Meet my friend Jon Robitaille
Jon recently got me out of a bind.
As the Wine Department Manager at the Fairhope Cain's Piggly Wiggly, Jon knows his way around over 10,000 bottles in stock. This means the Fairhope Piggly Wiggly has the largest selection of wine in the state of Alabama.
So many beautiful wines, so many choices.
The bind I was in, was that I was under great pressure to bring a lovely appetizer to my friend's house.
Danielle and Brandon are the kindest, most polite friends who would eat a dish of dirt if I gave it to them and even smile while it was going down. They in no way put any type of stress on me. It was completely self -induced.
You see, Danielle and Brandon are fabulous chefs, and Brandon was actually trained at the Disney Culinary Institute. They've been in the food industry for years and know a lot about good wine. When I finished jumping up and down, clapping my hands because they were going to
cook dinner for me and my sweetie, I said, "Oh, I'll bring an appetizer."
Jon has thankfully arranged the Fairhope store as well as Piggly Wiggly's new Mary Esther store in a way that you can find your own way around. Arranged by type of wine, and even country of origin, there are little tips for extra help along the way.
But never fear, if you still find yourself confused, like I did, Jon and his staff will step right in to help.
Jon has spent years in the wine and beverage industry and knows details, not only about the taste and pairing possibilities, but also small nuances like the fact that the 2011 Ancient Pinot Noir has their artwork commissioned to match the origin of the grape.
After flipping through a few recipe ideas, I decided to chicken—out and not actually cook anything at all. I'm a decent cook, but when I cook for Danielle and Brandon, it never turns out well! Once, I even tried to do a simple cream cheese with jam and crackers and managed to
make it all runny - which rhymes with "not funny!"
I almost resorted to this no-cook idea, but decided I wasn't quite that desperate.
In the past, I've pulled out the crock pot to cook dinner for these friends, and it was actually the best thing I've ever made for them. Let me reiterate how nice the two of them are. Danielle told me once that because Brandon has formal culinary training, that there aren't many people that want to cook for them.
So, I guess that earns me points for bravery.
I decided to play it safe, and wanted to create a cheese board with one of my favorite cheeses, Clawson's Scarlet White Stilton with Cranberries along with fresh baked bread, crunchy sea salt bagel crisps, fresh raspberries and giant red seedless grapes, all of which I also found at The Pig.
Now I needed the most important touch. The wine.
Jon thought for about half a second.
White Stilton? Yes.
"What would be perfect," he said, "Is Writer's Block."
"Don't make fun of my writing." I said.
"No, no . . . Writer's Block Petite Sirah. It's perfect with a Cranberry White Stilton."
How does he know these things?
At under $20, it was the icing on the cake - the no-cooking required, cheese and cracker cake.
My appetizer board was a big hit.
And best of all, Danielle and Brandon loved the cheese, and they really and truly
thought the wine was wonderful.
It set the tone for a fabulous dinner with great friends.
And even though there was no cooking involved, I came off looking like I knew what I was doing.
Stay tuned, and I'll soon tell you about Piggly Wiggly's weekly wine tastings and show you a few other wine selections you are sure to love.
Click here to see Piggly Wiggly's web site and learn more about their incredible wine department and future events.
This story will also be seen on these fine blogs: My Turn for Us, The Pin Junkie