Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Bad -- But La Bodega -- It's Good!

It's been a long hot summer and I've been neglecting my literary responsibilities in favor of gardening, sweating, swimming, sweating, canning and preserving, sweating, watering and watering and watering my black-spot-ridden heirloom tomato plants.  Suffice it to say that summer has been long and hot. My only excuse is that I decided to take some time off from writing in favor of reading -- books!  No web, just books for one glorious summer. But all good things must end so I'm back in the literary saddle again.

Just after we built the garden beds in spring.
My no-till garden has been a fun experiment that turned into a wonderful gardening success. Yes, it's true. We built ourselves a no-till garden, on a lark mind you, and it was a resounding success.  A success that provided organic veggies for the summer table all season long. But this too will be covered in a soon-to-be-created post.

Another part of summer -- probably the best part of summer -- was my daughter's return home from college.  But, as always, time flew relentlessly. Now summer is essentially over and she must schlep back to school -- all of her belongings in tow.  This is a mixed bag for me. I love that she is returning to her life at school because it's such an exciting time in a young person's life. But I also hate that her room at home is empty again.  The dog mopes -- wandering in and out of the empty, much-less cluttered space.  We follow the dog -- moping and roaming in and out of the now quiet room at the end of the hall,  searching for dirty dishes, and her shining face -- both of which are absent.  Current residents are dust bunnies, abandoned clothes, a waste can that needs emptying, and lots and lots of audio Cd's.  The chosen audio herd has been loaded on her Ipod, so the abandoned musical mother ships stay home with the old folks too.

But, one of the benefits of my daughter's return to her college town of residence is the opportunity to return to my home town to eat lunch with her every week.  You see, I grew up in Oxford so every week or so I drive back to the stomping ground of my youth -- meeting up with the kiddo for lunch.  One of our favorite places in Oxford is La Bodega, the Dipaolo family's little lunch counter/Italian grocery/deli.

Oxford has always had an Italian Grocery.  When I was a child growing up, my mother would send me into Corso's Italian Grocery -- a little storefront located on High Street.  The  spring mounted door bell would ring brightly when you pushed open the door. She reminded me of my grandmother -- Old Mrs. Corso --  her ample house-dress clad body rocking from side to side as she emerged from the back room with a smile, waiting while I told her what my mother wanted that day:  a wedge of Parmesan, some fresh basil, ricotta,  sheets of fresh lasagna.  From  the cold case, Mrs. Corso would retrieve the desired item.

My most vivid memory of her is watching, fascinated, as she cut the Gorgonzola cheese with a length of twine, girdling the wheel then strangling off a piece, using the same piece of twine to secure the wrapping paper around my small parcel of cheese.

I loved that store. The smells, the sausages and hams hanging from hooks. The cans of olive oil stacked on the shelves, bottles of Chianti waiting to be enjoyed.  The refrigerator case's motor whirring away until it's droning was interrupted by the cha-ching of the old cash register or the tinkling of  the doorbell as another customer entered the store behind me.

La Bodega reminds me of Corso's.  No hams or sausages hanging from the ceiling. And the bosoms of the help are decidedly more perky than Mrs. Corso's.  But there's still a feeling of being back at home.

The deli is well-stocked with fresh made salads, pastas, and dinner take out.  The help is pleasant and courteous.  I could do without the styrofoam bowls and flimsy plastic cutlery. But the food is good. The gazpacho seasoned to perfection -- cool and refreshing... the falafal is excellent!

And if you're looking for a quick and tasty dinner to take home, La Bodega offers great Italian and Middle Eastern fare that will satisfy.  Soups, salad, pasta, meat and vegetarian entrees.  And the baklava can't be beat.  Chocolate dipped baklava -- heaven!

I think Mrs. Corso would approve...

La Bodega
11 W. High St.
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: 513-523-1338

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