SF Cheese Fest, a fundraiser for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, will take place on September 19 at Dogpatch WineWorks. Billed as a celebration of cheese and cheesemakers, the event will feature live and DJ’d music, small bites and, of course, beer and cheese tasting.
Beer and cheese? Shouldn’t it be wine and cheese?
Not necessarily, according to CACG’s newly-minted executive director, Anthea Stolz. “For those of us who really love cheese and sort of nerd out on pairings, many…feel that beer is an under-appreciated pairing,” said Stolz. “With beer, a lot of times you don’t have the tannins that you have to necessarily work around with wine.”
“Maybe because cheese and beer [undergo] a similar process,” agreed CACG member and Potrero Hill resident Tamara Hicks. “They pair really, really well together. Hard ciders go well too.”
“Wine can be a great pairing for cheese,” allowed Stolz. ”Particularly cheeses that are more robust in their own right, but can tend to sort of trounce anything that’s lighter and more delicate in flavor.”
At SF Cheese Fest, more than 20 cheesemakers will offer samples that range from hard, aged cow’s milk cheeses to soft, unripened varieties made with goat’s or sheep’s milk, or a combination of the two. With local brewers, such as Magnolia Brewery, on hand, the event promises plenty of opportunities to test out the somewhat novel gustatory approach. And if beverage pairings aren’t your thing, not to worry. You won’t be relegated to sampling solitary cheese cubes for the evening.
“We’re going to have curated pairings with San Francisco and Bay Area urban crafts,” announced Stolz, “so that we can celebrate alongside our rural producers.“ Among confirmed participants are Rustic Bakery, We Love Jam, Mimi’s Confiture, and Feve Artisan Chocolatier. Beer versus wine aside, for the culinarily adventuresome the festival promises to be a highly stimulating experience.
If getting your lips around all that cheese isn’t enough, how about getting your hands into it as well? The Curd Nerd Seminar, a cheesemaking workshop led by CACG president and cheese educator Louella Hill, author of Kitchen Creamery, is scheduled for 10 a.m. the day of the event. “In the morning, we will be moving from developed to finished curd, so we’ll do hands-on ricotta making. We’ll also go from milk to finished mozzarella curd. Then we’ll practice stretching it. Finally, we’ll stuff that curd to make burrata.”
The morning also includes lectures from cheesemakers about the ins and outs of the process. The seminar concludes with a wine, cider and cheese tasting at nearby Sutton Cellars from 12 to 1 p.m. In case a daylong cheese celebration won’t satisfy, you can whet both your appetite and your whistle on September 18 at the Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square in Oakland, where CACG will be offering — you guessed it — beer and cheese pairings.
Returning to this side of the Bay, why a cheese festival in San Francisco? “We know there are all types of people in the City who love cheese,” related Stolz. “And we wanted to connect our rural cheese makers with their urban cheese-loving public.” Besides, she added “There’s no cheese-specific event that’s currently happening in San Francisco.”
And why Dogpatch? “There is this huge swelling of makers [in the area] and what we see as really shared value in what the local artisan community is doing,” stated Hicks. “We felt like…people here would really appreciate [the event]…” The organization expects to make the Cheese Fest an annual fundraiser.
Ticket prices are $75 for general admission to the 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. event. A VIP ticket, at $125, entitles the holder to an intimate meet-and-greet with cheesemakers, and special food and beverage offerings, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more event specifics, visit sfcheesefest.com.