Friday, December 28, 2007

A Date with Pomona

Before these grains of memory fall to the lower part of life's hourglass...

The Christmas roadie to KC on Saturday morning was fairly uneventful until we got sideswiped by a massive dumptruck logo'd Winter Blast Inc. It was still full of snow and ice when when it rumbled across Kansas spilling its load along the way. I've met the driver of said frozen freighter, Jack Frost. Misunderstood by many, i've always liked him and wouldn't mind mixing him up one of those Celtic Christmas's. It really wasn't all that hazardous unless you are the village idiot, of which KC a wonderful concentration of if you'd like to observe them up close. A couple slips and slides but really nothing of note. So, fifteen poddy breaks later we arrived.

Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend was the trip to the City Market in downtown KC. It was Christmas Eve so business was pretty slow, not the normal anthill of activity due to a nominal amount of the stores and shops being closed. Evidently, the ghost of Jacob Marley had visited most of these store owners too. Nonetheless, a more than a few remained open, namely the Alhabashi Mart. Ahhhhh...can i express the salivatory aromas that entice,nay...embrace one when walking through the threshold of this Middle Eastern spice emporium? It's euphoric. Not just from following the schnozzola, but it was eye candy too (in a foodie sense). All the spices lined up on the tables in large open sacks. So, there i was fondling all the spices and The Queen from the back part of the store says, "Hey, did you see the fava beans over there?" She just hasn't quite gotten over fava beans since 'Silence of the Lambs'. I laughed and resumed my activity, i'm not really sure at this point if my tongue was hanging out or not. i was like...(can i say this?) a kid in a candy store. So much so, that The Queen finally said..."I'm going over to that Italian market...wanna just meet me there?"
"What?...oh...yeah...yeah..." As i popped my head out of a sack of dark golden cumin. She gave me "The look" as if to say..."Please please, behave yourself...and don't make a scene." So she and Princess #1 left me to myself, in my own little Elysium.

I finally, grudgingly, emerged...covered with the sweet and savory essences of Bazaar. My small bags of gold dangling from my hands. Lushed from my experience, i had lost all sense of direction and turned the wrong way from the Italian market. Walking hand in hand with Pomona, i found my way to a small Vietnamese chophouse. Pomona says, "Ohhh, let's go in..." and pulls me towards the steaming shrimp and rice. Through the fog, i faintly remember..."Italian market"... go. I...need olive oil. So i groped my way over to the Italian Deli. The fresh, chilly air helped clear my head, and by the time i arrived...oh no...not open casks of olives! The Queen grabs my hand as i slowly plunged toward the floating calamatas, saving me from certain, immediate humiliation...not so much me...but the family. She turned me bodily towards the olive oil section where i stood, mouth agape, for time unknown. It was like a wine cellar of...olive oil. They even had gallon sized cans! At some point, Grammy came in to make sure all was going alright, possibly to see if The Queen needed some backup. They ended up sitting down at one of the deli tables, leaning on their elbows, while i stared at "the Wall". Like watching dust in the sunlight, i was mesmerized, except the particulates were little bottles of first cold pressed, extravergine di oliva.

I finally grabbed one of the dancing bottles and made my way to the checkout, flanked by The Queen, so as to make certain i left the store without incident. Grammy had taken Princess #1 out earlier. We walked out to the parking lot and i showed off my goods like a hunter his bagged quarry. I couldn't wait, and tore into the tray of baklava and a sack of salted pistachios within minutes...heavenly. I don't remember much about the ride back to Uncle and Aunties house...i do remember honey, pistachios, and pastry.

God Save the Queen!


Buck Pennington said...

I canceled my trip to Omaha just because of that same dump truck you encountered, Jay. It (the WX) may not have been all that bad for you, but I'll bet there's significance difference in the vehicles we drive.

Wow. I could go absolutely nuts in a spice market...a REAL spice market...such as you described. You're absolutely correct: the aromas are "out of this world."

re: Olive oil. Have you ever tried Spanish olive oil? I switched from Italian to Spanish about 11 or so years ago and never went back.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

Yeah, a heavily weighted minivan vs. that 'roided squirrel does put the odds in my favor for safety vs. the village idiots.

Hmmmm...(as i rub my hands slowly together) olive oil de espana? VERY interesting. We must parley.

Dawn said...

just curious, what spices did you actually bring home?? and should Shaun and I stop by for dinner sometime soon? :)

Doc said...

The weatherman promised me a blizzard yesterday. Instead, I sat in the eye of that rotating dump truck and watched it stretch out its load like so much asphalt laid down for someone else's interstate. Driving 15 miles north, south, or east would have put me in at least 4 inches. But over my head, all day, the sun was actually visible through the thin layer of cloud that dropped not even a dusting. I hate days like that. When the weatherman says snow, I say "Bring it baby! Have Jeep; will travel."

Celtic Christmas: I used the last of the Peppermint in some hot chocolate not so long ago, but you've inspired me to get more tomorrow. All the other ingredients are in the cabinet already. Can't wait to try it.

Blue skies!

Bag Blog said...

Who's the wordmiester now? I can almost smell the spices. You had me drooling over the oil.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

Dawn: Well lets see, in my delirium i could've taken one of each but unfortunately i only ended up with some incredible cumin, an arabian spice blend, some absolutely beautiful garam masala, and a bag of i said the pistachios didn't make it home.

BTW i did make a sort of beef khorma the other nite...of course with naan and basmati rice...divine! Even the kids liked it.

Doc: I feel your pain. Do you have any idea how comforting it is to hear someone besides myself utter the words: "Brrrrring it Baby! Have Jeep, will travel" I love snow...have all my life, most folks just don't understand. How'd that Celtic Christmas turn out, or should i say, how did you turn out?

MamaLou: that made me think of that whole scene in 'Jerry Macguire', "you had me at the oil, you had me at the oil."

kevin said...

I only wish I didn't have to work on Monday so I could have seen your delirium once you entered the spice store! I remember when I found out you all would be coming up I told Tamala that I MUST take Jay to the City Market and into the spice store. Back when I lived in the loft apartment in downtown KC I visited the Italian place and bought some chicken spindini. I didn't really know how to fix it properly (should've call you) but it was good anyway. It was a shame that we didn't get to go to Minsky's Pizza just a few doors down from the Middle Eastern spice store. They create "gourmet" pizza there and man is it incredible! I even worked there part-time for several months after moving to KC.
I'm glad you all enjoyed going to TRex Restaurant. The kids really seemed to have a good time "exploring".

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

I'll let you off on the Pizza since you put me on the spice trail, oh and let me stay at your house, and eat your food, and...well you get the idea. Here's for your troubles

Chicken Spiedini click there for recipe.