Monthly Archives: June 2008

Grape Harvester’s Soup

Last weekend we picked my father-in-law up in Cuero and drove him to San Antonio to Do Something Fun For A Change. While Cuero (Turkeyfest Capitol of the World) is certainly a thriving metropolis in its own way, I thought Dad was a bit bored with small town life, so we went to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Witte Museum, which I recommend highly. Worth the drive from Austin if you’re planning a fun SA day trip.

What I was looking forward to more than anything, though, was going back to the Liberty Bar, which wins the Wine Scamp prize of Most Interesting Food That I Can Mostly Afford In San Antonio, as well as Least Plumb Building. It’s tough to get both prizes in the same restaurant, let me tell you.

I ordered the Grape Harvester’s Soup for a starter, the Cold Roast Lamb Plate for lunch, and their apple pie for dessert. The pie was tasty, though inexplicably contained raisins, but the crust was on the doughy side and the apples were kind of crunchy. Still.

The soup took me by surprise, I will say. It most resembled this recipe from Olney than any other recipe I’ve found online. I had no idea of what to expect, except that the server said it had tomatoes and onions, grape juice and wine. The first two were perfectly evident, though not the last to – this tasted more like a tomato-based onion soup than anything. It was good, but I won’t be dreaming of it for weeks, per se.

What made me wonder about this version of the soup was: apart from tomatoes and onions arguably being in season when grapes are harvested, why would this be a traditional dish for farm workers? It’s very light, and doesn’t seem like the kind of dish I’d be looking forward to after a long day of stooping, picking, and hauling. Most other recipes on the Interweb include stewing beef, making the soup more hearty. But Richard Olney was well-known for his traditionalist French cuisine, right?

Have you ever had Olney’s grape harvester’s soup? Do you know anything about its history? I’m terribly curious!

kicked in the pants

Thanks to an impromptu chat with a wise new mother, I was suddenly inspired to throw off Preggo Prohibition and Freaking Have A Glass Of Wine Already (my words, not hers). Yeah, mothafuckah……! (flips the upside-down bird at abstinence) Take that! I’m BACK!

Since the rapidly growing criatura is the size of a turnip this week, we’re celebrating said humble root vegetable with take-out Thai food and a Jaboulet “Parellele 45” Cotes du Rhone Rose 2007. Makes sense in my head, anyway.

After ordering the Scamp household classic Thai food comfort order (spring rolls, pad thai, red chicken curry), I toddled off to World Market for some wine, thinking vaguely that they might have chilled wine. It’s been so long since I opened my cellar closet door, I couldn’t even remember what was in there, and I certainly haven’t been keeping anything cold.

WM doesn’t have a cold box, unfortunately, but I enjoyed browsing anyway and I bought a couple of wines from their Wine Speculator Top Whatever List display (an 05 Lehmann Shiraz and a Mosel Riesling), but for tonight’s momentous occasion I grabbed the Jaboulet Rose for only about $11.99, which is reasonable if not ridiculously cheap for said bottle.

I mostly went to WM because it was quite close to the restaurant, Blue Bamboo, which is the Thai place closest to my house. They’re both in this ridonkulous strip mall on Highway 71, and I was mitigating the guilt over my splurge on Wednesday’s dinner by not driving all over creation. For the record, in Texas this can be a challenge. I have found some decent inexpensive everyday wines at WM, so I have to give it at least a B- as far as a wine shop goes.

Blue Bamboo gets a C, I think, after their second chance. It took a Really Long Time to get my take-out order, and their pad thai is stunningly bland, though the red curry was acceptable and the spring rolls had nothing particularly wrong with them. I’ll try eating in the restaurant before I give up on them completely, but Thai Spice in Lakeway is much better, for the same money or less.

The wine wasn’t cold when I brought it home of course, and the bean was insisting on food immediately upon my arrival home. What’s a wine lover to do, in this situation? Unless you have a way cool insta-wine-chiller, I recommend the method indicated in the photo.

The Jaboulet CDR Rose is a charming salmon pink in the glass. Nose of grapefruit, raspberry, and strawberry, with a hint of herbal-greeniness. On the palate, this mutha is TART, with flavors of strawberry lemonade with mineral ice cubes. Nice body and comfy mouthfeel. A tasty rose, complex for its price point, but not too involved.

With the pad thai, which needed lots of lime to bring it to life a little, the wine’s fruit just disappeared, leaving all the tartness and mineral – rather not The Thing, if you understand me. With the curry, however, which was much spicier and had that sweet-creamy richness of coconut milk, the fruit was much more forward. It was kind of like the tartness, and to some degree the mineral, was so busy fighting the hot pepper that it never made it to my tongue.

The wine is made up of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah, according to Jaboulet’s website. I’m not going to gabble on about the French region of Cotes du Rhone just now because it’s late and my womb treats everyone better when I get some good sleep. More than one post in June, though – I promise!