My Favorite 20-Minute Party Spread

Yesterday I did some fun touristy stuff with my friend Terry–the Celestial Seasonings factory tour (you will never breathe better than when stepping into that mint room), pots of tea at the beautiful Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, the not-yet-Olympic sport of dodging errant student pedestrians at University of Colorado…all the usual stuff.  Along the way we had some killer tres leches cake at the Celestial Seasonings cafe (very moist but not soupy, as it often can be) and some great tea snacks at the tea house.  On the way home we stopped at the Cheese Importers to pick up some items for an impromptu, no-cook meal.  This is my favorite way to entertain parties both large and small:

I picked up a number of cheeses and compliments, including a goat’s milk queso de mano, a Spanish paprika-rubbed triple milk cheese, and a wedge of Cambozola.  I like to put out a variety of flavors and textures on a cheese platter, and this range included the firm, slightly spicy Spanish cheese, the soft, aged Cambozola, and the firm-but-creamy queso de mano.  Along with this I picked up a wedge of date and walnut cake, which is simply a compressed “cake” of the dried fruit and nuts, delicious when slivered and eaten with cheese:

I added in some fresh plums, apples, and cherry tomatoes from the CSA share, as well as some thinly sliced olive bread and some savory olive oil tortas, which are a delicious crispbread that goes really well with cheese.  The Seville Orange version of the torta is mildly sweet and citrusy, and so fantastic to eat out of hand or with creamy cheeses, but I wanted the less-sweet sesame version for these cheeses:

Finally, I sliced a little Spanish chorizo to add to the board–this is the cooked, cured version of chorizo, which is ready to eat and is distinct from the raw, Mexican type that you often see at the grocery in the fresh meat case.

This is one of my favorite kinds of meals, and it is so easy and yet impressive.  Other great additions are interesting olives, marinated and pickled vegetables, white anchovies, taramasalata, and spiced nuts.  When you don’t have time to cook but want to put out a really nice spread, this is the way to go.

We are headed up to the mountains and hope to see a little snow, so I am packing up some of that cheese as a take-along.

Thanks for reading,


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2 Responses to My Favorite 20-Minute Party Spread

  1. Yenta Mary October 10, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    That is my idea of a perfect meal! Protein, fruit, sweets … everything's there. I've had a fabulous fig cake that's very similar to that date one … wanting some now ….

  2. Chef Dennis October 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    that looks like the perfect meal! anytime we eat like that it reminds us of being in Europe!

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