Central Market

Spring is here and there is no better way to celebrate than with fresh veggies, flowers, and of course cheese boards on the patio. This week we are taking you to another one of our favorite stores, Central Market, to shop for the perfect cheese board to have your friends over for some weekend patio sitting. There is only one Central Market in Houston but the location is great for all neighborhoods and close to some of our favorite shops – so double the fun when we venture to this store.

Before we get into the details of the cheese board, we want to tell you some of our favorite things about Central Market in general. First, this store is one of those grocery stores that is more than just a grocery store, it is somewhere you go for the experience of walking through their well defined maze and seeing what yummy surprises end up in your basket. We love stocking up on fruits and veggies because they always look so beautiful and so fresh! This time we were on a mission, so we only grabbed some strawberries for the cheese board. More than the produce department, all of the departments at Central Market are filled with all kinds of delicious goodies. The pre-made meals are perfect for those grab and go nights. But our favorite part of the Houston Central Market is the “California Connection” sandwich. It is truly the best sandwich we have ever eaten. If you haven’t tried this sandwich, you must go order it. Our favorite lunch consists of turkey, cheese, pesto, caramelized onions, and avocado – sooo good! Another great thing about Central Market is their cooking classes. We went on a double date with some friends to one of the classes and had the best time. We were able to make foods that we weren’t totally comfortable with making on our own, like mussels – who makes that on the reg?! Not us! Grab some friends and take one of their classes – such a fun night and even better because you get to make AMAZING food and eat it that night!

The cheese department is UNBELIEVABLE. We love cheese a whole lot, but we definitely aren’t experts. What we are for sure of is that you can find any cheese you want here. To help us in our shopping, we consulted our friends at “That Cheese Plate” to give us a list of the specific cheese to look for to make the perfect board. On our list was Brie, Mahon (a new one for us to try), Pecorino and Boursin. We were so excited to pair some of our favorite staples with new cheeses. We love trying new things because you never know what you will stumble upon.

After the cheese, we of course needed the other goodies for the board. We got some Prosciutto, Peach jam, crackers, dried apricots and mixed nuts. Another bonus about Central Market is the bulk section. They have just about every combination of snack mix or nuts you could imagine. Right now they also have sooo much Easter themed candy! It took everything in us to resist the candy. The last thing to finish of our trip was a stroll through the wine department. They have so many wines at all different price points, so it is really great for any budget. We picked a new Malbec that was so delicious! There were so many options that it was kind of overwhelming, but we found that if we go with our normal budget and a grape we know we like, we aren’t usually disappointed.

So now for the fun part, putting the board together. If you don’t follow “That Cheese Plate” or “Cheese By Numbers” on Instagram, they are a must follow. They help you create the most beautiful boards by giving you all the ingredients you need and then showing step by step pictures of the board as you build it. We took our inspiration for the board this week from them, and then made a few tweaks to include our favorite things. We will definitely be using this account for more inspiration in the future because this one turned out AMAZING!

Let us know what your favorite things are about Central Market or what other stores we should try!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Not Just Another Trip to the Store

Location: Whole FoodsIMG-0189

Recommended Meal: Hosting with Friends

Perfect Pair: Seaside English Cheddar and Malbec

There is finally a light at the end of this long hot summer and the best season is upon us…FALL! The pumpkins are out, the weather is cooling down, and fall clothes are hitting all the stores. Whether it is for a football watch party, the Grey’s Anatomy or This Is Us premiere, or just a Saturday night, fall is the perfect time of year for hosting. We love spending nights at home with friends gathered around the table. There is just something so comfortable about being at home on the couch without the chaos of a crowded restaurant. This week we are taking you on a trip to another grocery store: Whole Foods. Some of you may be thinking… Don’t you mean whole paycheck? While we have heard that before, the purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon has made a huge difference in their prices and their deals!

IMG-0194This week our shopping list included: crackers, cheese, meats, fruit, nuts, and of course, wine! First stop: The Cracker Aisle. Wow they had a lot to choose from, but we chose a classic Garlic Water Cracker and a new staple, Tuscan Peasant Crackers. To be honest we didn’t really know what we were getting into, but let the labels do the talking. We had just finished dreaming about our next adventure abroad to Tuscany, so we were drawn towards any mention of Italy. We were definitely satisfied with our choices and would highly recommend them both.

