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MOUTHFUL

Celebrating cheese

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.

The Cheese Stands Alone: On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, cheese lovers from throughout the Bay Area and beyond will gather at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma for the Seventh Annual Artisan Cheese Festival.

Although Friday's farm tours are sold out, there should be tickets available for all other events, which are priced individually.

Among the highlights are Friday night's inaugural event, taking place from 5 to 7 p.m., when you can meet participating cheese makers and taste their cheeses, along with artisan wines and beer; and Saturday's grand tasting and cheese competition, from 6 to 9 p.m. The grand tasting pairs restaurant chefs and cheesemakers, who will craft yummy things to eat in the hopes of getting your vote. Friday's event is $35 per person; Saturday's is $75.

There are seminars and classes throughout the day on Saturday; they range in price from $65 to $95.

Sunday begins at 9:30 a.m., with brunch prepared by chef Mark Stark. One of the benefits of attending this event, which is $115 per person, is VIP access to the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace.

If it's the marketplace that most interests you and you don't mind crowds, the cost is $45, which includes an insulated bag for carrying your purchases and samples of cheese, beer, wine and other artisan foods.

For tickets, visit artisancheesefestival.com. The Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma is located at 745 Baywood Drive, off Lakeville Highway.

EARTH HOUR 2013: It would defeat the energy-savings-awareness intentions of Earth Hour Saturday, March 23, when lights are turned out around the world between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., to send you to San Francisco for the evening. But if you find yourself there, the W hotel (181 Third St.) is hosting “Drinks in the Dark” in its upstairs bar, which will be lit only by candles.

For every “Dark and Foggy” cocktail ordered, the hotel will donate $5 to the Save the Bay organization.

We love the cocktail's moniker and think the actual drink sounds darned good, too. It consists of Ron Zacapa aged rum, fresh lime juice, cane sugar syrup and ginger beer.

SPRING ON THE FARM: McClelland's Dairy has launched its spring tours, starting this Saturday, March 23. The tour begins at 1 p.m. and lasts about an hour and a half, during which time you'll visit the cow barn, pet baby calves, see the milking operation and sample delicious European-style farmstead butter. You'll be able to make purchases in the farm store, if you'd like.

Cost is $15 if you're 13 and over, $7 for those age 4 to 12 and free for anyone under 4. Advance reservations are required.

Next Saturday's tour begins at 12:30 p.m. and will be followed by an Easter Egg hunt.

To make a reservation or arrange a private farm tour or other event, visit mcclellandsdairy.com. For information by phone, call 664-0452.

McClelland's Dairy is located at 6475 Bodega Ave., Petaluma, in Two Rock Valley.

FIND THAT HARE! On Easter Sunday, Safari West hosts its 11th annual “Hunt for the Hare,” a spring celebration with an egg hunt, tour and brunch.

There are two options. The morning package begins with brunch at 10 a.m. and a “Hunt for the Hare” tour at 11:30 a.m.

The afternoon package begins with brunch at 1:30 p.m. and the tour at 3 p.m.

Everyone joins together at 1 p.m. for the big Easter egg hunt.

The brunch buffet will feature three-cheese frittata, quiche Lorraine, wood-smoked chicken, honey-glazed ham, macaroni and cheese, roasted red potatoes with garlic and rosemary, grilled asparagus with shaved Pecorino, spring peas with mint, baby spinach salad, freshly baked breads, strawberry shortcake with Chantilly cream, mimosas, Bloody Beer, white-wine spritzers, tea and coffee, along with special drinks for kids.

Cost for the brunch and tour is $68 for adults and $35 for kids age 4 to 12. If you'd like to come to brunch only, cost is $40.50 for adults and $18.50 for children.

Mr. Hare promises to visit everyone during brunch.

Safari West Wildlife Preserve and African Tent Camp is located at 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa. For reservations, call 579-2551 or visit safariwest.com.

WHY WE STILL LOVE PARIS: Steve Rabinowitsh and Christine Piccin are hosting another session of their popular class, “Why We Love Paris.”

The class meets on three Wednesdays, March 27, April 3 and April 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Burdo Culinary Arts Center, across the street from the main Santa Rosa Junior College campus on Mendocino Avenue.

Both instructors have traveled extensively throughout France. Rabinowitsh leads walking tours through Paris and will focus on the history and architecture in his favorite neighborhoods. He'll divulge hidden treasures, parks and museums.

Piccin, a professional chef and an instructor in SRJC's Culinary Arts program, will focus on French cheese, wines and recipes.

The class will include information on Parisian markets and French etiquette, which will pave your way for a pleasurable visit to the City of Light.

Cost is $110 per person; you must be 21 or older to take the class.

To sign up, call 527-4372 or stop by the SRJC Community Education Office in Pioneer Hall during normal business hours.

LAST CHANCE IRISH DINNER: If you missed out on a St. Patrick's Day feast, you've got another chance, perfect if you will be out and about in Lake County this Friday, March 22.

Thorn Hill Vineyards Red Hill Tasting Room (8170 S. Highway 29, Lower Lake) is hosting a traditional Irish dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The menu includes an Irish cheese plate paired with Thorn Hill Brut de Prestige sparking wine; goat cheese tarts on arugula with Thorn Hill 2011 Pinot Grigio; cottage pie and spring cabbage with Thorn Hill 2008 Red Rock Cabernet Sauvignon and, for dessert, lemon-almond pudding with Thorn Hill “Ice,” a dessert wine.

Cost is $40 per person; wine club members pay $75 per couple.

To reserve your spot, call 279-2745 and have your credit card handy.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts “Mouthful” each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM.

E-mail Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

You'll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com

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