02 April 2010

Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate

I just finished watching Julie and Julia. I adore that movie. The first time I saw it was last summer, when S worked at a little movie theatre and we spent a whole afternoon and evening watching movies for free, taking a break only to go out to dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant. I hadn't seen it in it's entirety since then because, although everyone admits it is a good movie, most people don't want to rent it for a movie night or spend the money to buy it. But me, being a foodie, cooking blog geek, and new blogger myself- imagine my delight when I discovered it had been added to Netflix's list of instant movies!

Julie and Julia is a great movie for aspiring food bloggers and chefs alike, because that's exactly what it's about- two women who love to cook and are able to fill a void in their lives with food. Isn't that what a lot of bloggers and casual cooks are doing? We want a hobby, something that makes us happy and brings new dimensions to our lives. Plus, it gives me hope. If Julia Child didn't know how to boil an egg when she got married and Julie Powell didn't get readers until 60 days in, just imagine how far I can go. At least I'd like to hope ;)

One of the best things about the movie, though, is how magical it makes food seem. I mean, obviously food is spectacular. It can entice all the senses, bring people together, and most importantly it keeps us alive. But food is also exciting, romantic, beautiful, entertaining- it's a whole wonderful experience if you're willing to make it one, which I always am.

The best way to have an amazing experience with food is to share it. I love cooking and putting together food for other people and then conversing, laughing, and dining together. Over spring break, one of the things I really wanted to do was have a wine, cheese, and chocolate night with S. All three of those things are spectacular alone, and the combination is explosive, as well as totally romantic and classy.

When we finally got around to putting one together, it certainly met expectations. I do wish that both of us weren't lactose intolerant- but that did mean for plenty of leftover cheese and chocolate. I certainly encourage you to throw a wine, cheese, and chocolate night yourself, and indulge on these three guilty pleasures with a significant other, friends, or anyone who loves good food :)

Below I've put together a little explanation of what to be sure to include when you throw a night like this. If it's just you and one other person, the bare minimum will do. However, if you're throwing a big extravaganza you might want to get more of each category to have more variety and supply.

S and I, being super classy (super BROKE) college kids, splurged on Franzia White Wine. Yes, just White. That's what it was called, and yep, it came straight out of a tap from a plastic bag in a cardboard box. Quality stuff. If your wallet is bigger than ours though, which it isn't hard to be, I encourage you to buy a fairly priced bottle of both red and white wines, whichever type suits you. If it's just you and another person you can have fun picking the types out together, or if you're having a party you can ask each person (or group) to bring a different bottle, so there will be plenty of variety.

The best part! In my opinion. It's probably like blasphemous of me, a mostly vegan person to say that, but you cannot deny that cheese is AWESOME. And yeah, I could fill your ears with a whole lot of scientific stuff about exactly why cheese is terrible for you and actually addicting (which is why everyone loves it) and how awful the dairy industry is. But, for just these fun, enchanting nights, I put all that aside in the name of good cheese.
You don't want to have an overabundance of it, especially because it's expensive (and fattening...). For two people, I bought 3 cheeses. One medium hard- like a cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, Fontina, there are plenty- just find the store in your area with the best selection of cheese and try to find one that sounds interesting. Second, get a soft cheese- like Chevre, feta, brie, or again, whatever looks interesting. A good way to give soft cheese an extra dimension is to take a log of it- like goats cheese- and roll it in fresh chopped herbs. Mm. Ok, third- a cheese party guide I read in Cosmo once said that the last cheese should be a moldy cheese, like Gorgonzola or Bleu. If you are a fan of moldy cheese, go for it. I used to like Bleu cheese, and when I was 8 or 9 my dad told me what the blue stuff was and my taste buds instantly changed. I can't explain it, I just don't enjoy moldy cheese anymore. So I cheated and got Brie. I mean, it's kinda moldy... Basically for the third cheese you can get whatever you think you want to try. Maybe even a hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or aged Gouda.

Don't just use it as a dessert, taste little bits of it in between tasting the wine and cheese. The combination on the palate is awesome. Also, don't just chew it up! Let it dissolve slowly on the tongue to let it really do it's thing. Chocolate has been proven to release Serotonin AND Dopamine in the brain, creating a chemical reaction of happiness and excitement similar to that which occurs during sex. No wonder the number one gift on V day is chocolate.
I suggest you buy at least two different types of chocolate, a milk and a dark. There are lots of degrees of darkness, and a lot of them are secretly vegan! Dark chocolate has lots of health benefits and it's what really gives your brain that happiness kick, so don't skimp on it. But also don't forget the milk chocolate, which is always creamy and indulgent :). You can also get a third with nuts, fillings, or flavorings if you'd like to have more variety.

You can't just spoon cheese into your mouth and only break it up with equally heavy chocolates and complex wines. That's what tummy aches are made of. Make sure you get a loaf of crusty french bread and/or some multi-grain crackers to spread the cheese on. Also, get some sort of fruit- grapes are best- to cleanse your palate in between cheeses.

Put the grapes and the three cheeses on a cutting board with knifes for each of them. Break the bread in half and let your guests (or yourself and your guest) pull off chunks as they try the different cheeses. Break the chocolates into the individual squares and place them in separate piles on a plate. Put all the bottles of wine out so people can see them and choose which ones to try. Dim the lighting, put on soft music, don some clothes that make you feel pretty, and start feeling classy and romantic! Or you can just cuddle up and the couch in your pjs. There is no right way to enjoy wine, cheese, and chocolate, it's always going to be amazing :)


[once again, pictures after I get a camera cord...]


  1. Emily - You are a great writer and this is a great article. I could see it in an upscale food oriented magazine.

  2. Hi Emily! I really love this post! Julie and Julia is an incredible movie and I always want to cook after watch!!! And sure, your words are absolutely right... we can go far away!

    Keep writing! xoxo