Archive for category Appetizers
It’s freezing. Almost literally. I know all you people who live even 200 miles north of Florida can’t stand our posts about 85 degree beach days in the middle of January, so this weekend you are probably not feeling all that sympathetic that we are FREEZING! Just like Northerners, I always become inspired to cook comfort foods when it’s blustery out and, not wanting to venture into the biting wind, I was not about to go hunting ingredients further than my own kitchen.
In the spirit of Auld Lang Syne, a group of my friends from the college years reunite for New Year Year’s Eve every year. We spend half the year selecting a location, finding a house to rent and then all of December planning the meals. This year, it took an 8 bedroom condo in Myrtle Beach to house 10 adults and 6 kids. Three of the regular group weren’t able to attend plus 3 children spent the time with their grandparents, so you can see how this tends to be one big party each year!
Lately, I handle New Year’s Eve dinner. Last year, we had artisan pizzas with all the leftovers in the mountain cabin. This year, I knew I had a big kitchen and plenty of time to prep, so I arranged a tasting party. The first step was to visit the party store. This irks my husband to no end. He hates when I visit the party store because it costs a lot for things made of paper and plastic. I went anyway, rebellious wife that I am!
It was supposed to be a little birthday party for my daughter. She turned 2. Two year olds don’t even remember their birthdays. They certainly don’t understand making a wish and blowing out candles. So, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to have a huge party to celebrate. However, I survived the last two years, so isn’t that worth a party? Yes, it is. Just not this kind of party.
It was a Sunday night around 9:45pm. I was so sleepy from hauling the kids around town, visiting family, and those dreaded weekend chores. Suddenly, I heard that familiar guitar music coming from my cell phone. Who in the world was calling me so late? “Hello?” I answered cautiously, sure that it was a wrong number or a prank call. ”Kim? This is Julie. I’m calling to see if you still wanted to go to the Food Blog Forum in Orlando this weekend.”
Was she kidding? Of course I wanted to go! I was sure that this little blog wasn’t ready for blog community socializing and here she was asking me to spend a weekend with bloggers I admired, to learn more about elusive talents like writing and photography, and to do it all at Walt Disney World, one of my favorite places to visit. I gave my husband one of those “Please say ‘yes’ and don’t mind the sudden change of plans” looks.
You see, when you have two small children, a little weekend to Walt Disney World is complicated. It starts with all the laundry. Then there is the packing. You can’t just pack clothes. No, you have to pack snacks for each day, sippy cups, diapers for the baby, books, toys, loveys, movies for the car ride, plus all the clothes. Don’t forget to pack for yourself. Since I was going to a conference, I had to think about notepads, my netbook, pens, business cards, and chargers. I didn’t even have business cards yet! I had 3 days to get them created, printed and shipped to me. My very good friends at work helped me get that done and I owe them big time.
By Friday morning, we loaded the car and took off. When we arrived, my little boy, Zack, was so excited to see the monorail parked at our hotel. When we entered the Polynesian Resort Hotel, we were greeted with leis for each member of the family. We checked in and proceeded to the room which was fabulous. It was spacious for all 4 adults and both kids. Zack had his own daybed in addition to the two queens that the adults shared. We still had room for the pack ‘n play for my baby girl, Sara. I took off for my welcome reception while my babies napped. Don’t worry, the other three adults napped right along with them.
Here is where excitement turns to shock and awe. Along the patio of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Summer House Patio and Sand Beach, there was a display of food to impress even the most distinguished food connoisseur. There were tables filled with immaculate concoctions and a proud chef ready to serve each one.
Shrimp shooters, with the biggest shrimp I have ever seen, beckoned from atop the first table. Below the shooters perched tiny savory cones stuffed with various meats, cheeses, and herbs. Gourmet spoons glinted in the sunlight with gouda, a fruity compote, and a minuscule mint leaf. A trellis chandelier with martini glasses filled with fresh salads sparkled and danced in the wind. Later on, I discovered a white truffle macaroni and cheese bar where you could choose lobster, panko crusted shallots, and pancetta, among other toppings.
The dessert bar boasted cake pops dipped and rolled before our eyes. There was a macaroon tree, chocolate and vanilla creme brulee, and so much more I lost count. Let’s just say I started with a bear claw martini and ate enough to keep me full until our Irish inspired breakfast the next morning.
Possibly the best part of the night occurred about 15 minutes after I arrived. I didn’t know anyone there. I felt older than most, but so much more inexperienced and unsure that those memories of not knowing where to sit on the first day of school in the cafeteria came flooding back. So, I stood at a table by myself when a wonderful girl named Sam came up and said “Hi! You look lonely, can I join you?” Of course I was thrilled to have her join me and soon we had a little table of more lost little bloggers. We kept track of each other all weekend and I’m happy to call them my friends now. Please visit their blogs below!
Sam @Sweet_Remedy - sweet-remedy.com
Jessa @heedthefeed - heedthefeed.com
Jacqueline - beyondnfinity.com
With the weekend off to a good start, I had no idea it was going to get better. But it did. Oh, yes, it did! More to come tomorrow!
I am a girl who loves indulgence. Some people call me a little snooty, but I maintain they just don’t appreciate the good things in life like I do. I love the theater, spas, good books, red wines, gourmet cheese, and chocolate. I will point out that many women like these things so I’m not that strange, but I do love to be spoiled.
My husband offered to make me dinner last night. I was overly anxious and a little depressed from another one of life’s curves, and he thought to spoil me with dinner. I asked for small plates. It’s a dinner we’ll do on occasion that’s a bit indulgent and off the cuff. We throw all the balanced plate thoughts right out the window and just snack on the things we love. Cheeses, really good sausage, breads, and a very sweet dessert make up our small plates paired with a bottle of Pinot Noir or Malbec. I may not grin from ear to ear, but I will always be content after such a meal.
Normally this meal comes with a movie. We nibble and sip while enjoying mysteries and comedies. Last night we chose to watch our college basketball team, Florida State, whip up on Miami during the ACC Tournament. Ok, I fell asleep before the game was over, but the first half was great!
I always look forward to small plate dinners. Last night’s included some of the creamiest fontina and a really neat Cocoa Cardona, a cocoa flavored goat cheese. There was fresh mozzerella and sourdough bread. He sliced sopressata and laid out some crackers. It was all so good and the perfect meal for a Friday night at home.