I love this time of year. Holiday parties are in full swing and everyone is in a festive mood. There is nothing I enjoy more than throwing a cocktail party with elegant hors d’oeuvres and lots of wine. Today I am sharing a spin on a classic recipe that includes one of my favorite local products from Plant City, FL and pairs well with several selections from one of my favorite wineries. I am also excited to reveal my early Christmas gift….I am now an ambassador for CK Mondavi Wines which, if you know me, is kind of a big deal. Being that I am from the San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country is my happy place, the chance to work with such a wonderful brand is one of the greatest things to happen to me in 2016. I would like to thank CK Mondavi Wines for sponsoring this post and for sending me a trio of wines that certainly made me smile.
I am sure you have seen some of the recipes I have featured in the past with CK Mondavi Wines such as Drunken Lemon Spaghetti and Fig & Melon Sangria. While I have always had an appreciation for their wines, I really fell in love with them this past spring while attending the Food Wine Conference by the Sunday Supper Movement in Orlando. CK Mondavi was one of the sponsors and when I arrived at the conference I was greeted with a glass, or two, of their Sauvignon Blanc. I then was spoiled with several of their wines during our Denim & Diamonds dinner including their 2015 Pinot Grigio, 2014 Blonde Five, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Scarlet Five. I do not think I have ever been as content as I was that evening. In fact, as soon as I got home from the conference, I stopped at my local Publix, picked up some of their Pinot Grigio, and went home to make Drunken Lemon Spaghetti. When I was presented with the opportunity to be an ambassador, I got down on my knees, cried and thanked God because that is just how much I love this brand.
As soon as I received my first shipment of wine from CK Mondavi, I sat down and began to think what magic I could create with the three bottles of pure bliss. Since my full-time job revolves around food and catering events, I have had plenty of practice this month with holiday parties and have been featuring CK Mondavi at all of my events. One item that always gets a lot of compliments is a cheese and charcuterie board. They are so easy to put together and nothing compares to cheese and wine. These three wines are fantastic for any party because they are all versatile and the perfect variety for a large crowd.
Entertaining is certainly in my blood, as my parents always loved throwing parties. From a very young age I began helping my dad in the kitchen and grew up with a love and passion for food. While at Food and Wine Conference, I was blessed to learn so much about the CK Mondavi Winery that I never knew before. In 1943, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi moved to the Napa Valley and purchased the Charles Krug Winery. Much like my ancestors, wine making was an important part of their Italian heritage and they focused on family, food and good wine. Cesare and Rosa, along with their sons Robert and Peter, created CK Mondavi which offers both tremendous quality and value. Oh how I would love to travel back in time and have dinner with them! My dream is to one day move back to California and have my own vineyard. Until that happens, I will be content enjoying wine and sharing my recipes with everyone.
Lately I have been obsessed with supporting local and after an incredible visit to a strawberry farm in Plant City a few weeks ago, I have been using strawberries in everything. I picked up a few jars of strawberry preserves from the famous Parkesdale Market (if you visit the Tampa area you MUST stop by) and have been featuring them at holiday parties. Since I wanted to create something to pair well with the three wines I received from CK Mondavi (Chardonnay, Cabernet and Scarlet Five), I put together a Sunday afternoon wine tasting for a client and treated guests to wine, cheese and delicious Prosciutto wrapped dates stuffed with Brie and strawberry preserves. They were a hit and I turned on about a dozen people to CK Mondavi Wines. While all three were loved by all, the crowd favorite, which just happens to be mine as well, was the Scarlet Five. It is their signature cuvee and a blend of five red varieties with ﬂavors of black cherries and plums. I first tasted this blend back in May and immediately began to carry it in the restaurant where I work. It is my go-to wine for everything.
Putting together a cheese board is easy and can really stand out at your holiday event. With so many festive days coming up such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, NFL playoffs and of course, Super Bowl Sunday, you can create a visually stunning collection of cheese, crackers and other accoutrements to pair beautifully with CK Mondavi Wines. In fact, while shopping at your local market, you will find holiday coupons from CK Mondavi with savings such as $1 off one package of PRÉSIDENT® Brie and/or RONDELÉ® BY PRÉSIDENT® , $2 off any two bottles of CK Mondavi Wine and $1 off any crackers through January 31st, 2017. I am a firm believer that you do not have to spend a ton of money to create delicious memories and that is just another reason why I love this brand so much.
Here are my tips for creating a beautiful cheese and charcuterie board followed by my recipe for the Prosciutto wrapped dates stuffed with Brie and strawberry preserves.
- Include at least four different types of cheeses
- Crowd favorites include Brie, Goat, Cheddar and Roquefort, to name just a few
- Always look for holiday features such as Cranberry Cheddar, Blueberry Vanilla Goat, etc.
- If shopping on a budget, check for coupons featured on wine bottles or cracker boxes
- Stop by your local cheese shop and ask for assistance, as they can always point you in the right direction
- If you live by a Costco or Sam’s Club, they always have a fun variety at great prices
- Honey or fruit preserves served in a mini-mason jar are a nice touch
- Assorted nuts such as pistachios or almonds pair well with cheese
- While standard crackers are always popular, be sure to look for rustic crackers and seasonal flavors or sliced baguette for added elegance
- Include a variety of cured meats such as Prosciutto and Coppa along with cured sausages and salami
- Grapes, berries, pears and apple slices always add color, flavor and elegance to a cheese board
- Invest in a nice cheese board/platter and cheese knives so you will always have on hand
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy my recipe. I would love to hear your feedback on CK Mondavi Wines if you have the chance to try some over the holidays. Oh, did I mention that you can enter to win a wine country weekend in Napa? Simply text CKMONDAVI to 31279 (The deadline to enter is 12/31/16). If you win, please take me. xoxoxo
- 1 container of Medjool Dates (1 or 2 lbs depending on how many you want to make)
- 1 container of President Brie Cheese (8 or 16 oz)
- 1 jar of strawberry preserves (you can use another flavor such as blackberry or peach if you prefer)
- 1 package of Prosciutto (you can also substitute bacon)
- Preheat oven to 350
- Slice dates open vertically and remove pits.
- Fill with brie and a dollop of strawberry preserves
- Wrap each date tightly with Prosciutto (you can tear the Prosciutto pieces in half as you only need one layer to cover the date
- Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 5-7 minutes or until crispy. Oven times vary so be sure to keep an eye on the dates so the Prosciutto does not burn.
- Let cool and pair with a cheese board or enjoy with a glass of wine.