Cheese festival season has sprung: the best in the West

Spring, as they say, has sprung. In farmstead and artisan cheese parlance, that means pastures are currently abound with calves, lambs, and kids (of the goat variety), and the first milk of the season is in. That’s why March is the kickoff month for cheese festivals, especially on the West Coast because of its more mild climate. The following just happen to be some of the nation’s best.

8th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival, March 17
Hosted by the Oregon Cheese Guild and Rogue Creamery, this much-loved event features dozens of cheese, beer, and wine makers. General admission is minimal, the sampling is free, and the vibe is laid-back. The festival is held at Rogue Creamery in Central Point, just outside of Ashland in southern Oregon. It possesses the vibe of a giant farmers market, with all of the vendors gathered beneath a giant tent. Events include a “Meet the Cheesemakers” dinner (held the night before), seminars, and tastings, including chocolate and cider.California Artisan Cheese Festival (CACF), March 24-25
What better place for a California cheese festival than wine country? CACF is held every March in Petaluma (located in Sonoma County, about 40 minutes north of San Francisco) and draws over 2,000 attendees who come to taste cheeses from the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Rockies. Sign up now to get in on local creamery tours, special lunches, and educational seminars.

On April 7, the inaugural Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival will take place in Seattle. In addition to cheesemakers from across the state, expect Washington food artisans, craft beer and cider producers, and winemakers. The event is a benefit for the Cascade Harvest Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to local food security.

Can’t make the festival circuit? Try taking a class at The Cheese School of San Francisco, which is focused solely on classes and tasting events for professionals and caseophiles alike. With an ongoing curriculum of classes taught by industry professionals, offerings may include everything from “Mozzarella Making” and “Craft Brews & Artisan Beers,” to “Sheep & Syrah” and “Springtime Cheeses and Loire Valley Wines.” This is the place geek out on dairy.

Admittedly, this video isn’t from a cheesemaker in the western U.S.; it comes from renown Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. But it’s an excellent short clip on how cheese goes from cow to cheese case. Should you be fortunate enough to find Harbison at your local cheese shop, I strongly recommend you pounce upon it, because it’s simply dreamy.

[Photo credit: Kate Arding]

Galley Gossip: 10 Smart travel tips from women around the world

When it comes to preparing for a trip, flight attendants are experts. We travel light with just a rollaboard and a tote bag. Rolling instead of folding leaves clothes wrinkle free. Outfits are coordinated around footwear; a comfy kick-around pair for exploring the city by day and something dressy for dinner and a show at night. Undies, socks and bikinis, whatever can be wadded up, are housed inside shoes. No space goes unused. To make things simple, pack black and be done with it. So what if we wear the same outfit over and over, that’s what accessories are for! Scarves and jewelry can completely change boring black into something fab. Whatever gets left behind becomes the perfect excuse to go shopping for something new! Or how about getting to know the locals at a Laundromat. What better place to read a guide book or ask around for a great place to eat?

Flight attendants aren’t the only experts. My last Galley Gossip post, The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010 – book giveaway, brought in quite a few interesting travel tips from smart women travelers around the world. Here is a list of my top 10 favorite tips…


1. My mom always says bring your swimsuit and one easy outfit in your carry on so you won’t lose a vacation day if checked bags are lost – Lindsay

2. If you are traveling with someone else, pack a few things in their luggage and a few of their things in your luggage. Then, if God forbid, one of you loses your luggage, you will still have some things to wear. – Leslie

3. Bring your children with you on trips. They get to experience the world in a new and exciting way. You will teach them to have a love for both travel and adventure, and you’ll get to see them learning about the world and new places. It’s almost like experiencing things again yourself for the first time. What is more beautiful than that? – Michelle

4. Throw out any leftover shampoo, hand lotion etc when going home. This leaves room for souvenirs that you haven’t shipped home. – Judy

5. When I travel alone I wear a fake engagement ring and wedding band on my ring finger. It helps keep away unwanted attention. – Jen

6. Be spontaneous. When you’re spontaneous, sometimes great things happen, and sometimes not so good things happen, but if you’ve got a good sense of humor the bad times can leave the best (funniest) memories. – Susan

7. Don’t stress! Besides doing some research before you go about what is available (i.e., sailing, snorkeling, hiking tours, etc.) go without much of an agenda at all, except to have FUN! – Julia

8. Make an effort to go somewhere every other month. Even if it’s a 2-3 hour road trip away from home. Work gets monotonous and I need to get a dose of the “travel bug” every now and then to keep things interesting. – Marena

9. Pack an amazing convertible dress like the American Apparel Cotton Jersey Bandeau Dress – $43 . It’s space-saving magic – Gina

10. I email myself AND my mother a copy of my passport, my itinerary, and the international phone numbers for my credit cards. If I can’t get online, I know I can call my mum should anything get stolen. – Morgan

[Photos courtesy of Madaboutasia and Julie70]