Saturday, November 27, 2004

My Kind of Shopping Spree

I made a sanity pilgrimage to Surdyk's tonight. For those who don't know, Surdyk's is the best liquor store in the Twin Cities. It's got selection, price, quality, and amazing customer service. In addition to wine, beer, and booze, they have an excellent walk-in cigar humidor.

They also have a little gourmet cheese shop with hundreds of cheeses from around the world. Not sure if you want to spend $25.oo per pound on a specific cheese because you're not sure if the flavor will match the intriguing description? Just ask for a taste. You can taste any cheese you like before deciding if you want to buy.

I am the proverbial kid in a naughty sin-centric version of a candy store when I'm at Surdyk's. When I get too burnt-out by work and parenting, I try to budget a little mad-money to go crazy down there.

Tonight I bought three different cheeses for me, and one for the kids (my son's favorite cheese in the world - no fooling - is Port Salut, from Normandy - though he calls it his special white cheese). I got a domestic ewes-milk blue cheese, English farmhouse cheddar, and something I had never heard of, and can't remember the name of from Italy. Added a little Calabrese Soprasetta, from Italy.

And then the fun part. Into the liquor part of the store to find some fun wine to match with it (and any good bargains or binge "must haves," within my mad-money budget).

One of the things I especially like about shopping for wine at Surdyk's is that they can blow you away in every price point. There are other good wine stores in town that have great selections in the higher price points, but they seem to intentionally make the cheap stuff as uninspired as possible. At Surdyk's if you fon't want to spend more than $10 a bottle it's no problem. They have terrific values all the way down there. And if you truly are someone for whom price is no object, they have plenty to keep you satisfied as well.

This trip I kept my wine prices pretty modest. They were running a sale, knocking about 20-25% off lots of really good wine. So I tried to keep my choices to the sale wines, and under $15 a bottle. Only one ended up going over, but only by $2.50, and that was still a sale price. I made intentionally eclectic choices. An Aussie Shiraz I had never previously tried; a reliably excellent New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the new 2004 bottling; an unfamiliar Spanish Rioja considered a great value and also on sale; an always excellent Italian Salice Salentino; another Italian red I have never heard of in my life; a California Zinfandel from a favorite winery but an unfamiliar year; and a Gerwurtzraminer from the state of Washington I've never tried.

I can hardly figure out where to start. I want to taste them all. And it's not even a work night! But no. That would be wrong. This incidentally represents the danger of me ever opening a wine bar. Make this kind of thing my work and you'll never see me sober again. I think I'll stick to software for now - a career in which suffering a hangover punishes you all day as you're forced to solve thinky problems while last night's revelry thumps against your skull with the rapidity of African tribal rhythms, and the force of railroad spike drivers.

Nonetheless I am enthused. Expect to see some happy wine-blogging in the near future.

Oh yeah. On the "binge purchase" level, I also picked up a bottle of Pravda - a new Polish Vodka that won a prestigious vodka taste-off in San Francisco, and was dubbed "Best Vodka in the World." The last one to win such an award - in Chicago, rather than San Francisco - was Grey Goose Vodka. Up to this point, Grey Goose has been my favorite Vodka - and I have tried other premiums to compare. Interesting to see if the champ is about to be dethroned.

And speaking of vodka martinis, where the heck has Stephen Green disappeared to. He appeared to have some technical problems post-election, but after all this time I'm wondering if the guy has died, or perhaps moved to Canada in a post-election buyer's remorse induced panic. Even his sometime blog-mate Will Collier doesn't seem to know where he is. Could this be a budding mystery in the blogosphere to keep us occupied through the holidays?


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