Yesterday, my husband and I hosted a “Happy Birthday Willie Nelson” party at our home. The red-headed stranger is turning 80 and what better tribute than to strut around in red bandanas, listen to Willie and his friends, inhale good old-fashioned American grub, and eat a huge cake decorated with Willie’s image?
In planning the party, I relied on three local Alexandria favorites to make sure the food was awesome (’cause I had a lot of red bandanas to fold):
1. Mama Reacer’s on Mt. Vernon Avenue: fried chicken, collards, yams. I ordered with Chef Chris on Friday and when I arrived to pick up on Saturday, there was such an impressive collection of hand-made foodstuffs, I almost cried. The love and care with which each item was prepared and packaged was amazing. I was shown each item and told exactly how to store then warm at home, putting extra emphasis on keeping that chicken crispy. Between the muffled grunts, lip smacking, and finger licking, I am sure that all of our guests fully enjoyed… they couldn’t believe I had access to this stuff a mere 4 blocks from my home. Just call me lucky.
2. Buzz Bakery on Slater’s Lane: enormous Willie Nelson-inspired birthday cake. When I first called and spoke to Kevin, I thought he would label me insane – “you’re having a party for whom?” I asked if his team could prepare a large sheet cake with an image of Willie. His response, “Wow – this is fun. Let me talk with our pastry chef and we’ll reference some images for inspiration. I’ll call you back soon with ideas.” My thoughts? “Is this guy for real?!?!” I soon heard back from Kevin, who told me that Alex was up to the challenge. They’d have it ready for me at 2:00, but they’d take it out of the fridge at the break of dawn so it was perfectly room temperature when we ate it. Nice!
3. Rockland’s BBQ on Quaker Lane: Mega helpings o’ BBQ. Poor Rocklands… I called them at 12:30 and asked in my nicest voice whether I could pick up 10 pounds of pulled pork (with buns), 4 quarts of coleslaw, and a quart of pickles in an hour. Their answer? Sure! When I picked up my order, the gentlemen behind the counter helped me pick some of their favorite hot sauces from the “Shelves of Fire”. I apologized for calling so late. Their response? “No problem at all! If you had called us 5 minutes ago, we still would have had it ready for you.” Um… can I bottle that Rockland’s hospitality please? Oh wait… they already have
Needless to say, the party was a huge success. Making a bunch of grown adults wear red bandanas ensures a fun afternoon. And giving their kids unlimited lollipops doesn’t hurt. Oh – and the weather was heavenly. But what really made the party memorable? The food! I have never seen guests take home so many leftovers - they were actually waiting in line to fill their to-go plates. Now that’s some good grub!
But what made me so super-duper proud was the collection of exceptional businesses right in our back yard. Each helped me plan, order, and execute and incredible spread. There was pride in every step, from Mama Reacer’s Chef Chris saying with a smile, “You made me work hard this morning“, to Buzz’s Alex laughing because after she put the cake photo online, her friends thought she actually knew Willie Nelson, to the kind folks at Rockland’s making sure I had three unique yet equally-complimentary sauces for both pulled pork and fried chicken. As a business owner, I know how hard it is to pull off the ultimate combo: great service and great product. It was great to see these folks in action.
Thank you all!
Oh – and check out that cake – it’s amazing what a gifted person can do with buttercream…
The only thing I know about “brackets” is that they tend to hold things in place. But when our Cheese Director, Tommy Ferraro, recommended a massive cheese taste-off to coincide with some little basketball event, I jumped at the opportunity. And a new epic event was born.
Tommy picked 32 of our most popular cheeses and strategically pitted them against each other. (For the record, he compared this to “picking your favorite child.”)
Each day, in each location, YOU will taste and vote on your favorite. Thus the narrowing-down will begin. Building in anticipation, day after day, we will approach the “Fromage Four” and then there will be just two. The winner from each store will face off… with only one rising to true supremacy.
Hurry to a Cheesetique near you (or both, if you can) to taste and vote. Make it happen, people!
(click to view the current MarCheese Madness bracket)
Join us for cheese and wine al fresco… our patios are awaiting your presence!
If you haven’t gotten your special someone that special something (you know who you are!), then have no fear. Stop by on your way home and we’ll set you up. Options:
You can go the “chocolate” route. We’ve got everything from truffle pigs to bittersweet bars to dipped honeycomb.
You can go the “heart” route. We have more heart-shaped cheeses than you can shake a stick at, including our homemade cranberry-covered chevre hearts (so lovely!)
You can go the ”woo them with wine” route by selecting one of our love-inspired bottles like “Sexual Chocolate” Syrah/Zin, “Queen of Hearts” Pinot, or just plain “Sex” Sparkling Chardonnay.
If you just don’t know what to pick, you can at least grab one of our beautiful new greeting cards, with sayings like, “i love ewe”, “you make me melt”, “you’re udderly fantastic”, or “is that a salami in your pocket…” (my personal favorite).
And don’t forget, we’re serving a special meal in our Cheese & Wine Bar all day today: Treats for Two! Two glasses of wine, a Select-4 Cheese/Meat Board, and Chocolate Cheesecake to share. All for $35.
Have a wonderful, love-filled day!
What do you get for that special someone to whom you’d lovingly declare, “you’re the cheese to my macaroni!” on Valentine’s Day?
For the all the foodies at heart, we’ve got you covered! Cheesetique is stocked to the brim this month with wine, gifts, chocolate and cheese for the person in your life who loves gourmet food almost as much as they love you. Choose from gift baskets, heart-shaped cheeses, chocolates galore and wines who do the work for you (Sexual Chocolate anyone?!).
