Tuesday
Jun162015

You Are What You Eat

I get asked all the time: "David, do you really drink as much booze as you say you do on the blog?"

The answer: Yes, I drink every single day. Usually more than I should.

The follow up question is usually, "How do you have time to drink that many different things, and how do you even decide what to drink?"

Easy. First off, I don't have kids, or a mortgage, or anything else that requires me to be socially or economically responsible. I have nothing to do when I get home but kiss my beautiful wife on the cheek, take a load off, put my feet up, and pour myself a drink. When you eliminate some of life's more demanding obstacles from your path, you'll be surprised how much extra time you have (to drink). How do I decide what exactly to drink at the end of the day? It's simple: the food comes first. Then you pick out the booze. It's not all that difficult. You just let your stomach guide you and you literally go with your gut.

For example, I do a lot of take out and Door Dash. At least three to five times a week. Let's say I'm eating chinese food that evening. I call Little China Kitchen in San Mateo, I talk to Christine, and I give her my order. Heavier spirits and fuller-bodied wines don't pair all that well with spicy food, so I'll usually start with a gin and tonic while I'm waiting for delivery. Forty minutes later I get a knock on my door, along with a giant bag full of pot stickers, spicy chicken, and sauteed broccoli. That's when I break out the cold Champagne or the riesling, and get going. After we eat I might have a glass of something brown, maybe not depending on whether I want to go for a walk.

If I do pick up rather than delivery, I might swing by Pronto in Redwood City on El Camino (just up the street from our store) and grab a chicken combination dinner: a whole roasted bird, a side of potatoes, a container of white beans with garlic, and a few pieces of focaccia bread. If we're doing roasted chicken I'll probably grab a bottle of pinot noir before leaving (my house gets hot in the summer, and we don't have A/C, so I don't keep many reds in the building). We'll probably pound a Campari and soda right when I walk in, then have the wine with the meal, then I'll probably pour a glass of Armagnac after that. I like the rustic French spirits after eating chicken for some reason.

Sometimes my mother-in-law comes over and cooks, which means Mexican food. That means I'm drinking tequila/mezcal cocktails, beer, and probably more tequila after the meal. That's pretty straight-forward.

If we're snacking—let's say salads, olives, cheese, things like that—then that means white wine or rosé, with gin martinis to start, and most likely something like whiskey on the back end.

The point is: I don't drink any one particular thing on a regular basis. I drink different things every single day. I drink anything and everything because I like to eat different things all the time. Sushi with sake, indian food and a cold lager, cocktails and the Giants game with a handful of salty peanuts, a bottle of Bordeaux with a juicy steak, Mojitos and Pad Thai, you name it. When you look at each day purely as an opportunity to eat and drink something new, then this is just part of the game. It's not so much a job as it is a lifestyle. And I'm fully committed.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jun152015

Weekend Fix

It had been months since I'd gone home to Modesto to visit my parents. I've been out of town so often as of late that the weekends just kept passing by, and the time away just kept racking up. Because of all that traveling, I've been seriously gassed recently, in desperate need of a break, so I decided to pack my bag yesterday, throw a case of wine in the car, and make the drive east into the Central Valley. Nothing personifies summer in my mind like a warm San Joaquin evening. Let's see...a few magnums of aged Bordeaux, some rosé, some post-meal grappa. What else did I need?

Some New York steaks might be nice. Sit outside, grill, shoot the shit with my parents, drink some claret, and let out all that retail stress. 

I love posting up with the computer while my parents are cooking. Checking through email, while my dad gets his veggie skewers ready. I was reading a story about a local incident at Little Caesars, where a guy ordering a pizza told a woman eating there that she was too fat to be eating pizza. Her son then beat the hell out of him right there in the restaurant for insulting his mother. That cracked me up. Not that I condone violence, but in the modern internet age where people say whatever they want, whenever they want, anonymously, and with no repercussions, it's always funny when they slip up and forget how real life works. Real life is not like the internet. Especially in the Central Valley. We settle it in the street.

Summer salad. A warm afternoon breeze. Plenty of booze. The Warriors win game five. Game of Thrones goes out with a bang.

What stress?

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Jun132015

Beat the Heat

I'll let you all in on a little secret. When it gets this hot, and you want something cold, delicious, light, and refreshing (that isn't a glass of ice water and has alcohol in it), it's tough to beat a glass of Champagne. That being said, not everyone has the means (or the desire) to drop $35 on a bottle of bubbly; especially if they're going to be downing it quickly on the patio with friends. But let's be honest: there's not a plethora of inexpensive sparkling wine out there that inspires the palate. Spanish Cava can sometimes do the trick, and there's a variety of good French Cremant out there, but you're still going to drop $20-$25 for something like that (and once you're there, you might as well just pay the extra $10 and get the real deal).

Prosecco wouldn't be in my personal top five sparkling wine choices, unless you're talking simple bang for your buck. It's often slightly sweet or rather metallic in flavor, unless you spring for something nicer (but again you're talking $25). Prosecco shouldn't be expensive, though. It should be simple, to the point, and affordable. We needed a sub-$15 option at K&L, and our Italian buyer Greg St. Clair found the answer in 2011 when he worked out a deal with Valdobbiadene producer San Venanzio. We began importing the wines directly (shaving a healthy 40% off the bottle price) and were able to sell their basic Prosecco for $14.99—a smoking hot deal at the time.

Here's where it gets better: in 2014 they had terrible weather in the Valdobbiadene. Wind, hail, and massive storms obliterated a number of vines and made growing conditions pretty poor for the vintage. Some producers just flat out gave up and wrote the harvest off. San Venanzio had nothing to lose at this point, so they just let the grapes hang on the vine for as long as possible. They ended up harvesting what was left in late October—a solid two months later than usual. And guess what? The fruit was spectacular. But poor reviews of the vintage and the struggling Euro (with a strong dollar) weren't going to justify a high price point, so—despite the quality of the harvest—the price of the wines would have to come down.

And now we have the 2014 vintage of San Venanzio for $12.99 a bottle, despite the fact that it's the best incarnation of the wine we've ever carried. It's light, zippy, dry, but with a rounder palate of fruit and ripeness that balances out the acidity. I've personally drunk about seven bottles already this week. I'll probably drink a few more tonight. For the price, you can afford to get crazy. Drink it straight, make some sparkling wine cocktails, add a dash of Aperol, or use it in place of Champagne for a French 75 with gin and lemon juice. It's not often we have something this high quality for less than the standard retail. The fact that we're importing it directly makes all the difference. Another K&L wine secret for you spirits drinkers.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jun122015

Heatwave Weekend

It's going to be a hot one in the Bay this weekend. It starts tonight. If you're not sitting outside somewhere, eating snacks, and drinking copious amounts of cold alcohol, I'm going to be very disappointed. Put something on ice and get to it! I'm still at work, but you should be on the patio! GO! NOW! It's perfect outside!

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jun122015

Stress Binging

These NBA playoffs are going to be the death of me. I was so stressed out for the game last night that I went home before tipoff, drank a gin and tonic to calm my nerves, then gorged through an entire bag of popcorn. As the game went on, my wife and I blew through two bottles of Prosecco, then ordered delivery from the Lebanese place we love so much, then broke out the mezcal bottles for shots before going on a walk.

At least we won!

But I don't remember much about what happened after we won. Go Warriors!

-David Driscoll