Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's my birthday and I'll wine if I want to...

**editor's note** yeah, this post is a month late....but it's not a whine party, so let's try not to dwell on that.

When I was a kid, each year my mom would throw an elaborate party for my birthday. There was always a theme...usually costumes, and tons of fun decorations and games to match that year's motif. So it's become a tradition, and even as an adult, I just can't give up the party dream. Luckily I have a husband that humors me, and is willing to support my need for over the top festivities. And luckily for him- this year's theme was relatively subdued; for the big 2-6 I decided I wanted a wine and cheese party. (hence, this post's streeetch of a title)

I don't know that much about cheese, and I know even less about wine, so I wasn't going for a formal tasting. More like a food and drink free for all, where we could have some fun, while gorging ourselves. Now, at this point I must warn you...I didn't take any photos of the actual party. But rest assured, it was a wonderful night. Tons of people made it out, we ate ourselves silly, and had a great time. But I can't really do it justice in words. So instead, I'm just going to share the prep-work part....because if you do it right, that should be half the fun!

As parties go, this is a pretty simple theme to execute. We...
...picked up wine glasses by the case at Big Lots.
...pulled out the bottles of wine we already bought at Meza (full post on that place soon...delightful little shop!)
...and hit up our fancy-food-favorite. Penn Mac. (you may remember our fondness for this place from our v-day buffet last year.)

If you've never had the pleasure of visiting...allow me to share a snippet of its greatness.

This is the "big board of cheese":

Seriously...I don't exaggerate when I say- they have it all.
Though we had ventured through this territory before, it was no less intimidating when we got up to the counter. Our cheesemonger (it's a real thing!) was very patient though, and we got an amazing selection. Each time we go, I promptly forget what we ordered, so our next trip is like starting all over. So in the interest of documentation, allow me to share our list with you:

Our first choice was provolone (daring, I know). He offered up an extra sharp for us to try, and I swear to burned my tongue. We politely declined and ended up with a much more palatable version.

Next, we asked for a goat cheese- which is one of the least specific things you can probably say, but our helper wasn't phased. He suggested Midnight Moon Goat Cheese. We were surprised to find it was a semi-hard cheese (consistency like a cheddar), but it was de-lish! It's not a "sprinkle on salad" type of cheese- much better on a cracker. But if you like the slight "bite" of goat cheese, I highly recommend it.

After those two strong choices, I requested something a bit milder, to balance it out. After a brief mis-step (something that all too closely resembled a Kraft single) he introduced us to Stelvio. It's a soft, creamy tasting cheese, that is mild and YUMMY. Plus it sounds like a hot italian stud. bonus!

Finally it was time for the only cheese we managed to remember from our previous trips: Stilton with Mango & Ginger. It may sound crazy, but trust me, everyone agreed it was one of the best offerings of the night. It's a soft, crumbly cheese, with a unique sweetness to it. Definitely worth trying if you ever get the chance.

Mmmmmm, I'm getting hungry just thinking about all the cheesy goodness. But that wasn't all- no, we of course had to stock up on some meats, dried fruit, fresh bread, and olives. I had a bit of trouble when it came to that last this was just part of the available selection:

Overwhelming! Fortunately, a shopper next to me, was all too happy to share her favorites, and even gave me some samples of what she selected. Had Dustin and I stayed any longer, we probably would have been adopted....gotta love an old Italian woman!

So we emerged from the shop about six pounds heavier, and $100 lighter, eager to assemble our spread. But we had to complete the feast, so we stopped at a nearby chocolate shop, Mon Aimee, where Dustin got a "bacon bar" and I managed to spill an entire scoop-full of chocolate morsels. is a wonder we don't go to more fancy places. After profusely apologizing (and purchasing a new scoop of snacks, we made our graceful exit. We picked up some fresh flowers from the corner florist and we were ready to party.

Witness, the finished product:

Delectable, from every angle.

We had entirely too much food, which was quickly joined by even MORE food, as guests began to arrive. In preparation for the event, we picked up a few slate tiles to act as cutting boards....we placed the cheese on them, and wrote the names in chalk. Pretty, and functional!
Not pictured- the copious amounts of wine we enjoyed. But trust me....the drinks were just as beautiful and enjoyable as all the snacks.
And for those of you who have been waiting SO patiently, I present to you: my gift from Dustin.

It's a handmade cheese board and knife set (clarification: handmade by someone, handbought by my loving husband). I loved it so much I refused to even use it. I gave it a place of honor at the head of the table, where people could admire its loveliness without disgracing its finish with their filthy cheese paws. I'm thinking about getting it a plastic slipcover, like the couches at grandma's. It deserves it.
So there you have it. The complete rundown of our foray into fancy festivities. Now, do you have a fave wine or cheese that you're dying to share? Or do you have a go-to party theme of your own? Spill it (not literally)!


  1. Serving as a florist is without doubt a munificent walk of life

  2. belated Happy Birthday. It was nice going through your blog. Keep on enjoying.