April 01 2021
Around this time each year we start to dream of seaside apéritifs, a slower pace of life, the Mediterranean sun, and of course a lot of pasta, wine, and cheese! Since we’re still missing Italy, we’ve decided to bring Italy to YOU! Join us on a Backyard Italian Holiday where we can all experience a little bit of La Dolce Vita.
ANTIPASTO | How to make your own charcuterie and cheese board
What better way to kick off our Backyard Italian Holiday than with a yummy antipasto (a traditional Italian appetizer)! Making a charcuterie and cheese board can seem intimidating, but with a few quick tips you’ll be on your way to a perfectly picturesque tray.
- The trick for choosing the perfect cheese selection is texture! We recommend a soft, hard, and crumbled cheese to show different textures on your board. We love using Brie, Toscano, and Asiago!
- Variety is key for your meat selection as well! We recommend a dried salami, speck (smoked prosciutto), and sliced coppa (cured pork shoulder). Hint: For tips on how to display your meats, jump down to the BUILD section!
CRACKERS & BREAD
You can't go wrong when choosing bread and crackers. Things to consider are what types of dips you will have so you can complement your choices. For crowd favorites, we slice up a fresh baguette, include rosemary crackers and mini toasts!
Mustard - whole grain, dijon or honey mustard
Fruit preserves (we love a fig jam to pair with cheese)
- The real secret to a beautiful board is all the extra goodies you can include. This makes each board unique and fun to graze over!
Something Sweet: Dried fruit, honeycomb, and fresh fruit
Something Pickled: Olive mix and cornichon (similar to mini pickles)
Add a Crunch: 1-2 different nuts and cheese crisps
Garnish: Fresh herbs or edible flowers
Board based on how large your party is
Small bowls and mini dishes
A few knives
1. Once you have your meats and cheeses selected, place your cheeses first to ensure they are equally distributed across the board. Pre-crumble and pre-slice a small portion of your cheeses so your friends know how they should be cut.
2. Next arrange your meats across the board. We like placing the same type of meat on either end of the board so each side gets a variety. To create more texture, we have a few tips on how to display your charcuterie:
- Create roses using prosciutto/speck by gently twisting and folding each slice individually
- Fold coppa or thin sliced salami into quarters and fan them out like a deck of cards
- Line up your dried salami once it’s been cut and don’t be afraid to snake your salami slices for a fun shape!
3. Grab any of your extras that need their own bowl i.e. olives, mustard, honey, fruit preserve, etc. Give each of them their own dish and distribute between the placed charcuterie and cheeses.
4. Tuck crackers and mini toasts between the charcuterie and cheese to display a few of each option.
5. Grab a bread basket for the side to add your warmed baguette.
6. Fill in any gaps with dried fruit and nuts. Our favorites are dried apricot, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and marcona almonds for a variety of shapes, flavors, and colors.
7. Add a cut fig or a bunch of grapes to the edge of the board for something fresh!
8. Last step is to add your garnishes! Use rosemary, thyme, and/or flowers across your board as a final touch. Hint: Don't be afraid to over stack and layer crackers and extras. The best boards are overflowing with yummy treats.
Music: Put on the ALOHA Collection Italian Holiday Spotify Playlist (linked below) while you make and enjoy your board!
Location: Enjoy inside or outside! Bring a blanket to your favorite picnic spot or keep it cozy at home with a beautiful display on your own coffee table.
Amico (Friends): As much as we love meats and cheeses, antipasto is made special with company! Enjoy with roommates, friends or family, or treat yourself to a mini board just because you deserve it!
GAMES | Fun and simple games to play with friends
Games are something that are often overlooked when packing for a long trip. We love to keep a deck of cards or travel backgammon in a small pouch for a bit of fun while relaxing poolside or in between cocktails. Cards are a universal language and a fun way to unplug. Plus, it's the perfect way to meet new people and maybe learn a new game along the way!
As part of our Backyard Italian Holiday, we dusted off our games and had some fun while sipping Italian-inspired cocktails and enjoying our antipasto board. Check out our two favorite card games below and keep scrolling to see how to make some yummy drinks.
Blitz! (2-12 players)
Have your hand of cards equal to or as close to 31 as possible.
Aces are worth 11
Face cards are worth 10
Before gameplay can begin, a dealer must be selected. Each player draws one card from a shuffled deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck and passes out three cards to each player in a clockwise fashion.
The remaining deck forms the stock pile and it is placed in the middle of the play area. The top card of the stock pile is flipped over, placed beside it and becomes the discard pile.
How to Play:
The player to the left of the dealer begins gameplay. When it is their turn, players choose to either pick a card from the stock pile or from the discard pile and then they must discard one of their cards, all in an attempt to get a hand as close or equal to 31.
Only cards of the same suit count as points. For example, if a player has an Ace of Spades, an 8 of Spades, and a King of Hearts, the player’s hand is worth 19.
If a player has a three of a kind, the hand is worth 30 points. This is the only time when different suits in a hand count as points.
When a player is comfortable with their hand, they knock on the table. All other players then have one more draw to try and improve their hand. The player with the lowest hand loses for that round. If the player who knocks has the lowest hand, they give up a loss of 2 rather than 1. When a player loses 4 times, they are out of the game. The last player standing wins the game!
Spoons (2-8 players)
Be the first to get four of a kind!
