Next Door (by Wegmans) threw a “Tapas and Paella” party over the weekend. As hardcore Españaphiles we couldn’t resist. It was pretty expensive so we were afraid to suggest it to any of our friends but we ran into Tony who comes to see Margaret Explosion and we mingled and had a great time.
They had some famous Spanish chefs there cooking paella in huge pans over an open fire on the patio. There was a bar out outside and seating around a couple of fire pits. Tapas were prepared and served inside where a band, Roja Jazz, was playing. They did a great job creating a Spanish atmosphere. The tapas came fast and furious, Manchego and Valderon cheese, pulpo swimming in olive oil, shrimp, champioñes and of course, Jamoón Iberico.
Outdoors the temperature must have been in the forties but the conversation was lively. We were talking to someone about Spain and he told us he was somewhat of a train buff. He and his wife had taken the high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid and then down to Sevilla. We said something about the effort to get a high speed train here and he said, “Well, I’m with Don Trump,” which sounded like a non-sequitor until he explained he didn’t think the government should be subsidizing the trains. Oh, and Danny Wegman was there. I saw someone shaking his hand so I want over thanked him for having this event. I told him my mother was a Tierney and they were all in the grocery business in Rochester. He interrupted, “I know who the Tierney’s were.
Magazines and the whole print world have clearly taken a hit but somehow the magazine rack at Wegmans hasn’t gotten any smaller. I picked up a few this morning and would have bought something if I could have found anything interesting. It seems instead of just going out of business they have filled their pages with more ads and shorter articles. Rolling Stone was hard to even flip though. It was stuffed with blown-in subscription cards and heavy stock, multipage ad supplements. An article entitled “The Year Pop’s Future Arrived” had a picture of Paul McCartney in it. Maybe that was the point. No future.
A casual glance reveals there are more Mac oriented mags than PC ones and for a system that is so intuitive and easy to use there is the niche journal, “iPad For Seniors.” I was afraid to open “The Saturday Evening Post. Did it come back from the dead? “If “Fast Company” really knows “The Secrets Of The Most Productive People” they certainly aren’t secrets. And I was too skeptical to look at the “Skeptical Inquirer’s” article on “Islamic Creationism.”
One of my favorite things to do is meeting my parents for dinner at Nick’s Sea Breeze Inn. Nick is always a delight, the food is good, we can usually get a table by the window and look out at the amusement park and the walls are covered with memorabilia. Nick went to high school with Scott LaFaro, the bassist in the Bill Evans Trio so there’s photos of him. Nick worked at club in Geneva, just outside of Rochester. It was on the circuit back in the day so there’s autographed pictures of Duke Ellington and Louie Armstrong and this wacky copy of a Sofia Loren painting.
My mom and I both ordered the manicotti last night and we were talking about the new Wegmans which was having it’s grand opening on Sunday. My dad asked if we wanted to stop in there so we drove up and had to park across the street. The big new parking lot is not big enough! It is pretty amazing that they were able to tear down the old store and half of that city block, build an entirely new store and reopen in three months time. The store looks great, like a European market, with a huge fresh fish department, bakery, and a staggering amount of prepared food from Sushi to macaroni salad. My mom and dad were picking out their Greek yogurt while we watched a toy train circle overhead. Funny, there was a toy train circling overhead at the trendy market cafe we ate at while we were in Barcelona last year.
I couldn’t get my Nikon to focus on this Robin egg. Of course I was in “Auto” mode so I can’t really complain. The camera does have a manual focus but that would take me ten minutes to figure out. Imagine how difficult it would be for an auto focus mechanism to find a surface on the egg on which to focus.
I occasionally buy the organic eggs at Wegmans. They clearly taste better than the regular Wegman’s eggs but at almost four times the price they are a real luxury item. And I don’t like the little red Wegmans logo stamped on top of each of the brown eggs. The packaging is bad enough but it really bugs me when they put their mark right on the produce.
When you get as far as the lake there is no choice but to turn around. We crossed paths with another skier this morning. He stopped long enough to say, “Perfect day!” We agreed.
Snow days were better when they came out of the blue. They take all the fun out it now with sensational hype and no more accuracy than they ever had. When the weather guys are wrong everyone gets bummed. We didn’t get the “Storm of the Century” last night but we got a few inches and Wegmans got their run on. I’m not complaining. It was a perfect day.
I usually start a post here by looking at my photos but I just stuck my Ultra II SanDisk card in the card reader and it was empty. There is always the iPhoto library or Flickr.
