THE SAVORY SEASONAL STALWART: What ingredient or foodstuff did you consume the most over December? Was it nutmeg? Maybe mince? Whipped cream? Those little chunks of edible glitter that are pretty much pure, light-catching sugar? It's hard to nail down what we enjoyed the most over the holiday run, but bet that cheese was a centerpiece for most people. The gooey dips on the coffee table during the Christmas party, the cheesy latkes come Hanukkah, the various fondues that have become a stylish, throwback staple to New Year's Eve all up our cheese consumption come late December. And then... the drop-off. We adhere to new eating plans, we bid fond farewell the Brie and Swiss, and we hope to revisit cheese, in a serious way, when the sunnier months arrive and wine-nice outdoor parties, complete with trays of cubed cheeses, arrive. But cheese-revisiting starts in earnest come March, and in a very regional way, too: The California's Artisan Cheese Festival is a yummy staple of the Golden State food calendar, and it will again melt hearts, and its namesake edible, in Petaluma come the first weekend of spring. Make that Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22. Need to look forward to that right away, given your cheesy longings?
TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE: Meaning you can dream away about hours spent on farm tours and info-packed seminars and snacking your way through the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace. You'll get to know some of the most awarded purveyors around -- hello there, McEvoy Ranch, Central Coast Creamery, and L'Artisane Box -- and maybe find your favorite wedge to serve for the *next* holiday season. But if you want to hop on a creamery tour, which is quite popular, as you might expect, jump on those tickets now, much in the same way that people jump on a fresh pot of fondue that's just emerged from the kitchen. Tickets? They'll go from $135, for a tour to $45 for a Marketplace entry (which is $20 for a kid). Don't delay: You're ready to cheese-it-up again, even if the holidays just wrapped. ("Wrapped" makes us think of that hunk of Parmesan in the fridge door, excuse us...)