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You hear all the time about the virtues of pairing wine and cheese, and that’s all fine and everything, but that’s not all there is to do with cheese. How about beer and cheese? Or even cider with cheese?

The organizers of this weekend’s Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma have recognized the joys of beer and cheese by including two seminars over the weekend. And to go a little deeper into local artisan culture, they have a seminar on pairing cheese with cider as well.

During the morning sessions on Saturday, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., brewmaster and beer consultant Rich Higgins will lead a seminar called “Terroir de Sonoma: Exploring the Unique Flavors and Attitudes of Sonoma Beer and Cheese:”

“Terroir is the French term for how a food or beverage expresses a sense of place. Often used in reference to wine, terroir can be expressed by craft beer as well. Sonoma County is rich in agriculture, micro climates, and character, and its breweries and dairies embrace Sonoma’s local flavors, ingredients, and attitudes. Join Master Cicerone Rich Higgins and Certified Cheese Professional Michael Landis as they delve into delicious beer and cheese pairings that illustrate the concept of terroir. Together you will taste and celebrate the flavors and uniqueness of Sonoma County.”

During the same time, Chef Sheana Davis, owner of The Epicurean Connection, will lead a session called “Historic Cider and Honest Cheese:”

“Sonoma County’s long history of apple and dairy farming inspired this fun and enlightening seminar and tasting.  Sheana will introduce your palate to a wide range of regional craft cider styles that pair perfectly with our superlative artisan cheese.  The same rolling green hills that are home to our cows, sheep and goats are crowned with regional iconic apple orchards – proving once again that ‘what grows together, goes together!’ “

During the afternoon session, 1:30-3:30 p.m., food writer Janet Fletcher will lead “Cheese & Beer: Strategies for Harmony:”

“You can take a random walk down the beer aisle to find brews for your favorite cheeses, or you can boost your success rate with a strategy. Join Janet Fletcher, author of Cheese & Beer, in this guided tasting of seven styles of cheese with the beers that love them. You’ll learn what cheeses to pair with malty stouts, hoppy ales, strong Belgian-style beers, trendy sour ales and more. With these insights into the harmony of curds and suds, you’re primed for a lifetime of pleasure. This is a skill-building session. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the affinities between beer and cheese and how to make pleasing matches.”

The sessions are $65 each. Last time I checked, tickets for all three sessions remain available.

– Sean Scully



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