I like to consider myself a spontaneous person, but when Ali texted me about riding roller coasters on Sunday afternoon, I balked. I hid from her text underneath a blanket on the couch for a solid ten minutes. Then I mustered up the strength to reply that roller coasters scare me to death, so probably not. Seriously, people die on roller coasters. They’re terrifying.
Then she said no one else could go. I started to feel bad. Whatever happened to being spontaneous? I looked up the park’s safety record, which was pretty solid except for the one rickety wooden roller coaster. She challenged me to face my fears. I asked how much the amusement park costs. All of this was just a downward slide toward a reluctant yes.
As I was getting ready, I seriously considered calling my mom to say my final goodbye. I almost asked my friend Matt to be Cookie’s godfather. I lamented not growing old and gray with my brothers. I’m a goner. Then I remembered that brother no. 1 survived sky diving. The odds were in our favor, as long as we avoided that wooden death trap. Quit being a sissy, self.
Long story short, we rode some roller coasters, and lived to tell. Can’t particularly say I enjoyed the thrill or that my fear of roller coasters is gone, but we did it. I don’t care if I never ride one again. After our nausea subsided, we left the amusement park for margaritas and queso on a rooftop patio. I’d do that part again in a heartbeat.
So no more roller coasters for me, friends. For the record, though, here’s an incomplete list of adventures I will say yes to: hiking, skiing, ice skating, roller blading, biking (look no hands!), zip lining, snorkeling, rock climbing, paddle boarding, paddle board yoga, aerial yoga, spontaneous trips/flights to pretty much anywhere. I could probably be convinced to go hang gliding (again), parasailing and scuba diving.
I say no to horror movies and sky diving. See also: base jumping. I feel better now that we cleared this up.
None of this has anything to do with crostini. My grandmother and aunt came to town last week and we went to dinner at Urban Table. We ordered an appetizer of grilled crostini with strawberry purée, brie and basil—one bite, and I knew I had to recreate it.
When it came time to make this recipe, strawberries turned into more seasonal raspberries, but then I couldn’t find organic raspberries. I switched to organic grapes, which solves my blog’s zero grape recipes issue. Then basil turned to thyme after an unscientific comparison taste test with the brie and roasted grapes.
I think you’ll be hooked on roasted grapes after you try these crostini. They’re jammy and sweet, almost like fig preserves. Roasted grapes pair remarkably well with creamy brie, but goat cheese or mild blue cheese would be delicious, too. This simple late summer appetizer would be perfect for girls’ night!
- 1 small loaf of crusty whole grain bread, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 pound seedless red grapes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, give or take
- 1/4+ pound wedge of brie (I only needed 1/4 pound for my little loaf, larger/more crostini will require more brie)
- 1 to 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the top third and lower third of the oven. Line a large rimmed baking sheet and a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Brush olive oil lightly over both sides of each slice of bread. Arrange the future toasts in a single layer on the large baking sheet. Remove all stems from the grapes. Transfer the grapes to the small baking sheet, toss them with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and then season them with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Place the grapes on the upper oven rack and the toasts on the lower. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the toasts; they will be ready to remove from the oven around the halfway mark, once they are nice and golden on top. Let the grapes roast for the full 20 minutes, and maybe a few minutes longer. They're done when they're tender and their skins are lightly wrinkled.
- Slice the brie into long, 1/4-inch wide strips, then slice them into smaller strips to fit the crostini (leave the waxy rind on, it's edible). Top each toast with enough brie to roughly cover the surface, followed by grapes. Finish the crostini with a light sprinkle of pepper and fresh thyme leaves.
Change it up: Feel free to substitute Gorgonzola cheese, goat cheese, mascarpone or ricotta for the brie. You could also add a light drizzle of honey and/or toasted, sliced almonds. Instead of toasting the bread in the oven, you could grill it for a more complex flavor.
More crostini: Check out my pear, raspberry and goat cheese crostini and cranberry orange crostini.