If you prefer an experience over a gift, take your date to the Cheese & Wine bar on February 14th to enjoy our special Treats for Two – 2 glasses of house wine, a Select-4 board and Chocolate Cheesecake to share for $35. It’ll definitely earn you a kiss!
From the Land of Romeo and Juliet…
“I pray, come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry!” – Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Just in time for lovey-dovey day, we bring you a wine made in the town of Verona, using a special method usually reserved for some of the world’s most beloved wines (but at a third of the price).
Amarone. Ah–mah–RHO–neh. Just saying the word makes you sound cultured, suave, worldly (and kinda sexy). Go ahead – look in the mirror while saying it – I dare you not to ask yourself out on a date. Made in the Veneto region of Italy, Amarone uses grapes that have been dried in the sun after harvest. This makes a wine that is rich with deep fruit, full of round flavor, nice acidity, and high alcohol. VERY BIG red wines, those Amarones. They are also incredibly labor-intensive and involve lots of loss, so are typically very expensive.
Enter the Famiglia Pasqua Passimento. This wine is made from traditional Amarone grapes, which are dried under that same Veneto sun (albeit for a shorter period of time). Then, the winemakers take the unique step of adding Merlot to the mix. The one-of-a-kind result? A luscious, round, rich wine like Amarone, but more approachable for everyday drinking.
Click here to read more and order your wine!
After 8 long years, we have finally decided to open our Del Ray location on Mondays. Why? Because it makes us feel really bad when we’re in the shop cleaning and people keep trying to walk through the locked door. The look of surprise (“wow! I think I just banged my nose!”), then frustration (“why won’t this stupid door open?”), then disbelief (“wha??? they’re CLOSED?”), then disappointment (“sniffle – no cheese for me”) is just too much. We are super-excited about the new schedule, so make sure to visit us on Mondays starting next week.
Also in the hours department, both locations now open at 10am and close at 10pm. Make sure to check out our detailed hours online and remember: more hours = more cheese = happy bellies.
I’ve never really been an “OMG” person, but suffice it to say that it is every restauranteur’s dream to be featured in Food & Wine Magazine. And this month, that honor is ours! Cheesetique’s original and classic Mac ‘n Cheesetique was selected as one of the best mac ‘n cheeses in the entire country! Thank you so much, Food & Wine folks. You really made our Christmas!
Check out the details here.
So, here’s my theory. Santa is kind of a vindictive guy. If you’re naughty, not only will he withhold gifts, but he will even go out of his way to leave a piece of coal in your stocking. Coal is heavy and carrying a load of it on a sleigh is no small thing. You have to be really irked to roll this way. You’re not just ignoring people’s requests – you’re actually leaving a mean little reminder of the fact that they failed at basic niceness.
This holiday season, I have a great – dare I say revolutionary - idea for Santa. Instead of leaving coal, leave a big hunk of stinky cheese. Here are just five of the reasons:
- You think coal is punishment? Imagine waking to find a warm, gooey wad of super-stinky cheese jammed at the bottom of your stocking.
- Stinky cheese will stick with you. You dig your hand down, looking for chocolate, but NO! Instead, you are marked for the rest of the day by the tell-tale funk of naughtiness. And I challenge you to wash it off – not happening! It’s like the Scarlet Letter and Macbeth all rolled into one. Out, damned stink!
- Stinky cheese is less wasteful. Honestly, what are all the naughty kids going to do with their hunks of coal? Nothing! If you leave them stinky cheese instead, there’s at least a chance one of their grandparents will say, “Hey – no need to waste that cheese. Just get me a cracker.”
- Stinky cheese is more humane. Let’s not forget about the extra work for the elves (hopefully just the naughty ones), who are probably forced to mine all that coal while being prodded with candy canes. It’s a sad thing.
- Stinky cheese is flexible. Someone was just a little naughty? Leave them a wedge of Reblochon. Medium-naughty? Limburger. Super-naughty? Stinking Bishop all the way.
Santa, I like you. You’ve always been good to me (I particularly remember the year you brought an Easy-Bake Oven and a set of walkie-talkies). Plus, I get you. You’re not a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy. You reward the good and wreak havoc on the bad. But trust me when I say there is WAY more reeky havoc at your fingertips. Just give me a call and I’ll hook you up. I’ll also mention it to our Elf on the Shelf just in case.
Merry Christmas to all you hard-core Santas out there! And we’ll have your stinky cheese waiting!
And might I just say… WOWZAS! For example, two of the wines have won multiple Tre Bicchieri awards (it’s like the ultimate Italian Wine award). Want a sneak peak of the featured wines? Read on… (and then register before it sells out)
Mazzolino Brut Sparkling (100% Chardonnay)
Sulin Chardonnay (uniquely aged in Acacia wood)
Volpe Pasini Sauvignoin Blanc (multiple Tre-Bicchieri winner – like the Italian Wine Olympics)
Dal Maso Cabernet “Montebelvedere” (1st place Cabernet-classified growing area in Italy)
Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico (first winery to use Cabernet in Chianti)
Poppiano Syrah (one of the first to grow Syrah in Tuscany)
Mazzolino Noir (multiple Tre-Bicchieri winner)
Di Lenardo “Just Me” Merlot (a truly unique Amarone-style Merlot)
It’s not too late to register for this special class. And remember – we offer amazing discounts on all of the wines the evening of the event. It’s a great opporunity to stock up of some of Italy’s finest for the holidays!