Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Day in the Life...

...of a fool
Where are we? Two days before Christmas? And here I am running around with wine in the back, my apron and box cutter, my camera, running, running, searching for meaning in this little foolish life off to the corner of a country in the middle of nowhere. On the radio, Diane Krall begs, Besame Mucho, while her guitarist (Anthony Wilson?) strums softly in the background. Is that what it is we are merely doing, strumming softly? Perhaps keeping the beat until the beat is no longer beating… OK, OK, I wont get all Irish and maudlin on ya. There are some fun things happening too. And it is Christmas.

Today really was such a wonderful day. A quick trip to the office to check in, make a few notes, get ready for the Vino2011 event in NY in a month (I’ll be on a panel there) and then a couple of quick meetings. And back onto the streets.

Business out in the market was brisk and back at The Best Little Italian Wine Shop in America the place was humming. Sausage Paul was selling wine to collectors, Joey the Weasel was stocking the store with Chianti, Montepulciano and Barbera, making fun of the Barolo signs he was finding in the boxes. All was well. “You got any more Masseto?” someone shouts across the room. "No, let them drink Petra!” was the answer. And so it went until 1:00. And then it was on the Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company for her yearly employees and “growers” luncheon.

I am told I'm their 2nd largest supplier of their Hoja Santa and the other day I stopped by for a little of the best cheese in the world. It was my impromptu Christmas gift to anyone I found in the office (y’all better not leave it in the employees fridge’s, ya hear?). But today was the party. And man, what a spread, Texas BBQ, Texas wine, homemade desserts, more wine. Jeez Louise, I am a lucky fool!

Paula and her Latin lover serenaded the group and we watched movies, and ate and drank and ate some more. My extended family - I am so happy I met Paula so many years ago and to be part of her world. And her world really is another world.

Her workers, headed up by Octavia Flores, these are people who make cheese with their hearts. Look at them, how they touch and share space together. This place is a national treasure for cheese, for women, for the lost tribe in all of us.

A stick, a stone,
It's the end of the road,
It's the rest of a stump,
It's a little alone

It's a sliver of glass,
It is life, it's the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It's a trap, it's a gun

It's the wind blowing free,
It's the end of the slope,
It's a beam, it's a void,
It's a hunch, it's a hope

Heading back home, through the alley. The other night as I was running in the dark I ran across a sunflower blooming in the winter, so I went back through the alley to see if it was real or an apparition. And in the cold December day in Dallas, there is was, blooming it’s heart out.

Once home, a package was on my porch. Meyer lemons and my 96-year-old mom’s fruitcake. And no it isn’t a fruitcake to be used as a doorstop. Not unless you are dang crazy. I have to almost beg my mom to make them for me. They get me through the winter, and if I’m lucky all the way to spring.

“I’m working on pan-forte,” she told me. “When I was in Tuscany in May they taught us how to make pan-forte!” she boomed over the phone lines. My mom is not a shrinking violet and at 96, she is planning her 100th birthday in Italy. God willing. Pan-forte. Mom-forte.

Speaking of cooking schools in Tuscany, Paula and I are looking for a venue to get her and her followers to a place in Tuscany that has a great setting, staff and a working kitchen. My first thought is Dievole. But anyone else out there with ideas, we’re looking. It is time for Paula to go back to Italy. Ye hear me dawgs?

OK, this foolish rant is almost over.

A stick, a stone,
The end of the road,
The rest of a stump,
A lonesome road

A sliver of glass,
A life, the sun,
A knife, a death,
The end of the run

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the end of all strain,
It's the joy in your heart.

Alright, let me hear from you about places in Italy, it’s your turn to tell me where we should be looking.

Buon Natale ~ All y’all!

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