I’m the first to admit that I can be a picky eater. It’s not that I don’t like certain types of foods, but at one point or another in my dietary history, foods haven’t liked me…or at least that’s what WebMD and a few homeopathic doctors have told me. At different times in my life I’ve been off sugar, off meat, off dairy; the list goes on and on. Perhaps that’s why when planning a shower for my brother’s bride-to-be, I took it as my own personal challenge to provide her with a fantastic assortment of food, even though she is Gluten intolerant.
With the recent boom in gluten-free foods, choosing a menu wasn’t as hard as I had originally imagined. I spent the entire budget at Whole Foods Market, where I splurged on a smorgasbord that not only she would be able to eat, but that the rest of us would enjoy, as well. After consulting with the experts that worked in the bakery, cheese shop, and produce section, I settled on a Wine and Cheese shower. Judging by the amount of food consumed by 25 ladies in only two hours, I’d say this type of shower is a much bigger hit than the traditional Jordan almonds, pastel mints, and sheet cake variety!
The wines were the easy part. I am a red wine lover myself, but many women prefer white, so there was one type of each to choose from…with multiple bottles of reserves waiting to be dispatched for the occasion. We picked out a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay, because neither are too strong nor too sweet to distract from any of the cheese.
Because of my love of food, the breads and cheese were the difficult part to decide on because of the sheer magnitude of options. I did my research, and discovered that most wine and cheese events call for at least one cow, one goat, and one sheep cheese. In order to present the food in a more asthetic way, I chose five varieties.
Most women will tell you that they are Brie lovers, so I quickly snatched up one of the largest rounds they offered, topping it off with Fig preserves. Next I opted for a Manchego, which is a mild Sheep cheese. This was a much firmer cheese than the Brie, so we pre-sliced a few pieces in the hopes that people wouldn’t shy away from it. We paired this with some Marcona almonds that had been marinated in a rich sunflower oil and garnished with sea salt.
Not wanting to stay in the mild section for long, I quickly made my way to the stronger flavors. Goat cheese can make people squeamish however, so I opted for the Capricho de Cobia, which is a bit less strong and goes really well with smoked dates and spicy peach chutney. Another strong favorite that is usually a crowd pleaser is Blue Cheese, which I was only able to choose based on looks alone since they were all so delicious. The Fourme D’Ambert had a kick but wasn’t overpowering when sampled with fruits like strawberries and grapes to compliment.
The last cheese was a very special one from behind the counter of the cheese shop. It was a blend of three Italian cow cheeses, and was mild yet very rich and creamy. The Langa La Tur was eaten with the same fig spread as the brie, but also mixed with grapes and a fantastic homemade bread made with cranberries and walnuts. To sweeten the table a bit, there was a Date Walnut Cake, and the bride’s favorite dessert, Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
Everything was gluten free, even the crackers and breads. There were different types of crackers to choose from, but they were all from Blue Diamond. Salt and Pepper, Almond, and Hazelnut were the most eaten of the bunch, however. Even though there were plenty of leftovers to provide my husband with gourmet grilled cheeses for days to come, each guest left the shower satisfied, and the bride to be was able to happily munch while talking to guests.