Friday, October 7, 2011

red october

October in Philadelphia is special for a lot of reasons.  We don't really have that whole beautiful leaves-changing-color thing they do out in the suburbs.  We do have one of the most delightfully gradual descents from warm to cold I've ever experienced - sometimes it is literally one degree colder each day.  One thing that we have had for the last few years is what we call Red October.  It's nothing we're hunting for, and unfortunately, it does lack Sean Connery's intensity, but only slightly.

I'm talking about post-season Phillies.

Oh, yeah, and all the crazy, loud, half-delusional drunks stumbling around center city and leading...themselves alone... in their ridiculous "Let's Go, Phillies" chants (because they might have just figured out that "let's go" and "phillies" both have two syllables).  There is nothing sadder than one dude with a backwards cap and a beer gut singing out "let's go, phillies" as though any minute now all the other drunks are going to join in.  They never do.

You might think nothing else (of any import, anyway) happens in October.  I would argue against that point of view, but let's focus on something I truly love about Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, we hosted a gathering at one of the stores for a local real estate agency to demonstrate and promote their new technological application with the assistance of our knowledgeable employees.  To show their appreciation, that same agency sent a basket of goodies over to the store today - sandwiches and cookies from a relatively new Italian restaurant in Rittenhouse Square - Serafina.  I keep meaning to make Mister take me there for dinner, but then I keep having trouble trying to explain why we should cross the city for pizza and pasta, especially living so close to the Italian Market.  These sandwiches might help me in that endeavor.

It was nice of them to send the goodies, but that isn't what I love about Philadelphia.  What I love about Philadelphia, as compared to my previous place of employment and colleagues out in the rural reaches of Montgomery County, is that when the food was unpacked, not only did the givers of the gift ensure there were non-animal options, but my colleagues didn't say "Oh, hey, a grilled veggie sandwich - that's different - I want to try that!"  No, they said, "Oh, Natalie, you don't eat meat, right?  Why don't you pick your sandwich first."

I realize this seems like common sense, but outside of Philadelphia (or whatever metropolis you choose), it is not.  It just represented another moment of happiness over my decision to leave one place and come to another.

What's a great partner to sandwiches?  Well, besides chocolate chip cookies?  Soup!  Or, notably, Harira from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

Granted, several hours separated the sandwich from the soup (like, you know, the distance between lunch and dinner), but it was the best segue I could come up with.  It's Friday.  Anyway, I used to make this soup fairly frequently when I first started cooking.  I haven't made it in years, but I can honestly say, I don't remember it tasting the way it did tonight.

I think the main difference was the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  I'm pretty sure I never included that previously.  Also, I used what was left of the Garlic Broth and made up the missing liquid with V8 Spicy Hot.  I always sub garlic for onions, which got me to thinking if there was some conversion I could make:  this much garlic = this much onion.  I suppose I could just use onions when the recipe asks for them, but that would take all the fun out of guesswork.  I'm pretty sure this is the first time I used fresh tomatoes, which could have something to do with the bright acidity.

An hour or so after dinner, though, I realized why Mister doesn't like soup dinners.  I was hungry again. He might have something there, so unless a soup is really substantial, you'll probably see it retired to side dish status on future menus.

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