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February 1-8, 2006

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News of the Food

Yeasty Chili?--Whey!

By Brett Ascarelli

It's 2006, and King Arthur goes on another quest--King Arthur Flour Company, that is. The 215-year-old company named its product after the famous sovereign in 1896, when the company was already 106 years old, after George Wood, one of its owners, attended a musical about the Knights of the Round Table and noticed similarities between the king's values and his flour. In Images of America: King Arthur Flour Company, brand manager Dave Anderson writes of the qualities that impressed him: "purity," "superior strength" and "dedication to a higher purpose"--or to all-purpose.

Now, as part of a 20-city educational crusade to rid would-be bakers of "yeast anxiety," the quirky company offers two free bread classes in Santa Rosa. Instructor Carolyn Hack will expound on everything from basic kitchen chemistry to bread-shaping techniques on Friday, Feb. 10. Sweet Dough and Artisan Breads classes take place from noon to 2pm, and 7pm to 9pm, respectively, at Fountain Grove Inn Hotel and Conference Center, 101 Fountaingrove Parkway. Visit for details. . . .

One glance at the illustration of a chili-toting glutton with tongue ablaze and an "I love Pepperluma" T-shirt assures that this year's ninth annual Great Petaluma Chili Cook-Off, Salsa and Beer Tasting will be as sadistically spicy as ever. How ironic that the event is particularly popular among firefighters; in fact, the Santa Rosa firefighters won last year. Entries are being accepted now through March 31 for this year's heated competition, pitting 35 chili and salsa teams against each other. The event, judged by attendees and VIP judges, fires up at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma on April 30. For details on submissions, call 707.763.8920. . . .

A crowd that Gromit's Wallace would laud took over the Port Room of San Francisco's Ferry Building on Jan. 21 to finally give California cheese makers their due. In the company of the American Cheese Society and cheese guilds from all over the country, the newborn California Artisan Cheese Guild bestowed three History of Excellence awards. One went to Sonoma's Ignacio Vella, of Vella Cheese Company, famous for making a top-notch dry jack that resembles Parmesan. Laura Chenel, of Laura Chenel's California Chèvre, also based in Sonoma, was honored for spearheading "the explosion of fresh goat cheese across America," says restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, who helped found the guild. Franklin Peluso, of Peluso Cheese in Los Banos, won the final award, for his commitment to the art of making teleme, a soft cheese native to California that is rubbed with rice flour.

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