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brick 'n mortar, part i

We've been working on a secret!  Without a kitchen, I've been cranky not cooking a meal in two full months but I have been working around the clock on something very special…

We have our liquor permit, we have a space made of brick and mortar, we have inventory, we have coolers and a parking lot, a credit card swiping machine, a cash register with a scanner that makes that boo-di-lip noise and...and...  and, of course, we still have LOADS of work to do...but now, The Wise Old Dog dream really starts to take shape.

So, where are we?  In a nutshell: West Hartford, Connecticut!

We've bought South Quaker Wine & Spirits, a small local "package store," and we're open for business at 610 South Quaker Lane.  I formed this company back in August and since then, The Wise Old Dog brand has started to stand for something... an approach, an attitude...stuff that tastes good. 

Here's what we are going to do: With a permit from the State of Connecticut, we are selling beer, wine, liquor, tobacco (and lottery tickets too!) at our retail shop here in West Hartford.  What is the space like?  Well, it's kinda plain...but not for long.

We all have routines...we go to the same diner every Saturday, the same coffee shop, the same dive bar, the same liquor store...just think, what would happen if that familiar favorite diner suddenly closed down without warning...not good!  So, we're going to take it slow... 

I'm going to work at our new little shop every day that we're open; I'm going to say hello to new people and tell them how excited we are about our plans.  We'll drink things, toast to small business, listen to music, and get to know one another.  Then, with plenty of warning, we're going to close up shop for about a week.  Behind paper-covered windows, an army of skilled craftsman (and slightly less-skilled guys like me) will set to secret work on the renovation…

And, in the meantime?  Well, come on down!  I’m getting my retail sea legs over the next couple of weeks and then, our major wine sale starts (stay tuned!)...I'll go through every bottle of wine in the place and mark just about all of them down 10%-30%...awesome, huh?!  In fact, you'll be pressed to find a wine on the floor over $19.99.  Starting today, we are all stocked up on wine, beer, and, if you're thirsty, I'm sure we can help you out.  Feel like trying your luck at the jackpot?  We've got a full inventory of lotto tickets.  Need a pack of smokes?  Got 'em.

Remember, this is your chance to see the before...and, if you like, pull me aside and let me know what sort of things you'd like to see on the shelves when we reopen as The Wise Old Dog.


at last...almost.

With my Black Bamboo takeout, I love Asahi beer or Champagne...the bubbles cut right through all of the spices...Finishing up absolutely delicious Chinese takeout from Black Bamboo here in West Hartford, the Asahi Super Dry beer tastes just perfect...we are deep into week 7 without a kitchen...

...and so, not chopping vegetables, whisking marinades, resting steak, and plating pasta has been downright agony.  Absurd to begrudge the gut renovation of our kitchen...indeed, it's the most significant treat Allie and I could dream up...we talk, every single night over takeout, about what the very first meal might be.  For, in the meantime, no sipping the end of last night's wine while I dice tomatoes for a sauce and no sauteed garlic in the air, or the smell of fresh rosemary on my hands has been unequivocal torture.

The general contractor is expected to finish (yes FINISH!) a week from tomorrow.  Sigh...  What will we cook?

After Day 1: Demo nearly completed.Maybe we ought to make some super-easy pasta dish, drink lots of wonderful young Italian wine, and eat right there at the newly built counter...or a family recipe like meatloaf...maybe something old fashioned, time-consuming and ceremonial like Beef Wellington... ahhaha...whoa...maybe not.  Should we try our hand at something brand new?

Just thinking about it reminds me of a child who has had too much Halloween candy...or an infant on Christmas morning where it's all just so overwhelming that it almost stops being fun...  Is the very possibility of cooking again that exciting?'s more than exciting. 

We're getting there...tile backsplash still to go in and cabinet hardware to be installed, etc etc

Maybe we eat on-the-go too much, or don't take (or make) the time to enjoy enough...but, we can all agree that when anyone takes the time to put up a proper marinara sauce, or BBQ chicken, poach salmon, or even whip up a simple omelette, life - and not just the food on the table - tastes better.  We are left not only full...but fulfilled.

...No matter what our first meal in the new kitchen, we'll cook it together...and, if we trainwreck the recipe and dinner is no good, we can always call Sonny at Black Bamboo to save the day.