California’s premier cheese event, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, is celebrating its tenth year, March 18 – 20, 2016, in and around the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma. Representing 10 years of cheese education and appreciation, this year’s festival brings together chefs, artisan cheesemakers, farmers, educators, authors, brewers, winemakers and enthusiastic guests for three days of cheese tasting and celebration. In honor of this exciting milestone, local celebrity chef Joey Altman is emceeing two spirited evening events Under the Big Top: Friday’s lively “Cheesemongers’ Duel – The Best Bite,” and Saturday’s “California Cheesin’ – We Do It Our Whey” 10 Year Celebration.
There are also an array of educational seminars and pairing demonstrations on Saturday morning and afternoon, led by some of the world’s most respected cheese experts. Seminar topics range from pairing cheese with sake to the similarities of making cheese and chocolate, and will take place at the Sheraton Sonoma County and the new Cowgirl Creamery Warehouse in Petaluma. Details about these seminars and the weekend’s festive evening celebrations Under the Big Top are as follows:
Friday, March 18
Cheesemonger’s Duel – The Best Bite
Friday night Under the Big Top at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma is where California’s top cheesemongers will take center stage in a light-hearted yet energetic competition to see who can create the best bite using local artisan cheese. Local celebrity chef and educator Joey Altman is joining in on the fun as judge and emcee for the evening, and guests are encouraged to vote for their favorite bite while enjoying plenty of artisan wine, cider and beer. A “Fantasy Cheese Table” will also be on display, so guests may taste the wide variety of local and rare cheeses at this not-to-be-missed party to kick off the weekend. Tickets $50; Under the Big Top at the Sheraton Sonoma County, 6 – 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 19
Seminars and Pairing Demonstrations
Bringing attendees face-to-face with the experts who work with and create some of America’s best artisan cheeses, the Saturday seminars and pairing demonstrations tend to sell out early every year. Taking place at both the Sheraton Sonoma County and at Cowgirl Creamery’s new warehouse in Petaluma, industry experts will enlighten guests on a variety of topics, such as:
- “Sensory Perception and Understanding Your Palate,” an interactive lesson in why people taste flavors differently with local cheese educator Lynne Devereux and food and flavor scientist Hanne Siversten from UC Davis;
- “New CA Cheese and Wine: The Modern Movement,” an enticing session with author Kristin Jackson and Dan Petroski, winemaker for Massican and Larkmead;
- “Growing Flavor,” an appetizing lesson about the factors that contribute to a cheese’s constantly evolving flavors, with Peggy Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery;
- “Farm to Table, Bean to Bar,” a tasty education about the similarities between chocolate and cheese by local author and educator, Laura Werlin;
- “Dubbel Down: Belgian-style Beer and Cheese,” a flavorful lesson in why Belgian beers are at the center of the map for beer aficionados and the local cheeses to pair with them, led by renowned cheese writer and author Janet Fletcher;
- and “East Meets West: Pairing Sake and California Cheese,” a surprising and unique lesson about the beautiful ways sake and cheese pair together with Cowgirl Creamery’s Emily Shartin, Master Sommelier Robert Bath, and Chef Ken Tominaga, owner of Hana Japanese Restaurant, Pabu Izakaya and Ramen Bar.
The ticket prices for the seminars include a catered lunch by Petaluma Market from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. During the lunch break and after the afternoon seminars, several local cheese authors will be available for book signings in the lobby of the Sheraton Sonoma County and books will be available for purchase by Copperfield’s Books.
Seminars and Pairing Demonstrations to take place at the Sheraton Sonoma County and Cowgirl Creamery Warehouse; 10 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 3 p.m.; Tickets $75; More seminar details may be found at http://artisancheesefestival.com/schedule-of-events/saturday-evening-grand-tasting/
California Cheesin’ — We Do It Our Whey!
In celebration of a decade of California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, guests are invited to taste their way around this evening celebration of California cheese, Under the Big Top at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma. Guests will sample cheese-infused dishes from some of the Bay Area’s best chefs and restaurants, including Backyard (Forestville), the girl and the fig (Sonoma), and Nick’s Cove and Cottages (Marshall). Attendees will then cast their vote for their favorite dish and the winner will be announced by the evening’s emcee and local celebrity chef, Joey Altman. Artisan wines, beers and ciders will be on hand to complement each dish, and live music, a “Whey Cool Bubbles Lounge,” and a special tribute to some of the icons of California’s artisan cheese industry will round out this festive gastronomic showdown.
Saturday, March 19, 2016; Under the Big Top at the Sheraton Sonoma County, 6 – 9 p.m. Tickets $75.
Throughout the weekend, guests will have the opportunity to experience new, limited-production and rare artisan cheeses while supporting California farmers and cheesemakers in their ongoing effort to advance sustainability. Tickets to most of the festival’s events are still available, including two days of farm tours exploring northern California farms from Marin County to Sacramento; Sunday’s Bubbles and Brunch with visionary chef John Ash; and the grand finale: Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace. Tickets for all events may be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com.