Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Birthday Fondue: A Delicious Tradition October 27, 2012

Filed under: Food,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 4:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

For the 5th year in a row, we hosted a fondue party to celebrate my birthday.  Basically, we buy the cheese and the chocolate, and a few bottles of wine, and some bread and fruit to start us off, and then ask that our friends bring along something to dip in the cheese or chocolate fondue.  This year, my boyfriend included an awesome flow chart to help our guests figure out what to bring:

Fondue Flow Chart

I love hosting this party every year.  It’s fun to celebrate with friends and have different sets of friends meet each other!  And they’ve said how much they look forward to this every year 🙂  Plus I much prefer this to the birthday dinners out, where you invite a bunch of friends to a restaurant and at the end of the night there’s that awkward moment where everyone offers to pay for the birthday girl/boy.  Instead, friends come to my place, bring something way cheaper than a fancy meal at a restaurant, and get to chat and eat and have fun!

I prefer hosting this than any other potluck party.  Plenty of options, and as long as you know it tastes good in chocolate or cheese, you’re in the clear!

Suggestions for cheese fondue: bread, veggies, pretzels, crackers.

Suggestions for chocolate fondue: fruit, pretzels (again!), marshmallows, cookies.

Plus, if you think about it, it’s a pretty frugal party.  No one has to spend much money, and everyone gets plenty to eat!

We pick up cheese (and some wine) at Trader Joe’s.  We have a go-to recipe we use for the cheese fondue, though once we lucked out at Trader Joe’s because they had a pre-made fondue mix (all the ingredients in the linked recipe already added) and it was actually cheaper!  And just as delicious!

And chocolate fondue is pretty simple, too.  Chocolate chips, some heavy whipping cream, and then a splash of a flavorful liqueur (amaretto/almond, cherry, etc.) or extract.  Mmmmm.

And we’ve had the same electric fondue pot like this one for years.  It’s served us well for quite a few fondue parties.

So, have I convinced you that fondue parties are a frugal, delicious way to celebrate anything?  Do you host fondue parties?  Does it make you feel like you’re living in the 70s?  Are you jealous of the deliciousness?  Should I put you on the invite list for next year?  What are your favorite foods to dip in chocolate or cheese?

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Chocolate Bar Buffet June 7, 2008

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE chocolate. And even if you don’t know me, now you know!

Last Saturday, I went to a chocolate buffet.

Yes, you read correctly. It was a buffet of chocolate. For a while now a few friends kept mentioning it and wondering aloud how I’ve never been there when I’m such a chocolate fan. So they invited me and my boyfriend out to the chocolate bar.   If you’re in Boston, you should definitely go.  It’s at the Langham Hotel in Boston.

Let me tell you…it was AMAZING! They had many different pastries, cookies, mousses, truffles, petite fours. They made chocolate crepes for you (en flambe, if you please!) with fresh fruit and other fillings. They made cold-stone style ice cream with your favorite fillings. There was a huge chocolate fountain for dipping, with strawberries, pineapple pieces, pretzels, marshmallows, and cake pieces nearby to dip. They were making cotton candy, freshly baked chocolate cookies, chocolate bread pudding. There were sampler “shots” (small glasses filled with dessert). The S’mores sampler included graham cracker crumbs, chocolate mousse, and marshmallow topping. They had dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate.  They had three different chocolate “soups” available; the soups were really just thick hot chocolates.  I was about to go for the dark chocolate soup (I love dark chocolate!) when I saw “Wicked Chocolate Soup”.  I knew I had to get that.  It was so good!  If you’d like, click here for a pdf of their menu.

I highly recommend you go.  It’s a bit pricey, at $35 per person for adults, but it’s something you should definitely try, even once.  Yes, it’s a bit overwhelming.  Yes, you’re probably going to end up stuffing yourself silly.  But it’s fun for a special occasion.  In fact, there was a bridal shower going on there that day…what an AWESOME idea!

 

Valentine’s Dinner in Harvard Square February 24, 2008

So, as to avoid the Valentine’s Day rush on the 14th, my boyfriend and I went on the 13th (aren’t we sneaky!) For dinner, we went to Grendel’s Den. It’s a small, slightly crowded restaurant with a good variety of foods. We got the Cheese Fondue for Two, which is usually $25. However, we got the meal for half price, since they have a deal that if you buy drinks over $3, your meal is half off. I think we might have spent a little bit more than we had if we hadn’t ordered drinks…but at least we got drinks! I ordered a peach Lambic beer from Lindemans that was served with a matching glass. Lambic is pretty darn tasty. I love peach flavors, and really, this beer doesn’t really taste like beer at all!

We then wandered over to Finale, a dessert place I’ve mentioned before. We shared a fabulous Valentine’s Day special, and two different hot chocolates (one regular, one hazelnut).

It was a pretty great night!

 

A Matter of Taste: An evening of Fine Wine and Fine Art December 18, 2007

A while back (I forgot to post this!), I went to a wine tasting event at The Danforth Museum of Art. The weird part is that I don’t really like wine. It was really a bit of peer pressure. Well, one of our friends works there, and she told us all we should come (and that if enough of us went, we could get a discount!) I originally wasn’t going to go because it was going to be pricey ($45 with the group discount), and I wasn’t really interested in paying to eat just the wine accompaniments. I think it helped that my friends mentioned that there was going to be dessert from Finale Desserts!

So, we all got dressed up and headed to the museum for A Matter of Taste: An evening of Fine Wine and Fine Art.

The food was all very tasty, with a Mediterranean collection of food, a Greek collection food, and some fantastic cheeses. I tried different wines in the different rooms. My favorite room, of course, was the dessert room! They did a wine and dessert pairing: Quady Essensia, California with White Chocolate Mousse, Starbord Port “Batch 88” with Milk Chocolate Mousse, and 2003 Schmitt Söhne Beerenauslese with Coconut Cream Tartlet. They also had Toad Hollow Risque sparkling wine(love the top on it!) and Quady Elysium to try.

I thought all the dessert wines they offered were really tasty, and I was impressed at the pairings they made. The only wine I found outside of the dessert room that was as sweet as the dessert wines was in the International Room: Banfi Vigne Regali Rosa Sparkling Red. I’m sorry to admit that I still haven’t quite acquired the taste for wine, so I was drawn to all the sweet wines. I don’t mind other, not so sweet wines, but I’m still working on finding non-dessert wines that I’d be willing to have more than a few sips of.

Anyway, I figure, if anyone out there is looking for a few sweet dessert wines, they can at least start here and try them. I would have no idea how to figure out what to buy. So maybe it was a good idea to go to the wine tasting, after all!

Oh, and the art?  Very neat!  Some stuff is moved in and out, some is more permanent.  One temporary exhibition was Andrew StevovichSolitary Demons.  I liked how there was an array of different levels of work, that is, there was a pencil sketch, then a more detailed illustration, and then a final work.  One of the paintings on display was Subway Station.    I also really liked Pearce’s A Village Funeral in Brittany, 1891I also really liked Rani Matar‘s collection, in particular, Barbie Girl (found in the Aftermath of War collection).