 

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Next Up: The Cheese Department. Whole Foods has a huge selection of cheeses from all over. You may think it is overwhelming with all the options and unfamiliar names, but we find it helpful to stick with cheeses that sound like something you’ve had before. We know that we like cheddar, goat, gouda, manchego, and gruyere, so while we may try new things we know a variation of those are safe bets. This time we picked Seaside English Cheddar, Drunken Goat, Spring Fever Gouda, and a Mimolette Isigny. The last one was for sure venturing into new territory but it did not disappoint. A great thing about Whole Foods is they have a bin in the cheese section that is smaller portions of cheese all for under $5. This is great for trying new things and not breaking the bank for the off chance you don’t enjoy it. We had a blast going through this bucket and picking out new things with no clue what we were getting into.

 

IMG-0184Last Stop: The Wine Section. We could spend hours wandering through wine aisles looking at all the different labels and wines from around the world. That’s the cool thing about wine…it comes from all kinds of different places and ends up in your neighborhood grocery store. It’s like you get to experience a piece of the world from your own living room. We are certainly not experts or sommeliers, but we are starting to recognize parts of the world that do our favorite wines well. This is making our dream travel list quite long. To pair with our cheeses, we picked a Malbec and a Cab. You can’t typically go wrong with either of these and they are easy to find in all price ranges. We picked the Crios Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina and really enjoyed it! The Cab was Chasing Lions and was equally as tasty. Wine shopping can be overwhelming, but at Whole Foods they have members of their staff pick their favorites and those are labeled which makes the decisions a little easier. We were able to stay under $15 for both bottles of wine which is typically our rule of thumb when hosting friends, but if you’re looking to splurge there are lots of good options to meet every budget!

 

Our cheese board was complete with mixed berries and some marcona almonds, the perfect supplements to cheese and crackers! Marcona almonds are pretty costly, but the perfect accompaniment and you really don’t need that many on your board. All of our recommendations (including the 2 bottles of wine) came in at $73 which is a little on the pricier side for us, but we had 5 people enjoying the goodies and there was enough leftover to make another complete board.

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We hope you enjoyed this grocery store trip and it makes your next shopping outing a little easier! Have some friends over this weekend and give your own pairs a shot, who knows you may find a new favorite!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

HEB Selections

Location: Home Sweet Home

The Perfect Pair: Rosemary Crackers with Gruyere and Prosciutto

From: HEB

 
f45a5ccc-e333-4ba3-bc47-04a540a0fe8b.jpgWhat kind of grocery shopper are you?

Do you go in with a list outlining exactly what you need or do you keep an open mind while you shop? Do you try to get in and out as quickly as possible or do you like to wander and feel inspired? No matter what kind of shopper you are, the pals can relate! We’ve felt all of those feelings, but one thing is for sure: shopping for wine and cheese never gets old! While we find spending a ton of time in the cheese section at the store SUPER exciting, some people may find this overwhelming and not even know where to start. We totally understand, which is why we’re here today to help a sista (or brotha) out! We’ve already covered grocery shopping for wine and cheese at Trader Joe’s, but now here we are to cover a native Texas favorite – HEB. Here we go!

 
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To the right, we have: Gruyere, Creamy Cheddar with a Nut Coating, a Spicy Buffalo Cheddar Wedge, Brie with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, and Goat Cheese soaked in Red Wine. YUM!

Do you have a hard time knowing what cheese to buy? We’re not cheesemongers, but we do LOVE cheese. Some cheeses have holes and other cheeses are blue. Some cheeses are creamy and other cheeses are hard. There’s medium and sharp and spicy and ahh! So many options, so where do you start? You have to start with the basics: speak the cheese language. Swiss, Cheddar, Gruyere, Brie, Goat Cheese. You can never go wrong with these everyday favorites. Those cheeses cover all the bases: white, orange, holey, creamy, rich. You name it! Your cheese board will look pretty, and more importantly- taste yummy with these classics.

 

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Pick your Pairings

To pair charcuterie, we included Prosciutto and Salami as the Perfect Pair. Picking out your meats in HEB is less overwhelming than cheese, but it can still be difficult to know what cheese goes with which charcuterie. We always just pick our favorites, and everything seems to blend together nicely! Prosciutto is very salty, so it’s a nice balance with wine and cheese. It’s always one of the first things to go on our cheese board!

A very important detail when it comes to pairing is the crackers! The cracker is a staple item when building your cheese board. It is literally what you put your cheese on, dip in your cheese, or munch on just to wash everything down! To the left, we have: Water Crackers, Rosemary Crackers, and Jalepeno Mini Bruschetta Bites. The clear favorite: Rosemary Crackers! They pair well with every cheese. You certainly cannot go wrong with these. The Jalepeno Bites add a nice crunch and spice as well. These three crackers were the perfect dynamic to the board that paired with it!

