Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Eventual Memior

In the last few days, I've had some ideas for posts. There are several Italy stories that I haven't told yet, for instance. Or I could be writing about the totally lame tasting that I did last night for some neighborhood association in the suburbs. I should find some witty, jubilant way to announce to all five of my readers that I get to go back to Italy again in two weeks (!) before I move out west. I even considered doing a post about how I haven't gotten my usual amount of sleep in the last few weeks because there is just too much going on right now to let my mind go idle for more than six hours at a time (I'm usually a luxurious 8-hours-a-night kind of girl).

But the thing is, I'm having a hard time doing it. How do I put into words everything that I'm feeling right now, everything that is going on in my life, everything that is going through my head? In times like these, I simply can't organize my thoughts. So I find myself fervently making lists, attempting at least to chronicle these times, so that years later when I look back on this amazing, blessed life that I am leading, I'll be able to be more poignant and really explain what happened.

So if most posts in the near future seem to be clipped, or are literally just lists, please humor me, and know that right now I am mainly just collecting info for my eventual memoir, which I'm currently titling "Purses, Paninis, and Prosecco". Think "Adventures on the Wine Route" meets Sex and the City, or something like that.

Incidentally, I love asking people this question, so all of you please tell me - what would you title your autobiography?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


A wise, wise woman (ok, the one who just hired me) told a tale one day about the last few weeks of her last big corporate job. They all knew that the end was near, that they were being displaced, yet they still had access to their huge expense accounts. This sentence rung true:

"My last few weeks there, my days completely revolved around who I was going to go to lunch with."

Love it.

Now, I don't have a huge expense account, and I haven't exactly been displaced, but I can definitely relate a little bit to the short-timers syndrome.

So does anyone want to meet me for a glass of wine today? Oh, I don't know... around 3:00?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The decision was easy...

When I was in Italy, I had the amazing fortune to meet a wonderful new friend, Lisa.

Lisa moved from the United States to live with her husband in Switzerland about six years ago. She knew no one in her new home, she barely spoke the language, and she was leaving behind her friends, family, and her whole way of life. But she did it, because she knew that she was in love with this wonderful man, and that this was the right thing. She has never looked back.

We talked a lot about life in our few days together. About taking leaps, chances, and risks. She told me how she knew that she was doing the right thing, and that a new chapter in her life was opening up. And the she made a statement that really resonated with me as I toyed with certain crossroads that I new would eventually come my way.

"The decision was easy, the doing was hard."

She was in love with her husband, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was this was where her life was going to go. But that didn't mean that it was easy to quit her job, leave her friends, and adjust to a new way of life.

This is exactly how it has been for me. I will probably never forget the moment that I was offered this amazing opportunity in California. We were all sitting at a table, and the idea that we had been knocking around casually for a while was officially verbalized. I felt a huge knot in my stomach, and I within three seconds I expelled the knot out through my mouth into a gasped "Yes!"

I said yes right away, because in that split second I knew many things. I knew that this was my destiny, the opportunity that I had been wanting, and the most perfect scenario imaginable. I said yes right away because I was excited, and high, and flying on adrenaline. I said yes right away because I didn't want to give myself any time to do something stupid - like talk myself out of it.

So, just like with Lisa, the decision was easy.

But of course the doing is hard. I just quit the best job I've ever had. I'm packing up yet another apartment. My mother has cried at least twice. Tonight I sat and had wine with two great friends in a familiar scenario that I truly cherish, which will probably only repeat itself a handful more times.

But I know that it is time to do all of this. A new chapter is opening for me. I am happy, and sad, and sentimental, and excited... and many more things that I can barely categorize. But most of all - I am alive.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ina helps me drop a bomb

When breaking the news to your father that you're moving across the country, it helps to be serving a good meal to cushion the news. So for brunch today I decided on an egg scramble with asparagus and pancetta, the Canella Belinni Cocktail (which I'm embarrassed to admit that I love), and Barefoot Contessa's Strawberry Scones.

The news proved harder to swallow than the scones. They were light, moist, and slightly sweet. As for Dad... well, I think he'll be ok. I have to keep telling people to think of it this way - now you have someone to visit in California who can show you around and give you all of the insider tips! I think they'll eventually come around.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quick update

I'm moving to California. San Francisco Bay Area. June 1. To work for a small importer of Italian wine.

This is an amazing opportunity, and I can't even put into words everything going through my head right now. Stories and more details will follow, but in the meantime, here is a quick list of things that I am excited about -

- Being back in a blue state

- Easier access to Taylor's Refresher

- West Coast produce

- Getting to see my San Francisco friends regularly

- Playing hostess to people who want to come visit

- Actually making the drive across the country (I love road trips)

- Being able to play with some of the best wine professionals in the country

- The PCH

Those are just a few. Anyone know of anything I should add to the list?

(Also, thanks to Dana and Kyle for my new header!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My new favourite site

Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain's oldest wine and spirits merchant, having opened in 1698. One would think that an establishment with that kind of history would be sitting back, resting on it's laurels - nope. Their award-winning website is ridiculously extensive, with e-commerce, online cellaring, wine education, blogs, podcasts, and all sorts of other fun and useful tools. I highly recommend checking it out.

