December 2001

More, way more Champagne

by Michael Alderete on 12/29/2001

Rochelle recently read that Grocery Outlet, the very low-cost food market, bought up substantial portions of the inventory of dot.bomb victim, and was selling it at a huge discount in their stores. Obsessed with a good deal, and obsessed with wine, it became her mission to strike while the iron was hot.

She bought a dozen different wines, all less than $10, and over the course of two weeks, we tried most of them. And most of them were undistinguished.

Because the first few bottles were disappointing, we didn’t get around to trying the one bottle of Champagne she picked up, until the Friday before Xmas. Rochelle, David, and I all thought it was pretty decent, especially considering we knew it cost less than $10. Then Rochelle looked at the receipt, and realized that it cost way less than $10; $2.99 to be exact.

Can you see where this train is headed?

Yes, the next day we were in our car headed to Berkeley and the nearest Grocery Outlet. After digging through their wine stock, we found tucked into the back corner an entire case of the same Champagne. We bought the whole thing, along with a few other bottles ranging from $1.99 to $4.99.

At a taste test we organized on Xmas day, our $2.99 bottle beat all comers. This wine’s a winner, and that meant another trip to Grocery Outlet, this time, to San Jose.

This store didn’t have any wines visible, at first, but then we realized that they had a big stash near the front door, away from the wine section. Alas, our little bottle wasn’t there, but we did find a couple of $10 bottles, which both turned out to be quite good.

Then, in line to check out, Rochelle noticed yet another stack in another section of the store. “Hey, what’s that?” “I’ll go check it out…”

Score! Three unopened cases of our little find. We bought them all.

For those keeping track, yes, that means we have (had) four cases of this Champagne. Fridays are now officially “Champagne Days” in our house. So are Saturdays, and any other days we think it’s a good idea.

Come and visit us, before we drink it all!

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Proper use of the telephone

by Michael Alderete on 12/29/2001

For those who don’t know, Rochelle got the opportunity to buy our house when the former owner lost it to his heroine addiction. The bank foreclosed, and Rochelle got a great deal.

One of the consequences of that unplanned change of ownership is that there was no orderly removal of possessions. Most of his junk — random crap stored in the basement for years — was thrown away prior to Rochelle moving in. In spite of that cleaning, some traces of the prior occupant remained, and as the new owner it was Rochelle’s job to deal with it.

Today while working on our own Crap Abatement and Reduction Program (CRAP), Rochelle came across a scrap of his that she saved, a letter he wrote but apparently never sent. It leads off with a paragraph of truly great writing, which I will share with you now:

My dearest darling Suzzi Lastname,

First and foremost let me apologize for calling you up at such a late hour last night. I was on my way to greatness in the guise of don Julio el BLOTTO when following some minor gun play I decided to stop and rest my horse and relieve my bladder. As I entered the lavatory of the cantina, I saw before my eyes that most terrifying vehicle of verbal communications — the pay telephone. The rest is history. I hope I did not disturb you.

The tradition of Drinking-and-Dialing is probably as old as the telephone itself, or very nearly. Here’s wishing that you’re on the receiving end, instead of calling us.


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Buche de Noel: UPDATE

by Michael Alderete on 12/28/2001

We took our Buche de Noel to my mother’s Xmas day feast, where 12 of my immediate and extended family gathered to celebrate the holidays.

While it was quite good, it was not in the traditional style, and we were actually a bit disappointed. A traditional Buche is a chocolate sponge cake slathered with ganache, and then rolled into a log shape. Our Buche was more of a solid log of chocolate mousse — great for chocolate freaks, but a little sweet if you were anticipating some cake to lighten things up.

Next year we’ll try the Buche from Patisserie Delanghe, which is right around the corner from Boulangerie Bay Bread, and didn’t have the huge line at 8:30am on Xmas Eve.

Delanghe did our wedding cake, and is an outstanding French bakery in their own right. They just don’t do breads, or much besides desserts, actually. But their desserts are outstanding.

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Buche de Noel

by Michael Alderete on 12/25/2001

A follow-up to yesterday’s post about Boulangerie Bay Bread, that morning we went there to buy a Buche de Noel, a traditional holiday cake shaped like a Yule log.

We got there 10 minutes before they opened at 8am, and the line was already down the block, all the way to the corner. It took 45 minutes for us to work our way to the front, and the line was never shorter than when we first arrived.

