For a couple of years after I turned 18, my best friend Brigitte would turn up at my doorstep every Friday for dinner. Her hair would still be damp from her shower, she would still be in pyjamas but with a full face of makeup on, lugging a giant duffle bag of party outfits in one hand and a bottle of champagne or some cocktail mixer in the other. No wine. We’d prepare a bowl of fruits, drown it in alcohol and call it a meal whilst we sat around getting ready and waiting for friends to arrive for pre drinks.
Pre drinks. Drinks before you go out drinking. What an odd concept.
We would leave the house around midnight after taking a narcissistic amount of photos, pop by to make an appearance to at least two social events, take more photos there, have a sisterly romantic moment as we watch the sunrise from somewhere high up, then sleep for a few hours before heading off for brunch.
Friends say that as they get older, they cannot “physically” handle big nights out like these anymore – but I challenge that theory. I think the older some people get, we know exactly what we want out of our time, and doing things for the sake of just…doing it…mentally drains us.
In a couple of weeks I turn 26. I can run for 2 hours straight at 8km per hour. I can handle 12 hour Mondays on 4 hours of sleep, and conquer a strenuous hike on a weekend after an 80 hour working week. Physically, I’m extremely fit. But throw me into a nightclub or music festival for 4 hours or more and I will need to nap for a week. My body and my mind will feel worn out. Exhaustion. When you can no longer tolerate having to scream through loud music to socialise with people, fight off disrespectful men just to dance for a couple of hours, or wait in line for the bathroom – you find other ways to hang out and catch up with your friends.
It’s Saturday night, and Brigitte has turned up at our doorstep for our new ritual – wine and cheese night. Her hair is still damp from a shower, and she’s in her pj’s with little to no makeup. On one arm, she has a bag of carbs in the form of breadsticks, crackers and crostini, and she cradles a bottle of Pinot Noir with the other arm. I supply the cheese and ingredients for dinner.
Ok I lied, I didn’t really supply any ingredients for dinner. We are cheese fiends, so the cheeseboard is our dinner. I found our cheese from a number of different Fromageries around Melbourne. The organic Soft Bath and the wine washed manchego from Milk the Cow, and the organic Elgaar blue stilton from The Cheese Shop in Prahran Market. The cherries and the quince paste are a gift from one of mum’s clients who own a farm out in Kyenton.
Now if you’ve ever hosted a wine and cheese night – regardless of how much you love cheese – you know you will always have some left overs. The cheeseboard left overs. A wonky half wedge of this, a few spoonfuls of quince paste, and maybe a couple of fresh or dried fruits. You always end up with no more bread or crackers, and lots of crumbs.
This is where my cheeseboard tartlets recipe comes in handy. If you ever find yourself in a post-cheese and wine night situation, you should remember to come back to this post, grab your cheeseboard left overs, grab an apron (and maybe a glass of wine) and get ready to tackle food wastage!
Happy feasting, and do mind your table manners.
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 people
Difficulty: Very easy
- 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry
- 6 dried figs, halved
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 1/2 cups of red wine of your choice (i used a GSM)
- handful of raw walnuts
- 30 grams of a blue cheese, crumbled
- 30 grams of a mild, soft cheese, crumbled
- 30 grams manchego or other firm cheese, grated
- 10-12 mini cocktail onions
- 1 tablespoon of coconut blossom sugar
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
- 2 tablespoons of quince paste
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven on 200C
- Thaw the 2 sheets of puff pastry by setting aside on the counter
- combine the wine, figs, cinnamon stick, honey, and cloves in a small pot and bring to a boil, simmering until figs are soft for about 30 minutes
- whilst the poached figs are cooking, divide one of the puff pastry sheets into 8 long strips
- Layer the strips around the second sheet of puff pastry to create a frame to keep the filling in.
- Create an egg wash by combining the milk and egg and brush across the tart frame
- Spread the quince paste thinly over the base
- roughly chop the walnuts and scatter over the quince paste
- crumble the blue cheese and soft cheese evenly around the walnuts
- scatter the mini cocktail onions whole
- When the poached figs are ready at around 20-25 minutes, carefully remove with a slotted spoon and scatter evenly across the tart amongst the other ingredients
- Keep reducing the poaching liquid until it becomes a syrup for a further 10 minutes. Remove from heat when reduced and set aside to cool for serving.
- Cover the tart filling with your choice of grated firm cheese
- Combine the fleur de sel and coconut blossom sugar and sprinkle over the egg washed tart frame to create a crispy, caramalised crust
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes on the middle rack. If you find that the pastry is becoming too brown, cover with foil.
- When you are ready to serve, cut into quarters and drizzle a generous amount of the fig poaching liquid and serve warm. For extra decadence, serve with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.