Life’s Little Luxuries. With Cheese!

by Matt on May 15, 2012

The post is sponsored by Häagen-Dazs® ice cream, encouraging life’s little luxuries. It’s about taking a step back and enjoying all that’s important and delicious in life.

Last week’s post explored ways of celebrating with friends and family. I was overwhelmed with the responses and learned so many great ways to celebrate life’s little luxuries through food and gatherings. This week I wanted to explore a little bit more but get just a wee bit more intimate. And no, there’s no need to cue the Barry White. Unless you want to!

This week I turned to my friends, my parents and even yours truly to  find out how we share the everyday moments and make them special.

First, I asked my neighbors and friends Brittany and Wade, two of the loveliest people you’d ever meet. Filled with so much style, love and light, they exemplify what two people in love mean to me: they’re forever planning weekends together, they’ll spend an afternoon hiking, a weekend camping, or an early morning hitting a museum for an exhibit. They love life, they love each other, and you just never feel like your interrupting (oh god I think we all know those couples, right? Well it’s not Wade & Britt).  I asked Brittany what they’d do to celebrate at home and the type of meals they enjoy, and luckily she wrote about their Valentine’s Day tradition on their blog. It involves making handmade ravioli, and if I know them it also means a fantastic wine and great music in the background. I’ve written about them before, and I want to thank them for being such great friends.

Speaking of role models, it’s time to introduce my parents. Married 50 years this past December, they’re not only loving people but they raised THE BEST MOST AMAZING SON ANY TWO PEOPLE HAVE EVER RAISED. (Jeez I couldn’t even pull that off, could I? You can stop rolling your eyes now.) But back to Benjamin and Helen. In many ways I’m continually moved by the love they have for each other, and how just being together on a weeknight is reason enough to celebrate with a good meal. I rang my mom up to find out what makes a special meal for the two of them, and being as cute as she is her answer was “Well it depends on the season.” I told her to pick summer since it’s right around the corner, and her answer illustrates how taking something so simple can be extraordinary. “Well we’d definitely head outside and grill vegetables, and since steak is best for special occasions we might cook that too. But not a big steak. Add a nice crispy salad, we don’t need a starchy side, and a fantastic beer for your father and a glass of prosecco for me and we are set.” And the thought of a wonderful meal between the two of them on a long summer night in the hill country of Texas makes me realize how wonderful life really is when you share it with the love of your life.

Speaking of the love of my life, what would we do here at home to indulge in life’s little luxuries? Honestly it’s not oysters on the half shell, lobsters or anything typically fancy. When you work with food daily at the studio we tend to prefer something easy, silly, fun and comforting, or a combination of all those things. But the meal we always come back to is fondue, and it’s served us well: it’s our New Year’s Eve traditional party dinner, complete with friends and tons of beer. It’s a simple meal for two of us, complete with champagne. It’s so easy yet feels so special, and I was really inspired by Sherri Jo’s revelation that her family has a weeknight fondue. So here’s to Sherri Jo and to celebrating life’s simple pleasure’s through food. And also to Wade and Brittany and to my Mom & Dad for showing the world what love — and good food — is all about.

 


Matt’s Cheese Fondue
This recipe is from my book, On A Stick!, and I can make it with my eyes closed. Which is good because I usually turn off all the lights and light candles and blast Dusty Springfield when I make this. I don’t know why, it just makes me feel so 60s. I mean 1960s, y’all.

Cheese Sauce:
1 2⁄3 cups dry white wine
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup grated Jarlsberg (or other Swiss) cheese
1⁄8 tsp pepper
1 cup French bread, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1⁄2 cup broccoli florets, blanched
1⁄2 cup cauliflower florets, blanched
1⁄2 cup quartered slices of salami

1. Make the cheese sauce: Bring wine and garlic to a simmer in a medium saucepan; whisk in cheeses until sauce is smooth. Season with white pepper to taste.

2. Transfer to a fondue pot set over a lit candle. (If using an electric style, set it to low.)

3. Arrange bread, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and salami on a platter. Serve with forks alongside fondue pot, stirring sauce occasionally to maintain a smooth, uniform texture.

Note: this amount makes enough for a party, reduce if it’s just for 2.