Friday, January 24, 2014

The belle of aisle 15, and other random thoughts


My goodness, time still flies when you're being professional. At the grocery store we are in the middle of what's called OND, October-November-December, in other words, the busiest time of the year. Today is Halloween and it's a Saturday, so it will be a day when we count on impulse buys and good sales to help us "blow out" lots of merchandise. The corners of the receiving dock, which runs the whole back length of the store, are piling up with Christmas product of all kinds. Since the back of the house operations, you might say, are staffed mostly by men, certain weeks of OND even get certain epithets of their own. "B----- to the wall" (it rhymes) describes the week before Thanksgiving, I'm told. God knows how they describe Christmas.

So: random thoughts. To my surprise, the belle of the wine aisle -- no, it's not me -- is of all things, vermouth. It sells amazingly well, two cases a week of Gallo's brand, plus a decent enough amount of Tribuno. Martini & Rossi does not move too much, and Noilly Prat hardly at all.

The bread and butter of the liquor department (if you'll excuse the grocery store metaphor here): vodka and gin. In addition to all that vermouth, it would seem that someone somewhere is still drinking classic martinis.

My favorite customer so far: the little old lady who just wanted a little bottle of vodka, because her friend said the best health regimen you can follow as you get older is to soak raisins in vodka, and when they are well-soaked, to eat no more than seven raisins per day. Why, her friend went on vacation and forgot her supply of raisins, and just didn't feel right the whole time! -- But we couldn't find a really small bottle of vodka. Oh well. She bought the standard size anyway. We agreed if you run out of raisins, you can always drink the vodka.

And speaking of classic drinks, I was able recently to pick up, at the local discount book warehouse, a copy of Charles Schumann's American Bar for $7.99. I have been studying it at night, to learn more about spirits and liqueurs. And a good thing, too, because yesterday I had customers asking about Cherry Heering and cachaca, and I was able to not be completely ignorant about both. And who knew? American Bar is for sale through the catalog Acorn -- for $85.00! If you can get yourself to the big half-empty strip mall near the corner of 178th and Torrence Avenue, within sight of the huge Torrence Avenue interchange on to the I-80/94 expressway, why, I can get it for you wholesale.

And, as you move from O to N yourself this weekend, enjoy another video on the Paso Robles harvest, from Dina Mande at Paso Harvest Films.

Pasoharvestfilms Ep 10 - Austin Hope & Harvest Festival Weekend from Dina Mande

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