Goooood morning! How was everyone’s weekend?? After a really hectic last week, I was finally able to set aside all the blog “work” and other projects I have going on for a solid 24 hours. That is a major rarity these days, but it was for a good cause. On that trip to Minnesota this summer that I can barely go two posts without referring to, I ran into one of my good friends from middle and high school who I haven’t spoken to in ages. We met up for coffee on that trip and, I guess you could say, “rekindled” our friendship. Conveniently, it just so happened that she’s working for an international company and spends some time in New York, this week being one of those times. After her work conference in the city got out on Friday, she hopped on a train for her first-ever visit to Connecticut to stay with me and hang out for 24 hours.
Before her arrival, I practically moved mountains (meaning, I skipped yoga class) to make it to my favorite ever cheese shop in Darien, CT. Now, if I recall correctly, I’ve only ever been to a handful of cheese shops in my entire life, most of them only once, so it’s not like I’m a connoisseur of cheese shops and I’ve carefully selected this one as my favorite. However, this store is one of those places that you know, almost immediately when you walk in, is a special business that handpicks every single product they carry, from the dinnerware to the imported Italian crackers to the apple butter made in California that is downright magical when paired with my six month organic manchego. I know that sounds pretentious–I certainly would have scoffed at that statement before I made consuming wine and cheese my part-time job (if only it paid…anything). However, I think exploring and discovering exquisite small businesses such as this one is good for everyone, whether you can afford to buy your cheese exclusively from them or it’s a once-a-year treat. For me, the bi-monthly habit helps me slow down and enjoy life–I’m not about to rush through that expensive little Creme de Lyon brie with the TV on or my laptop in front of me. So it was a natural choice when I looked for a snack to go with a little wine and a lot of catching up.
My finds were: six month organic manchego, goat cheese in a gray, doughnut shaped rind (looks slightly repulsive, tastes divine), my favorite brie–the Creme de Lyon (it practically melts even fresh out of the fridge), rosemary crackers from Italy (preservative free; not gluten-free), a Greek olive mix, and my impulse apple butter purchase. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get motivated to take an attractive photo of the spread.
Before tapping into the cheese, we headed to my favorite spot, 1020 Post, for dinner. I suppose I’d describe the food as a well-executed mix of seafood and classic comfort dishes. It’s the first and one of the only places still that I’ve eaten mussels, and to my delight (understatement), the saffron mussels with bacon, mushrooms, and caramelized onions were on the specials. It used to be a regular dish, and the day they took it off the menu I might have cried and/or sworn the place off as my favorite restaurant in Connecticut. That didn’t last, and thankfully they bring back the dish now and again in all it’s saffron-y broth and giant lardon goodness, served with a huge hunk of garlic butter-saturated, grilled French bread. Those things are worth every last grain of sand I sink my teeth into in the process of eating them.
After such a satisfying meal, we didn’t make much of a dent in the cheese, but again, it’s not something you want to rush through or force yourself to finish. It’s also worth noting that three of us only made it through half a bottle of wine. So rowdy. Steve and I savored a little more cheese last night for a light-ish dinner, in the midst of a near empty fridge. Fine by me! That brings me to the plan for dinner this week, and after a week of trying to get through some of the freezer stockpile of soup, soup, and more soup, we have a little more varied, freshly cooked menu in store this week.
- Monday: warm cauliflower “couscous” salad from Green Kitchen Stories
- Tuesday: Cuban style black beans and rice from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two
- Wednesday: winter minestrone soup (from freezer) and parmesan crusted croutons
- Thursday: meatless “steakhouse” quesadillas
- Friday: acorn squash with quinoa, pancetta, and vegetable stuffing (an oldie–coming soon to the blog)
Steve is almost done with a huge, all-consuming work project, so we’re going out for dinner next Sunday night in tentative celebration. And that’s the thing about weekends filled with food, friends, and fun–they leave you in constant anticipation of the next one, even on a bright and fresh Monday morning.
P.S. We aren’t having the yummy-looking tart in the background of the dinner menu above this week, butttt I will be posting updated photos–that one included–for the cheesy caramelized onion tart on potato crust. It’s a rich, gluten-free wonder that you should add to your next brunch menu! Photos should go up by tomorrow–I’ll let you know via Instagram.