Tag Archives: hosting

The French Cheese Culture

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France is a culture of cheese, chief amongst the reasons we get along so very well. One of my favorite stops each Saturday at the market is with my local fromager, Clement. His wife’s family raise sheep and have been making cheese for generations. He attends five different markets each week, selling only the finest fromage, has been utterly sweet to me, and is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about his products.

For this particular cheese plate I created on an unexpectedly balmy December afternoon I asked Clement to recommend a variety of cheeses from different regions of France with different textures, colors, and flavor profiles. Some young, some aged, soft, firm, creamy, cow’s milk, goat, sheep.  His suggestions of 5 cheeses (4 of which are available in the US from Murry’s Cheese, my FAVORITE cheese store in New York, and linked below!) led to the most beautifully decedent platter mixed in with a symphony of dried fruits, nuts, olives, tapenades, honey and saussions (cured meats) from the local market.

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ROE Caviar

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I recently entertained for the first time with caviar. Of course I’ve had caviar on many occasions at parties, but in very small amounts and without a story of what it is or where it came from. It’s funny, every time I think about caviar served at a party I remember the scene from “You’ve Got Mail” where Tom Hank’s character takes all the caviar garnish at a party during the middle of a quarrel with Meg Ryan.

I’ll be honest, I never really knew what all the fuss was about with caviar. Maybe I just never had good caviar? Or maybe it is the fact that I was raised in Texas, far from the glittering crowd that would appreciate such a delicacy, instead, as children, making fake “chocolate pies” in the mud with my brother.

When my friend introduced me to ROE Caviar, a sustainably farmed California caviar only available in November & December,  I decided it was time to focus and decide where I stand on this glossy little black wonder.

Well… now I know.

It’s heavenly. Salty, delicate, fresh, delightful… it’s like the joy of champagne in solid form. It was thrilling to try and even more delightful to serve. How shall I decide on a beautiful way to present it and what to serve it with! Our guests loved it. To my surprise, they loved it more than I even expected, and I think more than they expected as well.

One of our dinner guests is Swiss-German, something I like to call him when he begins to fix anything broken in your apartment or builds the perfect autumn fire, taught us to put a dab of caviar on your skin between your thumb and pointer finger and taste it off the flesh. Sounds weird at first but hey, I didn’t get to where I’m at in life by not trying new things. So I did and tasting the nuances of the caviar was pure luxury and experiencing the cold, wet texture of the caviar against the contrast of your skin and wetness of your mouth was frankly… sexy. I am thankful I do not have a drug habit but I am fearful I might have a caviar one which could possibly be worse!

So here’s to trying new things and sharing it among friends. Below is the recipe from our friend Jared (who also makes Salt Box Cookies) for homemade blinis we served alongside sour cream and chives for the perfect holiday hostess platter of my new love, caviar.

Caviar Blinis

1/4 cup potato starch

1/2 cup flour

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 tbsp melted butter, plus more for skillet

In mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In separate bowl, lightly whisk buttermilk, egg and melted butter.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk batter.

Place a skillet over medium/low heat and brush with butter.  When skillet is hot, spoon scant tablespoons of batter on to the skillet about 2 inches apart.  Once pancakes rise and bottoms are golden brown, flip and brown the other side.

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SUMMER DINNER PARTY

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It’s the simple things in life that are the best. That statement has never been more true to me than now after traveling for a month solid. Though I saw unbelievable sights and experiences one could only dream of, I was so happy to just be home last weekend with my friends at a house we share out in Amagansett. I just wanted to get together, share a meal, catch up, and be in one place with faces I know and care about.

Summer entertaining is the best. Light that dances through the afternoon and illuminates the moments through a late, lazy evening that always ends with laying in the grass finishing the last sips of wine as another day closes and the possibilities of tomorrow have yet to begin. Beyond the golden glow, there is no market like a summer market. Fresh and ripe, bright and juicy dishes write themselves because the ingredients are so good, they don’t need much more than a little salt and pepper.

We’ve been working with Ecco Domani the past year, shooting their packaging, displays and marketing materials. They knew how much we had been traveling and sent us a case of red and white wine to welcome us back home. One of my favorite sayings of Ecco is “upgrading the everyday” so I based our little backyard summer dinner party around that idea. What could I do with this table that doesn’t require buying anything, just being creative with what we have already? I asked Diana, my friend and prop stylist for one of my favorite magazines, Kinfolk, if she had some easy entertaining ideas. She suggested taking sprigs from our gathered, seasonal flower arrangements as focal points, and simply placing them on a napkin that is draped long ways off the table cascading like a waterfall, dressing the place settings in a softer, organic way.

Once the table was set my friend Molly & I got to cooking. To pair with Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio, roasted cherry tomato and shrimp fettucine; for the Ecco Domani Merlot, grilled lamb chops with a light and gorgeous spring salad – all super simple, elegant, seasonal dishes because, like I said before… it’s the simplest things in life that are the best.

Here is to summer, friends, staying in and making memories with the ones you love.

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Kevin’s Homemade Pasta

2 Eggs
1 cup of unbleached flour (to start)
salt

Mix the flour with the eggs in a bowl or wooden surface until the consistency is like a dough, adding flour as necessary. Add a big pinch of salt. Knead for a few minutes, adding a bit of flour if it gets too moist and sticky. From there, follow the instructions on your pasta machine.

When the pasta is finished I’ve learned to dust it with flour and toss, so the individual pieces don’t stick together while you make the rest!

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