We took our first swim in the street pool this afternoon. I think this the first time we’ve been in in May. The temps are in the high eighties and the water is 73 degrees already. Group dynamics are a funny thing but that’s what makes the world go ’round. A tree needed to be taken down and some people in the pool group wanted the job to “go out for bid” and others wanted just drop the thing. What could be more fun than taking down a tree? Especially when there’s an engineer in the group.
I had three spices on our grocery list to pick up at Wegmans today. It takes some time to sort through the competition. Unlike other products they don’t sit on the shelf next to one another. They are arranged by brands. McCormicks is like the Microsoft of spices and it’s tough to find generic spices. Comparing unit pricing is impossible without a pocket calculator as some are priced per ounce and others by the pound. And the little plastic bottles keep getting smaller. When I settle on one I usually buy two so I don’t have to sort it all out again.
I took this photo over by the Public Market on Saturday. The dog is real.
It really bugs me that the Quicktime Pro “Export for Web” feature generates a movie that is not supported on the iPod Touch so I’m through with it. I put five or six movies from this blog (including my shaky Wreckless Eric / Amy Rigby video with extra footage) up on YouTube today and I switched the links. I hope I don’t effect the price of Apple stock with that. And I see the Bobby Henrie & The Goners video I put up there in my last post has a hundred views already.
Old guys are allowed to have favorite cashiers at Wegmans. I asked mine were the charcoal was and she led me down the aisle! She pointed to a big pile of Briquettes and I said, “no, regular charcoal.” She said, “What is regular charcoal?”. I saw a few bags of the old fashioned lump charcoal and I grabbed one of those and thanked her.
We were sitting out front watching our neighbors pack when Monica brought over three bags of greens that would probably go bad while they were gone. She said, “I think one of them is cilantro”‘ and I thought great. I was going to pick some up for one of the tapas we were planning on making when we got together with Julio and Alice this weekend. We headed out to the Public Market and bought as much as we could carry of local blueberries, peaches, dark red cherries and corn. I grabbed some Italian parsley that one of the tapas recipes called for and then we stopped at Wegmans to pick up the rest.
At the corner of Culver and Ridge, right in front of Walgreens, there was a gathering of protesters wearing suits and holding up big white signs. One of them said, “Honk if You Support Traditional Marriage”. Someone honked. I laid on the horn and didn’t let up. The protesters stared at us not knowing what to think. We drove by them again after shopping at Wegmans and I took some photos and yelled, “You guys are nuts.” They were all guys and one of their signs read, “Adam and Eve not Steve and Steve.”
I got home and unpacked and discovered the cilantro that Monica had given us was actually Italian parsley so I hopped on my bike and headed back to Wegmans. I told Peggi I might take a movie of the protesters and she suggested that I say, Hi Steve”, to all of them as I rode by so I did that. “Hi Steve.” “Hi Steve.” “Hi Steve.” “Hi Steve.” “Hi Steve.” “Hi Steve.” “Hi Steve.” etc. They really didn’t know what to think.
I need to provide beverages for my opening Part II on Friday and I was thinking that Genny beer would go perfectly with the Crime Faces. I checked the price at Wegmans and then went next door to Walgreens. I found out they didn’t carry alcohol so I headed down the road to Walmart. They were so busy that I couldn’t find an empty shopping cart other than ones that had a little car attached to it for your kid to ride in. The beer section was about a mile back and they didn’t carry Genny.
Peggi’s birthday is coming up so I thought I would look for a book. I wandered around the oversized store until it dawned on me that books and Walmart don’t exactly go together. I found an English speaking clerk and she directed me to the book section with BestSellers (about seven of the top ten) and romance novels. Wegmans supermarket has more books than Walmart.
I took a photo of the logo on the way out. Is this a new logo for these guys? I don’t get here very often. It occured to me that Wegmans, Walgreens and Walmart all have the same logo now.
We don’t usually have lunch. We usually just grab something from the kitchen and return to our desks where we eat whatever it was that we grabbed. It could be toast with peanut butter or an apple or leftovers. We’ve been helping John Gilmore with a project lately and he comes over a few times a week. He has gotten in the habit of stopping by Rubino’s on his way here so he shows up with olive salad, bread and Italian pastries. That makes a good lunch.
