Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's Soup, Doc?

Think of all the pressure there is on you if you're soup. You're not just food, you're supposed to warm, be both a balm on a cold evening and a calling to home and hearth. You're full of mom, even if she merely emptied Campbell tins. Fancy doesn't suit you; you don't want to show up in an evening gown and pearls while always scuffling in your fuzzy slippers. (Consommé just sounds fancy--it's really about patience and our thievery of most fine cooking from France.) Ah, but there's that danger of being just soup, too, the water something flavorful took a bitty bath in. We all like you enough, dear soup, but you might be, and sorry to sound mean, a tad boring, familiar like the Eiffel Tower must get to Parisians who barely stare up its lacy legs anymore.

So we owe it to ourselves to exclaim, Yum soup!" when the opportunity arises and our spoon lowers into the bowl. Such was the case last night as we redeemed our TravelZoo deal at Seagrass, at last (and, does everyone else start to feel the almost daunting pressure of reclaiming such deals on time? do not ask for whom value's clock knells...), and one of the two first course offerings for the $49 for $104 value deal was a soup. It was something new to the menu, if not on the actual menu (the joys of special deals), so much so our fine waiter Ruben Perez (part of the family that owns Seagrass) had to confab with the sommelier to figure out the best wine pairing. And they nailed it, pouring me some Cypher Grenache Blanc 2011, a bit puckier, you might say, than the typical GB, heading toward Gruner with an apple in its mouth. Which is only fitting, as the soup--yes, this is about soup, promise--was made from pork belly stock. Clear, if darkly tan, and light on the tongue, if deeply flavorful. Layers, from pork, of course, to some fresh ginger, to sesame oil, to black pepper. Yes, it was Asian inspired--there even was a light threading of soba noodles, cut short and still firm as a bit of a bite in your soup never hurts--but in a way to prove inspiration does not mean aping or going rote. Instead this was a soup that went in many directions and still found its way back home.

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