Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations.
The Ned pinot gris
Despite my time in a one-hour elective called “Grapes And Wines Of The World” in college (sadly, it didn’t include drinking), I know little about wine other than I like to drink it. My habit is enabled by the owner of my local wineshop, wineHouse, who makes excellent recommendations. If I like what she suggests, I take a picture of the label and say, “Derrrr, more this.” One wine to receive such high praise was the pinot gris by New Zealand winery The Ned. If you can endure the company’s mid-’00s Flash website, you can learn all about the viticulture of the grape (“vertical shoot positioned, can pruned vines planted at a density of 2525 plants her hectare,” obviously), its pH (3.41), and residual sugar (4.8 grams per liter), all of which means something to people smarter than I am. What I can say is that it has a pinkish hue like a rosé (sorry, “pale salmon blush,” per the website) and a more substantial body than I traditionally associate with a pinot gris, especially one from New Zealand. (My wife likes another Kiwi wine, the super light Starborough sauvignon blanc, which tastes like a less carbonated 7Up to me.) The Ned is a hot commodity at wineHouse, which quickly exhausted its supply thanks in part to me. I’m on a waiting list for the next shipment. [Kyle Ryan]
There’s no shortage of quality hometown vendors in Austin, Texas, particularly when it comes to food. Besides Whole Foods, it’s exported Tito’s Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea, and closer to home, there are countless small businesses spoiling Austinites with delicious brews, produce, specialty snacks, hot sauce, and the like. (2000’s “Keep Austin Weird” campaign was originally meant to emphasize the city’s local economy, something at which the capital region continues to excel.) One such treat I consistently crave since leaving the Hill Country is Treasured Earth’s Chewy Fudge Cookies—good god, they are a chocolate lover’s dream. Dense but soft, these little bites are made with walnuts and almonds instead of grains and are sweetened with low-glycemic coconut nectar, making for a rich and nutty but somewhat healthier alternative to your everyday brownie-type bite. They’re also safe for anyone following a Paleo, gluten-free, or vegan diet, and thanks to the internet, you can make them just show up on your doorstep. [Kelsey J. Waite]
The central promise of a trip to Ikea is like that of any shopping experience: that you will find the set of items that solve all of your problems and then purchase them, living happily ever after as a more put-together person. Of course, that never happens, but at some point, you do have to soldier out there and buy some shit. I moved a few months ago, and so I have been going to Ikea… a lot. Enough that I am familiar with their in-store restaurant’s menu. The first time I went I grabbed a handful of these little $0.79 towels—I am informed by googling them that they are the TEKLA brand of towel, presumably named after a type of fern or something—and have found myself grabbing a few more every time I go. They started as an environmentally friendly replacement for paper towels, and now they have taken over my life. I use them as pot holders; I use them as plates; I use them under cutting boards, to dry dishes, to mop my face; I place them under plants; I weep into them at night; I greet them each morning; I wash them and fold them and tuck them into a place of honor in my kitchen; I gaze upon them with gladness filling my heart. They’re almost a consolation prize, an assurance that no matter what I end up buying or how much I like it, at least I will have plenty of little towels to plow through as I am, generally speaking, a mess. May they serve you and your messy life well. [Clayton Purdom]