My mother, an inveterate traveler, loves hotel lobbies and college bookstores. Whenever she has downtime on a trip, she pops in to lounge on a sofa or peruses shelves for interesting course lists. Have I inherited this penchant for frugal high-brow-ism? Perhaps.
Last week, I found myself seated on velvet, nibbling a $5 cheese plate, at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Philadelphia. The recommendation came from local site uwishunu.com, publisher of all things euro-obscuro. Was I curious about the best hotel happy hours in the city? Yes, somehow…uh, I was. Musta been Maman’s gene. Ordinarly, I am more hostel than Hilton.
Props to The Ritz. Friends of Madame drank liberally (ask about the $5 wines from the regular wine list, avoid the sugary Bacardi drinks) and enjoyed a nicely curated cheese plate. Granted, it was mouse-size, but for $5 this was a great way to taste some unusual cheeses with a few lovely sides.
The plate came with bread, spiced walnuts, a wee jar of quince jam, and a hunk of honeycomb. Glory be!
Would I return? Yes, and yes again. I have gone twice now, just to be sure the deal was legit. Charcuterie fiends, the cured meat plate is delightful, too. I am all for affordable child-size portions of wedge and beast.
Kudos to Chef Jennifer Carroll for picking some unusual selections. This is not your amateur hour cheese plate. Oh no, here's a list of last week's dairy hits.
Ritz Cheese Plate Primer
Port Salut (far right) - A French cream bomb with orange rind. Originally made by Trappists
Moliterno - Aged sheep's milk, peanutty and grandfatherly.
Ibores - Spanish goat's milk, tangy and caramely.
Rogue River Smoky - Think canoe trips, sweaters, smoldering. From Oregon.
Happy hour at the Ritz-Carlton's bar, 10 Arts, runs from 5-7 p.m. on weeknights. Select wines and small plates are $5. The vibe is Gaga, but the tribe is casual suede. See below.