THE PROPS INSIDE OUR DREAMS: We're sometimes asked, over breakfast, what our dreams were the night before, and we can usually recall some major imagery -- a dinosaur, a city, a dinosaur in a city. Less often do we recall what we're holding, like the reins of a unicorn, a magic wand, or a toothpick for spearing cubes of cheese. As for this last implement, surely you, too, have visited tables groaning beneath the weight of dozens of cheeses in your dreams, with a toothpick in hand, if you're a fanatic of all things creamy and spreadable and dairy-based. And while we're not quite certain when you might ride a unicorn in real life, or cast a spell with an actual wand, we can tell you where to go, and when, to make your toothpick-in-hand, cheese-table-tastic dreams come true, in the waking world: Petaluma. The Sonoma sup-happy town is the scene for one of the West Coast's most mondo, and fancy, cheese gatherings each year, and each year the California's Artisan Cheese Festival brings up the veryyyy tail-end of wintertime. So unhand your dream toothpick and grab your nearest calendar and promptly pen in March 18 through 20, 2016. That's when the professional cheese artists'll be out, and the fans, too, for three full days of eating and talking and sharing and everything else to do with the creation of some of the Golden State's poshest noshes.
JANUARY 1... is the on-sale date for the festival, which marks its first big decade at the 2016 outing. How do you do up a 10th anniversary? By rolling out a whole delectable schedule of stuff, from farm tours to creamery peeks to informative seminars to brunches to the overwhelming (in the best sense) Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace. The hub for all of this, save the off-site tours? The Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma. The participants? Hoo boy, the line-up is as long as a table filled with cheese cubes. Valley Ford Cheese Company, Cypress Grove Chevre, and Orland Farmstead Creamery are just three of the many makers of fine blues and Bries and Goudas and more. Have you brought your dream toothpick, the one you wield when you're asleep and eating all the cheese of your dreams, with you? You won't need it. Leave it by your bedside, buy your ticket, and find all the toothpicks and dishes and demos and meet-and-greets you need come March.