Even people who ENJOY cooking from-scratch, multi-course meals on a random Monday just because we can don’t always want to do it. As I’ve said before, and will continue to remind you…even JiT and I spend plenty of nights ordering takeout or eating nachos at our favorite bar. And on some nights, we just want to crack open a bottle of wine, sit on the couch and chat about nothing and everything. On those nights….we eat wine and cheese for dinner.
We’re very lucky in that we work/live close to a number of wine and cheese shops/gourmet groceries that carry lots and lots of hard-to-pronounce, impossibly fabulous cheeses, artisan breads, cured meats, delicious olives, etc. It can be easy to go a little nuts in these places, spending a fortune on wine, imported cheeses and other delicacies. But if you’re mindful of portions and choose an inexpensive wine, its also possible to spend around $30 on a fabulous dinner for two.
Now, keep in mind that JiT and I are making the most of that sliver of time between getting engaged/married/living together and eventually having children…so we are fortunate to have the time and money to enjoy a leisurely dinner of wine and fancy cheese on a Monday night. Forgive us for being indulgent.
Even if you don’t have the luxury of doing this just for yourself…its a good thing to have in your hostessing arsenal on the off-chance of having guests over on a random weeknight. Whenever I host my book club, knitting club or other group of folks, I make a point to stop by the grocery or the cheese shop near my office for a few things to set out.
And really, PRESENTATION is everything. Even if your guests are 10 minutes behind you, thats all it takes to get all of the cheeses out of their wrappers and onto a platter…the olives into a real bowl instead of the little plastic deli tub, the fruits sliced and arranged etc. Your guests (or significant other) will instantly be under the impression you slaved for hours based on the fact that things look pretty.
A few other things to keep in mind (especially if fancy-named cheeses and wines scare you):
- Get a few cheeses with different textures. I usually choose one soft (like brie), one medium (like cheddar) and one hard (like parmesean). If you go to fancy shop, don’t be afraid to ask the shopkeeper for recommendations (or samples)!!!
- A nice, crusty baguette of french bread is the perfect accompaniment to soft cheeses, though flatbreads or other crackers work well too.
- For color and some sweet flavors to balance things grab some apples, pears or grapes
- Meats like salamie, prosciutto or even summer sausage add substance to the meal
- Even many grocery stores now offer an “olive bar” in their deli section — olives, roasted red pepper and other yummies add color and variety to the platter
- Don’t worry too much about “pairing” your wines and cheeses…especially if you get a variety. Just pick your favorite red or white or whatever your in the mood for. By the second glass, it will all start to taste great together anyway.
- And finally….I’ll say it again…take everything out of the little plastic containers! I know I’m harping but its a pet peeve of mine. Everything looks better on a real plate and it really manages to elevate the experience from “here: I bought some hummus,” to “would you care for some delicious hummus served from this lovely glass dish?” Its worth it people.