So after all this tomato bread talk I walked into work yesterday and saw another bowl of Dale’s vibrant and utterly perfect tomatoes sitting in a big plastic bowl atop one of the stainless steel counters in the kitchen. I saw this as a sign and a much needed and oh so appreciated, easy out as to the, “What should I make for dinner” question. A big platter of crunchy, chewy grilled bread bathed in summer tomato juice and bits of pulp with a side of some sort of animal flesh, the hubby not thinking it is dinner unless a beast of some kind gave their life for it and all. Freaking sweet, one less thing to nag away at me while I got caught up after three days off. I am always a little stressy when I jump into work mid week, one would think having three days off would leave you all relaxed and junk….and if it were say, Saturday through Monday I might be but for me Wednesday morning means many a deadline for placing orders in time to get them there by the weekend. Stressy.
After a thirty minute, and frankly absolutely adorable conversation with my boss I looked up to see one of my reps walking towards my desk. Now I love this cat, have often called him my favorite sales rep but…..well let’s just say urgency aint his specialty. Funny when you think about the fact that he was there to get an order from me….by a certain time so it could make it down from Northern California by Friday. I sat there amidst my to-do lists, little Post-it notes with, “Look into. Find” or “Call” from my Randy conversation creating a little frame around my packed calendar when he pulled up a chair beside me and said, “So what’s up? You need anything from me?” if I didn’t love him my head may have exploded. “Um, you think you could do an inventory for me?” which most other reps do before coming to me for an order, “Just behind the eight ball a little this morning” I told him while scribbling out a cheese order for the lady that was bound to call any minute. “Already done” he said with a grin while flipping out his little organizer dealie. Turns out that he had walked the floor and seen what was depleted over the weekend and compiled a list while I was on the phone with Randy. Freaking sweet again!
The rest of the afternoon seemed to fall into place like that, just when I was beginning to wig out something would just slip right in and smooth things over, love it when that happens. Even the appointment, (the one I didn’t know about) that walked through the front door with what looked like two suitcases stuffed with open bottles of wine, my eyes searching the calendar and trying to place the face. “Samantha, hi it’s” flashback to a week or so earlier when Randy told me, “I have a friend, old restaurant guy that I used to sell wine to, well he is working for an importer now…” oh dammit, why today?! Now knowing that Randy must have made the appointment without knowing that my day was going to be packed, I walked from behind the counter, big grin (and not even the “the back of my head is about to explode” eyes bugging kind) and extended my hand to the man I was going to spend the next….shit, least an hour looking at the size and girth of those bags…with. “So nice to meet you” was still falling out of my mouth as this guy grabbed my extended hand and brought it to….his lips. He kissed my hand. Dude, talk about getting off on the wrong foot.
While I might be able to look back on the ultra dusty file-of-shit-chicks-dig, that often sits dormant for months on end and appreciate the gesture…the whole exchange just skeeved me out and left me feeling like I was covered in cheese, and not the yummy artisan kind either. “Okay well Ronnie is finishing up his appointment so when he is done we can start tasting” I said while backing away and trying to process what had just happened. Okay first of all take a look around dude, dirty cardboard boxes, price guns that are fondled by many and money, these are things I have been handling….with my hands all morning, not even I, as its owner can tell you where that hand has been all day. Ewe. Secondly I don’t much care for being made to feel like a “Little Lady” when I am the one that is about to decide whether or not you are going to be getting a paycheck from us. If I were a dude would you have slapped my ass or something? Think not……so let’s just take gender out of the equation alright? Skeeved and irked, fantastic start.
There was about thirty minutes between the, mouth on hand action and me actually plunking down at the tasting table. I was a bit less irked and trying not to hold it against the guy. Pen and paper at the ready I began taking notes on the first wine, then the second, third….and as I was working my way through what turned out to be some very nice wines; solid and very fairly priced I noticed something, the kissing bandit was doing exactly the right things. Speaking briefly not chattering, pouring me a rinse on each wine….also dumping that rinse into his own glass and swirling it before dumping, something very communal and warmly professional about that to me. No pomp and circumstance, just two people tasting wine together. His conversation was tight and precise, nothing flowery or over the top and he had the aire of someone that had been on my side of the table for a very long time. By the time we were finished I had some new wines to bring in the store and a new found respect for him. Almost freaking sweet! He did however kiss my hand again on the way out…dude, hope you are prepared for the bawl breaking you will be getting on the next visit.
The rest of the day kind of went the same way, minor freak outs that ended up working out perfectly. The big sale of some high end California wines, the one that I rung up, the one that we figured out I made a mistake on while doing a random….almost never done inventory check. The one we were able to fix without harm or foul, inventory corrected and customer’s card credited without him even knowing. Me grumbling while merchandising a coworker’s five high case stack of “Why does he need so much of this $26.00 Merlot?!” to have another coworker figure out that it was a special order and us pulling it off the floor before selling any. My hectic day taking me off my “A” game but a team that works so well together that we avoided any missteps….freaking sweet!
I clocked out for the day and strolled around my department, stopping here and there to dust off a bottle or straighten a case stack while searching for the wine that would not only pair with my animal protein of choice, pig…went with the hubby’s beloved pig, but would match the mood and feel of the day. Easy, Beaujolais. My once hated, “How can you drink this crap?” wine that was able to sway me…teach me. I was always able to pick a Gamay out right away, even the times when Randy would try and trick me. “Sam come here and try this Anjou rouge” long before I had any idea that they grew Gamay in the Loire Valley, nose in the glass and an immediate scrunched ick face. I hated it, just hated all of it but one day, the right day it all clicked for me.
I had spent five days in Burgundy tasting nothing but super young, highly acidic and down-right gum stripping wines. My teeth were aching and my palate was just crushed by the time we made our way into Beaujolais and the very idea of having to take red wine between my lips had me cringing…wincing. Seeing as I was on an importer trip not tasting was, well it was NOT an option so I ran my tongue across my teeth, giving them a little, “I’m so sorry” hug of sorts and reached for the glass of faintly purple wine that was placed before me. The second that supple, easy blast of fresh fruit skipped across my acid worn palate it was as if I was getting a hug too. Pleasure, it was a pure pleasure to feel, to taste and happily swallow. Switch flipped. Got it. Still get and am now in love.
As I tore into the smoky, crunchy, slightly oily, dripping with fresh tomato, piece of bread I reached beside me…slipped the stem of my glass between my fingers as not to muck it up with my oiled encased digits, I brought the 2007 Domaine Piron Brouilly to my lips. The blast of fresh fruit, the suppleness, the completeness of its simplicity, the massive amount of tart red fruit uncomplicated by oak or tannin, gentle…inviting, easy. Each grapey gulp washing away the layers of my complicated but in the end….very good day. Sometimes, well sometimes it’s just stoopid not to keep it simple.