Tickets for the 10th California Artisan Cheese Festival are now on sale: ARThound talks cheese with Judy Groverman Walker, the festival’s executive director
Love cheese? A growing number of artisan cheese aficionados travel far and wide to cheese gatherings across the country, but we in the Bay Area don’t have to because Petaluma and its pastoral farmlands are cheese paradise for both producers and consumers. This March 18-20, 2016, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, takes place in and around Petaluma’s Sheraton Sonoma County and it’s considered one of the nation’s top, if not the best, cheese festivals. The festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and promise a glorious immersion in all things cheese. From new small-batch and very rare artisan cheeses to those that have already garnered international recognition, the spotlight is on the vibrant hues, bold aromas, and surprising flavors that make our region’s cheeses so divine. You’ll meet the local farmers who produce these cheeses and get to “ohh” and “ahhh” and cuddle their kids, lambs and calves. You’ll have classes with legendary food tzars who will feed you and, in the process, help you drill down on your own personal preferences. You’ll be briefed on the latest trends in pairing artisan cheeses with special foods, boutique wines and artisan brewed beers and ciders. And what stories you’ll hear! But unless you register soon, you’ll miss out on the farm tours and the special events this three-day extravaganza has to offer because the festival always sells out.
In honor of its 10th anniversary, the festival will expand its beloved Farm Tours to both Friday and Saturday with two new destinations in the Sacramento area and educational components will be included in every Farm Tour. A not-to-be-missed 10 Year Anniversary Celebration will be held under the Big Top on Saturday night. For the festival’s full schedule and to buy your tickets ($45 to $135), click here.
ARThound spoke with Judy Groverman Walker, the festival’s executive director, about this year’s festivities. Judy has been at the helm for the past five years. Like Arthound, Judy grew up in a 4-H farming family with deep roots in Sonoma County and has had lots of experience with raising and grazing animals as well as understanding the economics of running a dairy and bringing a product to market. Her transition to a career in designing and promoting food events seems a perfect fit for this Windsor resident who spent most of life in Sonoma County.
This is the 10th anniversary of this very special festival…what’s your history with the festival and how has it changed since you became the executive director?
Judy Groverman Walker: I’ve been involved since 2012 and, prior to that, I organized a number of local food and wine events—I helped start Kendall Jackson’s Heirloom Tomato Festival and worked with River Valley Winegrowers who used to do Grape to Glass, a three-day event. The California Artisan Cheese Festival has been growing steadily each year, both in attendees and cheesemakers. This year, we have 33 artisan cheesemakers already confirmed. This is always a struggle because those who are located further away from the festival are the hardest to pull away for a weekend because, either they’re a small farm and just can’t get away, or it’s just not cost effective. Most of the cheesemakers are from around the Bay Area. There’s never been much Southern California representation but, this year, Golden Valley Farm, from Chowchilla, the only sheep dairy in the San Joaquin Valley, will be participating again. They produce some wonderful Pecorino cheeses that have the flavor and aroma of various wines. Last year was their first time at the festival and they participated in a seminar and were at Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace. Phillip Franco from Sierra Cheese in Compton will participate as a panelist in one of our Farm tours too. While I’ve been with the festival, I’ve noticed more cheesemakers popping up in proximity to the festival (the Petaluma area) and I think the festival has had something to do with that.
You were the first festival in the country to offer an extended weekend of artisan cheese-related events. There are more cheese festivals now; what remains unique about your festival?
Judy Groverman Walker: Because we live in an area that really appreciates fine cheese, you might assume there would be cheese festivals all over the rest of the country too. Actually, there are just a handful and ours is one of the biggest, the most comprehensive, and the best. The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in Little Chute (three days, early June) and the Vermont Cheesemaker’s Festival (one day, mid-July) are large festivals but don’t have our breadth. The Oregon Cheese Festival is also very well known but it’s little and just one day and is mainly about sampling. We give participants the chance to taste cheeses from over 30 artisan cheesemakers, so that’s a lot of variety. Because we represent California and so many diverse artisan cheesemakers, we maintain a strong education element that reflects and sets trends. All of this is in one place. Our farm tours are very special too and we are always working to improve them. They give consumers a chance to see firsthand how the cheeses are made and to meet and pet the goats, sheep and cows and water buffalos and get up close and personal with the farmers and ask questions about the entire process. These are our most popular events and they start to sell out a couple of days after we put up the announcement.
This year, we’ve added a panel discussion or some sort of education aspect to each tour. We’re seeing a lot of interest in local farmstead ciders right now and they happen to pair wonderfully with cheeses, so we’ve incorporated cider stops into a couple of the farm tours. Farm Tour C will visit Apple Garden Farm in Tomales and Farm Tour D visits Devoto Orchards in Sebastopol. We realized that some of some of our cheesemakers don’t get enough attention because they are further away, so we added two farm tours that take place in the Sacramento Valley area. One tour goes North and the other goes South, with stops along the way where participants can meet cheesemakers and find out what they are doing that might be different from what we are doing here.
Are there any special plans for your 10th anniversary?
Judy Groverman Walker: We’re still working out the details but Saturday night will be our 10th anniversary celebration. We’ve invited restaurants to come in and we’re partnering up cheesemakers with chefs and we’ll have live music and a photo booth and it will be a very fun and festive environment. Look for more on that in the coming weeks on the festival webpage.
Any speakers who have proven to be crowd favorites over the years that you invite back again and again?
Judy Groverman Walker: We include Laura Werlin and Janet Fletcher every year because they are such experts and such great communicators and teachers. This year, they will also participate in the farm tours. Laura will do a seminar with some California’s instrumental cheesemakers (Farm Tour C) and she’ll also do a Saturday afternoon seminar, ‘Farm to Table, Bean to Bar’ on pairing cheese and chocolate, which is selling very well.
