Special commentary by guest reviewer Beatrice Russo
Italian Wine Guy has asked me to fill in for him, he says his spring has sprung and needs time to go to one of his favorite wine islands. (poor baby...) He will return soon. - B.R.
Alfonso left me a note, “I’ve got to get away for a few days. Take over.”
I thought the one post he asked me to do last year would be the only one. Now he disappears leaving me holding the blog. It’s not like I have that much to do; I’m in between school and a job and have a little time during this spring break.
I never met my parents, though I was told they were from Italy. One foster parent told me Sicily, another told me Emilia-Romagna. What I am is an orphan, in my 20’s and just entering the world. I’ve been on my own for some time, living between California and Texas. I sometimes wonder if I am the product of someone’s spare time, a leisure moment that when it produced fruit, they left to fall on the ground.
I met Alfonso at a sommelier conference last year; he was giving a talk about Nebbiolo at 8:00 in the morning on a Sunday. I was drinking a latte trying to wake up. Something about the way he made Nebbiolo sound so wonderful at a time of day when the last thing I would want was wine. He introduced me to a couple of his characters and I’ve taken my place at the table. He’s like the father I never knew.
I have wanted to apply for a job as an assistant sommelier, heard about one at this fancy new Italian restaurant near downtown Dallas. They asked me to come in to take a photograph, someone who ran a bar at the top of a trendy hotel had to pass over my “physical qualifications”. I am tall and leggy, dark, hazel eyes, long hair, and my shrink tells me that I would be considered good looking. Whatever.
I don’t think I will take the job at the Italian spot, seemed too much like a disco to me, very loud. They ought to put in a take-out window so the jocks going to the hockey game can load up on meatballs.
I think I might go down to Austin, Alfonso has a friend who has a winery in the hill country and he is building an Italian restaurant. But that’s 6 or 9 months away.
It's really tough being young these days, seems like the economy is tight and a few folks hold all the cards. I’m in good health, and in spite of not having much family, I am pretty optimistic. I don’t have any relationship/attachments, so I’m free to move about the country or the world. I don’t own a cell phone or an Ipod. I use public computers. I don’t belong to Myspace and I don’t have a tattoo. Yet. I love food and cooking and wine, but I can only afford wine that is not expensive, so unless I get invited to a tasting, or get to taste a bottle left over, I usually cannot get to taste much that is beyond my budget. There is a place in old east Dallas that has wine tastings every Saturday and I try to get there. I have a friend who works at a wine bar and he gives me a taste of something special once in a while.
Alfonso has told me, when he is gone and I go over to check his mail and look out for the pitiful black cat that hangs around, to open wines from his cold-closet. He says he’s tasted everything in there and wouldn’t miss the occasional bottle. There is a red wine from the Marche in there, called Ver Sacrum, that looks interesting. If Italian Wine Guy doesn't come back, I'll write about wines I like. But let's see.
That’s my story. I ride a Vespa, don’t have health insurance. An aunt taught me how to make gnocchi and a foster parent once taught me how to make fig preserves and pickled watermelon rind. I’m not an angry person; Alfonso has told me that is a good thing. But I do have a fiery side, I am itching to get involved in something, but don’t feel like it has clicked yet. And another thing, I have an identical twin, she lives in Bologna, and I have never met her. Her name is Laura.