Was it a dream or did it really happen?
Outtakes from a storyboard imagining the direction a recent dinner might take in honor a member of a somewhat famous Italian winemaker family
The first course was a spinach salad, lightly dressed, and served family style. I am a shy person and know no one at the table save a few colleagues. Thankfully they were there. The winemaker was at another table. Really, really nice person.
Backing up first. I called the host and asked when the event would be over, as I wanted to stop by a friend’s restaurant and have a glass of wine with him. We talk food, he is on the cutting edge of Italian things in town, and I hadn’t seen him since December. The host said, wed be through about 9:30 tops. Great.
Round two. No extra glasses. Oh yeah, they meant to serve the Gavi, And this lovely but ill-timed Moscato clinging to the glass like a cold that just won’t go away. Really? We were already into some pappardelle with an arrabbiata sauce. The only thing arrabbiata at the table was my inner Etna. Where was the red wine and a glass to put it in? God this night was going to hell in a hurry.
Eventually a bottle of Barbera showed up. Meanwhile the pasta was cold on us waiting. Actually that was a good thing as it made the dead-beyond-any-hope-of-resuscitation noodles a little more al dente. But the tomato paste, sweet and garlic tormented sauce wasn’t going to touch my lips. Next.
Ok, by now I'm getting antsy. It’s almost 9:30 PM and we haven’t even gotten to the main course(s). I walk into the kitchen. "Hey guys, can you tell me how many more courses we have coming?” “We have three courses and a dessert.” You’ve gotta be kidding me!
I was embarrassed for our Italian guest because first of all she would have been happy with a little rice or pasta and maybe a small main course and a light dessert or a nice cheese. Period. And we all could have enjoyed more wine. As it was I kept on my diet because I ate little or nothing. But I also felt that it was a misuse of an evening and a disregard for everybody’s time. I mean, here we have someone who has arrived from another time zone and made to sit through a very long evening and talk and be convivial through a meal that most likely lasted well past midnight. Shame on my town.
It’s 9:40 and I’m sitting at the bar with my chef friend in his restaurant after a busy night. A couple walks in orders a grilled salad and a fish from the oven. The women orders a glass of Chianti and the man orders a glass of coffee liqueur over rocks. God, I’m so over Dallas. I’m like one of those UN observers who are posted to a revolution or a natural disaster and cannot change anything, only watch. And then I look to the bar. On the back there are seven bottles of Italian wine, all served by the glass. Of the seven, five of them I can identify with people I know and care about. Real people, real wines. And then I remember why it is I am in this zone. I am stationed here, to bring the wines from my people to the people in my town. It isn’t pretty sometimes, there’s way too much garlic to suit me, but we will muddle through it. We will make a difference.
And it’s a wrap for the day.
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