 

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Wash It All Down!

You don’t want to forget the perfect drink to wash down your yummy cheese and charcuterie board. This is also another area to be creative and specifically pair your drink with the cheese you buy at the store! Instead of just drinking wine, we decided to make a Summer Rosé Peach Sangria with fresh fruit. It was chilled and paired very nicely with our selection. And we love a beautiful drink!

Grocery store hauls are some of our favorite blogs to write because you get to pick out exactly what you want to make that picture perfect cheese board at home. It’s all personalized and customized just to your liking. How fun is that! This may be surprising, but HEB has a great selection of imported and unique cheeses. They are fairly priced, as everything is at HEB, and you will not be disappointed by what they have to offer. We encourage you to go and let your tummy be creative! Be sure to share with us the board you create… We may just have to come over and try some!

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

5 steps to make your summer recipes beat this Texas heat!

Location: Your home!

When: Anytime you need to escape this Houston heat! A.K.A literally whenever you want this summer.

The Perfect Pair: Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad and Miraval Rosé

 

Summer in Texas means hot, hot, hot! Especially in Houston, you have to be able to handle this crazy summertime heat and humidity. Some love it, some hate it, but us pals know the perfect trick to make the outdoors much more bearable and enjoyable, no matter who you are or what the temp is! Whether you’re grilling on the patio or sitting by the pool, we have the perfect seasonal pair just for you. It’s quick and easy, and we can tell you in just 5 steps how to perfect your summer pair to help you fight these triple digit temps!

 

  1. Take a trip to your local grocery store!

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HEB is my favorite place to go for wine. They have an amazing selection of every kind of wine you can think of, divided by type of wine or country of origin! The best part about HEB is the discount you get after buying 6 wines. If you buy 6, you are eligible for 10% off your wine purchase! I always say, “Never buy 1 bottle from HEB without buying all 6!” The discount is totally worth it, and you always have a bottle on hand at home for any event, while saving money in the long run. I’m sure we will finish any bottle long before having to worry if its gone bad. Here at PPP, we’re all about the best deal!

 

 

  1. Head to the Rosé section and pick out your favorite bottle!

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Without a doubt, the Perfectly Paired summer wine pick is a Rosé. It is a classic, chilled wine that is incredibly refreshing on a hot day. Depending on your preference, there are both dry and sweet wines. The Miraval Cotes de Provence is a wonderful dry rose. For only $18 at HEB, it is a killer deal for seriously some of the best rosé I’ve ever had! I like to stick between the $10 – $20 range for everyday wines, so this fits right into the budget. Everywhere else I’ve looked for this wine, it has been over $25… so make sure you go to HEB first! The best part about this wine is the bottle itself – check out how cute it is!

 

 

  1. Invest in your wine glasses!

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You’ve just gone to the store and spent a ton of money on wine, but you don’t have the right glass to compliment your new drink. It’s nearly impossible to put chilled wine in a glass and expect it to stay cold outside. And the glass sweating drives me crazy! My all time favorite outdoor wine glass is the Corkcicle wine tumbler. It is stemless, triple insulated, and keeps your wine cold for over 9 hours! It is amazing. It is perfect for sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine on the patio. If you live in a warm climate, invest in one of these amazing cups! You won’t regret it. Also check out that Perfectly Paired pink!

 

 

  1. Make yourself a light and colorful Summer salad!

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This is a quick and easy salad that is just as light and refreshing as the Rosé you are drinking to pair with it! It consists of cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, corn, avocado, onion, lettuce, and cilantro, lime shrimp from the grill. Talk about YUM. All of these ingredients came from HEB as well, so you can get everything in one stop! Whether you’re at home by yourself or hosting a summer soiree with friends, this meal is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Feel free to use it as just the appetizer, but it is definitely a meal just in itself!

 

 

 

  1. Create the Perfect Pair!

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With dinner ready, it’s always nice to pour yourself a new glass of Rosé in a regular wine glass. It makes us feel more sophisticated, right? With the shrimp only marinating in olive oil, cilantro, and lime juice, the Rosé is the perfect compliment to enable that light and refreshing taste that is not too overpowering to the meal. Summer is all about light, refreshing, and simple, and we think these two capture that feeling so well! So get yourself to the store, create the perfect pair, and enjoy a sweet Texas Summer night!

