All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
This week my pal Frank Dana turned 86. The fixed income gang from my early morning donut shop throw a group party for all the Sagittarians among them this time every year at Birds. The party was yesterday. Here I am sharing a glass of wine with Frank. Frank is every bit the PLAYAH he looks to be here. He is 5’2″ – probably 75 pounds & he is a firecracker!
This crew is a flamboyant & hilarious bunch & Frank is famous for sharing stories about sleeping with hookers while on shore leave during WWII. Frank was impressed last night when he discovered I had landed a 35-year-old boyfriend. “No shit?” Frank replied in his heavy New York accent & nodded his approval. I love Frank. “You drinking wine normally now?” Frank asked. I asked what he meant. “You know. You aren’t still drinking a bottle a day – are you?” “Yes, Frank. Yes I am. A bottle a day is normal for me.” Frank laughed & took a ginger sip of his cabernet. Frank is limited (by his doctor) to two glasses of wine a day. Frank informed me that he prefers it served as one large glass.
“See that guy over there?” he asked and pointed out one of the party attendees. He told me the man’s name was Mike. “Mike’s a wine guy. You wanna buy a case of wine for $2 a bottle – he can hook you up,” Frank said in a distinctly conspiratorial tone. Indeed? “Yeah – he sells wine from the trunk of his car. $2 a bottle. You can’t go wrong.” This sounded very shady but I was intrigued. Black market wine and a dealer circulating amongst my Social Security set. But Frank knew him & I know Frank is protective of me so – I thought this wine hustler had to be harmless. Pretty soon I found myself sitting next to Mike the Wine Guy. “So, Mike. I hear you are the guy to go to for wine.” He confirmed that. “So – how does it work?”
“Come on out to my van. I can set you right up.”
“Yeah – I bought the stock out of a bankrupt liquor store. I can sell you bottles, cases, bubbly – whatever. Right outta my van.”
So – I followed him to the van and, sure enough, it was filled with several dozen cases of wine.
“I can sell you this case for $2 a bottle and this over here – these are $3 a bottle.”
Sensing I might be onto something special here I asked, “What do you have on the high end?”
Ah. He had a live one.
He closed the back doors to the van & walked me around to the side & slid the door open.
“These bottles go for $40 in the store but I can let you have them for $15. And this case – by the guys that produce Lynch-Bages – these are $10 each. Probably go for $25 in the store.”
Hmmmm. Now – with my $717 month grocery habit – I can’t start drinking $15 bottles of wine – and I certainly can’t be buying by the case.
“Can I buy one one of each & taste them before I commit to a larger order?”
Yes, yes I could. So – I slipped him $25 cash, he handed me two bottles of wine and I walked to my car feeling kinda bad-ass and street smart – like I had just been involved in a very shady but successful drug deal. Here is the wine:
Some research revealed that the Arcane – which was alleged to be a $40 bottle is more like a $25 (or less) bottle of wine – available HERE for $24.99 – but $15 still seems a fair price. The other – the Luna Benegas – for which I gave the man $10 – appears to be — WAIT FOR IT — a $10 bottle of wine – as seen HERE. So – I got $35 wine for $25. Still not too bad – especially if I LIKE the wine. That remains to be seen.
Anyway – home again – it was time for dinner & I had romaine lettuce to use. So – I made the dressing – a twist on the traditional Caesar with avocado, jalapeno & cilantro added.
I was going to make this completely from scratch – including making the mayonnaise – but I decided against it for fear of using raw eggs. I wanted to make a dressing with a longer shelf life than a few hours and raw eggs are like 90% likely to have salmonella. I don’t need nor do I recommend salmonella poisoning – despite its benefit of rapid weight loss.
This dressing couldn’t be any easier to make. Feel free to up the garlic and/or jalapeno ratio if those flavors appeal to you.
Avocado Caesar Salad Dressing with Jalapeno & Cilantro
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves – chopped or pressed through a garlic press
juice of half a lemon
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 large jalapeno (or more) seeded & chopped
1 ripe avocado
handful fresh cilantro
S&P to taste
Blend everything in a food processor. Add more olive oil or WATER if you feel it is too thick.