for the love of cheese…and meat….and wine…..okay and fruit!

Hubby decided to give me an early birthday present this past Saturday, and take me to a musical. It was so cute of him to take one for the team. Although, I think he enjoyed it a great deal himself! We enjoyed “Fly with Me,” a dialogue-less musical based on the many wonderful songs of Frank Sinatra. He loves the music of the Rat Pack, and while we were both surprised to hear absolutely no dialogue whatsoever, it was absolutely wonderful! The dancing was amazing, and even though he didn’t notice it, there was definitely a storyline. Bravo to the dancers that conveyed the message while dancing their butts off at the same time! We had a lot of fun!

By the way, is there a term for a musical that’s mixed with dialogue, and a musical that has zero dialogue? Just curious!

Anyway, that morning, he told me he’d be home from work around noon, and if we could have a quick snack before we go, then we could have dinner afterward, before I had to be at work at six. Hearing “snack” made my ears perk up! I LOVE making “snacks!” But our schedules have been so crazy and mismatched lately, that I thought I’d give myself a birthday treat and make more of a fancy snack.

Thus, the meat and cheese plate was born!

While our two local grocery stores are horrendously inadequate, the one just one neighborhood over is the best grocery store in this very large city. It may have something to do with the residential population of the community, known mostly to be gay-friendly. Oh how I love my gay friends and the wonderful recipes they’ve shared with me in the past. Apparently, the grocery chains recognize their largely shared love of the culinary arts and discerning palettes as well, as this particular store branch has the best selection of cheeses, meats, exotic ingredients and wines, EVER. EVER I say!

So a little gruyere, smoked gouda, and english sage derby cheese, partnered with sopressata sausage, kalamata olives, black grapes, raspberries, warm french bread and the most divine red wine ever, served as our snack. It was raining outside, too; making this snack all the more romantic and fitting.

I’ve taken a job at a wine bar just around the corner since quitting my job earlier in the year. While I’ve known absolutely zero about wine in the past, the last few months have greatly educated me. I chose this wine, the Apothic Red, because it is one of our best sellers at the bar. The 2009 from the wine bar is a blend of zinfandel, merlot and syrah. Although this one is a different vintage (2010), and it has the addition of cabernet franc in it, it is still a jammy, juicy red wine that will absolutely have you smacking your lips in delight. Funny though, the difference in vintage and perhaps the added verital made this a little tannic when we first drank it. But the second night, it tasted just as good as the one we serve at the wine bar. Apparently, it just needed to breathe a bit more. If you find it at your local store, DO buy it! It’s a red wine that ANYONE can drink. And now that the holidays are upon us, you’ll definitely want to have this in stock if your hosting any get-togethers. I did a quick search on their website, and it looks like it’s available in grocery stores coast to coast.

As for the cheese and meat plate, I have never really put anything on a plate except for cheese and crackers. For some reason, I felt inspired this time. Lucky for us both! Because it was a lovely “snack” that was both visually appealing and tasty. Never again will I stop with cheese and crackers. Berries, meats (and maybe dried fruits next time) will be the mainstay. Plus I got to use a very simple but awesome platter from crate and barrel that we got last year for our wedding. I think it was the first time I had used it. Yay! Double bonus! The only thing I would do differently, is maybe add a touch of green to the corner of the platter – like mint or just a little touch of extra color. I can’t help it. I love lots of color in my food presentation.

Hopefully this inspires a few beautiful cheese and meat plates out there! It’s just such an easy thing, that makes anyone’s pants look fancy : )

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