This month Gay Lea asked me to share some of my secret indulgences and the first one that came to mind are the “girls nights in” that I end up hosting once a month. Yup! It wasn’t eating in front of the iPad watching Netflix ALL BY MYSELF or enjoying that decadent piece of chocolate with a glass of wine once the kids have gone to bed… nopes. Living in a household where I seem to be the only REAL cheese lover (seriously guys, melted cheese on pizza is the ONLY thing the hubs will eat and the kids aren’t far off in their love/hate relationship with cheese either!) I countdown to the wine and cheese nights while the hubs goes and plays board games with his posse. Sure I stay home with the kids, but each month I invite a couple gals over and we just chill on my comfy couch and snack the evening away. The kids eventually go to bed and no one minds them playing in the background so it’s a total win-win situation.
Disclosure : I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog, as always, are TOTALLY ours!
I know many moms have told me that they don’t like to host at their place because it means a lot of work but I’ve found an easy way out – charcuterie boards. I mean who doesn’t love a good spread of finger food? I’ve trained my gals to not expect a full on sit down dinner on these night, it’s all about the simple things. My rules for these wine and cheese nights are petty simple, bring a bottle of wine and maybe a snack to share. I love putting together charcuterie boards and shopping for the occasion is immensely satisfying. Our deli section has a superb mix of spicy and non spicy meats (a favourite of mine has a ring of Parmesan on the outside!) and our cheese counter carries a good range of various cheeses so that we can discover new ones on a monthly basis. On one of these runs I spotted the Ivanhoe Horseradish cheddar many months ago and of course I picked it up! The addition of flavourful horseradish to the quality cheddar creates the most unique taste sensation. It’s mild but so creamy and has a bit of a kick that makes it such a novel addition to my boards. Don’t worry I love the classic brie, blue and aged cheddar as well.
Ivanhoe is part of the Gay Lea family and produces award-winning artisan cheddar as well as an extensive selection of specialty cheeses including Naturally Smoked Gouda and flavoured Monterey Jacks. They even offer Kosher and Halal varieties! It’s hard to find the many varieties offered by Ivanhoe cheese in downtown Toronto and I hope to visit the factory outlet the next time I’m in the Belleville area. The Salsa one sounds especially intriguing!
My friends love the boards I put together and I think the main reason is because I bring in a variety of sweet and salty combos when I prep for the night. My biggest tip as you prep a charcuterie board is to serve your cheese at room temperature. Keep cheese wrapped when you pull it out of the fridge, and only unwrap it right before serving. I will keep my cheese wrapped until the condo buzzer rings! Also, at the end of the night, if you have left over cheese ensure you wrap it up in new wax paper and cling film.
Some of my favourite accompaniments to our cheese and meat collection are green olives, Korean Pork Rind bites, chocolates, nuts and grapes. Some classics mixed in with some nontraditional items makes these nights deliciously satisfying. There’s a lot of rules around wine and cheese pairings and what goes best with which wine however, I’m not too fussed with that. I never know the spread of wines that will walk into our place and so it’s hard to really be prepared so I ensure I have a mix of soft, hard and ripened cheese to pick and choose as we go from Prosseco to Tempranillo over the course of the night!
Go on, tell me, what’s your secret indulgence?
If it involves baking you’re in luck because we have a fab giveaway thanks to the folks at Gay Lea! Enter below for a chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer!