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Cheesemonger Duel Ticket Giveaway for California Artisan Cheese Fest THIS Friday

jeremywhite-3827-2-2 And the winner is... Cammie, with her herbed Laura Chenel! Thank you all for playing, and Cammie, I'll email you the tickets shortly. Congratulations!

If you have always wanted to see cheesemongers roll up their sleeves, take out their knives and expertly drizzle jams and honeys over cheese while crowds cheer and drink Lagunitas beer and Navarro wine under the Sonoma sun, this is your lucky day. If since the Cheesemonger Invitational's Perfect Bite you've been aching to taste match ups as delicious as flowers and Alpines, or spunky as pork rinds, wasabi and goat cheese, keep reading. Hint- ticket giveaway en route. If you love meeting California's cheese makers and attending events involving cheese, beer, and wine (all nod here), prepare yourself for the California Artisan Cheese Festival.

The ninth annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival kicks off two weeks from now, March 20 – 22, 2015. It will be days of eating, learning, eating, sipping, and chatting up our wonderful cheesemakers. In honor of the event, I'm giving away two tickets to the festival's big Friday night party- The Cheesemonger Duel. Tickets are originally $50 each.

What is a Cheesemonger Duel you ask? Cheesemongers like Luciana Villaneuva from Oakland's Pasta Shop to Reed Herrick from DTLA/Cheese Cave in Los Angeles travel to Sonoma to pair off - face-to-face. Ten days before the competition, each prospective monger is given a name of a cheese. Their job is to pair that assigned cheese to a  jam, cracker, condiment, pickle, pork rind…. (or all of them) to make into the tastiest combination possible! The monger who creates the most memorial "best bite" wins a free limo chaffered tour around northern California cheese country. And the competition is fierce.

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If you'd like to win tickets to the Duel, scroll to the end of this post. I'll ask a question, you answer it in the comment section, then I'll throw contestant names into a hat and blindly pick this Monday night. Early next week I'll announce who wins!

The goats wish you good luck.



There are some fantastic Festival seminars and tastings going at the Fest by wonderful writers, presenters, and cheesemakers on Saturday. I included a few of my faves below.

Cheese & Cider: Happily Ever After

Presenters: Janet Fletcher, Author and Educator including Planet Cheese online newsletter Ellen Cavelli, Co-owner of Tilted Shed Ciderworks Artisan cheese has a new love match: fine cider. Today’s trendy hard ciders have little in common with that sweet, fizzy beverage from the supermarket…and they are uniformly awesome with cheese. In this session, Ellen Cavalli of Tilted Shed, a next-generation leader in the American Cider Revival, will guide you through a range of traditional cider styles (French, West Country, Basque and single-varietal), as well as wholly unique styles, as interpreted by American producers. Then cheese authority Janet Fletcher will help you discover the cheeses that fine cider loves best.

All About the Milk: Tasting & Working with Different Cheeses Presenter: Soyoung Scanlan, Owner and Cheesemaker at Andante Dairy Taste and learn about how different milk ( cow, goat and buffalo) expresses itself in the context of soft-ripened cheese. Cow, goat and buffalo’s milk each have distinctive flavors and characteristics. To show the differences and similarity of each milk, Soyoung will make a St. Marcelin- style small soft cheese using lactic curd/bloomy rind cheese making technique. You’ll taste samples at different aging stages to show how each milk develops texture and flavor – from young with bloomy rind and with a little lactic and firm - to three weeks when the texture is runny and full flavored. At its best, cheese is designed to bring out the magical property of milk and to reveal the essence of terroirs - this class will be a rare opportunity to experience, and taste, this expression first hand.

Louella the Milk Maid in Fresh Cultured Cheeses

Cheesemaking: Morning Stretches: Mozzarella Making Presenter: Louella Hill, aka The Milk Maid, Educator Get ready for the most fun exercise you’ve ever done: Mozzarella Stretching! This not-to-be-missed seminar is for cheese lovers who want to knock “mozzarella” off their bucket lists. Class will lead you from liquid milk all the way to pearlini, ciliegine, boconcini and ovalini balls. Once you master those shapes, you’ll move onto braids, twists, and ropes and, finally, stuffed mozzarella. Participants will take their cheese creations home (we’ll supply Ziplocs and ice)—if the ‘cheese homework’ even makes it that far!



Cheesemonger Duel Question:

What is your favorite California cheese pairing combo? Mt Tam and graham crackers? Pt Reyes Blue and dried figs? I'd love to hear! Leave your answer in the comment section below. I'll pick Monday night and announce the winner early Tuesday the 17th!