Arlington Darling’s Five Favorite Cheeses

This post needs no explanation, rationalization, or introduction. Here’s me, dropping my knowledge:

Cheese Assortment

Cheese – Fairway Market

  • Pecorino Tartufo Riserva. I have this every year at my aunt’s house for Christmas Eve, and it always blows my mind. Even my cousin’s 5 year old daughter loved this cheese, and she’s a picky eater. It is salty, nutty, firm, salty, truffley, and slightly crumbly. They are generous with the truffle in this cheese, and the flavor is astounding. Definitely a special occasion cheese to be savored and worth unbuttoning your top button for. I like it plain – no crackers, no other flavors to compete with. This one shines on its own. My aunt waits religiously in line at Murray’s in New York for it (P.S. new favorite website).
  • Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove). A somewhat recent discovery of mine but it’s going to stand the test of time. This is a funkier cheese but still very accessible (gee, I really sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I? Hah! P.S., I don’t.). This cheese is so, so creamy and the vegetable ash in the middle gives it such a unique flavor. I also really love the rind on this cheese. You’ll find this on cheese plates at restaurants for a reason. This is also probably the only cheese on the list that I can only have a few bites of before I get so overwhelmed with the deliciousness that I need to switch to something else for a while or the awesomeness gets dulled. Maybe that doesn’t make sense. But basically it’s a unique winner.
  • Unexpected Cheddar (Trader Joe’s). A beautiful, beautiful blend of cheddar and parmesan – the best of both worlds. Fantastically crumbly, nutty, and super salty. Party favorite. Good alone, melted into quesadillas, and crumbled into a salad. Also plays nice with fruit such as apples and grapes. Unexpected is a great name for it because while it looks humble and average, it definitely isn’t.
  • Red Hawk (Cowgirl Creamery). This cheese makes my list because not only is it delicious, but it reminds me of San Francisco. JJ and I picked up this cheese somewhat randomly for our sourdough picnic and we couldn’t believe our find. It’s a cheese with enough interest to keep a cheese lover entertained while not being so funky that it turns people off. It’s a soft cheese, so crackers are the way to go for me. Some dried fruit is also nice with it (at our picnic, we enjoyed it with some dried apricots).
  • Hand Dipped Ricotta (Lioni Latticini). I buy this cheese at Whole Foods in what I think of as the deli section – where they keep the prepackaged cheese, olives, fresh pasta sauces, etc. I’ve never seen it sold anywhere else, but it is hands-down the best ricotta I’ve ever had. I’m not sure I could do a description of it justice. Let’s just say when I buy it, I keep it simple with some salt and a big hunk of pretzel bread. It’s too delicious of a cheese to mix into pasta or bake with.

There you have it! The big five. Did I miss any? 🙂

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Looking Forward to Winter Recipes

It’s Sunday night and I’m looking forward to what I’m going to cook this week! Since the temperatures have dropped and look like they’re officially going to stay there, I’m looking forward to make some winter-y meals.

Photo Credit Shutterbean – Tuscan Ribollita

Chopped Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Vinaigrette: I made this for book club a few weeks ago, and although I generally feel that cold lettuce leaves do not make a meal, I really liked the rich flavors in this salad. It helped to make the dressing from scratch (although I eliminated the pomegranate) – can’t go wrong when you do that. And of course, I added plenty of extra blue cheese!

Quick and Easy Tofu with Ramen Noodles: I like this method of cooking tofu (searing it without the trouble of pressing and marinating it beforehand), and of course I’m going to love anything with noodles. Hey, my half-marathon might be over, but I’m still going to carb-load. How else will I stay warm in winter?!

Red Quinoa Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette: I love lime, I love spicy food, and I love quinoa. This salad looks like it has some great cold weather ingredients (pumpkin, etc.) and some unique flavor combinations.

