Sunday, February 1, 2009

Taste Bud Bits

Sadly, I placed my two warmth-craving, bushy basil plants in the zero-temps of the garage this week. I had dug them up during our exuberant harvest season to winter over in our sunny bay window and provide piquant tastes of summer until next season’s harvest. Their paraglider-canopy leaves summer-scented the whole room. I noticed the spider mites in December and kept washing them off. But this week, the pests had spread to the point that I knew I would no longer eat a basil leaf from these plants. Goodbye, basil. Ironically, some of my warmth-craving basil from last summer is preserved for winter enjoyment in pesto batches—in our freezer.

Several weeks ago I got blissed out by the butternut squash and pumpkin soup at Le Titi de Paris restaurant. The rest of the meal was exquisite, as always, but this silken soup, I simply don’t have words for. Every spoonful produced tears of joy. You just can’t imagine food can taste like this. If you’re anywhere in the Midwest and can get to the Chicagoland area, Le Titi is a worthy destination.

Some friends gave me a little bow-tied package of Chewy Choco Wally Bites, gluten-free cookies which turned out to be both chocolate-y rich and softly cakelike. My new favorite is by Whole Bakers.

Another friend invited me to an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting by The Olive Tap at a local library this week. Not only did we learn helpful culinary facts, but we also had an education in how to taste olive oil—tip of the tongue first, then back of the tongue, and finally, the don't-try-this-at-home professional loud slurp-and-cough method. I came away with a small bottle of garlic-infused olive oil, which I’ve already used to decrease the amount of butter I put on macaroni, and I’ve got garlic mashed potatoes on the menu for tomorrow. Can’t wait to try my new blood-orange olive oil on vanilla ice cream; it’s supposed to taste like a Creamsicle. Who would’ve guessed?

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