Wedding bells, parties of two, double dates; Andy’s had enough! Parties of one are fine, but how can a savvy single truly mingle in today’s jaded media-controlled environment? In this very special episode The Table Set guys channel their inner Carries (and Charlottes) to think outside the single scene box and suggest approachable mixers that are everything to love.
New to town? Making friends in a vacuum is never an easy feat. But Greg, Andy and Nathan are determined to help caller Emily host a killer San Francisco cocktail gathering that will do more than break the ice. The key? Make the food the entertainment. Why consume canapés silently when guests can help each other construct hand rolls like at Greg’s sushi making party? Learn something while you drink and swap tasting notes with new acquaintances at an educational wine tasting. And then there’s always cheese. Does it get sexier than cheese? Discuss.
Greg invited a special guest who is the expert when it comes to hosting in-home cheese tastings. In fact, it’s her job! Barrie Lynn is the Cheese Impresario, and every bit impressive. With a little knowledge and panache she shows the boys how easy high payoff entertaining can be. And if leading isn’t for you, sit back and partake – Let the Cheese Impresario design a custom event for you and your guests.
D.I.Y. First thing’s first: Choose your cheeses. Abandon cheese case paralysis and pick a concept before you hit the store. For example, all blue; all cow’s milk; compare/contrast goat, cow, sheep; regional styles; etc. When planning the tasting, start with the lightest selection and move through to the most robust. Naturally, this applies to the wine pairings, if you include them, as well. When presenting the cheeses, go rustic. No cubes here! Break cheese into natural chunks, about one ounce per person. Serve with a small amount of unsalted nuts, dried fruits, and sliced baguette if desired.
Barrie Lynn has a very specific way she instructs you to experience your cheese.
Step 1. Smell your cheese. Discuss what you detect. Remember that 80% of taste is smell.
Step 2. Take a small taste. Flavors? Take another bite and make a cheese highway on your tongue.
Step 3. Sip your wine pairing and let it roll down the cheese highway! How do the two interact? Repeat!
Pairing with honey? Andy is no novice to honey pairings, and Barrie Lynn recommends it. With over 300 varieties in the United States alone, there is a sweet-savory spectrum worth exploring to give your tasting a supercharge!
The Table Set – “A taste of the good life” menu by The Cheese Impresario
Sartori Reserve SarVecchio Parmesan – Cow
The most awarded Parmesan in the world. Piquant and nutty, with delightful crystalized amino acids from the aging process.
Paired with Benessere 2008 Sangiovese
Sartori Resrve Espresso Bella Vitano – Cow
Flavored cheese is back in a major way. This Italian espresso-rubbed cheese is big on Cheddar and Parmesan flavors with a kiss of sweetness. Taste the paste on its own first, then a second bite with the espresso rind, lastly followed by the wine. Supercharge!
Paired with Benessere 2007 Phenomenon
Andy asks a good question: When is eating a cheese rind couth? For starters, if it’s cloth, wax, or any other obviously inedible material, discard. If the rind is an organic protective coating, Barrie Lynn suggests taking a small taste. Her rule is: Does it ruin or compete with the cheese? More importantly, as many rinds differ greatly from their cheese’s flavor profile, does it effect your wine pairing? If yes, skip it.
One last piece of advice? Barrie Lynn insists on cheese for dessert too. *Swoon*
We’ve all been single, and probably all been set up. Do your part if you’re hosting singles and don’t make it impossible for everyone to connect. Size matters! Select a small enough number of guests so that no Missed Opportunities lay in the wake.
Ice breakers are crucial, and don’t have to be food. Nathan enjoys the mandatory show & tell at his semi-irregular International Dining Club meetings – an A-Z culinary world tour through LA’s eateries (instigated by Table Set alum Lisa Jenkins of the Nerd Out podcast). For Y (the Yucatan) Nathan attempted to explain Xtabentún – a psychotropic liqueur made from toxic bee pollen. (See, there’s always something to learn!)
But nothing breaks the ice like a how-to tutorial in breaking open crustacean shells. This is why Wok + Wine exists, a unique gathering hosted in metropolitan cities around the world for the sole purpose of meeting cool new people, over 40 pounds of jumbo shrimp and 40 bottles of wine. Brilliant.
Creating this interactive experience at home couldn’t be easier. Cover a long table (or two) in newspaper. Boil a bunch of shrimp, lobster, or crawfish with potatoes, corn on the cob and eggs until done and simply dump onto the table. Insta-party! Friend of The Table Set the Cuisinerd hosted a killer lobster boil, complete with nifty bibs. Nathan’s Octopus BBQ proved to be quite a conversation piece too. And let’s not forget our recent clam bake success with the Because Show in honor of Homefries‘ One Year Anniversary. Wicked achievable mollusk action.
SPOILER ALERT: Speaking of the Because Show… Turns out our caller Emily is actually an Amy. Touché, ladies. Touché.
This week on The Little Gay Record Player! Andy’s travels abroad are like single mingling in the majorest way. His trip to Berlin even produced this musical reprieve, a one-euro gypsy-scarved Lawrence Welk daydream, perfect for chatting up strangers… Or maybe more for a wholesome party of one.