Last week I threw a cheese party.
As a BzzAgent, I received a coupon for President Cheese (and a few more coupons for my friends, yay!) and since my girl friends and I were planning another Girls’ Night, I decided to host a little cheese party at my humble apartment. The cheese platter consisted of blue, goat, brie (all President brand), plus a smoked cheddar cheese (Applewood brand). I served it with pecans, dried fruit (prunes and cranberries), plus rosemary crostini and a nice crusty French baguette. We had several bottles of wine (heehee) – both red and white, plus a simple dinner (we couldn’t survive the whole night with just cheese anyway) of caesar salad and pasta, and of course we had dessert: chocolate fudge cake and orange-chocolate brownies. We were supposed to round up our cheese party with some cheesey chick flicks but we ended up just bonding and chatting until the wee hours of the morning. It was the perfect evening! Cheese + wine + chocolate = always a fabulous combo for Girls’ Night!
Now, everyone knows about my love for all things chocolate, but my other (food) love is really CHEESE. And my deep appreciation for both chocolate and cheese can be traced back to more than 20 years ago, back in the Philippines, which is where my story began…
Some of my favorite childhood memories include late night snacking with my mom. When I was a kid, I would go to my parents’ bedroom late at night, to hang out in the cool air-conditioned room, watch some TV, and always, to share a late night snack with my mom. Sometimes, it was fresh chilled fruit; sometimes, it was a small piece of cake or pastry (borracho or rum cake from Dulcinea – yum); other times, it was cheese and crackers; but my favorite snack was always rich, decadent chocolates – none of those supermarket Hershey’s kisses, it was always good quality chocolate, imported Belgian or Swiss ones (Guylian, Godiva, sometimes Cadbury). I love the silky texture, the lingering sweet taste in my mouth, the luxurious flavors. I even love how they look, so perfect and smooth. And just like that, my love affair with chocolate started.
But my love affair with cheese? That started in birth, also thanks to my mom. Let me share a little excerpt from an article I wrote:
One of my favorite foods in the world is kesong puti – a local white cheese in the Philippines made from pure carabao’s milk from the native water buffalo. It is essentially fresh buffalo mozzarella, but tarter and softer, with a mildly pungent smell and a creamy aftertaste. It is usually sold in six-inch logs, pre-cut into little cheese disks that are about half-inch thick, wrapped in banana leaves. It is best purchased fresh from local wet markets, with the milk still dripping from the spaces between the woven banana leaves around it. I love kesong puti with warm bread and butter, or melted over white rice. I love it in pasta sauces, and on top of pizza. I love it in sandwiches, with sausages, or pork adobo. I love it plain. My love of kesong puti, according to Philippine superstition, can be traced back to my mother, who had a daily obsession with kesong puti the whole time she was pregnant with me.
My name is Bianca, which is the Italian word for white or pure. My mother told me that in the entire duration of her pregnancy with me, she had such manic craving for kesong puti that she would fly into rage if she did not find it on the breakfast table. When I was born, she said I looked so fair and radiant, with complexion “white as milk”. This could very well be an exaggeration of motherly pride but according to Philippine superstition, this was because white is a characteristic of the food that my mother was hankering for – and eating – while she carried me in her womb.
It is common knowledge that pregnant women often have food cravings, but according to Filipino folklore, my mother was experiencing lihi, a condition in which a pregnant woman strongly craves certain food – weird or not. Lihi leads to the child having physical attributes – skin color, hair texture, face shape, even birth marks – which mimic the visual characteristics of that food. This also leads to a supposedly life-long fondness – an eternal craving – for that food that was fed to the baby in utero.
Having that cheese party last week reminded me of how much I love cheese, and how lucky I am to have loved ones to enjoy delicious meals with! ♥
my mom and me at DB Bistro in NY last year
This a thank you to my mom, who introduced me to the wonderful world of cheese – and chocolate, sausages, sangria, shopping, jewelry, leather bags, Italian designers, and all things fabulous in this world. Everyday she teaches me the true meaning of style, but more than that, she shows me the true meaning of love, sacrifice, hard work, happiness, and passion. Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy! I love you.