retail news in context, analysis with attitude

First of all, I want to thank the folks at the newly merged Maine Grocers Association and Maine Food Processors Alliance, who gave me the opportunity to speak this week at the annual "Maine Food Means Business" Summit … it was a great time, and it is hard to find nicer people than Maine residents. Plus, they are real foodies …. committed to local, quality foods that they fervently believe makes their state special. I had a blast.

Plus, the conference was in Freeport, Maine, and I got to shop at the original LL Bean store … drink Red Claws Ale at Gritty McDuff's … and eat lobster rolls at Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern (where I had the pleasure of spending time chatting with Linda, a granddaughter of Leon Leonwood Bean and a successful businesswoman with a real passion for Maine foods).

A great week.




The author George Pelecanos is out with a new novel, "The Double," the second in a series of books about Spero Lucas, a Washington, DC-based private investigator and former Marine and Iraq war veteran who made his first appearance in 2011's "The Cut." And once again, it is a winner - Lucas finds himself handling two cases at once, one of which leads him into a violent confrontation with a sociopath who likes to prey on women both financially and physically. At the same time, he finds himself becoming obsessed with a married woman with whom he is having an intense affair that makes him reflect on his upbringing and priorities. This all takes place against the background of urban DC - not the seat of government, but a diverse and sometimes violent community with a seamy underbelly. (Though, to be sure, there is no shortage of seaminess in the halls of government…)

Pelecanos is a terrific writer - I've been a fan of his since "The Night Gardener" in 2006 - and "The Double" is so good that as soon as it was over I started wondering when the next Lucas book will be out.

Not soon enough.




For my drive to and from Maine this week, I downloaded and listened to "Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?," the new memoir by comedian Billy Crystal. I'm not a big celebrity memoir guy, and I don't listen to a lot of audio books, but I'd read somewhere that this one was different because Crystal had recorded the audio and done much of it in front of an audience, which made the comedy work better.

So I listened to the eight-plus hours, and I found it to be an agreeable way to pass the time … very funny, filled with anecdotes and canny observations about growing older, and also with great stories about the making of movies such as City Slickers and When Harry Met Sally. Mostly, it made me want to go see "700 Sundays," the one-man show with Crystal that is returning to Broadway this fall.





Two wines to recommend this week:

• the 2011 Licia Albarino, from Spain, which I enjoyed the other day at Bin 36 in Chicago, which manages to be both elegant and yummy, a delightful example of my favorite white wine.

• the 2008 Aster Crianza, also from Spain, a Tempranillo that is full-bodied and delicious, especially with spicy food.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend … enjoy the extra hour's sleep … and we'll see you on Monday.

Slàinte!
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