Lavender product line.  Guests at "Days of Wine and Lavender" stroll the gardens while sampling crisp sauvignon blancs, luxurious chardonnays and fruity, earthy merlots.

Matanzas Creek Winery’s Lavender Garden features over 4,500 lavender plants. Terraced rows of the cultivars “Grosso” and “Provence” line the winery’s entrance and are the basis of its Estate Grown Lavender product line. Guests at “Days of Wine and Lavender” stroll the gardens while sampling crisp sauvignon blancs, luxurious chardonnays and fruity, earthy merlots.

Aside from its beauty, there are few things more sensual and soothing than the aroma of lavender in full bloom.  Whether you prefer to casually take in the sweetness in the air or rub your fingers over its sticky flowering stalks, the experience is magical.  Matanzas Creek Winery’s 17th annual “Days of Wine & Lavender” festival is Saturday, June 29, 2013 and offers an unforgettable afternoon, an immersion of the senses, as guests stroll through the winery’s two-acre lavender gardens while sipping Matanzas Creek’s bright and refreshing wines. With its more than 4,500 individual lavender plantings creating a sea of purple and perfuming the air, the bucolic Bennett Valley estate, set in the rolling golden hills of Sonoma County, is an oasis of respite.

There are lavender festivals popping up all over Sonoma but “Days of Wine and Lavender” is known for keeping it small, manageable, elegant, so tickets are limited, and those who come once tend to return year after year.  The fine cuisine keeps many coming back.  A highlight of this year’s event will be Michelin-starred Chef, Douglas Keane’s special epicurean pairings designed for the winery’s Journey wine collection.  Since closing his acclaimed four-star Cyrus, Keane has been managing his Healdsburg Bar & Grill and he’ll be one of the chef contenders on season five of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, competing for a $100,000 donation to his Green Dog Rescue Project charity.  The festival will also feature a menu created by the estate culinary team, including dishes with estate-grown lavender as a culinary ingredient.  Past scrumptious delicacies have included Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Chef Eric
Frischkorn’s
homemade artisan breads delicately flavored with lavender and Executive Chef Justin Wangler’s inventive use of lavender in grilled dishes such as Lavender Honey Glazed Scallops or Lavender Roasted Leg of Lamb with Confit Fingerling Potatoes.  Paired food stations will be set-up around the winery for guests to see how the food is prepared and then sample as many items and as many times as they like.  This is an excellent opportunity to observe how salt rubs, concentrated oils, and lavender grilling sticks are used by the pros.

Winemaker Marcia Monahan will lead guests through a sensory exploration of several of the winery’s distinct Sauvignon Blanc wines.  Additionally, renowned oyster guru, Rowan Jacobsen, author of A Geography of Oysters…the 2008 James Beard Award winning guide to all things oysters, will demonstrate how to pair oysters Matanzas Creek’s different handcrafted wines.

Other activities include a showcase of the winery’s lavender barn and lavender product-making techniques, a sneak peak of new wine releases, culinary demonstrations, beekeeping demonstrations and lavender-infused honey tastings by Marshall’s Farm, sustainability tours of the estate, chair massages and live music.

Matanzas Creek’s small-batch lavender luxury bath and body care products are crafted with the same care and dedication that goes into their wine.  The Lavender/Chamomile Soothing Balm ($13.50/ 2 oz) is an all-purpose highly-aromatic balm that is perfect for healing and soothing sun-exposed skin, sore muscles, and nourishing dry skin.  Just a dab goes a long way and it makes the perfect gift.

Details: Saturday June 29th, noon to 4 p.m. Tickets: $95 General Public and $75 Wine Club members.  Advance ticket purchase is essential as the festival sells out in advance each year.  To purchase tickets, click here.  Matanzas Creek Winery is located at 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA  95404   For more information, phone: 800 590-6464

June 21, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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