Janet Fletcher, who has spent years and year working with cheese, will do a mixed milk cheese tasting seminar that we’ve incorporated into Farm tours A and B) and will lead a Saturday afternoon pairing seminar, ‘Dubbel Down: Belgian-style Beer and Cheese’ which is a primer on Belgian style beers made in the U.S. and American artisan cheeses.
Chef, author and teacher, John Ash, has been involved with the festival since it began and has done wonderful seminars and cooking demos and has overseen some of our dinners and carried out the live festival broadcast with KSRO. This will be the first year he’s doing the Sunday morning brunch which has California cheese at every course and features our region’s sparkling wines. He’ll also do a live cooking demonstration and I’m very excited about that.
You offer a sake and cheese pairing seminar on Saturday afternoon with Chef Tominaga of Hana and sommelier Robert Bath…is this the newest trend?
Judy Groverman Walker: We’ve had some of our cheesemakers experimenting with sake and that’s why we’re giving it a try. I’ve not heard that this is trending but after the festival there may be a lot more interest. And, of course, if sous chefs believe it can work, then it will be in restaurants and take off. It’s such an odd combination but we feel it will have appeal. I wish I could go because it’s something I know very little about.
For someone who has one day to spend at the festival, what do you recommend?
Judy Groverman Walker: If you like cheese and you’re a restaurant person and you want your cheese prepared into something, then Saturday evening’s special California Cheesin’ event is for you because chefs from leading restaurants are going to use cheese in very creative and diverse dishes. If you just want pure cheese sampling then Friday night’s Cheesemongers’ Duel will offer cheeses that famous cheesemongers have turned into “the best bite” and Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace is straight cheese in its raw form.
What is the “value” in spending $45 to enter Sunday’s tasting tent?
Judy Groverman Walker: We give you the opportunity to try all these cheeses and include all all the beer, wine and cider you can drink, along with live entertainment. You also get an insulated insulate shopping, an ice pack and a wine glass. You are face to face with the actual cheesemakers, talking cheese and can come away with a lot of information. In between tastes, you can watch live demonstrations conducted by local chefs and cheese experts on topics like how to put together the perfect cheese board for a party. There are lots of cheese accessories too—cheeseboards, cheese knives—and local high-end gourmet accompaniments like small batch jams, tapenades, olive oils, and the latest artisan whole grain crackers. You’re not going to see jewelry makers because we keep it cheese-related. Lots of people use this as a head-start on holiday shopping and entertaining too. The newest CA artisan cheese spreads are showcased too. This year, I’m excited about Chevoo (pronounced SHAY-voo), run by an Australian couple who live in Sonoma. They’ve taken fresh Cyprus Grove goat curd and put it into an olive oil base that has been infused with different herbs. This is brand new. The tasting tent is the place to try all of these new gourmet products.
We have artisan cheesemakers from outside our area who want to participate but we try to limit it to California. We let Beehive Cheese (hand-rubbed Barely Buzzed, Teahive, Seahive) attend because they’re from Northern Utah and there’s no other cheese organization they can associate with and we are the closest festival they can attend. And we also let Willapa Hills come down from Southwest Washington come too. They started out with just sheep’s milk cheese and now have expanded into sheep/cow milk blends (Two-faced Blue, Ewe Old Cow).
Details: California’s 10th Artisan Cheese Festival is March 18-20, 2016 at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma and various cheese country locations. Tickets for all festival events are sold separately and all events take place, rain or shine. Click here to go to Eventbrite to purchase tickets.
The 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) starts Wednesday and will screen over 90 films from more than two dozen countries over 5 nights and 4 days. The big nights have been well-covered in the media. Among the treasures that you might not have yet discovered are several films, each an artwork in itself, on artists and designers, some virtually unknown, whose gift for creative expression will inspire and delight. $15 tickets are available for pre-purchase online for all of the films mentioned below. Victor Mancilla’s documentary, ART and Revolutions, about Mexico’s famed artist-engraver, José Guasalupe Posada, will screens Saturday at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, will have an accompanying art exhibition and a lively post-screening Q& A with the director and Jim Nikas, the collector. The opening night film, Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos, which has Kate Winslet playing an unorthodox thinking widow hired to design part of the gardens at Versailles, has also peaked my interest. I love how Winslet embodies strength on scene and I’m intrigued with garden design, which poses interesting questions, artistic and otherwise. What is nature, how do we fit into it and how should we shape it when we can both physically and visually? Some of these fascinating issues are practical and others philosophical but we can only hope that Winslet’s Sabine de Barra tackles them substantively as she (predictably) snuggles up with the court’s renowned landscape architect artist André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to design one of the most exquisite gardens ever conceived.
Now, on to the art line up—
Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions (Mexico/USA, 2014, 41 minutes) Called a “revolutionary artist of the people” and hailed as “the Goya of Mexico” and yet virtually unknown, Mexican artist and printmaker José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) created a vast portfolio of important work. Mexican director Victor Mancilla (201 Squadron: The Forgotten Eagles (2009) Best Historical Documentary award, Smithsonian Institution) tells Posada’s story through Jim Nikas (of Marin), an obsessed American collector of Posada’s works. Nikas, who has the largest collection of Posada’s in the U.S., embarks on a passionate search for the truth about the artist. Traveling to the Posada’s hometown of Aguascalientes, to Leon and then Mexico City, Nikas meets art historians and encounters things that would have amazed even the artist Posada himself, including Fidel Castro’s pajamas and Che Guevera’s backpack. Three-and-a-half years in the making, ART and Revolutions© was shot on location in Mexico and features music by pianist Natasha Marin, wife of actor and avid Chicano Art collector Cheech Marin. (Screens: Saturday, March 28, 5 PM, Sonoma Valley of Art, $15 tickets) There is a post-screening Q & A with the director and Jim Nikas and an Exhibition of Posada’s original artwork from the collection of the Posada Art Foundation.
