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