Tuscan Ribollita: Shutterbean is one of my favorite food blogs. It’s the first one I started reading with any regularity, and the recipes that she posts are realistic yet comforting and gorgeous all at the same time. I think N and I made this Ribollita soup recipe a few years ago – when we didn’t have a big soup pot so we had to make the recipe in two small saucepans. I now have a huge soup pot and look forward to making this rich, almost stew-like soup again. Yummy Italian flavors, served warm, with a big hunk of bread and hearty, healthy ingredients? Can’t go wrong.

What are you making as the weather changes?

Tips for Camping that No One Ever Told You

If you’re new to camping, like I was two years ago, there may be some things that catch you off guard when you go camping for the first time. Even car camping, which seems tantalizingly easy (everything’s right there in the trunk, right?) can come with pitfalls of its own.

Case in point: I recently went to Assateague Island and camped overnight. Beach camping, yay! Except…there was a thunderstorm. And not just any thunderstorm – one that lasted all night. Yes, all night. 8 hours of torrential rain and wind that battered our little tent like we were the last people on earth and Mother Nature was pissed. We gave up around 3:30am when the water started to leak into the tent and our sleeping bags were soaked from sitting in two inches of water.

All in all, it was a fine trip, but I don’t think I’m going to forget that night, ever. While there wasn’t much we could do about the weather, there are some things we could have done to make our lives a little easier. So here are my tips and tricks for having a successful car camping experience!

  • Bring plastic bags. These are useful for trash, for spreading on damp ground to protect your tush, and for re-packing wet/damp items for the return trip home.
  • If there is any chance of rain, pack each outfit (or set of clothes – such as all undergarments, all shirts, etc.) into its own ziploc bag. That way, no matter what happens with the rest of your gear you’ll have a dry set of clothing.
  • Bring toilet paper. Self-explanatory! You never know what the restroom situation is going to be. Also pack this in a ziploc bag.
  • Invest in a sleeping pad. These things seem strangely expensive (its basically a glorified pool inflatable, after all) but a good one is worth its weight in gold. I have this one from REI. You will sleep more comfortably not only because you are cushioned from the ground, but the air inside the sleeping pad protects you from the cold and helps to keep you warm. Also, if your tent happens to flood…let’s just say that the sleeping pad can help act as a flotation device to “float” you and your sleeping bag above the water and keep you dry…erm, drier. Not that I have any personal experience with this or anything…
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Know what you are bringing to eat, and don’t try to subsist on granola bars the entire trip. Obviously this depends completely on the duration of your trip, how many people you are feeding, and whether you are car camping or backpacking…but in general, you can be more creative with the food than you probably think you can. I backpacked in the Grand Canyon in 2011 and on our third night, we had cherry cheesecake. Cheesecake. At the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Okay maybe that’s a little ambitious for most of us, but I’m just sayin’ – the possibilities are endless.
  • Pack face wipes – it’s a hassle to wash your face in camping conditions – and the wipes make it easy.
  • Invest in a headlamp. A flashlight can suffice for many situations, but a headlamp makes lighting your way so much more easy and convenient, especially for situations like finding the restroom in the dark (and having a light while you do your business – do you really want to be juggling a flashlight in one hand while you do that? Think about it).
  • And last but certainly not least…check the weather before you leave :).

Happy camping!

Happy Anniversary to me!

I can’t believe it, but it’s been one year since I started blogging! Yes, Arlington Darling is one year old today – please join me in wishing a very happy birthday to the little darlin’ :).

In honor of the anniversary (erm, blogerversity?), I’ve compiled a recap of my favorite experiences from this past year. It’s been a whirlwind!

  • I discovered Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar, the absolute best cheese anyone has ever created, ever. Yes, this is the first item on my list – no judgment.
  • I became BFF with the WMATA bus system – to include the Circulator (an easy first step for any bus newbies out there), the 16th St. and 14th St. lines, and the helpful Lee Highway “3” lines for when I’m feeling lazy. Most of the time I’m annoyed at you, but thanks for a great year, WMATA.
  • I learned how to cook my own Thai recipes!
  • I moved into a studio (and I’m loving it).
  • I had visits from my cousin Samantha, my oldest friends Joran and Carly, my parents, my BFF JJ, and many more! I also made pilgrimages to Charlottesville (more than once), New Jersey, Williamsburg, and Pennsylvania to do some visiting of my own.
  • I turned a quarter century :).