Last visit though, he came from Wegmans with a loaf of their fresh baked Tuscan bread (brushed with oil and herbs) and olives from their Mediterranean Olive Bar. John’s mixture included onionsand olives stuffed with almonds, blue cheese and peppers. I made three olive sandwiches (as shown) and gobbled them down. There was enough left for a midnight snack and more tomorrow.
Palermo’s on Culver still has the best olives but this sandwich is sensational.
And this just in from the desk of Martin Edic:
There is a new company offering bus service from Eastview mall to NYC (Penn Station), $9.00 each way starting Dec 4. They go to Toronto too for $10.
As I’ve noted here before, we do quite a bit of shopping in the produce section at Wegmans so I saunter around over there like I’ve been experienced. I reach to the back of the racks to get the bags of baby spinach and arugula with the date furthest out. I dutifully weigh the vegetables and enter the 4 digit produce code. I shake the basil, parsley and cilantro before weighing it because I suspect Wegmans douses them with water to contribute to the weight you pay for. I notice the peaches, pears and apples are all way below room temperature when they are put out on the racks. They have been suspended at just the right temperature to keep them from ripening while they travel or sit in a warehouse. And then they ripen at an accelerated pace so timing is everything.
Peggi likes her bananas on the green side and I like them ripe so I try to buy two bunches. Pineapples, curiously, are sold per unit rather than by the pound so I try to guess which one is the heaviest and then take my top two picks to the scale. Some are denser so size isn’t everything. And how do they get six pound pineapples up here from Costa Rica and only charge $3.99 for them? They sometimes shoot up to $4.99 but they always seem to come back down. I put some asparagus back today because the scale said $4.69 for a small bunch. Guess it’s not in season anymore.
Strawberries are in season and the local ones are red all the way through and delicious but they are $3.99 a pound. I still bought three. Driscoll Strawberries from California which never seem to go out of season are on special for $1.50. They are red on the outside only. Makes me wonder whether they are red when Californians buy them locally.
MX-80’s “Mr. Watson” is up on our digital juke box and I’m trying to picture “the Mona Lisa on the head of a pin”. Peggi has a new sax coming today to try out. She bought the one she has now in 1978 and it sort of out of tune with itself. We’re waiting for the man.
Last night’s opening of “Electric Florets” was really well attended. Geri’s son Paul worked the bar while simultaneously hanging out with his friends. The big wall with a grid of sixteen oil pastel mandalas was most impressive. Geri’s painting teacher, Fred Lipp, was there engaged in deep conversation with Alice. Another fellow classmate, Lorraine, slipped in and out while we provided a sonic background to the din in the room.
During our break Katherine Denison told me the band sounded “really tight”. I told her that “tight” was a word I would never apply to Margaret Explosion. And she said, “I know. I’ve been at the Little when it’s been real loosey goosey”. That’s more like it.
Pineapples went up a dollar at Wegmans. They were $3.99 each all winter and are now $4.99. They are one of the only produce items left with a flat cost attached to them instead of a per pound cost. With most produce I enter the 4 or 5 digit code and the scale computes the cost based on the weight. But with pineapples I put the fruit on the store scales just to see which one is the heaviest and then buy that one. I can usually find one that is over six pounds. I think limes are sold this way too.
It is a beautiful day here, sunny and headed toward sixty, a perfect day for painting in the basement.
Last time I was in Wegman’s I looked for a refill for my shaving mug. Mine is not really a mug, it’s plastic cup that came with a thermos and I use one of those old-fashioned brushes. I only shave every two or three days and the shaving soap lasts forever. I couldn’t find the little boxes so I asked a woman who was stocking the shelves if she knew where they were. Turns out this woman didn’t even work for Wegman’s. She works for one of the many companies who have swung a deal with Wegmans to stock a certain number of cubic feet of shelf space with their product.
Wegmans makes a profit on sales of that company’s products and they also make money from the company to stock their wares in the first place. At least, I think this is how big stores work now.
This woman was nice enough to track down a store employee. I say “nice” but she was probably being paid by the hour and desperate for a diversion. You start noticing these things when you work for yourself. The real employee told me that they “stopped carrying that product because no one was buying it.” Ouch. I know why they stopped carrying it. It was a cheap ass, slow mover and it could not possibly earn its keep on their high rent shelves.
So today I stopped by Walgreen’s where I know I have bought this before and they had no space on their shelves for it. I went down the street to Top’s and they didn’t have any either. My last stop was Rite Aid and I bought the last box of William’s Shaving Soap on their shelves. It could be the last one in Rochester for all I know. I might have to buy my toiletries on eBay.