The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No Purple Feet for Me

This past weekend while picking grapes at Basignani Vineyards, I couldn’t help thinking of the great Lucille Ball and her Lucy Riccardo grape stomping episode . My outfit differed, my head covered with a baseball cap versus Lucy’s bandana, no peasant blouse off the shoulders nor full skirt and definitely not barefoot – I was in jeans, t-shirt with a bulky sweater for the early morning foray into the fields.

Each year Basignani Vineyards invites guests to volunteer to help with their wine harvest. When I arrived the four Basignani dogs were playing with a soccer ball out on the lawn, the leaves on the tree just turning color and the weather sunny with a slight fall chill. Volunteers were gathered under the tent, a number who came from Virginia and the DC area to participate.

We were taken to a field, given snipers, and a glove for the alternate hand. “Snip the grapes as close the bunch with as little stem as possible, remove any dried or bad looking grapes and put them in the plastic cartons” were the directions. The volunteers worked both sides of the vines. I chatted up fellow pickers as we snipped, picked and pushed our plastic bins down the line. From young to old, female and male, we all worked diligently.

I was across the vine from a brother-in-law to the Basignani family, Wayne Gardner, who was quite knowledgeable about their wines. A question was asked of him what happens to grapes once they leave the field? It was a Wilson like moment from Home Improvement, enjoy it as I did in the video below.

It took us about 3 hours to do what was necessary. Some were able to walk back to the tent, others caught a ride. Backs ached, knees were sore from squatting to reach the lower vines and no one was without vibrant purple stains upon their wardrobe and hands.

The Basignani family provided a wonderful lunch for the volunteers consisting of a lentil and meatball soup, panzanella salad, Italian cold cuts, tomato pie, house-cured olives and roasted peppers and the wonderful Basignani wines. Let me not forget the apple cake and brownies. All-in-all, a grape time was had by all.

Dee Basignani’s
Lentil Soup with Mini Meatballs
Serves approximate 4 - 6

2 quarts water
5 to 6 beef bouillon cubes
1 bag lentils (2 cups)
4-5 stalks celery chopped
1 lg onion chopped
2 lg carrots sliced
olive oil (a little bit)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
garlic powder to taste
tomato paste or fresh tomatoes

Meatballs (or your own favorite meatball recipe)

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 lg egg
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
salt to taste

2 lg potatoes, peeled and cut in a ½ inch cube
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to garnish

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven add the water, bouillon cubes, lentils, celery, onion, carrots, olive oil. Once to a boil, taste and add the salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and tomato or tomato paste. Reduce to a slow simmer and cover.

While soup is cooking, combine your beef or turkey, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and salt – mix well. Form the mixture into gumball sized meatballs (approximately 1 tablespoon). Cover and reserve.

After the soup has simmered for an hour bring it a boil and add the reserved meatballs. When the soup returns to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. If the soup is getting too thick add a cup or two of water. Cook for another 30 minutes and then add the cubed potatoes. Cover and cook another 30 minutes.

To serve top each bowl of soup with grated Parmesan cheese.

Basignani Vineyards
15722 Falls Road
Sparks-Glencoe, Maryland 21152
410 472 0703 phone

Open to the public
Wednesdays through Saturday
11:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Noon to 6 p.m.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have been there and done it in the past. I had a blast. Was upset I couldn't fit it in this year!


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