Blog stats at 1 year:

  • 141 posts
  • 4,955 views
  • 128 comments (Thanks for all of the comments! I love getting them!)
  • 120 unique followers

Thank you for a lovely year, and THANK YOU for reading. When I started this blog I had no idea that I would fall in love with it, but a year later, I have. I hope that you all have, too. Here’s to another great year ahead! ❤

Things that Annoy Me About Pinterest: A List

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I really, really love Pinterest. I maintain my 3,500 pins with special care, hoping that one day I’ll have a personal stylist and interior designer at my disposal so that I can just send them a link to my boards and say, “This is me. Go.”

Until that day comes, I use Pinterest for recipe inspiration, hairstyle ideas, craft/DIY instructions, and to collect pretty images (cats! twinkly lights! Paris! more cats!). Pretty much the same way that most people use it.

But I do admit that sometimes I get annoyed by Pinterest. Or, more accurately, I get annoyed at the things that people pin. People just don’t think before they pin! Take these pins, for example:

Picture of beautiful model with large, bold, colorful tattoo. The description is always, “beautiful, want this tattoo.” Do you? Do you really? Or do you just want to be 19 again and tan and skinny? Yea. I thought so. I am in the market for a tattoo myself, but I only pin things that I would realistically get and would look good on my body and fit my lifestyle.

“Pinata cookies! Want to make!”

Pinata cookies. Yes, those pinata cookies are adorable, and very creative. If you’re pinning them to say, “wow those are very creative, never would have thought of that”, then fine. If you’re actually thinking about making them, stop. Just stop. They will take 7+ hours and will not turn out at all like the picture. Your efforts are better spent making something else yummy and homemade and then going and spending quality time with the person you were going to make those crazy cookies for.

“Genius!”

Bra phone holder. No. Assuming (big assumption) that the type of shirt you are wearing even allows access to that area of your bra (try it right now – I bet you can’t manage it), with how often we all check our phones, this complex operation isn’t even practical. Plus, coming from personal experience, it is possible to irreversibly damage your phone with sweat. So just think about that before you stick your phone in your armpit. The creators cite that they made this product for “all the girls who lose their phones or credit cards after a night out”…I’m willing to bet those phones and credit cards didn’t jump out of a normal purse and run away on their own, but got left on a table or bar when their owner took them out — and the same thing would happen if those girls wore this. Fail.

“The Emergency Workout is designed to help you slim down FAST in just 8-weeks. Super intense workouts with a lot of variety help you make serious progress in a hurry.”

Magic workout routine – pick one, any one: 5 days to flat abs? 10 minute toner? Morning magic muscle builder? Honestly what is the deal with pinning all of the workout routines?! Some people do find them inspirational – and I agree that seeing toned abs and arms in the Pinterest images as I scroll through late at night, munching on white cheddar popcorn, makes me want to put down the popcorn. Just a little. But if you spent half the time actually doing the exercises as you did pinning them, you’d be in baller shape by now. People – find a workout you like and stick to it – pinning 200+ different miracle-promising exercise pins doesn’t get you into shape any faster.

The “Healthy” Milkshake, Oreo, Cake, Brownie, Snickers Bar Extravaganza. As someone who eats vegan cheese (occasionally, and I’m not very happy about it), I completely understand the urge to “substitute” something healthy in a recipe for something unhealthy, or to try and reinvent an old favorite with healthier, grown-up ingredients. But at some point, it gets a little ridiculous. Even if your Shamrock Shake healthy copycat recipe is less caloric and less fattening than the original, can it really be called “healthy?” It’s still a milkshake. Let’s be thoughtful in our use of the term “healthy.”

Did I get all the annoying ones? What are some pins that drive you crazy?