Thursday, June 12, 2014

Date Night In | Cheese Board for Two

Last weekend, I prepared an Italian feast for a cozy date night in.  I stopped at Whole Foods, picked up some goodies and started with this absolutely delicious cheese plate.  It was my first time preparing a plate with cured meet or preserves so I thought I'd share my secrets to a beginner's plate for two.

Here are what I believe to be great components of any cheese plate:

- Aged cheese like cheddar or gouda.  I used some Cabot cheddar from our trip to Vermont a few months ago.  Cheddar also adds a familiar component to the plate for those whose cheese palates aren't too adventurous.

-Soft cheese.  I usually like a high-quality goat cheese, but all I had on hand was a cheaper version that is more of a spread than a main attraction which is why it is pictured in the accompaniments category in the picture above. Camembert or brie would also work in this category.

- Firm cheese.  I used parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino.  These are slightly similar and can be salty, so be sure to have something on the plate to balance it out.  

-Blue cheese.  I didn't use any for the plate above, but blue cheese adds a flavor variation that is nice to have.  If you think you don't like blue cheese go to the cheese counter and just try them out!  I'm a Stilton fan.

-Cheese garnishes and other accompaniments.  Some cheeses just lend themselves to being garnished.  Have you tried blue cheese with honey?  Yum!  In this case I dressed the pecorino with two garnishes that we picked up in Italy.  One is a truffle honey (I'm a self-proclaimed truffle fiend) and the other is vin santo --or Holy wine-- jelly.

Other accompaniments I love include pickled veggies, roasted red peppers, or caramelized onions.  I used a fig jam but also love a good fruit chutney.

-Meat.  Just as a good charcuterie plate is made better with a few cheeses, a good cheese plate is made better with some charcuterie.  But that's just one foodies opinion.  If you're a purist, stick to one or the other.  I went to the cheese counter at my local Whole Foods and the very knowledgeable butcher helped me with the cured meat, let me sample, and I walked out of there with a 78 cent serving for two.  Yes, 78 cents bought me enough for this plate and it was plenty!

-Bread.  Honestly, nothing is complete without bread to me.  I used some sliced ciabatta bread that I had on hand.  The combo of the fig jam and goat cheese on the bread was incredible!  Top that with a slice of the bresaola (cured beef) that I had chosen and it was perfection.

What are your cheese plate must-haves?  Or better yet, any restaurants serving a cheese plate or charcuterie that I simply can't miss?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Beachwear Finds

This weekend I plan on spending some time in the coastal town of Rockport, Massachusetts.  It's one of those classic seaside towns where sailboats bob around by the docks, the seafood is fresh, and New England charm abounds.  Here are some beachwear items that I'm currently loving.

 Clockwise from top left: Warby Parker x Karlie Kloss Julia | Anthropologie one-piece | Fossil tote | JCrew Crab Tee | Warby Parker x Karlie Kloss Marple | Anthropologie Dress | Madewell Beach Blanket | SoleSociety sandal

You may have noticed that I included two pairs of Warby Parker sunglasses.  Well that's because I may be a little excited about these limited edition sunnies that they produced in collaboration with supermodel Karlie Kloss.  

Designer shades have long been my go-to splurge item because they get so much wear.  It makes me less guilty if I know they are going to last me for years.  Not only are Warby Parker frames so classic that they could last a lifetime, their "buy a pair, give a pair" mission makes you feel good about your purchase.  The best part about this collab with Karlie?  A portion of each sale will benefit Edible Schoolyard NYC which provides kitchens and gardens to low-income public schools, giving students the tools to develop lifelong healthy habits.  That's a charitable double whammy if you will.  What are your favorites from the collection? 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Long Weekend in the Big Apple

We spent Memorial Day weekend in New York City for a family wedding.  Kevin and I have vowed that we have to make the trip more often.  It's so close and there is still so much we have to see (and eat!), so hopefully there will be many more long weekends taken there in the future.  The wedding itself took place at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  It was beautiful, and boy was a good time had by all.  I have never been to a wedding where the dancing started before dinner was served (and between the courses)-- and I wouldn't have expected anything less from the amazing couple.

 {Nha Khanh Hydrangea Dream Sheath Dress via Rent the Runway |  JCrew Factory necklace | Steve Madden shoes | Franchi White Maya Clutch via Rent the Runway}

Besides the delicious food and desserts at the wedding, we pretty much ate our way through this trip, as we do most of our vacations.  

The day after the wedding, we spent some family time in Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).  We rode the carousel, snacked on whoopie pies, then rounded out the day at the New York Transit Museum so our nieces could see the trains.  It was a great family-friendly tour of Brooklyn.  Dumbo is a great little area of parks, food, and some great shopping. 

So long for now, New York.  We'll be back soon!

Where we stayed: 
Sheraton Brooklyn- bonus: our room had a view of the Statue of Liberty!

Where we ate:
The Clover Club
Spice Thai
Junior's- famous cheesecake spot just around the corner from our hotel
One Girl Cookies  
Shake Shack

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