May 28, 2018
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.
Summer — the season of backyard BBQ’s and intimate outdoor dinner gatherings. There is something magical about dining al fresco whether it’s under the night sky with a table lit by globe lights, on a picnic blanket on the beach, or a rustic feast on a farm sampling the season’s freshly picked produce. The warm weather brings people together to catch up after a long winter and create new memories.
Every summer I love to host at least one dinner for a small group of friends and/or family.I really enjoy setting up colorful tablescapes and preparing a hodgepodge of small appetizing plates for guests to sample over wine. It’s a wonderful opportunity to try out new recipes and introduce guests to dishes that they might not have had before. I love attending dinner parties for the very same reason — the opportunity to try a new appetizer or cocktail. I’m a bit of a foodie and it’s one of my favorite ways to bond with the special people in my life.
A little over a week ago I hosted a small wine & cheese gathering on my friend’s farm in Pomfret, CT. I can’t think of prettier backdrop anywhere. The lilacs and trees were in full bloom and the grass was lush and green. We set up a rustic table and chairs alongside a gorgeous stone wall underneath a tree for shade. It was unseasonably warm that day which partially initiated this mini outdoor feast I had planned only the night before.
I wanted the setup for this gathering to be as simple as possible and for the most part it was. The morning of Kiel and I packed up our car with my favorite plates, stemless glasses, table runner, candles from home, a Champagne bucket, food, and Rose’. We mixed in flowers I picked from the farm with a small bouquet I bought at Whole Foods to decorate the table.
I kept the menu “very light” with a charcuterie board and a sampling of Blue Diamond’s Crafted Gourmet Almonds in every variety — Pink Himalayan Salt, Black Truffle, Rosemary and Sea Salt, and Garlic, Herb, and Olive Oil. A small white flag was placed in every almond bowl with the name of each flavor so everyone would know which kind they were trying. I’ve seen name tags displayed on cheese boards and thought this idea could also be perfect for almond sampling.
Turns out the almonds ended up being the hit of the party. Everyone loved tasting each flavor. Group favorites included Black Truffle and Rosemary and Sea Salt for a tie. There’s something extra delicious about the texture of the skinless almonds combined with herbs and spices. It was impossible to eat just one. The almonds also enhanced the flavors of the meats and cheeses we were enjoying. As someone who really enjoys a good cheese plate, I’ll be including Blue Diamond’s Crafted Gourmet Almonds from now on.
Here’s what I shared on my Charcuterie Board: (Meats) Prosciutto, Soppressata, Salami; (Cheeses): Goat Cheese Rolled in Herbs, Brie, Mozzarella Balls, Parmiagiano Reggianno; (Fruits & Vegetables): Green Grapes, Peaches, Olives, Cape Gooseberries, Figs; (Other): Honey, Sea Salt Crackers, Crostini Crackers, Dried Sour Cherries, Crafted Gourmet, and Sprigs of Rosemary for Garnish. When putting together any Charcuterie Board the more variety the better. There is almost no wrong way to do it.