By Mike Rakes
One of my favorite sporting events of the year is the NCAA Men’s Division I College Basketball Tournament, more commonly know as March Madness. It is a single elimination tournament that pits the top 64 teams against each other. In my (unfortunately somewhat distant) college years, we would have marathon watch parties that involved copious amounts of beer, nachos, cheese whiz, pizza and subs. As we age (just like fine wine) our tastes change, and now during the tournament I’m usually interested in lower quantities of food and beer, but higher quality. Enter Philia.
One of my favorite things about Philia is that it can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the type of event you’re having. Nowadays when I entertain more casually for things like sporting events, we’re typically drinking local craft beer, and eating artisan breads, crackers, high quality meats and cheeses. In the spirit of March Madness, I’m going to offer my tips for hosting a casual event that is a bit more dressed down, but not lacking in flavor.
I always like to start with my favorite Philia flavor (Habanero) and grab some simple veggies that are good for dipping. For me that means carrots, celery, broccoli and sugar snap peas. In addition to veggies, I always like to have both bread and cracker options. I suggest either Triscuits, Wheat Thins or a baguette from your local grocer. Both crackers have great texture, and have flavor plain varieties that allow Philia to shine. In the case of a baguette, they typically are baked fresh daily, and have a nice crusty exterior with a soft interior. Lastly, I like to pair these with some type of cured meat and hard cheese. My favorite types of cured meats include summer sausage, prosciutto, pepperoni and hard salami. For a hard cheese I recommend a simple white cheddar – but any kind will do.
Once you’ve purchased all of these items, the set up is as simple as it gets. Throw it on a tray, and put out on your coffee table for everyone to enjoy. There is nothing better at an event like this, than a cracker that is loaded with some Philia spread, a piece of cheddar, and a folded up slice of salami. Pair that combination with just about any local craft beer, and you will have a room full of satisfied friends.
That's all for now. Until next time...
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