My Top 8… Favorite Things for Summer

What I’m into lately…

1) William Sonoma’s White Balsamic Vinegar – Perfect for salads, but arguably even better drizzled over fresh strawberries. It’s pricy, but strong. A little goes a long way, so it should last you awhile. If you’re really adventurous, mix it with vodka, soda water, a little bit of honey and a few fresh mint leaves for a quick, refreshing summer cocktail.

2) Cambozola (available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and many cheese shops) – I went through a brie phase last month and have been looking for something similar, but different. My friendly neighborhood cheesemonger stepped in with the suggestion of Cambozola (aka “the heroin of cheeses”). It’s the texture of camembert with some of the funk of gorgonzola. I love it drizzled with honey atop plain old water crackers and paired with…

3) Grüner Veltliner – A dry white wine produced mostly in Austria, it’s high on acid with lots of citrus and hints of white pepper. Good for people who like Sauvignon Blanc or Dry Reislings, but are looking to branch out. New producers are popping up in Hungary and New Zealand, but Austrian “gru-vees” still tend to be the most consistent. (NOTE: It’s not a natural pairing with Cambozola, but I like how the acid cuts the creaminess of the cheese, especially if the cheese is an appetizer rather than part of a dessert course.)

4) Tommy Bahama’s Backpack Beach Chair – I’ve never been a huge fan of the beach, but the beaches of the Mediterranean made a convert out of me last summer when I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Greece and Italy. Their beaches are outstanding, not in small part because the chairs are set up for you and charming young men come by with drinks, magazines and even freshly baked donuts. American beaches have a lot to learn. So, while I’ve made peace with the sand and the sun, I still can’t reconcile lugging tons of stuff to and fro. This chair is a game changer for me.

5) Hydrangeas – I’ve been slowly redecorating my house for the past year. My great room is a blend of whites and grays and I like to use ivory hydrangeas to tie it all together as a dining room centerpiece. I used to hate fresh flowers, but as long as they’re high quality blooms and you make sure to keep them in lots of water, hydrangeas can last 3+ weeks.

6) Stella McCartney’s L.I.L.Y – I’m not really into perfumes, but I love perfume samples, if that makes any sense. I was given a sample of L.I.L.Y by a very excited Sephora employee last summer, but threw it in a bag and forgot about it. I dug it out a few weeks ago while I was cleaning and have been addicted ever since. It’s a bit lighter than my usual fragrances (Dolce and Gabbana Sicily and Gucci Guilty), although it may still be too strong for some.

7) Trader Joe’s Kalamata Olive Hummus + their Flaxseed wraps + fresh veggies = fast, easy sandwich. Perfect for school, work, the beach or the backyard.

8) Harry Potter – Sure, I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies, but something about summer screams Harry Potter to me. Curled up on the back porch, getting lost in Hogwarts makes me feel, however briefly, that all is right with the world.

Honorable mentions:  Like most other people, I’ve been getting really into The World Cup. And my yearly Wimbledon binges are about to begin in earnest, so I expect my next couple of weeks of posts will surround clotted cream, hot South American soccer players and my love for Novak Djokovic. Could be worse. 😉

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