Art House—(USA, 90 min) Photographer Don Freeman’s masterful documentary Art House explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American—Frederic Church, Russel Wright, George Nakashima, Raoul Hague, Costantino Nivola, Paolo Soleri, Henry Chapman Mercer, Wharton Esherick, Henry Varnum Poor, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, and Eliphante. Embracing the synergy of curves, natural materials and muted light, each glorious home reflects its creator’s distinctive voice and practice as it merges with architecture. An anthem to creative souls who follow their hearts, this inspirational and gorgeously shot doc makes the sleek pages of Architectural Digest and Dwell seem passé. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 5:30 PM, Women’s Club; Sunday, March 29, 7:30 PM Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. $15 tickets)
Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery (Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Falschung)—(Germany, 2014, 93 min) It’s ironic that 58-year-old German Wolfgang Beltracchi looks like Alfred Durer. Beltracchi masterminded one of the most lucrative art scams in postwar European history. For decades, this self-taught painter, and self-proclaimed hippie, passed off his own paintings as newly-discovered masterpieces by Max Ernst, André Derain, Max Pechstein, Georges Braque, and other Expressionists and Surrealists from the early 20th century. His wife, Helene Beltracchi, along with two accomplices, created convincing backstories and sold the paintings for six and seven figures through auction houses in Germany and France, including Sotheby’s and Christie’s. One fake Max Ernst hung for months in a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2004, Steve Martin purchased a fake Heinrich Campendonk for $860,000 through a Parisian gallery. Arne Birkenstock’s Lola award winning documentary Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery (“Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Falschung,” 2014), features the larger than life Beltracchi sharing his secrets; those he duped sharing their dismay; and those who caught him talking about the painting that blew it all up. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 8 PM, Woman’s Club and Sunday, March 29, 5 PM, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, $15 tickets)
Generosity of Eye—(USA, 63 min) Octogenarian William Louis-Dreyfus, the father of Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld) and now “Veep” ) started collecting art in the early 1960s, things that caught his eye, not investment pieces. While there are no Warhols, Freuds, or Picassos in his 3,500 piece collection, he conservatively estimates it to be worth at least $10 million and possible as much as $50 to $60 million. (from 5.26.14 Wall Street Journal article) There are pieces by Paul Gaugin, Vassily Kandinsky, Leonardo Cremonini, George Boorujy, Helen Frankenthaler, and self-taught African-American artist and former slave Bill Traylor. Louis-Dreyfus served as chairman of Louis Dreyfus Group, a global conglomerate started by his great-grandfather in 1851. Forbes estimated his net worth at $3.4 billion in 2006. Director Brad Hill, who is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ husband, has captured the very personal story of her discovering how her father’s passion for art and justice led him to donate most of this collection over the next several decades to the New York-based non-profit, the Harlem Children’s Zone, HCZ. This touching story of a major art collection transforming into educational opportunity that will help kids in Harlem escape the vicious cycle of poverty has the intimacy of a home movie. (Click here to view the Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection web site which includes the entire collection) (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 9:30 AM Sebastiani Theatre and Sunday, March 29, 5:30 PM Burlingame Hall. $15 tickets)
Dior and I —(France, 90 min) There are just a handful of fashion greats who have had French designer Christian Dior’s enduring impact on 20th century style. Filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (co-director Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, 2012 and Valentino: The Last Emperor, 2008) delivers another insightful exploration of this style pioneer’s enduring influence through the storied world of the House of Christian Dior. Dior passed in 1957 but his name has lived on through this contemporary fashion house, now owned by Groupe Arnault. This thoughtful doc delivers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look at the new Artistic Director, Raf Simons’ very first Haute Couture collection. From conception through its ultimate exhibition, the process is shown to be a nerve-racking labor of love. Stoic Simons must coax the very best from his dedicated collaborators who literally make it all happen. Tcheng’s revealing homage to pressure cooker couture is fascinating. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 2 PM Sonoma Community Center and Saturday, March 28, 8:30 PM Sonoma Valley Art Museum $15 tickets)
Art & Design Shorts Program—Fine cinematography comes in various packages. SIFF has a soft place for shorts, recognizing that, outside of the festival circuit, there is little chance to experience the synergy of a well-executed short. The festival offers three curated shorts programs and will screen dozens of individual shorts in advance of its feature-length programming. British artist David Hockney, Italian architect and interior designer Paola Navone, , 5th generation farmer and vintner Jim Bundschu, multifaceted designer Michael Vanderbyl and various Native American architects, builders and tribal members are the subjects of five Art & Design shorts that are guaranteed to stimulate your senses and fire up your imagination. Total run time is approximately one hour (Screens: Friday, March 27 12:30 PM and Sunday, March 29, 9:30 AM both at Woman’s Club. $15 tickets)
ARThound’s previous festival coverage:
SIFF 18 details:
Full festival schedule by film type is available online here.
Full schedule in calendar form is available online here.
Official Full SIFF Film Guide is available online here.
Information about passes and tickets is here.
