Monday, June 20, 2011

Party!: Cheese is the new Chocolate


Last week I was in the Bay Area. Two representatives of the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau met me at the airport and whisked me away to the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay resort for a progressive lunch. The first course was cheese – a collection of five artisan cheeses (including a selection from Harley Farms), dry apricot jam, Marcona almonds and multi-grain walnut bread. This treat reminded me of an article I had read a few months ago that said (and I paraphrase) with the rapid emergence of new social outlets like The Cheese Course here in DC, it is safe to say that cheese is the new chocolate (sorry Coco Sala fans).

Years ago, I used to throw cheese and champagne parties for my family and close friends. Planning for my cheese parties always began with a trip to the cheese counter at Whole Foods. Budget friendly tip: the “bits-and-pieces” bin offer discounted, and interesting, fillers for your platter (find the basics of making a cheese platter here and here). Then I would visit my favorite sommelier Phil of Bassins on MacArthur Blvd to find the perfect bubblies to accompany my choices. My last stop was TJ Maxx. Over the years, I have accumulated an eclectic collection of imitation china. A friend just told me that I have an Anthropologie kitchen. Whodda thunk it? Anyhow, I would use the bigger pieces to display the cheeses and the smaller ones for the condiments and crackers.

For the hostess (or host) who doesn't have the time nor the inclination to spend an hour in Whole Foods smelling stinky cheeses, my favorite find is the Artisanal cheese Celebration Collection available through Saks.com. Add wine and friends, or in the case of the Ritz, Bellinis with peach puree (apparently, you can’t call it a Bellini if you’re using Schnapps).

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