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I can not believe it has been a whole week since the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma, California. This was the first time we had attended the festival and what a great event it was. It was very well organized with lots of participation from the very best in Cheese Makers, Cheesemonger’s and Chefs and of course Wineries. I have to admit I was a bit nervous going and being around such accomplished and experienced cheese makers. I still feel like such a baby cheese maker but everyone was very nice and welcoming.
On Friday we had some time to explore the beautiful area of Petaluma. Rolling hills and green pastures with beautiful cows all over the place.
We made a stop at the Petaluma Creamery Cheese Shop. I recommend if you are in the area to stop by. Good food and great cheese and ice cream. We were lucky enough to meet the owner Larry Peters. He is very nice and made sure we had a tour of his big beautiful plant.
On Friday night was the beginning of the festival festivities. “Cheesemongers’ Duel- The Best Bite”. This was the first year and it was very well received and a lot of fun! They had about 25 Cheesemongers’ competing for the title.
Well I was certainly blessed to get Phyllis Heagney of Oliver’s Market of Cotati. Not only is she so very nice and fun but she is a gifted cheesemonger and baker. She was paired with my Naked Fromage Blanc. She baked the most delicious cracker topped with my cheese and then topped it with a candied orange (Yeah…she candied the orange herself) All I can say is AMAZING. Everyone must have thought so too because it voted the “Best Bite” of the night. That was so very exciting. A great way to start off my first festival.
On Saturday we started off our day exploring the beautiful hills with our good friend Tim Pedroza and his daughter Laura from Pedroza Dairy and Cheese
Then we were off to Valley Ford where we got to visit our good friends Karen Bianchi – Moreda of Valley Ford Cheese Company along with her wonderful family. We had a great tour of their dairy and cheese plant.
We all then headed back for Saturday nights festivities. This was the Chef’s Best Bite Competition. The best Chef’s gathered and came up with some awesome bites. I was lucky to get with Chef Garrett Adair from Bistro 100 . He created a lovely French Toast bite with my Naked Fromage Blanc .
After all the great food and wine we had to check out the local watering hole Volpi’s ! What a fun night hanging out with our new friends and listening to the owner, John Volpi, play the accordion.
We had a late night but we were ready for the last day of the festival, The Market Place, where we got to set up to sample and sell our cheese, Cheese lovers from all over came to sip wine and sample the best of California cheeses.
A very successful day… Our whole weekend was amazing. Got to see some old friends and meet many new ones.
Here are some of the other wonderful cheese makers that we got to see!
All I can say is we can’t wait until next year!