Sebastiani Theatre – 476 First St. East (seats 325)
Sonoma Community Center-Andrews Hall – 276 East Napa Street (seats 150)
Mia’s Kitchen at Vintage House – 126 First Street West (seats 150)
Sonoma Woman’s Club – 574 First Street. East (seats 100)
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art – 551 Broadway (seats 70)
Vintage House– 264 First Street East
La Luz Center – 17560 Gregor Street, Boyes Hot Springs (3.5 miles from town square)
Petaluma’s big weekend of cheese and gourmet delights—California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is underway at the Sheraton Sonoma County
California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is back for its ninth year at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma and ARThound is just back from my first event of the day, a morning Cheese and Chocolate paring seminar with James Beard award-winning author and educator, Laura Werlin, and TCHO Chocolate’s E-Commerce guru, Heather Haskell. Cheese and chocolate are two food favorites that may not sound like a match made in heaven, but together, with the right pairings, we explored how they can be transcendent. We had the chance to mix and match 6 cheeses with 6 chocolates and sips of Lagunitas Brewing Company beers and “Cask 3,” a special new reserve port from Petaluma’s Sonoma Portworks. I was particularly enchanted with Willapa Hills’ “Lily Pad” cow’s milk cheese—a brand new hard cheese inspired by Gruyere—when paired with TCHO’s “66%” blended semi-sweet couverture chocolate from their baking line. I was even more wowed when the duo met the with the smoky depths of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s “Imperial Stout,” a roasted malt barley with 9.9% alcohol. The day is still young and there’s a round of afternoon seminars to go and this evenings’ Chefs vs. Chefs — The Best Bite, a popular roaming feast that will showcase top local Bay Area chefs using artisan cheeses in a variety of applications with more than 20 top restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries in competition for our affection.
And did I mention samples galore? Participants sample new, limited-production, and rare artisan cheeses paired with exquisite gourmet delights that accentuate 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 available for individual events, including Sunday’s popular Grand Tasting Tent (tasting and marketplace) at www.artisancheesefestival.com.
Love great conversation, food, farming, family and film? Another screening of the sold-out “Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm” has been added to CAAMFest for Saturday, March 21 in Oakland—SO worth the drive
CAAMFest, the Center for Asian American Media’s annual film festival, has added another screening of Jim Choi’s documentary Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm, which has its (sold-out) world premiere on Friday, March 20, 7 PM, at the OMCA (Oakland Museum of California). The OMCA event, which features a pre-film get together, the film screening and the entire Masumoto family on stage in story-telling and conversation is at “Rush.” This means it is sold out BUT there may be a few tickets released at the last moment. The new added screening is Saturday, March 21, at Oakland’s New Parkway Theatre at 7PM and there are ample tickets now but this screening too will most likely sell out. Mas, Nikiko and Marcy will also be in attendance and a lively Q&A will follow the screening.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikiko and David “Mas” Masumoto on Monday evening at UC Berkeley (we’re all alums) and this dynamic father daughter duo touched my heart with their loving connection, positive energy and years of farming wisdom. I brought along my dear friend, long-time SRJC librarian Karen Petersen, who first introduced me to Mas via Epitaph for Peach, his 1995 lament over the loss of heirlooms. The public response to Mas’ writing was so encouraging that it essentially led him to re-evaluate the decision to bulldoze his precious heirloom trees. Our meeting couldn’t have come at a better moment because I’d spent the day, and the previous week, out in the garden paving the way for the plantings to come. If you’re the type of person who believes as I do that your garden or orchard is a reflection of who you are, then this is a film and a family that you won’t want to miss. These famous fourth generation Japanese American farmers are best known for their highly-prized heirloom Sun Crest peaches as well as their tenacious adherence to sustainable practices. Over years, they’ve reaped a harvest of not only delicious fruits but also dreams, reflections and abiding kinship. We discussed what it was like to be filmed and the new directions their lives are taking now that Nikiko has returned to home to step into her father’s work boots on their certified organic 80 acre farm in Del Ray (south of Fresno). That’s 80 acres of organic peaches, nectarines, grapes and a fig tree that all need nurturing, often in grueling heat which it turns out is also the perfect incubator for storytelling. They’re all highly creative but Mas’ writing on farming and food includes numerous best-selling books which have been lovingly treasured and dog-eared by foodies, farmers and imagined gardeners.
This beautifully shot film, which was funded by CAAM, chronicles the transitions undergone by Mas and his daughter as they lovingly enact the rituals of passing the reins from one generation to the next and reflect back on the family’s WWII internment in a camp near their farm. Stay tuned to ARThound for the interview. For more information on CAAMFest 2015, click here.
CAAMFest—Asian American film, food, music and comradery kicks off Thursday, March 12, and runs for 11 days in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland
The Center for Asian American Media’s CAAMfest turns 33 this year and continues its morph from a pure film festival into a series of festive happenings that fuse cutting edge independent film with music and food—all with an Asian American twist. CAAMFest takes place over the next 11 days in venues all around the Bay Area including the Asian Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, which add their enticing exhibits to the mix. Formerly the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), CAAMFest 2015 offers more than 100 movies and videos focused on the discovery of new talents, voices and visions. It’s by far the largest festival of Asian American movies in North America. Under the leadership of Masashi Niwano, now in his fifth year as festival & exhibitions director, the event has become one of the country’s major platforms for conveying the richness and diversity of the Asian American multicultural experience. ARThound loves this festival because it’s so excellently curated, delivering rich and unusual stories from around the globe that stay with you for years.
