Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wine and Cheese

There are various blogs I read for various reasons. I read Design Mom to be inspired. Ascetically inspired. Between Design Mom and Anna@IHOD, I get my daily dose of beauty.

So, when I saw this glorious article on Design Mom about cheese tasting, I knew I had found the theme for our cabin fever party this winter.

Mr. Hippie and I invited over 20 friends, plus their off spring, and we committed to buying a variety of cheese to taste. We asked everyone to bring an accompaniment for the cheese, and a bottle of wine or fruit juice-depending on their alcohol inhibitions.

We ended up with a great spread-6 varieties of cheese, lots of crackers and some great bread, chocolate dipped strawberries, dried fruit, olives, prosciutto, salami, summer sausage, sun dried tomatoes, jam, and ???

Our cheese buying guide was the rhyme, "something old, something new, something goat and something blue." The 6 cheeses we picked were

cheddar-plain old, sharp Wisconsin cheddar. I picked it for the color.
manchego-Spanish. Sheep cheese. Very regimented in production. Milder flavored and went very nicely with kalamata olives.
dubliner-Irish. (yay! for Irish-ness in March) This is a cheese made by only one company. No preservatives.

queso fresco-Mexican. Obviously. I am not usually a fan of queso, but I liked the flavor of this. It was similar to mozzarella. The meats really shone with this one.

chèvre: the most popular form of goat cheese. It has a tangy flavor. Similar to cream cheese. We all liked it with the sun-dried tomatoes.

Danish blue: it was blue and it was Danish. It did add a nice strain of color to the board. And it paired nicely with peach jam. And I have over a pound left over. Can't say it was Mr. Popular here. Oh well. Blue cheese on salad anyone?

We ended up with several bottles of great wine. Reds, and whites. And some Belgian ale or something. Not my thing. But, it went fast. 

Our goal was, "something old, something new. something goat and something blue."
We were able to find at least one of each,
but we noticed there were a whole lot more aged cheeses at the store
than any other kind.

the Danish blue was nicely paired with homemade peach jam.

amazing chocolate dipped strawberries. The perfect ending to the cheese.

the spread

finishing touches

goat cheese was accompanied by sun dried tomatoes.

a whole lot of stemware. so pretty.

gorgeous. food art.

some of the bottled product...
Now that you have seen the pictures, I can say, this beauty had nothing to do with me. I contacted my mother-daughter duo friends, Ann and Hannah, and asked them to make this party a sophisticated event. Decorating is not my strong suit. I am much better at organizing, facilitating and cleaning. If it had been me setting it all up, the cheese would have been on one board in the middle of the table. With everything else just kind of plopped around. No joke.

I think they did an amazing job. I thought everything looked so pretty. They went with a woody and rustic theme. They came early to set up, washed most of the dishes when we were done, and brought more than their share of wine and sides.

I love it when everyone can get together and use the gifts God has given them! Even for such a minor and fun thing as a cheese tasting party.

We ended up with around 20 adults, and 4 or 5 kids on top of ours. The kids banged around, eating cheese sticks, and several pounds of not dipped strawberries, and a good portion of crackers too. The adults mingled and laughed and talked. And it was a great time to just reconnect with everyone.

I thought it was funny when I read Nadine's party post this morning. She talked of cleaning and broken chairs, good friends, and laughter. I think this weekend was perfect for hanging out.

One thing I have learned in all my years of hosting get together is that it is better to save your cleaning until afterwards. Which is totally counter-culture. I mean, we dusted the baseboards before company came growing up, so they wouldn't think we were complete animals. Just kidding. Though we did dust the baseboards, and we did always give my mom a hard time about having to clean for company.

Poor mom...

Anyway...I say-clean when people leave. Dust the obvious, wipe down the sinks, and where the boys missed on the toilets. And leave the rest. Then you can let go, and not worry about spills, or crumbs, dirt or anything else.

Because entertaining is messy. It is work. Things often get broken. Not always by the guests. (I lost another piece of stemware in the ensuing cleanup. Freckles broke it and looked horrified.)

But, it is worth it. Don't ever forget that. Some mess and work is worth the effort of connecting with people. Investing in others' lives.

How can you open your home this month? Maybe not for a huge party. Maybe just for coffee with a friend. Tell me about it in the comments.