RECIPE + VIDEO | Jazzy Eats + Drinks Under the Stars: Blue Cheese + Toasted Walnut Spread, Sparkling Lemonade Mocktail

Jazzy Eats + Drinks Under the Stars: Blue Cheese + Toasted Walnut Spread and Sparkling Lemonade Mocktail for
Norfolk Festevents’ 38th Annual Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival

By Patrick Evans-Hylton

The 38th Annual Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival, Coastal Virginia’s longest running outdoor jazz festival returns for two nights along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront. The event gets under way on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 20 and 21, 2021 at Town Point Park.

On a warm summer evening, chill to the legendary sounds of top national Smooth Jazz and R & B recording artists including Boney James, David Sanborn Electric Band, and Spyro Gyra.  

Fine foods and beverages will be available for purchase, plus a festival marketplace with crafts, retail items, and more.

We’re pairing the festival with our Bite-o Box, a fun take on a traditional bento box, with some tasty treats perfect for a sophisticated evening listening to jazz under the stars.

Look for bento-style boxes at a number of retailers; we picked ours up at Kitchen Barn ( in Virginia Beach. 

Inside the box:

  • Blue Cheese with Toasted Walnut Spread
  • Artisan crackers
  • Figs
  • Chocolate

We also bring a cooler with prepared lemonade and cans of flavored seltzer to craft a sparkling mocktail to enjoy with our Bite-o Box. Remember, alcoholic beverages are not permitted at Town Point Park.

Our Bite-o Box includes a generous portion of the Blue Cheese with Toasted Walnut Spread,
artisan crackers, specialty chocolate, and a fresh fig.

Here’s how we make our Blue Cheese with Toasted Walnut Spread:

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and stir constantly until they begin to become fragrant and golden brown, about 2 minutes, making sure the nuts do not burn. Remove with a slotted spoon to a medium bowl, add 1 teaspoon sea salt and toss to cover. Place on paper toweling to drain. Allow to cool before using. 

În a medium bowl, add 5 ounces softened cream cheese, 5 ounces crumbled blue cheese, walnuts, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, and stir to combine. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, form into a ball shape, cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about an hour. 

Add a half of the prepared cheese ball to the bento box and fill the box with additional items. We use figs; you could use apple slices, grapes, orange segments, or other fresh fruit. We add chocolate to our box, but you could add cookies or other sweets. 

Be sure to add flatware and napkins to the Bite-o Box. Transport in a cooler with ice packs along with prepared lemonade and cans of flavored seltzer.

Our Sparkling Lemonade Mocktail

Here’s how we make our Sparkling Lemonade Mocktail:

Make a batch of honey syrup by adding 1 cup honey and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently until honey has dissolved. Remove from stove and cool. Add to a sealable glass jar and refrigerate until use, up to 1 month. 

To make the lemonade, in a large pitcher add the honey syrup, 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice and two cups of cold water and stir. Refrigerate 45 minutes until chilled and pour into a vacuum insulated bottle. 

Prepare mocktails by filling a champagne flute half with lemonade and half with flavored seltzer. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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