This year, you’ll see Asian American broadly defined too. Iranian director Rakshan Banietemad’s new film, Tales, which picked up the award for Best Screenplay at Venice, caught the CAAMFest programmers’ eyes, not just because it’s a great film but because the director, working under dior conditions in Iran, creatively stitched together a series of shorts, stories from her previous films, to create a full length film. In so doing, she managed to navigate the bureaucracy of the Iranian cultural ministry which requires a license for a feature but not for shorts. Bravo! There are also stories involving the Asian diaspora. Juan Martín Hsu’s La Salada is set in Argentina’s bustling discount market, La Salada, just outside of Buenos Aires, and involves an ensemble cast of Korean, Taiwanese, and Bolivian immigrants whose experiences all converge at the market. It’s thus no surprise that “travel” is this year’s theme. Opportunities for armchair travel abound and over 200 guests will be flying in CAAMFest.
Opening Night: The festival kicks off at the historic Castro Theatre on Thursday evening (March 12), with Benson Lee’s Seoul Searching (2015), his new feature film which garnered quite a buzz when it premiered at Sundance in January. A tribute to the 1980’s teen movies of John Hughes, but infused with a Korean sensibility and Lee’s own experiences, this dramedy is set in a state run summer camp in Korea that brings together Korean teens from all over the globe for the purpose of teaching them about their culture. Lee uses the teen’s stories, and their unexpected twists, to explore the Korean diaspora. Lee’s Planet B-Boy, about break-dancers in an international competition, won best documentary and the audience award at CAAMfest in 2008. Lee and several cast members will attend.
Opening Gala: After the screening, there’s an opening night gala at the Asian Art Museum, with a 1980’s dance party with cocktails and fine food amidst the Seduction exhibit of Edo-period Japan. The exhibition has over 60 works of art and features Japanese artist Hishikawa Moronobu’s (1618-1694) spectacular 58 foot long painted silk handscroll, A Visit to the Yoshiwara, which is shown completely unfurled for the first time. The masterpiece, on loan from the John C. Weber, depicts daily life in the entertainment district in the 17th century.
CAAMfest’s Centerpiece movie: Shonali Bose’s Margarita with a Straw (2014) screens at Castro on Sunday, March 15th and represents the powerful storytelling and moments of palpable intimacy that CAAMFest is famous for. Kalki Koechlin plays Laila, a young woman from Delhi who is determined not to let her cerebral palsy interfere with her life —she writes lyrics for a rock band, flirts wildly with her classmates and dreams of going to New York to participate in NYU’s prestigious creative writing program to which she’s been admitted. Set in Delhi and New York, the film is a brave and glorious homage to that old adage—“follow your heart.”
Closing Night: The festival’s closes with Bruce Seidel’s Lucky Chow, a six-part PBS series which will be showcased over the course of two days—Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22—at Oakland’s New Parkway Theater. The series features Danielle Chang (LUCKYRICE culinary festival founder) as she travel across America, taking in the Asian food landscape. Accompanying the film will be an Asian-inspired curated menu from the New Parkway kitchen. Other food-related films are Grace Lee’s Off the Menu: Asian America and Edmond Wong’s Supper Club exploring Bay Area restaurants.
Honoring the 40th anniversary of Cambodia’s fall to the Khmer Rouge: Lest we not forget the tragic moments that also define cultures, CAAMfest is presenting a collection of powerful stories of survival and resiliency from Cambodia’s tragic Khmer Rouge period. As part of the Spotlight feature on acclaimed filmmaker Arthur Dong, his new documentary, The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, chronicles the years encapsulating the Khmer Rouge’s tyranny through the eyes of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who escaped to America and recreated his experience in the film The Killing Fields, for which he won an Academy Award in 1984. Dong will be in conversation with film critic and author B. Ruby Rich on Friday, March 20 at New People Cinema.
Perfectly Peachy: The festival is also honoring the Masumoto Family, fourth generation peach California peach farmers, with a CAAMFeast Award and a special evening of storytelling at the OMCA (Oakland Museum of California) on Friday, March 20, where the CAAM-produced documentary, Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm, will have its world premiere. The entire family— Mas, Marcy, Nikiko and Korio Masumoto—will be in attendance. The Masumotos, who have an 80 acre farm south of Fresno, are famous for their highly-prized heirloom Sun Crest peaches and tenacious adherence to sustainable practices as well as their lyrical writing on farming and food. When was the last time you visited the Oakland Museum? CAAMFest provides a perfect opportunity to combine film with art. Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California (ends April 12) is an exciting collaboration between SFMOMA and OMCA that explores California artists, many of them Bay Area artists. Marion Gray: Within the Light (ends June 21) is a riveting exploration of San Francisco-based photographer Marion Gray’s work over the past 40 years documenting Bay Area artists and art happenings. Bees: Tiny Insects, Big Impact (ends September 20) will educate and entertain the entire family.
Music: In addition to the movies, Korean musicians have a strong presence at CAAMFest with performances from Awkwafina (Chinese Korean American rapper Nora Lum from Queens) and Suboi, the Vietnamese “Queen of Hip Hop” and a host of other party rockers who will keep things lively before and after the movies.
Stay tuned to ARThound for an interview with the Masumotos about all things peachy.
When/Where: CAAMfest 2015 runs March 12-22, 2014 at 8 screening venues in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland and as well as select museums, 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 $14 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 $75 (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. Rush Tickets: If a screening or event has sold all of its available tickets, there is still a chance to get in by waiting in the Rush line. The Rush line will form outside of the venue around 45 minutes before the screening is set to begin. Cash only and one rush ticket per person and there are no guarantees.
“She Built This City”— the founding women behind Cowgirl Creamery, Thistle Meats & Bert’s Desserts share their entrepreneurship stories at SRJC’s Mahoney Library on Tuesday, March 10th, 2015, at noon: FREE EVENT
Passes for the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival are on sale now and prices will increase on March 1, 2015
World class cinema, fabulous food and wine from local artisans, and the breathtaking beauty of the wine country in spring all combine to make the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) one of the Bay Area’s most enjoyable events. For those of us who live in the North Bay, it unfolds pretty much in our backyard. This year’s festival, the 18th annual SIFF, is March 25-29, 2015, and is a week earlier than last year’s festival. Discounted passes are now on sale. Lock in your passes now, as the prices rise considerably on Sunday, March 1, 2015.
