Hope you are all having a great start to the new year, and dealing with the fact that the holidays are over much better than I am. I think I am in denial and am having trouble getting back into the routine. I stubbornly refuse to take down the Christmas ornaments and get into the celery nibbling mode that is typical for this time of year. All your amazing carrot soups and Tabbouleh posts may help me finally get over cookies and desserts though, so please keep them coming!
We even managed to do a little sightseeing, and went wine and cheese tasting and picnicking in wine country.Yes, it is almost always picnic weather in California, but hey, all weather is wine and cheese weather :)
My sis in law takes really wonderful pictures and we had a great time being shutterbugs together. Some of the pictures in this post are taken by her on her Olympus Pen E-PL3 camera we were trying out ( I think its great- DSLR like, but so compact. Would love opinions from anyone who has tried these new mirror-less camera models)
I love looking at all the kooky shots she took on it and her iphone of all of us being silly, even though I definitely won't be posting some of them (!), I will be putting up a few non compromising ones in my upcoming posts. Just to remember some lovely moments, while I reconcile myself to getting back into the regular stream of things. It will be hard for me and even more so for the little monkey, going back to just seeing his beloved cousins on skype or facetime until the next time we meet.
|Photo taken by my sis-in-law|
|He did ask for wine but the monkey only got to taste water :)|
The Marin Cheese Company in Sonoma (not too far from the kiddo's favorite Train Town) is a great place for all cheese and wine lovers to go to and is such a nice picnic spot, with lots of space for the kids to run around, a pretty duck pond, picnic tables and a convenient, well stocked tiny little deli with all kinds of cheese, wine, sandwiches, pastries, deli meat..all kinds of wonderful things, so you don't have to bring your own food, or even paper cups and things because they give you all that. They even have wine in screw cap bottles for people like me who always forget to bring our corkscrews.
They have lots of cheese set out on platters to taste, their specialty being small wheels of brie and we made a beeline for the one that was topped with an amazing roasted tomato and caper bruschetta which was the starting point for this post. We enjoyed the combination of bruschetta and the soft cheese both with garlic bagel chips and the baguette that they even slice up neatly for you, and I decided to make my own version at home with whatever I had on hand, though I would love to try another version with either broiled or sundried tomatoes.
I LOVE cheese but I don't like brie too much, especially on its own, so this warm, gooey, cheesy dip with balsamic bruschetta was the most delicious way for me to use up the last of the cheese hanging out in my fridge and the perfect quick and easy, delicious appetizer that I see my self throwing together all this year. I love it so much, I may even put it inside a sandwich.
Melted Cheese Bruschetta Dip
Makes enough appetizer for two-four people
2 plum tomatoes chopped
1 clove garlic minced
3 thai green chilies chopped ( optional)
2 small pearl onions chopped or a tablespoon of chopped regular onion
1 tsp chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp rice vinegar ( optional)
1 small brie round ( I used Rouge Et Noir Le Petit Bleu from Marin Cheese Company and also tossed in a bit of some Parmesan that needed to be finished, but you can use any melting cheese you like, even a mix since we will be melting them together to make a spread or dip)
Keep the cheese aside and mix all other ingredients gently together in a small bowl
Taste and adjust, adding more herbs or more tomato if you find the mix too garlicky or spicy for your taste
Set in the fridge for about an hour or longer
If your cheese has a thick rind, cut it off since it won't melt and chop up or grate the cheese if you are using a hard cheese
Heat either on the oven, stove or in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds to a couple of minutes or just until the cheese is slightly melted, warm and gooey
Stir up the melted cheese and top with the bruschetta mix
Enjoy over some lightly toasted baguette or crackers and a glass of chilled Gewürztraminer!
I am sending this dip over to Lisa the Authentic Suburban Gourmet for her Appetizer party to celebrate her blog birthday!