Happy birthday ahhhhh
Happy Birthday ahhhh ahhhhh
Happy birthday ahhhh-choooooo!
Woke Tuesday morning, slight spring in my sleepy step as it was the day before my 42nd birthday and the morning of the day we were going to celebrate it by going to a big fancy steakhouse. I happen to love steakhouses, the rustic cowboy variety and the high-backed leather booth and ala carte sides kind of situation. Just dig ‘em. I’m a meat eater of first order, I swoon for relish trays and believe with all that I am that a perfectly executed wedge salad is a crisp, crunchy thing of sublime beauty. Love them. So it makes sense that the morning before I was to be partaking of an icy cold martini and spooning onto my plate a steaming mound of tender, cheesy, creamy potatoes gratin that I would be in a damn fine mood. Nearly skipped to the coffee pot, half-teaspoon of sugar, glug of cool milk and I settle down in front of my laptop for my first eye-opening sip, “Ouch!” thinking my coffee was must too warm I waited a few minutes and reached for another, “Ouch! Goddamn it”…
“Oh I must have been snoring or something” I said to the husband who was concerned about my constant wincing and somewhat garbled speech caused by the buildup of slobber I was struggling with while trying not to swallow, you know, because it burned and junk. My assumption being that having only one day off before having to head back into work, with the prospect of a long celebratory week that would end with me pouring for one of the store’s most highly anticipated and historically crazy busy tastings of the year, our annual Rose & Aioli Fest, well I figured I had slept like I was getting paid to do. That not moving, dead body, sucking the cottage cheese off the ceiling kind of sleep, thought my throat was just raw from that, tossed my computer and work keys in my bag, with my delusions and off I went.
We had opted to do fancy steak dinner the night before my actual birthday because, due to being super tight staffed right now, I was scheduled to close on Wednesday which would push steakhouse dinner back to somewhere near 9:00 and while not unheard of in the least for us to eat at that time, Tuesday just seemed like a better option, that way we could meet with a group of friends for dinner somewhere local on Wednesday, and not be out until the asscrack of dawn or whatever. Got lots of paperwork and meeting with suppliers done on Tuesday, the fire in my neck more a petty annoyance than anything else, but I was starting to worry when the burning would not cool down once all lubed and stuff, in fact it was getting far worse. Soothed myself with the promise of an icy cold Gin martini and gleefully glugged one down, let the cool nectar splash against the walls of my fiery throat as I crunched through my salad and greedily slurped away at the 2008 Domaine de Montille Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Thorey, the delicate fruit and savory flavors flitting across my tongue while hacking into a thick and perfectly cooked New York strip…bliss. Burning but blissful still. Fell into bed and woke Wednesday hoping to be done with that throat nonsense only to take a deep morning swallow…Ouch!
I had only one appointment Wednesday morning but it was with a importer that has quite a drive to come see me so I sleepily popped into my fridge and looked for an open bottle of wine to see if my taster was off. My throat still ablaze and now my head beginning to fill I was worried that my importer buddy might be wasting a trip. A quick swirl of Rose in my glass and I could smell freshly cut watermelon, minerals and citrus…not too shabby, a quick swish in the mouth and the Provencal Rose danced about so vibrant and lively that I could not bring myself to spit the tasty liquid, so I stood at my kitchen sink at 7:30 AM taking a couple sips of cool, racy Rose. Not too terrible, that cold on my throat and I was secretly hoping that even that tiny amount of alcohol might numb me just a bit. Sent the importer a quick email alerting her that while at the time of writing I still had my nose and palate but I could guarantee that I would still by the time she arrived.
Nose and palate still alive enough by our meeting we had a nice chat, she even gifted me a bottle of her husband’s rare and highly coveted hot sauce before she headed out. I was thrilled to have been able to keep my appointment, although unsure of my palate was 100%. It wasn’t until I was trying to distract myself from the heat that was starting to come off my chest, and the cling film like bubble that began forming around my head, when I reached for that bottle of hot sauce, cracked the seal and at first, just vinegar. Dammit. Took a wee bit more time, dumped some into my palm, took deep chest filling sniffs and took a little sauce on my tongue, then I got more nuance. More complexity, more spice, more pepper flavor. It was going….