This year, SIFF features over 90 hand-selected films from two dozen countries—features, documentaries, world cinema, Vamos Al Cine (showcasing Spanish-language film), and shorts. Two hundred filmmakers and celebrities are expected to attend and participate in premieres, Q&A’s and panel discussions. Guests, celebs and attendees all mingle on the historic town square and in Backlot, SIFF’s decadent den of epicurean delights. Film luminaries who have walked SIFF’s red carpet include: Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Blythe Danner, Danny Glover, Lauren Hutton, Demian Bichir, Ray Liotta and Mary-Louise Parker. This year’s special guests and programming have yet to be announced.
All films are screened in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance of Sonoma’s lovely plaza. Many screenings include delectable gourmet samplings. The SIFF ambiance is laid-back and the experience is unforgettable…that’s why most guests return year after year. And it’s for a great cause— since 2002, SIFF and its members have continually supported Sonoma Valley High School’s Media Arts Program. This student program opens doorways to creativity in the digital arts through filmmaking classes, animation, scriptwriting, film theory, and – most of all – storytelling. Over the past 12 years, SIFF has donated over $450,000 to Peter Hansen’s media arts program at SVHS.
Cinema Pass—$200* – All Films & entry to Backlot Tent (*Price increases to $250 on March 17, 2014)
Cinema Soiree Pass —$575* First Entry to all films, regular events and parties and VIP hospitality area and Backlot Tent.” (*Price increases to $650 on March 1, 2015)
Patron Pass/All Access—single $2,500; couple $4,000—includes all benefits of a Soiree Pass, plus all events, parties and special dinners during the festival. There are only 8 remaining passes at this level.
Click here to purchase all SIFF passes.
Click here for more information, or call 707 933-2600
Say “Cheese” and then pounce! Tickets are on sale now for California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, March 20-22, 2015, in Petaluma
California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, is back for its ninth year, March 20-22, 2015, 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 innovative local cheesemakers and “ooh and ahh” their baby goats and watch them create awesome cheeses in bucolic abodes, buy your tickets now as these tours sell out within a few hours of being listed. These intimate tours give visitors a glimpse into the important role of the farmer, the individual farm’s unique community and how an animal’s diet and the local terroir influence the taste of the cheese. Six tours kick off this year’s festival on Friday morning and they all include an upscale lunch. Back in town, at the Sheraton Sonoma County, the festival proper begins on Friday evening and kicks off with a new event in the famed grand tasting tent, the“Cheesemonger’s Duel – The Best Bite” reception, which promises to pit 24 cheesemongers in competition to create the best cheesy bite. The long weekend of cheese brings together leading artisan cheesemakers, authors, chefs, dozens of specialty food, beer, wine and spirit producers for cheese seminars, pairings, hands-on cheese-making classes and cheese-focused demonstrations. And did I mention samples galore? Participants sample new, limited-production, and rare artisan cheeses (paired with gourmet delights) and learn all about the art and science of making and pairing cheese. Also new this year is an additional off-site seminar at the new Cowgirl Creamery location in Petaluma. The festival has non-profit status and its proceeds support California farmers and cheesemakers in their ongoing effort to advance sustainability. Tickets are available online at www.artisancheesefestival.com.
“California’s Artisan Cheese Festival has become a beloved yearly tradition for local foodies and cheese lovers,” said Festival Executive Director Judy Groverman Walker. “Over the course of the last nine years the Festival’s offerings have gotten better and better. From farm tours where guests can interact with the animals and hands-on cheese-making classes, to educational seminars led by world-class cheese experts, there truly is something for everyone.”
Friday, March 20, 2015:
morning—Behind-the-Scenes Farm Tours & Lunch:
One of the most popular and coveted of events, these intimate Farm Tours are held at various local farms and creameries, giving visitors a glimpse into the important role of the farmer and where cheese gets its start. A gourmet lunch, each with a special emphasis, is included and transportation will be provided to and from the Sheraton Hotel by Pure Luxury Transportation. **Pack your boots and ice chest! Tours are rain or shine; no refunds will be given.
These are still available—
Farm Tour A – Marin County Milk Magic Nicasio Valley Cheese Company; Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. and lunch at The Fork with guest chef; Heidrun Meadery; Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Don’t miss this special cheese lover’s culinary expedition winding through the beautiful rolling hills of Petaluma, western Marin County and Pt. Reyes. Your day starts with a tour and tasting at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company and LaFranchi Ranch, the 1,150 acre organically certified dairy farm continuously operated for 90 years, now run by the third generation of the LaFranchi Family. Experience the exquisite, award winning soft ripened cheeses that have put the LaFranchis on the “must taste” list of California artisan cheeses. Next it’s back on the bus for the short drive to Point Reyes Station where we will meet the Giacomini Family of Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. You will tour their dairy farm and learn how they made the transition from contract dairy to award winning farmstead cheese producer. Lunch at The Fork, the Farmstead’s state-of-the-art event space, begins with a cheese tasting of the Pt. Reyes award winning cheeses followed with a multi-course cheese focused lunch prepared by a celebrity guest chef. During the lunch, your hosts will provide commentary on the pairings and field questions about cheesemaking and product development. As you head back to the Sheraton, enjoy a final stop at Heidrun Meadery where they produce naturally sparkling varietal meads (yes, made from honey) using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise. Their trademark Champagne-style mead is light, dry, delicate and refreshing, and will be paired with cheeses from Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese out of Modesto. This tour will undoubtedly be a special day for any cheese lover! $135.00 per person.
