Since the dot-bomb crisis, we've been strapped for cash, since I'm the only one working. Yesterday, Mr. Pug and I decided we needed to stock up on wine, but we couldn't spend a lot. So we decided to go to the East Bay to
1. Oddlots, 1025 San Pablo Avenue, Albany, CA 94706. (510) 526-0522. This is a terrific place to find bargains in wine from France, Italy and Spain. We got a whole mixed case of Cote du Rhone, Chianti, Frascati and Rioja for $77. We then proceeded to
2. Ajanta Indian restaurant on Solano in Albany, link below. We had chani gosht (lamb in ground almonds and ginger) and chicken tikka masala, respectively. Also onion naan, raita, vegetable samosas, milk cheese dessert and a half-bottle Alsatian riesling. We were happy to find that this was the best Indian restaurant we've ever eaten at, and the tab for all this was $42. Then on to
3. Insider's Outlet, 4050 Watts Street in Emeryville. This place carries various deep discount merchandise, and happily, it sells Calphalon and other quality cookware. I found a Calphalon stockpot for $73, but upon taking it to the counter, found it had a nick in the finish. No problem, because this permitted me to bargain them down to $50, and I carried my prize away triumphantly. It will be used this very day to simmer a chicken for stock.
I learned about all three of these businesses right here on the Chowhounds message board. Thanks, everyone, for your superior scouting and reporting abilities. It has enabled us to keep a little quality in our life despite bad economic times.