Before gameplay can begin, a dealer must be selected. To do so, players must choose a random card from a shuffled deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer. Ties are broken with repeated drawings. The dealer shuffles the deck and then passes out seven cards, faced down, to each player. The remaining deck is then placed to the right of the dealer.
Place one less spoon per how many people are playing in the center of the table. So if you’re playing with 5 people, place 4 spoons in the center. - You don’t have to use spoons, you can use coins, chopsticks, etc.!
How to Play:
The dealer begins the game by drawing a card from the deck. The dealer then discards a card and passes it clockwise. This pattern continues: once a player receives a card, they then must discard a card clockwise. Players can only have seven cards in their hand at a time. This should be a fast paced game! The goal is to form four of a kind.
Once a player has gotten four of a kind, they must slyly take a spoon from the center of the table. The other players must follow the action quickly once they notice, and grab their own spoons before they’re all gone. The person who is left without a spoon is out that round. Each round, one less spoon should be on the table until you have a winner!
Add some cocktails and mocktails to your games for more fun!
DRINKS | How to make Italian-inspired drinks
A Negroni is a classic cocktail that always has us dreaming of Italy! This brightly colored drink packs a punch but is super easy to make! Here’s what you’ll need:
1 oz Gin of choice
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Garnish: Orange Peel
How to make:
- Add gin, campari, and sweet vermouth to a mixing glass filled with ice
- Stir with a spoon
- Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass
- Strain cocktail into glass
- Peel off a bit of clean, fresh orange, twist the peel over the glass, and add to your Negroni!
Looking for something a bit sweeter? Try our favorite lemon-inspired mocktail/cocktail! Here are the ingredients:
Lemon San Pellegrino or Lemon sparkling water for low sugar
(Optional) 1.5 oz vodka of choice
How to make:
- In a specialty cocktail glass, fill your glass ¾ full of lemon sparkling water (Add 1.5oz of vodka to make it a cocktail!)
- Squeeze a bit of lemon in the glass for a fresh taste
- Grab a spoon (the wider/rounder the better as long as it fits in your glass) and turn it upside down. Tilt your spoon across the surface of the sparkling water with the tip against the inside of the glass and slightly submerged.
- Slowly pour a heavy splash of grenadine down and over the spoon to create a beautiful pink gradient.
- Add a sprig of rosemary and enjoy!
Visit @alohacollection on Instagram and check out our Italian Holiday highlight to find our “how to” Instagram Reels!
DINNER | How to make an easy Italian pasta dinner
When in Italy, dinner is the time of day we look forward to most! It’s safe to say we often dream of Italian food and wine. Our Graphic Designers, Caroline and Sarah, are spilling their secrets on how to make their favorite Italian-inspired sausage pasta dish (paired with Italian wines of course!)
“We love sipping wine while cooking because cooking and company are the best parts of an Italian dinner experience. Don’t forget to throw on some music! We keep the ‘Italian Holiday’ ALOHA Collection Spotify playlist on while in the kitchen... this definitely adds to the flavor, trust us!
Italian wine is so easy to pick, we’ve yet to find one we don’t love! For this meal we chose to taste between a simple Chianti Classico and the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (which ended up being our favorite).
Once the wine was flowing and the music was going, we got to cooking! This recipe is super easy to eyeball and adjust to your taste so there are no measurements!”
Pasta (we used penne)
Italian Sausage (Vegetarian? Skip this ingredient, this dish is still delicious!)
Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (our favorite ingredient)
Salt + Pepper
Dried oregano seasoning
Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil, then add salt
Thinly slice shallots
Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters
Remove sausage from casing and cut into smaller pieces
- Place a large pan on medium heat and once hot, add a little bit of olive oil
- Add Italian sausage to the pan and cook thoroughly
- When sausage is done, set aside on a folded paper towel to absorb the extra oil
- Using the same pan, turn the heat to low, add a small slice of butter, shallots, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and a bit of the sun dried tomato oil (this oil makes all the difference, don’t skip this part!)
- Once your salted water is boiling, add pasta to cook (don’t forget to set a timer!)
- Once the ingredients in the pan have cooked down for about a minute or two, add in your cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano to taste
- Let the cherry tomatoes cook down while mixing occasionally
- After a few minutes, carefully smash the cherry tomatoes with a fork (be careful not to smash too quickly as the tomato juice is hot and will splatter!)
- Once your pasta is done, save at least a cup of pasta water before straining
- Incorporate sausage back into the pan to warm it back up and mix with the other ingredients
- Pour a splash of pasta water into the pan to help bind ingredients
- Add strained pasta back into the large pot along with the pan ingredients
- Gently mix all the ingredients together in the pot and cover to keep warm while plating
If available, choose shallow pasta dishes/bowls
Place a generous amount of pasta in the dish
Grate parmesan cheese over the top to taste (we won’t judge, we love a good mountain of cheese)
Garnish with fresh basil leaf
Enjoy! Hint: This dish makes great leftovers, save what you can’t finish!
“We love to cook this meal for friends and family, and sometimes just for ourselves! It’s so good that we end up making it at LEAST once a month. We hope you enjoy it in good company and that it makes you dream of dining along the cobblestone streets of Roma.
*Chef’s Kiss* Sarah & Caroline”
From creating an antipasto board on the patio, to sipping cocktails while playing new games, to hosting your own Italian dinner party, we hope you are able to bring a little bit of Italy into your own backyard. Shop our Italian Holiday Collection at the link below to continue your Italian dream!