Yesterday I went to four grocery stores.
I wasn't looking for anything specific. I had a small list. I guess you could say I had time to kill. At first I was feeling adventurous and went to the local mercado on the advice of a friend. When I walked through the sliding doors I was instantly taken over by homesickness. Back to a time when mercados, Asian markets, fishmongers, and that lawyer turned deli manager were weekly occurrences in a career in food long dead. After a quick tour of the store I found myself overwhelmed and just as quickly fleeing.
Again on the advice of others, I went to the next store on my list, Aldi's. Still a mystery to me as one of those grocery stores with questionable European ties and always located in neighborhoods I have no reason to go to. After refusing to spend a quarter to use a shopping cart I began to slowly pick up items I needed. Shortly after trying to comprehend why a TV was on sale next to a meat thermometer, which was across from some olive oil, I simply put my goods back on the shelf and left.
At this point I'm texting my grocery store sponsor (much like an AA sponsor but with better cookie platters when we gather) to get some validation for my fleeing of two stores in under 30 minutes. I told her I was on my way to Trader Joe's and my usual weekly haunt, the only store I find that closely resembles my store of choice back in Minnesota. With minimal watching of the dreaded iPhone ellipses she responded with "it's really all we have". She and I both know that's not 100% true. Maybe more like 89.9% true. Let's face it we both talk about grocery stores like Carrie talks about the Prada store in SoHo. We know what makes us happy.
Across town, one hour later, and one conversation with Rod The TJ's Crew Member about his intent to use the stuffing flavored kettle chips in this years stuffing later, I was on my way home to use my findings for this weeks blog food.
I'm making a cheese ball. There is an office fete on Monday. And though historically I am an office fete fighter I have lucked out this time and have a team I care enough to make a cheese ball for. Also due to the birthday girl's love of owls, the cheese ball is shaped like one.
At the end of the day I am calling myself a grocery store snob. We each have our happy place. I cannot judge. But know that if you ever see me walking though a grocery store, hands in pockets, side eyeing the butcher, know that mentally I am trying to decide if running out of the store will cause suspicion.
If you see something. Say something.
Like nondescript packaging on poultry.
Owl Cheese Ball
Based on Michelle Buffardi's Great Balls of Cheese available here
Owl Body (cheese ball):
16 oz Softened Cream Cheese
3/4 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar
2 T Shallots, minced
1 T Herb de Provence seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toasted Sliced Almonds
Small Round Pretzel or Cracker
Finely Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (for soft feathers on belly if desired)
Variety of pretzel sticks
Using hand mixer or stand mixer combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, shallots, Herb de Provence, salt, and pepper if desired. Remove from bowl and shape into large egg like ball on serving platter. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until decorations are fully prepared.
Toast sliced almonds in pan or oven until light brown. Set aside to cool.
Cut a small piece of carrot into the shape of a beak and feet.
Slice an olive for eyes.
Use capers for pupils.
You can 'glue' everything on using a little cheese scraped from the back of the owl where you will be putting the almond slices.
With decorations prepared remove cheese ball from refrigerator and begin the yoga like practice of decorating your cheese ball. Best when done while drinking wine.