Farm Tour D – Family Farms, World Class Dairies and Magnificent Cheese! McClelland’s Dairy; Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese; Petaluma TAPS Restaurant; and Nicasio Valley Cheese Company Start your day at McClelland Dairy where you will tour the family dairy and learn all about the history and day-to-day operations of this state of the art farm. Visit the nursery; pet the baby calves; watch the cows being milked in the parlor. You’ll even have a chance to milk one of the beloved McClelland cows by hand! The tour finishes with a tasting of McClellands’ award winning European Style Organic Butter made in small batch, tumble churned artisan style. Then it is off to the Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese Company where you will meet Dairyman Don DeBernardi and his wife Bonnie, along with the newborn “kids” at their family run dairy and farmstead creamery. You’ll taste their award winning aged goat tommes that are typical of Don’s ancestral region in Switzerland. To quench your thirst and ease your appetite, we are off to Petaluma TAPS where you will meet owner Eric LaFranchi, (yes, part of the LaFranchi Ranch family). Eric will guide you through a tasting of local brews and a three course cheese-inspired lunch. Next on your itinerary is a tour and tasting at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company and LaFranchi Ranch, the 1,150 acre organically certified dairy farm continuously operated for 90 years, now run by the third generation of the LaFranchi Family. Experience the exquisite, award winning soft ripened cheeses that have put the LaFranchis on the “must taste” list of California artisan cheeses. $135.00 per person.
Farm Tour E– European Heritage Shines in California’s Artisan Dairy Products Valley Ford Cheese Co.; Achadinha Cheese Company; Scoggins Wines at the former Denman Creamery; Bruno’s on Fourth; and McClelland’s Dairy First stop on today’s itinerary is the Valley Ford Cheese Company, a 640 acre Jersey dairy farm continuously milking since 1918. Overlooking the unique waters and wetlands of the Estero Americano in Valley Ford, its lush, rolling pastures have been home to five generations of the Bianchi/Grossi families, practicing sustainable agriculture just as their ancestors did in the Ticino district on the Swiss-Italian border. Meet the Bianchi Family and taste their award-winning farmstead Italian style cheeses. Then you are off to meet the Pacheco Family whose Portuguese roots show in the rich complex flavors of their cheese. Visit Jim and Donna Pacheco’s ranch and family run Achadinha Cheese Company and visit their herd of dairy goats. The “girls”, as the goats are called, are able to graze pasture all year long on 290 acres. Coincidentally, their diet is supplemented with alfalfa and brewer’s grain from the local breweries which gives their cheeses their distinct flavor. Your lunch stop is Scoggins Winery in Penngrove at the historic Denman Creamery. Meet winemaker PW Scoggins who will take you on a tour of the Creamery turned winery, then sample some of his Pinot Noir and Zinfandel wine as you enjoy a three course cheese-inspired lunch specially prepared for you by Chef Rick of Bruno’s on Fourth. Your bus then rolls on to McClelland’s Dairy where you’ll tour their state- of- the art dairy, learn about the history and the day to day operations on the family farm. Visit the nursery, where you can pet the baby calves; watch the cows being milked in the parlor; you’ll even have a chance to milk one of the much loved McClelland cows by hand! The tour finishes with a tasting of McClellands’ award winning European Style Organic Butter made in small batch, tumble churned artisan style. A perfect finish to a perfectly delicious day! $135.00 per person
Farm Tour F – Petaluma Perfect Pastures Barinaga Ranch; Marin French Cheese Company; McEvoy Ranch; and Petaluma Creamery This culinary adventure proves that perfection exists in our own “back pasture”! Your experience begins at Barinaga Ranch where owner and cheesemaker Marcia Barinaga is continuing the ancient shepherding and cheesemaking traditions of her Basque family and ancestors in Euskadi, the Basque region of Spain. Meet her small flock of dairy sheep and lambs who graze year-round on nearly 100 acres of hilly, organically managed pastures. Next stop, the award-winning Marin French Cheese Company – celebrating its 150 year anniversary. Meet the cheesemakers as you take a walk through the recently renovated creamery learning about the cheesemaking process and changes that have occurred over the last 150 years. Complete your visit with a tasting of their landmark cheeses. Next is a rare treat – a visit to McEvoy Ranch. Take a short tour and learn how Nan McEvoy’s vision and her spirit of adventure took her from Chairwoman of the Board of The San Francisco Chronicle to a sprawling 550 acre ranch in Petaluma producing artisan olive oil and olive oil based products and wine. Enjoy a delicious box lunch as you relax and take in the beauty of McEvoy Ranch. Your final stop is the historic Petaluma Creamery. Started in 1913, since its founding the “Creamery” has been an integral part of the farming tradition in Sonoma County. Dairyman and creamery owner Larry Peter makes certified organic Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, specialty cheeses, butter and ice cream. $85.00 per person.
