Monday, October 20, 2014

how to put together a cheese plate ...

I love a good cheese plate!  I was lucky to be around good quality cheese from a young age with my Father being from France.  You just can't beat quality cheese!  I'm excited to partner with Harmons Grocery on this post, they have the best selection of cheese in Utah, and they really know their stuff.
Harmons sent me to their Holiday Cheese show last month, an event they put on for their employees to taste and learn about all the new cheeses, chocolates, and oils they will carry at their stores.  All of their  distributors were there, and it was amazing to see the care and education that goes into their stores when it comes to cheese.  It was neat to be able to discuss the different cheeses, from many of the vendors, including several local companies which I love to buy local!  It was great to see Harmons care so much about their customers to send their employees regularly to these events to taste, and learn about their selections to pass the information along to their customers.
I was able to try some new flavors of my favorite flavored oils by Sciabica's.  These flavored oils are amazing, and I use them quite a bit in my cooking at home.  I love the garlic and lemon flavors!
One of my favorite cheeses I tried (and, I tried a LOT) was the Cheddar Cheese with caramelized onions.  Caramelized onions in anything is alright with me!
The cheese event couldn't have come at a better time, because I was able to sample so many cheeses and figure out a few favorites for a cheese plate I was putting together for an event I was having.
With the help of some of Harmons expert Cheese Mongers, I was able to select a few good options for my cheese plate.
They are very knowledgeable about cheese, with lots of training and information they learn at events like the Holiday cheese show.  They really know their stuff, and have personal relationships with many of the vendors and have tasted the cheeses, which is really helpful when you are asking for suggestions.
I love the flavor of goat cheese.  It is a classic alone, but can always be paired so well.  I lot these local made Pepperlane preserves.  They come in so many flavors, I love the little kick of jalepenos mixed with something sweet.  My favorite is the apricot flavor, pour over a little goat cheese.
Another great discovery I made at the cheese event was the 34 Degrees savory crisp crackers.  I love their light crispy texture, and their many flavors.  My favorite are the plain, rosemary, and cracked pepper.  I highly suggest these crispy crackers to pair with your cheese plate.  And, they look fancy too!
I also love to pair cheese with a good quality baguette.  I love the bakery at Harmons, they are homemade with quality ingredients. And, super friendly.  Our local bread specialist Brady is always so nice to my kids, even when they ask for bread samples all the time, and we are there a lot.  
My favorite is that they will slice the bread for you to your liking, which comes in handy when you are in a hurry getting details of your event together.  No time for slicing myself!
I ended up choosing a little selection of my favorite cheeses, here's the run down:
1) White Stilton with Mango and Ginger- This is technically a dessert cheese, but it is so flavorful and such a unique combination of flavors in a cheese.
2) Rembrant Gouda-  I love a classic Gouda, always a crowd pleaser.
3) Manchego from Spain-  At the cheese event, I found that I prefer a younger Manchego.  This one was aged for only six months.  It is softer and has a fresher flavor to me.
4) Brie de Nangis-  This was my favorite cheese I tried at the cheese event!  I love a good Brie, and this one was creamy and perfect with lots of flavor like a good Brie should have!  Probably my favorite Brie I have had!
5) Goat Cheese with Jalepeno Jelly-  This is a favorite pairing of mine!
6) St Agur Blue Cheese-  I love a good blue cheese.  It isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love that strong flavor.  This double cream was a good choice.
7) Kerry Gold Cheddar- I wanted to make sure that my guests who weren't as adventurous with cheese had some good options.  This is a very flavorful cheese, but it isn't as scary to some as a soft cheese.

I also love to pair cheese with things other than just bread and crackers.  But, for the event I was putting together there was some other food options so I chose to keep it simple.

But, I still wanted to share with you some of my favorite things to pair with cheese are:
Nuts
I love to pair cheeses with nuts.  Generally I use almonds, pecans, and walnuts.  If you serve them slightly toasted it brings out their flavor.  Just 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven will do the trick.
Spreads/Preserves/Honey
I love to eat these with cheese, since they are typically sweet, they give a nice compliment to the saltiness of most cheeses.  Apricot preserves and honey are my favorites.
Fruit
Fresh fruits and dried fruits go amazing with cheese!
I love a nice ripe pear with blue cheese, or have you had blueberries with warm brie?  C’est magnifique!
Some of my other favorite fruits with cheese are: apples, grapes, strawberries raspberries, figs, and dates.
Olives
Some good quality olives can add a lot to cheese.  The briny flavor of the olives can contrast with the richness of some cheeses.
Meats
A nice cured meat can add a nice salty textural difference to your cheese.   I love a nice prosciutto or other fine Italian meats.
Salads
I love to eat cheese in my salads!  Cheese can taste amazing when mixed with greens and a nice vinaigrette.  My favorite cheese in salads would have to be: goat cheese, feta cheese, and blue cheese.
This spread was the perfect addition to my housewarming party I recently had.  Cheese plates are the perfect addition to a party, holiday table, or even gifts.  I gift fancy cheese to my dad all the time because I know he loves it!
There's no a lot better than gathering with your friends around a nice plate of cheese.  In fact, we gathered around that plate late into the night and chatted, and sampled all of that cheese.  So good!
And, I don't know about you, but I'm totally craving a good cheese plate now.

See more from my housewarming party here.

Thanks Harmons Grocery for partnering with me on this post.

Photos by: me (Caroline Drake), LC Photography UT, and Jessica Kettle Photography

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

housewarming: armelle party ...

white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes
I'm excited to share with you some pictures of my recent housewarming party!

