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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

A Summer Cheese Tray

DaVinci Wine and Cheese Tray

Al Fresco dining on a summers eve; sun kissed breezes dancing gracefully through the tree tops.

Bringing with them the fragrant scent of  herbs and warmed pine.

This is the moment I’ve waited for all year.

Time slows and with it comes a sense of languish.  Justifying the inability to pull myself out of a cozy deck chair and prepare the evening meal.

Tonight, it’s simple.  It’s indulgent and it feels just a little naughty.

A lovely granite tray, reminding me of the dear friend who gave it to me, filled with local artisan cheeses, aged parma harm, fresh chevre lightly bathed in homemade fig preserves and topped off with a bottle (or two) of DaVinci Italian Chianti.

DaVinci Chianti

A little excitement has come my way.  Well, a lot of excitement actually.

I’ve been selected 1 of 12 Finalists in the DaVinci Wine Storytellers Experience, and 1 of 3 Culinary Finalists.  I am deeply honored to be a finalist and feel humbled to be in such lovely company.

There are 4 categories being judged.  Culinary Arts, Photography, Language Arts and Fine Arts.  1 from each category (4 total) will win a trip to Vinci, Tuscany to visit the birth place of DaVinci Wine.  An extraordinary opportunity.

I’d love to win.  I’d love to visit Tuscany and share with you my DaVinci Storytellers Experience via blog posts, Facebook updates, Pinterest pics, Tweets and Instagrams.   And if I could pack you all in my suitcase, I would!

If you could take a moment of your time to click on the link below, I’d love your vote.  You can vote once per day until July 31st (unfortunately the link does not work on mobile devices).

My deepest Thanks!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Setting a Summer Cheese Tray

Determine the number of people you will be serving and allow 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per person.  Although 1-2 ounces is a good rule of thumb, I always end up with 3-4 ounces per person.  But I’m a cheese nut.

Include a few other nibbles such as parma ham, aged prosciutto, assorted artisan salumi, Castelvetrano olives (I could eat buckets of these but beware of the seeds!) and fresh fruit.  During the summer I love our Washington cherries served with my cheese tray.

Arrange the cheese according to the type of milk used.  Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goats milk. If using a creamy cheese, serve it separately and try pairing it with homemade preserves or red pepper jelly.  My new fave is creamy goats cheese topped with red pepper jelly.

Keep the bleu’s together and try an assortment.  Rogue Creamery has a lovely smokey bleu which pairs well on a cheese tray with an English or locally produced stilton.  Pecorino Romano, Parrano, aged Parmesan, and other hard cheeses are best paired together.  An excellent local cheese that I paired with a Balsamic Vinegar washed Pecorino Romano is Cascadia Creamery’s Sleeping Beauty.

A few local Washington cheese favorites: Willapa Hills Orange Blossom Yoghurt Cheese, Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Trufflestack and of course no cheese tray is ever complete without Beecher’s Cheese.  They’re all delicious but my fave is “No Woman”.  I know, funny name – excellent cheese.

Whatever you decide, don’t stress over your cheese tray.  Choose cheese that you love, cheese that pairs well with the wine your serving and be sure to leave plenty of room between each cheese so they’re easy to slice or spoon.  Add the fruit and salumi and a beautiful summer evening begins.