February 8, 2007


   Home Page

 News & Features


 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note





 Pop Culture



   Video Games
   CD Reviews




   Grazing Guide



   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts





 Find A Hippo




   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover

Got milk?

The walking diet
Trot your way into another glass of wine
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

I think I found the perfect diet.

The nearest Burger King is 1.67 miles away. If I walk there, it’ll burn 11 calories a minute. It takes me 14 minutes so that’s 154 calories. And if I eat a Whooper Jr© it’s only 322 calories! This means I have a 168-calorie deficit, which is nearly erased by the walk back home. Actually, I end up with exercise, food and only 14 unused calories.

The bad part is there’s a supermarket a few blocks past the Burger King and they sell Ben & Jerry’s. Which is only 290 calories for a half cup of Heath Bar Crunch. But who eats only a half cup of ice cream? I usually turn the whole thing over and cut the bottom out. Then I can eat it like a push-up pop. Unfortunately, that’s 1,160 calories and I’d have to walk for one hour and 45-minutes to erase that. And after eating a meal of salad with bacon ranch dressing, two cups of pasta in a vodka cream sauce with braised sausages and a six ounce lava cake for dessert, I’d have to walk for 3.3 hours to come out even.

But still, the “if you want fast food, you gotta walk” rule makes sense. And it was on an afternoon jaunt in the mild global warming winter temperatures that I found the no-frills store.

It wasn’t like a wholesale club. It wasn’t like a grocery store. The closest thing I can compare it to it is an Army PX. The proprietors were from one of those un-pronounceable central Asian republics. And not to be the quintessential fat, snobbish, laugh-at-anything-different American but I find most foreigners have some little quirk about American culture. Like Sheila, whose father had been knighted by the Queen. She collected Beanie Babies. And Junichi. He had a thing for black velvet Elvises (or is it Elvi?). Or Maricarmen, who runs a large nonprofit. She thinks Pringles are the bomb and on par with Carbonada Criolla, a delicious stew from her native Argentina, made with beef, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, zucchini and pears and peaches. It’s like when we go to Belgium and get hooked on that French fry-and-mayo thing they do. And look at North Korea’s Kim Jong-il. He’s got a thing for lobster, Segway Scooters, iPods and Richard Hennessey Cognac, a very pricey mix of ancient brandies, some over 200 years old, blended to perfection and costing around $1,300 a bottle.

The store sold almost everything — brand-name cereal at half price, six limes for a dollar, a gallon of cider for $2.49. The place reminded me of Brighton Beach. Not the Brighton Beach of Neil Simon’s memories, but of today — signs in Russian Cyrillic, European-style grocers with one for pork, one for chicken, one for fish. And caviar — all grades — at half the price you’d pay in Manhattan at Petrossian or Cavair Russe. A shopping trip to the little store was like a trip on the B train. A piece of foreign culture melded into America.

But it all changed. The store got popular. Went from a medium-size box store to a big glass-fronted strip mall retail space complete with those international restroom signs of the guy in pants and the woman in a skirt. They started to charge a nickel for bags. The owners were never there. The new manager wore a tie that matched his toupee. And I couldn’t get my Gem of Dushanbe brandied plums there anymore.

This weekend I went out for a snack. I walked to Dunkin’ Donuts. I enjoyed a latte that was as good as most barista joints make. I needed olive oil. The trouble with discount markets and wholesale clubs is it’s nearly impossible to go in and come out with just one thing. I went in for one and came out with seven. On my 163-calorie walk home I noticed I was missing an item. I went back and showed my receipt to bad tie toupee head manager. He said he couldn’t help me. If he gave it to me the missing item, he’d have to do the same for everyone.

I considered violence but the last time I was in court I watched the judge sentence a woman to six months for battering a smart mouthed shoe salesman about the head and face with a wedge. So I did what any marginally disenfranchised person would do. I placed an ancient Midian curse on the bad manager, the store and the cereal aisle for good measure.

The manager was stunned but he really couldn’t do anything. There was no swearing. No breach of peace. Just a fat grump reciting the Latin version of an ancient curse developed by the Midianites, who lived at the foot of the sacred Mount Sinai and were very used to seeing Yahweh cover the top in clouds. Moses married a Midianite woman after he left Egypt the first time. I found in an obscure text from the 19th century while researching Moses, the Exodus and wines that go with Passover Seder. When I finished I left the store, without my Cocoa Krispies.

Since then I found out from Bhavana, who owns a nearby liquor store, that the former owners opened a new place in a neighboring town. And it’s right next to a Taco Bell! And the cursed store? No news yet. Just waiting for the summer when their crops will wither, their goats will scatter and Philistines burn their tents. Bhavana had me try these wines at a tasting this week:

First a trio of beauties from Michael David Vineyards in Lodi, California. These wines were inexpensive and nice.

But I’d rather drink something good that’s a bit manipulated, as we say, rather than a sullen, cranky overpriced flop that finished poorly but is true to its soil. And compared to other West Coast wines this is so much more natural tasting.

7 Deadly Zins ($11.49) A great zinfandel with a bit of merlot flavor just before the finish.

6th Sense Syrah ($10.89) Very elegant and sunny with currant, lavender and a hint of chocolate and pepper.

Maley Valley Zinfandel ($21.99) Rich with faint beef stew flavors behind the fruit.

Pavin & Riley Columbia Valley Merlot ($19.99) Yum-bo-licious! Cranberry tart, homemade grape jelly smooth and a strong framed structure.

Livon Braide Grand Pinot Grigio ($23.99) Possibly the best pinot grigio I’ve tasted. Crisp, light with lemon, faint butterscotch and a sweet whisper on the finish. From Italy’s Fruili region.

Tell Tim your wine stories. You can reach him at tprotzman@sbcglobal.net.

2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness

1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t make it a bad mixer