PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hari Kari Kasseri!

I refuse to get agitated. I won't do it. I don't care how slowly, or badly you drive, or how badly you park, or how dimwittedly you conduct yourself through this holiday maze, I Will! Not! Succumb! To your stupidity.

Not that I didn't get a triple-dose decker exposure to it today. Serenity now!

I went to Target, to pick up a few groceries and with the notion that I'd get a mani-pedi at some point, depending on when my favorite place opened. I left fairly early (9:30), stopped at QuikTrip, and then moseyed on south to the 135th & State Line MeccaLand. First order of business? Obtain kasseri cheese. I've seen it before in cheese cases, at places as innocuous as Price Chopper. So certainly a SuperTarget will have it. Oh no. Nope. I read all the little labels three times, scanning like an Evelyn Wood Power Reading Success Story. Finally a man behind the counter asked if he could help me find anything, and with a hopeful, yet knowingly sad, tone in my voice, I asked about the kasseri. Nope, he didn't know anything about it. Motions over Moustached Man. Nope. I ask for a suggestion on where to try, because I do have a little time to kill before the nail salon opens. Well, there's a Hen House over on 135th, but he recommended the Hen House up at 119th & Roe, because they have EVERYthing there, including kosher cheese.

I refrain from pointing out that just because they both start with a "K", doesn't mean they're gonna have it. But anyway. He was pretty convinced that was THE place to go. I finish my shopping there, hop back into Mimi, and toodle on into Kansas. I see a Price Chopper, the size of a small stadium. Well, now I'm in fancy-schmancy suburbia, so why not give it a go? It's always bewildering to walk into a grocery store you're unfamiliar with, because you don't know, do you go to the left or the right? To the right. After a second of blinking, I found the cheese case. Strike Two. Onward to the Hen House that will surely have it.

Again with the confusion and which way to go, and holy toledo, this store's a LOT busier. And we go to the left. Blink, blink. OK. They have a special showcase for one brand only. Hm. That can't be it. Then, and I almost thought I heard angels singing, but it could have been the holiday Muzak, I see a white-coated man stocking up a case labeled "SPECIALTY CHEESES". Sweet salvation! Since he's right there, I skip the Evelyn Woods performance and just ask. He looks up at me and says, "Kasseri? Nope, we don't have any."

At that point, I looked like a cartoon character, because I clapped my hand to my forehead. A woman moving around me even expressed some sympathy for me, as they obviously didn't have what I wanted. I asked Mr. Specialty Cheese where he thought I could find some, praying he wouldn't say "Dean & Deluca", which happened to be right across the street, and me without my house papers to take out a second mortgage. (I joke, I would probably have to just put the Murano up as collateral.) He offers to call the other Hen House, out at 135th & Metcalf, and he's on the phone for a long time. He hangs up and says, "He's got kasseri in the case." I nearly danced a jig. Back out to the car (I started to feel like I'd gotten my exercise for the day at this point), and through the traffic that is ever-increasing as the day moves along.

Locate this Hen House (Store #4 on this adventure, for those of you counting), wait patiently for one vehicle to Austin-Powers his way out of a spot, wait some more, watch the woman in the SUV behind Austin P. throw her hands in the air and scream, laugh to myself, because I don't care, these people have the cheese! Go inside, again, the blinking orientation, go to the right, and there are now triple the amount of people out shopping I've encountered thus far, all of whom are just milling about in the produce/deli area. Find the cheese, buy three packages of it. I will only need one & a half? But I'm not going through this again anytime soon. Think to myself I am exceptionally clever, and go to pay for my cheese at the salad bar, where, much to my chagrin, three old people have decided it is the PERFECT place to stop with their carts and catch up with each other, seeing as how they haven't been in touch for about thirty years. But I am the kasseri ninja. I do not care. I am bobbing and weaving behind another driven shopper, and within five minutes I'm out of there.

My nail place opened a half-hour early, and the best employee there greeted me when I walked in. (She's awesome, she spends loads of time on the massage part.) I read my book, got my toes done, got my fingers done, picked up some yummy Chinese & now am making homemade french bread to go with my kasseri appetizer. We're going over to my good friend Beth's house tonight, for dinner & fun; I expect Miss Amy will be beside herself what with Santa coming tonight.

Oh, and after all that, maybe you want to know what to do with Kasseri cheese, and why this quest in the first place? Well, this dish was one of my dad's most favorite things in the world. It's quite easy. You just take a glass pie plate (or similar sized baking dish), and fill it with coarsely chopped (or grated) kasseri cheese. Then you put some minced garlic on the cheese (more or less to suit your Transylvanian taste buds), sprinkle with oregano leaves, and the juice from about half a lemon. Put it under the broiler in the oven until the cheese has gotten a golden brown & serve with sliced (preferably fresh) french bread. Be warned: let the cheese cool a bit or else you'll have a "pizza burn" on the roof of your mouth. Listen to the experienced one who usually can't wait because it smells so good. In looking online, it seems like this is a pretty traditional Greek recipe (they even light it on fire!); Dad got the recipe from the chef at a French restaurant they frequented, that served it as an appetizer. I can still see how his eyes would narrow with delight as he savored it.

Merry Merry Merry. May Santa bring you Kasseri, or whatever else your heart desires.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:22 PM