A lot of those people were no doubt disappointed, because we got the last Buche. We also got an apple-cranberry tart, a couple croissants, some cookies, two sandwiches, and a big piece of croissant bread pudding (remember, we said we were pigs).

Next year we will be smart, and put in our pre-order a week in advance; we tried on Friday this year, but they had already cut off pre-orders by then.

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by Michael Alderete on 12/24/2001 · 1 comment

In my first year with Rochelle I drank more Champagne than I had had in my entire life prior to meeting her. Champagne was for special occasions, but Rochelle enlightened me, and now a special occasion is whenever there’s a cold bottle in the refrigerator.

We go to Champagne tastings as often as we can find them, and there are many during the holidays. This past week we took part in a single-grower tasting, put on by Amphora Wine Merchants at their sister restaurant, Absinthe.

Going into the tasting, we didn’t understand the “single grower” description. What this means is that all the grapes were grown by a single grower, which limits production, and ensures that the wines will remain “little,” at least in terms of market penetration.

The wines were spectacular, and markedly different from the very good, very consistent Champagnes we’re fond of, such as Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Taittinger, etc., which are blends made from the grapes of many, many growers.

The experience set us with the firm conviction that our next vacation will be to France, and specifically to the Champagne region, for as much tasting as our livers can handle. We’ve already come up with the official slogan of our trip: “Champagne, It’s What’s For Dinner!”

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Croissants, bread, desserts!

by Michael Alderete on 12/24/2001

Boulangerie Bay Bread is the best bakery in San Francisco, with the award to prove it. Rochelle and I cannot get out without spending $20, not because it’s expensive (it’s not), but because we are pigs, and there’s just too much good stuff.

Their croissants are heavenly, and customers (including many with French accents) regularly exclaim that you cannot get better without traveling to Paris. Their goodness comes from tradition, technique, and lots of butter. Yum!

They have a wide variety of wonderful breads, of which the walnut baguette is probably our favorite, especially to eat with cheese (Artisan Cheese is right around the corner). And they have some wonderful desserts, including fruit and chocolate tarts, and my favorites, their custard-based desserts (Ooh la la!).

Their main bakery is at 2325 Pine Street, just below Fillmore, but have two other locations with different names, one in Cole Valley and one at 2310 Polk Street. They also have a few restaurants, including Chez Nous and Galette, both on Fillmore Street, a couple of blocks away from the bakery.

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by Michael Alderete on 12/22/2001

On our first date, Rochelle offered me seltzer, real seltzer out of one of those old-fashioned bottles you usually see in Marx brothers movies. I knew right then that she was a groovy chick.

Rochelle has been getting seltzer delivered almost since she arrived in San Francisco, more than a decade ago. We are now both totally addicted to having refreshing, bubbly seltzer delivered a couple times a month. It is the world’s best thing to have in your refrigerator when you’re looking to rehydrate from an evening of drinking.

We get ours delivered to our house by Seltzer Sisters, a local company based in Redwood City. They take Hetch Hetchy water (the best in California), filter and treat it, and then add just the right amount of carbonization.

They also have a variety of flavored syrups, from brands which are much better than the ubiquitous Torani, and other seltzer-related items. If you’re a fan of the Italian-style sodas made with Torani syrups, you need to give these a try. Personally, I like my seltzer straight, or mixed with fruit juice, 50/50.

Seltzer Sisters will deliver pretty much anywhere in the Bay Area. Give ‘em a call, at (800) 928-3755, to get set up with the best way to drink bottled water.

And tell them that Michael and Rochelle say hello!
Seltzer Sisters
Mr. Lucky Recommends Them Too

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Horrible end, part two

by Michael Alderete on 12/6/2001

OK, it’s worse. Rochelle and I were in fact recounting last night’s incident, laughing hysterically, when he committed his second felony in two days. Literally while I was working on the first cat shit story, Cecil went to the front of the house and took another enormous dump.

Once again, Rochelle dropped a paper towel in place and ran, and once again I got to “be the man” and handle the really foul stuff.

I think this means that Rochelle is on catbox duty for a few weeks.

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“A horrible end to a beautiful meal”

December 6, 2001

That was Rochelle’s way of describing what happened when she cleaned up a recent cat…mess.

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Fun with electricity, part three

December 4, 2001

At least OTHER people do stupid things with electricity, too.

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Fun with electricity, part two

December 1, 2001

Wherein I continue to do stupid things with live wires.

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Quotation of the year candidate

December 1, 2001

Words of wisdom from Rochelle.

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