 

 

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

“Your Neighborhood Grocery Store”

Grocery store: Trader Joe’s

Recommended Meal of Choice: Apps and Snacks

The Perfect Pair: Trader Joe’s Cheddar Gruyere Cheese and a Malbec

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It is so exciting to roam around Houston looking for the best happy hours full of cheese and charcuterie boards, craft cocktails, appetizers, and bottles of wine to share amongst friends. Boy oh boy, how can you not love that!? Taking in the atmosphere of a new location or even something more familiar can be a sweet escape from the workplace. However, nothing beats hosting some pals (or just yourself) in your cozy home with a carefully curated (by you) drink menu and spread of yummies. Nothing beats this quality time where everything is focused on deepening friendships and there are few distractions other than refilling the crackers. This is why we’ve chosen to include some grocery store trips and tips for y’all here on Perfectly Paired.

 

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Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions

If I’m in need of a one-stop shop before having friends over, I always run straight to Trader Joe’s. The quality is impeccable and the price on their cured meats, cheeses, and wines is surprising to me every time. Their freezer appetizer section is top notch and has my guests and I throwing elbows to get every last bite. No joke! Okay a stretch, but no one ever leaves the last Pastry Bite with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions uneaten for long. Trader Joe’s even has amazing prices on flowers. It’s like the whole store is screaming for you to have people over.

 

I’ve already mentioned the spectacular morsels that are the Pastry Bites, but let me walk through our go to basket of goodies for an oh so perfect happy hour at home.

 

One day when I was watching “The Kitchen” on Food Network, one of the hosts said when making a charcuterie board that, “Things pair well together that dwell together.”  So when making a board, you’ll usually have good luck on meats and cheeses going well together if they’re from the same country or region. This rings true and is such a good tip when you’re not sure what you want or if you just want to narrow down the selection. On the other hand, if I’m buying and doing all the choosing for a crowd, then I want all my favorites no matter what region they are from! Nothing makes me happier than guests raving about the mix and playing with all the possible combinations.

 

TJcheeseA must have is the Cheddar Gruyere cheese. Of all the different kinds of cheeses I’ve put out, this is the one that always has people raving. It is the ultimate crowd-pleaser cheese and it is so easy to pair with any accompaniment. It tastes like a mild but aged Cheddar overall but still has enough Gruyere taste in it that I don’t mind putting it on my French Onion soup. As a sucker for Manchego, the Spanish Tapas cheese trio is a good addition to the board. It comes with three Spanish cheeses- Manchego, Cabra al Vino, and Iberico. They are pre-sliced and delicious. A perfect match for the Spanish Charcuterie mix of three that Trader Joe’s also offers. Although Trader Joe’s has a ton of wonderful cheeses you HAVE to try, I will recommend just one more. The Chevre Goat Cheese log. They have a herbed Goat Cheese and a cranberry one around the holidays and I love those both. However, when putting it on a board with this large of a variety, I suggest to just get the plain.

 

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Things I usually also grab are dark chocolate peanut butter cups (put them in the fridge or freezer and it’ll change your life) and flowers. *Peonies only available when in season

Fun combinations are made of more than just meat and cheese! You need other little bits for your guests to nibble on. Some things I recommend adding to the plate are candied pecans, sliced fruit, maybe some roasted veggies, and some sort of spread or dip. Trader Joe’s has the most wonderful candied pecans. They don’t have too much sugar on them, but they’re still sweet and crunchy! I add them to my charcuterie boards all the time as well as add them to salads and snacks. A spread I love is the Pepper Jelly. A little sweet and spicy, just put a spoon in the jar and put it on your board! Yum! You could also do the same for any other type of dip or mustard. You can’t forget the bread or crackers. The pita bite crackers are my go to (also good with hummus and just to snack on!). I love slicing up a baguette as well and sometimes bake it a bit with a drizzle of olive oil for color and crunch.

 

A bottle of wine (or two) is next on the list. Depending on how many people are coming you might need a couple of bottles. There is no need, I repeat- no need, to spend over $15 on a bottle when you’re hosting like this. When you’re hosting and a yo-pro, no one expects you to spend a fortune, and you don’t need to. I actually prefer to stay under $10 and you can always find tasty wines at Trader Joe’s in this price range. With all the things we’ve added to our board, I think a medium bodied Malbec, like the one in the picture,  would be a great pair! Trader Joe’s wine selection is nice too because they describe all the wines right underneath the prices so you know exactly what you’re getting.

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The Final Product! 

For all of the things that we have recommended, it will cost you about $41 and that includes a bottle of wine! This might seem like a lot, but we had this exact board with 4 friends over a game night and it was perfect. We even had leftovers of everything but the goat cheese and some of the meat! Another complete board could most definitely be made. We hope this guide to one of our favorite stores was helpful! We can’t wait to hear about all the perfectly paired boards that you make!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals