Although the California Artisan Cheese Festival has moved from Petaluma to its new home at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the event still highlights Petaluma-area artisan cheese makers, such as Achadinha, Cowgirl, Point Reyes Farmstead, Marin French & Laura Chenel’s, Tomales Farmstead, Two Rock Valley Goat, Bellweather, Bohemian, Nicasio Valley, and Valley Ford cheese companies.
In its 12th year, the event runs from Friday, March 23 to Sunday, March 25, and includes everything from farm tours to seminars to a cheese and cocktails event and a bubbles and brunch.
Although most of the farm tours sell out early, there are still a few tickets for two tours, both of which I have attended, as a guest and later as a docent. One starts at Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, before lunching at the incredible Straus Home Ranch, where guests will meet the incredible Vivian Straus, founder of the California Cheese Trail, which is the most comprehensive self-guided cheese tour map of California, as well as attending a cheese tasting seminar from Liz Thorpe, author of The Cheese Chronicles and the recently released book, The Book of Cheese.
This tour wraps up with a stop at Sonoma Portworks for a port and cheese pairing. The other available tour starts at Marin French, also visiting Straus Home Ranch for lunch, and ends at Adobe Road’s downtown tasting room. Even for a local, these tours are always informative and guaranteed delicious.
Additionally, there are Saturday seminars including “Fast Food 1.0: The Cheese & Charcuterie Plate,” “Beer & Cheese Pairing: Sour vs. Hoppy,” “The Art of Melting Cheese,” and “Proof Positive: Artisan Cheese & Craft Cocktails.” On Friday and Saturday evenings there are cheese tasting events and Sunday offers up a cheese and bubbly brunch.
For those simply looking to eat a lot of cheese, Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace is a must visit. Guests will not only get their fill of great cheeses, but also local wines, beers and ciders. Bring your pocketbook because you won’t find a better cheese marketplace. Visit artisancheesefestival.com for more info on all the great tours, seminars, and tasting opportunities at this year’s event.
One of the most anticipated food events each year, the Petaluma Historic Library and Museum will hold their Bourbon pairing dinner on Thursday, March 29. Amber Balshaw, of Preferred Sonoma Caterers, in partnership with Willibees, has come up with yet another incredible menu.
Each of the five courses is expertly complimented by five unique whiskeys, in celebration of the Petaluma Museum Association’s 40 years of community service, which began in 1978. Tickets are $60 for members and $70 for non-members, but with museum memberships available for as little as $35 for individuals and $70 for families, I encourage everyone to splurge a bit, and join the museum. Right off the bat, it will get you at least a $10 savings per ticket for the Bourbon dinner. Better yet, the $125 membership benefits your whole family with reciprocity entry to over 600 museums around the country, including the Bay Area’s Asian Art, de Young, Legion of Honor, Walt Disney Family, CA Historical Society, Charles M. Schulz, and Sonoma County Museums.
Dinner will start with miso glazed sea scallop and wilted pea sprouts, paired with Sonoma County Distilling’s Sonoma Rye, followed by braised lamb shoulder pocket with Sonoma County Distilling’s Cherry Wood Rye. Next up is Manchego risotto, salt roasted carrots and Sonoma County Distilling’s West Of Kentucky Bourbon #2. Pork Osso Bucco and cauliflower white cheddar gratin will be paired with Stillwater Distilling’s Moylan’s Rye Whisky, before the final course of 64 percent dark chocolate bread pudding, with Crème Anglais, and Stillwater Distilling’s Moylan’s Bourbon.