Friday evening – 6 to 9 pm –Cheeeemongers’ Duel — The Best Bite
Warm up your taste buds for the weekend’s events as you meet rock star cheesemongers in a light hearted competition. More than two dozen cheesemongers will take center stage as they are provided with a block of cheese from one of our local artisan cheesemakers and asked to create The Best Bite! Audience participation is a must! Chef Ryan Scott will join us as a judge and emcee. Artisan wines, beers and cider will also be available for sampling. ($50 per person, Sheraton Sonoma County)
Saturday, March 21, 2015:
morning and afternoon—Seminars, Cooking and Pairing Demonstrations
The 2015 event presents a whopping 13 seminars from which to choose, giving guests the hand-on opportunity to learn from industry experts as they discover new cheeses, learn how to make cheese, how to cook with different cheeses, and experience diverse wine, cider and beer pairings and much, much more. Confirmed instructors include Amina Harris, Director of Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, UC Davis; Lynne Devereux, Director of Marketing and Public Relations of Laura Chenel’s Chevre and Marin French Cheese Company; Stephanie Skinner, Co-owner and publisher of Culture: The Word on Cheese; Thalassa (Lassa) Skinner, Co-owner and Independent Sales Manager, Culture: The Word on Cheese; Soyoung Scanlan, Owner and Cheesemaker at Andante Dairy; Laura Werlin, author and educator; Louella Hill, aka The Milk Maid, educator; Sacha Laurin, Assistant Cheesemaker at Winters Cheese Company; Peggy Smith and Sue Conley, co-founders of Cowgirl Creamery; Janet Fletcher, author and educator; Stephanie Soleil, educator. The seminars include a catered lunch. 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.)
Saturday evening: Chefs vs Chefs — The Best Bite:
This popular roaming feast showcases top local Bay Area chefs using artisan cheeses in a variety of dishes from sweet to savory. More than 20 top restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries will vie for your affection, and your vote, at this lighthearted competition of all things cheese. From soufflés to sandwiches, guests can expect to experience artisan cheese in ways they’ve never had before at this gastronomic showdown. (Tickets $75, Sheraton Sonoma County, 6-9 p.m.)
Sunday, March 22, 2015:
morning—Sunday Bubbles and Brunch with Surprise Celebrity Chef:
Early risers get an amazing brunch, some light hearted entertainment and advance entry into the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace. Enjoy a Sunday brunch celebrating cheese at every course while being entertained with a live cooking demonstration. Tickets include brunch, sparkling wine and coveted early entry into the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace at 11:00 am before it opens to the public at 12:00 noon. (9:30 to 11 a.m.; tickets $115, Sheraton Sonoma County)
Gather under the big top for an afternoon like no other! Meet 90 artisan producers and experience the best of local cheese, wine, beer, ciders and other specialty foods. Discover the next wave of interesting cheese accompaniments, cheesemaking products and books. Pick up new recipes, tips and tricks at chef demos scheduled throughout the day. There will be an opportunity to purchase your favorite cheeses and artisan products. Ticket includes admission, access to chef demos and book signings, the coveted Artisan Cheese Festival insulated cheese tote bag and a festival wine glass. ($45 per person, $20 for 12 and under.)
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
One of the greatest pleasures of Indian summer is the special nudge its gives heirloom tomatoes to sun-ripened perfection. As we pursue the great tomato hunt, there’s one event that tops them all—the annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, which returns on Saturday, September 27, 2014, for a one-of-a-kind celebration of Sonoma County’s seasonal bounty. Now in its 18th year, the popular festival has a cult like following, attracting tomato lovers from all over the West Coast. Highlights include—the popular heirloom tomato tasting station offering some 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes (grown by Kendall-Jackson); an Heirloom Tomato Grower’s Competition (judging is Thursday, September 25, 2014 with winners on display on Saturday); the popular Chef Challenge featuring Bravo’s Top Chef® contenders; and tomato-inspired gourmet delights from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants, chefs, and food purveyors. Guests will also enjoy wine tasting, live music by the Carlos Herrera Band and educational wine and garden seminars.
The event, which utilizes nearly 10,000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, benefits the Ceres Community Project, which involves community-building through providing nourishing free meals to those struggling with serious illnesses.
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.
Tour KJ’s expanded gardens: In addition to wine and food, guests at the 2014 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. Tucker says:
—Technically a tomato is a fruit, but it is legally classified as a vegetable
—Over 90% of gardeners in America grow tomatoes
—We eat close to 25 pounds of tomatoes per year
—The botanical name is Lycopersicon lycopersicum which means “wolf peach”
—Tomatoes originate in South America
—China is the largest producer of tomatoes followed by the US
—California produces over 95% of the tomatoes processed in the US
—Florida is the largest producer of fresh market tomatoes
—The largest tomato on record was grown in 1986 in Oklahoma and weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz.
—The largest tomato plant on record was grown in a greenhouse in Florida and produced over 32,000 tomatoes in the first 16 months
—It is estimated that there are over 25,000 tomato varieties
VIP event package: An all access festival package which includes a VIP tent and lounge, VIP check-in, valet parking with a separate entrance to the event, exclusive wine and food pairings and limited production reserve wines poured by the winery’s Master Sommelier Tickets for this extra special VIP experience are $150 per person. (*Will sell-out, buy now.)
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 18th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is Saturday, September 27, 2014 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 here. General 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.
Frances Rivetti’s “Fog Valley Crush”—an insider’s story of our glorious local food scene —here’s your chance to fund a limited “first vintage” edition
Frances Rivetti, the British American writer whose wonderful blog, Southern Sonoma Country Life, has enriched our lives for several years now, has generously given of her time by writing delightful and impactful stories about our community. She knows our local food scene like no one else.
She’s just written her first book —Fog Valley Crush: Love at First Bite— and has a Kickstarter campaign up and running to fund its publication. Her goal is to raise $7,500 and she’s already over half way home. I got a great sense of satisfaction going to her Kickstarter page (click here) and getting my books early. You just know it’s going to have a lot of previously unreported history in it if Frances has her hand in it! In full disclosure, Frances is a colleague and friend and we don’t know each other as well as we’d like because we are just too busy to sit down and have a long chat. One thing, I’m wondering who did the delightful art work for her cover?