The Cheese Stands Alone: On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, cheese lovers from throughout the Bay Area and beyond will gather at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma for the Seventh Annual Artisan Cheese Festival.
Although Friday's farm tours are sold out, there should be tickets available for all other events, which are priced individually.
Among the highlights are Friday night's inaugural event, taking place from 5 to 7 p.m., when you can meet participating cheese makers and taste their cheeses, along with artisan wines and beer; and Saturday's grand tasting and cheese competition, from 6 to 9 p.m. The grand tasting pairs restaurant chefs and cheesemakers, who will craft yummy things to eat in the hopes of getting your vote. Friday's event is $35 per person; Saturday's is $75.
There are seminars and classes throughout the day on Saturday; they range in price from $65 to $95.
Sunday begins at 9:30 a.m., with brunch prepared by chef Mark Stark. One of the benefits of attending this event, which is $115 per person, is VIP access to the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace.
If it's the marketplace that most interests you and you don't mind crowds, the cost is $45, which includes an insulated bag for carrying your purchases and samples of cheese, beer, wine and other artisan foods.
For tickets, visit artisancheesefestival.com. The Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma is located at 745 Baywood Drive, off Lakeville Highway.
EARTH HOUR 2013: It would defeat the energy-savings-awareness intentions of Earth Hour Saturday, March 23, when lights are turned out around the world between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., to send you to San Francisco for the evening. But if you find yourself there, the W hotel (181 Third St.) is hosting "Drinks in the Dark" in its upstairs bar, which will be lit only by candles.
For every "Dark and Foggy" cocktail ordered, the hotel will donate $5 to the Save the Bay organization.