I was able to partner with Wayfair and Bing to put together this party, and it was a lot of fun!  I don't know if I would recommend moving and throwing a big party a month later, but it definitely motivated me to get things unpacked around the house, and adding a few extra details like this black Savoy House hanging lantern
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes
I love being the hostess, it gave me great pleasure to welcome my friends to my home. Putting together parties has always been a lot of fun for me, and I love to see my vision come to life!  
I have the Bing App on my phone that really came in handy while trying to search for some party inspiration.
I loved searching the images for black and white party inspiration, while I am earning free stuff from the Bing rewards program.  You can see more about my party planning process, tips, and party inspiration on my black and white party inspiration post.
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, colonial landscaping
I wanted the porch to be welcoming to my guests, and a little festive.  So, we hung up some bright tissue balls, and threw a few around the landscaping.
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, bing, harmons grocery
I added a few items from Wayfair, like these cute black and white striped pillows, a black and white striped poof, and a yellow garden stool, all that went perfectly with the theme of my party (black and white stripes and jewel tones)!
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, garden stool,
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, croquet
I set up this cute croquet set in the front yard.  I love to have things for my guests to do that helps them interact in a fun way.
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, croquet
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, croquet
The colors of this Lion Sport croquet set from Wayfair were so bright and colorful and perfect for my party!
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, striped umbrella, swag
My guests were greeted down the driveway with a swag table full of goodies to bring home, with the perfect touch of a Black and White 6ft parasol Italian Patio umbrella.  
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, swag, tai pan trading
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, elenis cookies
Elenis cookies sent over some cute black and white striped cookies with jewel tone borders for the party guests as favors.
white house, wayfair, party, yellow door, black and white stripes, black and white dress, white exteriors, harmons grocery, sea salted caramel brownies
Another one of my favorite treats is the sea salted caramel brownies from Harmons Grocery.  So, I made sure there were plenty for my guests to grab a treat.
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, tai pan trading
Taipan Trading was so nice to provide some cute goodies for my guests including the yellow and white striped bowls and canisters.
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, swag,
The swag goodie package for my guests were quite the hit, and went fast!
Swag Contents:
Yellow and white striped bowls: Tai Pan Trading
Yellow Canisters with chalkboard labels: Tai Pan Trading
Spatula: Orson Gygi
Black and White striped cookies: Elenis Cookies
Black goodie bags, Striped straws, and Fry boxes: Bake it Pretty
At the end of the driveway was the highlight of the night for me and my guests, The Waffle Love truck, and a drink cart from FIIZ drinks.
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, waffle love
It was kind of a dream come true to have an entire Waffle Love truck come hang out in your driveway!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, waffle love, liege waffles
Leige waffles during Utah peach season is basically what dreams are made of!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, waffle love, liege waffles
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, waffle love
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, waffle love,
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, fiiz drinks
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, fiiz drinks
Fiiz drinks set up their fully loaded beverage cart with all of their specialty flavored soda combinations, or dirty drinks that the kids are calling it these days. The Cocalatta (pineapple, coconut, and cream) was a huge hit!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, fiiz drinks
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, fiiz drinks

wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, black and white
You may noticed that my guests are all wearing black and white.  I thought it would be fun to incorporate the theme of the party into the dress code.
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, fiiz drinks, bing
We set up an area to lounge along with the tables to get comfortable and eat the amazing food!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, harmons grocery, cheese plate
I put together this amazing cheese plate with the help of the amazing cheese mongers at Harmons Grocery (more on that coming soon!)
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, fiiz drinks, orson gygi, sweets, treat table
I always love putting together a candy table at all my parties.  This Pub table from Wayfair was the perfect height to house the goodies for my guests to snack on during the party.  Orson Gygi provided a variety of fun candies for the party matching our theme and colors!  They have just about every color of jelly belly and gum balls making it easy to match the theme and colors of the party.
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, elenis cookies
I love having something interactive at the party.  With a party full of such creative gals, I thought it would be fun to have an area to decorate some cute Elenis cookies with their food coloring markers!  It was a big hit!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, elenis cookies, melissa esplin
My friend and calligrapher extraordinaire Melissa Esplin pulled off some amazing cookies!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, elenis cookies, melissa esplin
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, elenis cookies, melissa esplin, bing, armelle party
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, bing
The beautiful flower arrangements were from Harmons Grocery store.  I was so pleased with how they turned out.  Their floral department really did an amazing job.  I just sent them over the colors I was using and they came up with some amazing floral pieces.
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, bing, armelle party
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, bing, armelle party, backdrop, photo booth back drop
Another must at a blogger party, is a photobooth, of course!  I was able to set one up using a black and white curtain from Wayfair and some brightly colored tissue balls!
It was so great to be able to mingle with some of my favorite friends, and get to just have a really fun time together!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, bing, armelle party
A special thanks to Wayfair and Bing for partnering with me on this event, and making my housewarming party a success!
wayfair, party, black and white stripes, white exteriors, blogger party, bing, armelle party
#armelleparty was so much fun!  I was so thrilled with the results of all the hard work, and so grateful for all of my amazing friends who helped me plan, execute, and attend the party!  Love you all, and wish all of you my readers could have attended.  Thanks for all your support over the years!

And, last but not least (I know, longest post I have ever done, hang in there.)  A fun video that captured the fun night by my amazing friend, and videographer Shelby Osmond.  For more information on her work in photography, and videography, be sure to check out her blog!  Photos are amazing, but there is just something about videos too for an event, or even just to capture your family!


Special thanks to LC Photography Utah and Jessica Kettle for coming out and photographing the night, and to Aubry of Hello Maypole for doing all the handwriting for the chalkboard signs!!

To see more about my housewarming party, click here.