A Summer Cheese Tray

DaVinci Wine Storytellers Experience

A Summer Cheese Tray

Al Fresco dining on a summers eve; sun kissed breezes dancing gracefully through the tree tops.

Bringing with them the fragrant scent of  herbs and warmed pine.

This is the moment I’ve waited for all year.

Time slows and with it comes a sense of languish.  Justifying the inability to pull myself out of a cozy deck chair and prepare the evening meal.

Tonight, it’s simple.  It’s indulgent and it feels just a little naughty.

A lovely granite tray, reminding me of the dear friend who gave it to me, filled with local artisan cheeses, aged parma harm, fresh chevre lightly bathed in homemade fig preserves and topped off with a bottle (or two) of DaVinci Italian Chianti.

DaVinci Chianti

DaVinci Chianti


A little excitement has come my way.  Well, a lot of excitement actually.

I’ve been selected 1 of 12 Finalists in the DaVinci Wine Storytellers Experience, and 1 of 3 Culinary Finalists.  I am deeply honored to be a finalist and feel humbled to be in such lovely company.

There are 4 categories being judged.  Culinary Arts, Photography, Language Arts and Fine Arts.  1 from each category (4 total) will win a trip to Vinci, Tuscany to visit the birth place of DaVinci Wine.  An extraordinary opportunity.

I’d love to win.  I’d love to visit Tuscany and share with you my DaVinci Storytellers Experience via blog posts, Facebook updates, Pinterest pics, Tweets and Instagrams.   And if I could pack you all in my suitcase, I would!

If you could take a moment of your time to click on the link below, I’d love your vote.  You can vote once per day until July 31st (unfortunately the link does not work on mobile devices).

My deepest Thanks!


Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Setting a Summer Cheese Tray

Determine the number of people you will be serving and allow 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per person.  Although 1-2 ounces is a good rule of thumb, I always end up with 3-4 ounces per person.  But I’m a cheese nut.

Include a few other nibbles such as parma ham, aged prosciutto, assorted artisan salumi, Castelvetrano olives (I could eat buckets of these but beware of the seeds!) and fresh fruit.  During the summer I love our Washington cherries served with my cheese tray.

Arrange the cheese according to the type of milk used.  Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goats milk. If using a creamy cheese, serve it separately and try pairing it with homemade preserves or red pepper jelly.  My new fave is creamy goats cheese topped with red pepper jelly.

Keep the bleu’s together and try an assortment.  Rogue Creamery has a lovely smokey bleu which pairs well on a cheese tray with an English or locally produced stilton.  Pecorino Romano, Parrano, aged Parmesan, and other hard cheeses are best paired together.  An excellent local cheese that I paired with a Balsamic Vinegar washed Pecorino Romano is Cascadia Creamery’s Sleeping Beauty.

A few local Washington cheese favorites: Willapa Hills Orange Blossom Yoghurt Cheese, Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Trufflestack and of course no cheese tray is ever complete without Beecher’s Cheese.  They’re all delicious but my fave is “No Woman”.  I know, funny name – excellent cheese.

Whatever you decide, don’t stress over your cheese tray.  Choose cheese that you love, cheese that pairs well with the wine your serving and be sure to leave plenty of room between each cheese so they’re easy to slice or spoon.  Add the fruit and salumi and a beautiful summer evening begins.



  1. I just love cheese on EVERYTHING!

  2. A lovely way to enjoy a summer afternoon. I hope you get to go to Tuscany, Karista! Fingers crossed for you.

    • It really is Betsy. I’m knee deep in paint and drywall at the moment so I’m looking forward to a few more of those afternoons. Thanks for the crossed fingers. I think I’ll need it! 🙂

  3. Good luck with the competition. A trip to Tuscany is a dream come true. A picnic is just the thing we did last time we were in Tuscany after a visit to the wet markets and a little wine and some great Tuscan bread.

    • Thanks Bam! I’ve never been! Sounds as if you’ve enjoyed the beauty and food of Tuscany a time or two. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend.

  4. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Kim Lester says:

    I just found out about this contest yesterday and so of course I voted for you! This morning, 8:30 AM, I tried voting again but a message that I had already voted appeared. I guess I have to wait a 24 hour cycle to vote. 🙂 I’ll try again later around 5:00. Good luck!

  6. Just voted – good luck!

  7. Best cheese tray advice ever – don’t stress about it, just pick what you like 🙂
    I’m not on FB, so I can’t vote – but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  8. I love a good cheese platter; It absolutely works for a summer dinner; so indulgent.
    You definitely have my vote. Good luck!

  9. My fingers are crossed for you, Karista! I would love to experience Italy through your eyes and words – you’d be a fantastic storyteller. See you tonight!

  10. Fingers crossed for you Karista! I’ve voted and will vote again! Such beautiful photos too. No Woman has to be one of my faves too.

  11. What an opportunity. Did you post the story. I’m so out of the loop these days but doing a little visiting now:) Love the cheese dinner.

    • I haven’t posted it Wendy. I should have! Great idea. I am truly walking around without a brain these days. LOL! Busy summer with the move and blog re-design. Hope Chez Chloe is booming with business! Can’t wait to get back out to Orcas. Hopefully soon before summer ends. Hugs!!

  12. Voted!! Oh, I so hope you win. You would be absolutely amazing at this!!

    • Thank you Erina!! I’d love to win too! I’ve never been to Italy and I’ve always wanted to travel there. Major food and wine love! See you tomorrow night!!!

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