Cheese festival features West County artisans
March is national cheese month and here in the west county that means artisanal cheese. At the 6th annual Artisanal Cheese Festival in Petaluma this past weekend about half of the cheese makers who put their wares on display and up for tasting came from the green fields of west Sonoma and Marin counties where the cows are happy, indeed, as well as the sheep, goats and water buffalo.
The list of cheesemakers included Barinaga Ranch in Marshall, Bellwether Farms, Ramini Mozzarella and North Bay Curds in Tomales, Bleating Heart Cheese and Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery in Sebastopol, Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, Valley Ford Cheese Co. and Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese from the Valley Ford area. Approximately 1700 people attended the event at the Petaluma Sheraton.
Some two dozen restaurants featured dishes made with local cheeses, and participated in a tasting that was judged by the public who then cast their ballots for their favorites. The winning dishes were by Peter Smith the chef of The Lodge at Sonoma with his Pressed Central Coast Creamery Big Rock Blue Chevre mousse with Red wine poached bartlett pear and Prosciutto crackling and in the “liquid” category with winter cauliflower, Fiscalini cheddar and beer soup.