Got to dinner that night, my big loud group of close friends scrunching into a both that would have fit us perfectly if it were not for the three hulking wine bags stuffed with bottles and ice packs. First out of the bag, N.V. H. Billiot Grand Cru Brut Reserve, a Pinot rich bubbly that has been a long time favorite of mine. We were asked if we were celebrating to which I responded, “No” only to have my buddies out me and tell the server that it was in fact my birthday…assholes. She asked if we would like flutes, I declined and asked for white wine glasses, poor girl, just could help herself. Gone for-ever and out she comes, all proud and stuff, with 7 dripping wet flutes…ugh. All of us doing our best to dry out our wrong-for-the-job stemware, I poured the Billiot, not sure if it was me or that stupid fucking glass but I got nadda on the nose. “I’ll take a Pickletini” I blurted before our sweet but not so much with the listening server could scurry off. A round of drinks for everyone at the table and the first food arrived. Bottles being pulled from bags, corks flying and requests for new glasses, the cling film starting to seal tightly around my noggin. 2007 Dagueneau Silex, 2009 Dagueneau Silex, 2010 Dagueneau Buisson Reynard Pouilly Fume. All fiercely aromatic wines, wines full of depth and complexity and while I was able to smell and taste them, (hard not to with such demanding wines) I was feeling pretty grateful that they were sturdy, broad wines that I could feel as much as taste, if not more. The gorgeous texture of the wines comforting me as my usually sharp palate rolled over them like a big dumb marble. When we got into a second bottle of French Rose I felt a little pang of, “Oh hells yes!” when upon tasting it I was able to discern that it was corked, and not even that bloody obvious kind of corked. Going, going but not quite gone……
Made it to work yesterday, not hungover as one might suspect but still feeling pretty much like warmed over butt. Hot, scratchy, cranky, coughing, stuffy and discovering that those cough/throat drops, they do in fact give me gas….fantastic news that considering the coughing and sneezing that are pretty prevalent during times when one might take or use those drops in the first damn place, but hey, least I can practice my clinch. Ugh!! My staff urging me to go home, me thinking they were probably right seeing as we are down two people already and are going to be horribly tight, staff wise, come Saturday, or Rose Fest day. Piled in my car, kept the windows sealed tight for the ride home, letting the warm dry air swim around my head hoping against hope that it might dry me out, at least a little….didn’t.
Busted through the front door my head so thick and heavy I stood before my “What are you doing home so early” hubby, arms in wide swoops as I tried my stuffy headed best to describe how I was feeling but settling on, “Pretty sure this is how a whitehead feels” before kicking off my Chuck Taylors and heading to the kitchen. I knew what I needed, even more, it was what I wanted. This here was a job for some kickass chicken soup and I, if I do says so mine own self, am one kickass chicken soup maker. Carl was kind enough to head to the butcher for one of their deeply flavored birds, you know, one that tastes like actual chicken, and I got to prepping my pot with a smear of bacon juice before getting a dark brown sear on my onions. Carrots, celery, some whole garlic cloves all sweating away in sizzling, spitting oil, I pulled them out and got to getting a deep browning on the bird before its time in the bubbling tub. Patience, kinda rough when you are a grumpy, snot-filled person so I got a “good enough” sear on the bird before deglazing with some white wine and soy sauce then dumped the softened veggies back in the pot just in time to hear, “Something smells goo-ood!”my wee boyfriend’s pop standing at my dining room window, drawn away from playing baseball with Tyler by the aromas coming out of my pot. Thing was, as brown and hissing as my pot was, even standing there with the steam creasing my eye shadow, cleaning my pores, and sticking my hair to my sweaty brow I got nothing….n-o-t-h-i-n-g. I could not smell a thing. Whimper…
Carl and Jeremy opted to meet a coworker for sushi, I had the house to myself, the television stuck on something stupid, pot of soup on the stove giving off nothing but warm aromatics to me. Gave the bird a good 2 hours soak before my sick tummy’s grumbling became more than I could bear. Limp veggies discarded, plump chicken cooled and picked and I cranked the notch on my stove bringing the dark mahogany broth to a rolling boil before adding tiny pasta shells. I hung my face over the pot, begging to get any, any kind of chicken smell but alas settled for bits of break in my cloggedness that the steam provided. I loaded my shallow bowl with tender hunks of pillow soft white meat chicken and long strips of Parmigiano-Reggiano, all lacy and delicate before dunking my often-used ladle below the steaming surface, scooping up what I hoped would be deeply flavored broth and toothsome little noodles. I watched as the Parm began changing form beneath the hot liquid, from airy little strips to gooey, shiny, oily pasta coating blobs of creaminess. Gave everything a quick toss with my spoon before settling my chunky rump at the dining room table, lowering my highly anticipating noggin over the bowl, the heat and steam slipping into my nostrils and lungs and….fucking nothing. Argh!!! My gorgeous soup, the one so aromatically enticing it brought my neighbor over and even caused my stuffed to the gills sushi eating husband to have a bowl, a dessert of sorts, when he got home and me, my snotty, cling film tightened head, couldn’t smell or taste a thing. Literally tasted like slightly salted hot water. Blew.
Ate enough to not be hungry, no easy task when you have to stop mid-chew to catch your breath because your stooped nose is full, (hate that so friggin much) and ended up just giving up. Crawled into my most favorite jammies and slathered on a two-inch layer of Vick’s Vapo Gunk on my chest, even gave myself a Dirty Sanchez…a smear beneath my nose and above my lip, (um, don’t really recommend this maneuver when you’ve spent days blowing and wiping away at your nose…sort of stings like a mug) and still, nothing. Could not smell the Vick’s even, that ought to make clear just how jacked up I am, birthday week indeed. Humpf!
So this morning I can report, I’m still palate and nose deficient. Coffee smelled and tasted, “warm” but that was about it. Toast was merely hard crunch then sawdust, and you haven’t lived until you’ve been sent into a gagging fit, on cough drops mind you, after chocking on bits of sawdust toast. Yeah, still grumpy I’m sure you can tell and the one thing that is seriously plaguing me, I mean aside from feeling like warmed over butt, I have one of our most important tastings of the year tomorrow afternoon. Our Rose Fest where I get to showcase 12 of my lovingly chosen Roses from the South of France and pour them for what has been up to 120 people…and I can’t taste or smell a thing. Goddamn it.
Was going, going and now…
Wish me luck, sure as hell going to need it.