February 16, 2008

Whine & Food

I must be in a funk or something, because everybody and everything is getting on my nerves...especially winery customers.


“Hi,” I say to a younger couple as they come in the front door. “Would you like to sample some wine?”

“Sure,” the girl responds.

“What kind of wine do you like?” I ask.


Oh, god. Here we go. As if I've never heard that before.

“Well,” I probe, “What would you like to sample today?”

“Um, do you have any sweet wines?”

“Sure, red or white?” I ask.



“Which do you prefer?”

“Sweet reds or pinks,” she says.

Of course.

“Well, I’ll start you with a red muscato from Italy.”

The girl looks at the clear bottle of bright, ruby-red colored wine, picks up her tasting cup, and asks...

“This is a red wine?”


I seriously don’t know how to respond to people like that. After an entire afternoon of “we like it all” and “do you have any sweet wines?”, I finally snapped at a customer.

This one had brought in a small piece of paper with the name of a wine written on it: “Lambrewsko.”

“Do you have this?” she asks.

“Lambrusco? No. But a nice attempt at spelling,” I say.

“It’s spelled wrong?”

“Um, yeah. I’m an English teacher, so stuff like that really bothers me.”

They didn’t think it was amusing, but I didn’t care. It was my funk talking.

To top it off, both of the schools where I teach were in the news today. Students at both schools were arrested for making threats. One student brought weapons on campus (he was actually in my class last year!), and another tried to recruit someone to help him with an NIU-style attack.

These school shootings scare the shit out of me, so that doesn’t help with my funky mood.

So, what’s the best way out of such a funk?

Some soup. Some matzo ball soup.

I made a pot of chicken stock earlier this week; I simmered it in the crockpot for nearly 24 hours, producing a clear, flavorful broth. I wanted to make something to highlight the stock and not pervert it with veggies and noodles. So, I decided to finally try my hand at matzo balls.

And, they were a cinch! I used the recipe on the back of the matzo meal container as a guide:
  • Stir together 2 tablespoons melted butter with 2 eggs, 1/2 cup matzo meal, & 1 teaspoon salt. Mix in 2 tablespoons chicken stock. I also added about a teaspoon of fresh rosemary & some cracked black pepper.
  • Cover & refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water (about 1 1/2 quarts) to a brisk boil. Heat up chicken stock in a separate pot. You could cook the matzo balls in the boiling stock, but I did them separately in water to keep the stock clear & flavorful. I also set the stock to a simmer the whole time to reduce it a bit and concentrate the chickeniness.
  • Form the matzo mixture into 1-inch balls, reduce the flame under the water to a simmer, & drop balls in. It should make 7-8 balls.
  • Cover pot & simmer 30-45 minutes. You want them to be soft throughout, so check ofter 30 minutes or so. And by check, I mean cut in half and taste.
  • Place a few matzo balls (they puff up a lot during cooking!) in a bowl & ladle in some hot stock.
The matzo balls were dense but light in texture, and the rosemary added a nice hint of flavor. Overall, it actually kind of reminded me of the garlic bread soup I made recently...though, with a much different flavor.

When I first started this cooking project last April, I made a list of the foods & dishes I'd never cooked before. Matzo ball soup was on that list. But, I can't believe I'd always thought this was going to be a difficult, labor-intensive thing to do. It wasn't at all!

But, did it help pull me out of my funk? It did. I believe there isn't much--be it a mood or a feeling, an illness or an ache--that a bowl of chicken soup can't soothe.

I bought rechargeable batteries for my camera today, but the damned things aren't charging correctly. So...to satisfy your voyeurism, here is a pic of matzo ball soup that I found online:


Mine pretty much looked like that, only in a red bowl.

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