Oh, and don't forget to drop down the Wine Knowledge tab and play the Wine Game - it's a hoot.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I guess they do EVERYTHING bigger in Texas

I cannot sleep on planes. In fact, in my entire flying career, I don't think I've ever managed anything more than a slight doze, no matter what the time or circumstance. I've tried everything that is reasonably safe - getting up really early the day before so that I'll be tired, having a few drinks, more than my usual dose of Tylenol PM, even some Ambien, but the unfortunate reality is that unless I'm comfortably lying down, I just can't manage to drift off. I have finally accepted this as a reality of my being, and now when on a flight, I just go au natural, let fate take it's course, and deal with being tired the next day. Being naturally tired is much better than having taken sleep aids and had them not work - then you're doubly fucked up.

On the last day of my trip last week, my little group was joined by another little group - a few lucky coworkers from a distributor in Texas who had won this trip in an incentive contest. We met them at the Milpansa airport right outside of Milan, fresh off of their red-eye.

One look, and there was no mistaking this group as being, definitely, from Texas. Beaded denim jackets, flowing skirts, and cowboy boots abounded. They had long, slow drawls and seemed like a hugely good time. I was instantly disappointed to be leaving the next day. To strike up conversation, I turned to the one lady of the group.

"How was your flight?" I asked. "Were you able to sleep?"

"Oh yeah, no problem!"

"Ugh, lucky you. I can never sleep on planes!"

"Well, honey, I've got a little secret weapon - I took me some Ambien!"

"Oh, I've used that before... works in real life, but not on flights for me."

"Well, it worked for me! I took three of 'em!"

My eyes widened and I tried my best to keep the look of shock off of my face. Lord knows, if I took three Ambien I'd be a drooling, if not dead, mess.

"Good lord, how are you awake now?"

"Well, let's just say that this Italian espresso is a great thing." She smiled, and I cursed myself once again for having to leave the trip early. Something tells me they had quite a week after I departed on a (sleepless) flight back to the states the next day.

I love it when my lifestyle is justified by medical studies

A study in Sweden has found that women who drink wine regularly are less likely to develop dementia in old age.

This is great news! I'm happy to know that it is likely that my mind will always be sharp, even when my senses have been sightly dulled.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Things I loved about Italy

- At least three espressos a day

- Men in tight pants

- Everyone rolling their r's

- Italian's respect for the elderly and the deceased

- The passion that was abundant in every part of life

- That Franciacorta was available by the glass in almost every restaurant

- Homemade sopressata

- My cell phone not working

- Having a risotto served in a hollowed out wheel of parmeseano reggiano

- Genuinely feeling like I had stepped out of a postcard or movie

- Wine dinners in castles

- The fact that all Italians seem to love Barack Obama

- Really peppery arugula

- Ferries, trains, and Smartcars

- Paninis and purses - better here than anywhere in the world

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Please leave your taste on my tongue

Lorenzo Guiseppe Allessandro Alutto - I am not joking with that name.

Within ten hours of being in Italy for the first time, I found myself sitting in on a tasting of his wines - a Barbera, Nebbiolo, and an Arneis. It was a small group, and it quickly dispersed after the bottles were empty. Soon it was just the two of us in the hotel lobby.

It started innocently enough. "Would you care for a beer and some pizza?" he asked, with a ridiculously upbeat and charming grin. How could I resist?

He treated me to spritzes at a bar right on Lago di Garda, and we soon discovered the he was only a year older than me, and that we had very similar taste in music. Before I knew it, we had slid into drinking Franciacorta, and he was guiding my hands to meet his across the table.

"Your hands are so cold, yet soft," he breathed, "you need a man like me to warm them up..."

How could I argue with that? At this point, considering that I had not slept at all on the red-eye the night before, I couldn't do much of anything besides muster up that familiar feeling of stepping outside myself and looking at the situation objectively. Here I was, on my first night in Italy, and a handsome, charming winemaker was... well, I wasn't sure yet. But he was definitely up to something. And as a woman who is passionately devoted to squeezing every drip out of life, and wanting to rack up as many experiences as possible, what choice did I have but to, well... enjoy?

We smoked cigarettes and shared pizzas and chatted about American politics. I pointedly licked grease off of my fingers, and he fed me his toppings before sneaking over to my side of the booth and quickly turning my face to meet his for our first kiss. It took me by surprise -
and by the time I had realized what was going on, it had started - the whispers in my ear, the kisses on my neck, the passion assaulting me from every angle.

From the second I saw you, I wanted everyone else to go away and to be alone with you...

Let me be your pillow tonight...

I want you tonight, and tomorrow, and the day after...

Let me kiss you all over... your legs, your neck, your back, your breasts...

And my personal favorite -

I will make you cum four, no five times tonight if you let me...

It was unreal. It has been so long since someone has showered me with such unabashed sexual energy that I hardly knew how to react. So I did the only thing I knew how to - I stepped outside of myself and tried to appreciate the beauty of the situation from an outsider's point of view. Here I was, living a fantasy of, well... certainly my own, if not many women around the world. I did my best to surrender to it, and drink in every moment, every kiss, every caress, and every breathy whisper there on the cobblestone streets of Desanzano.

When I finally detangled myself from his embraces a few hours later and dragged myself up to my hotel room, my lips were swollen, and my mind was swimming. I could hardly believe the situation that I had landed myself in. I felt like I was living in some kind of fantasy world, and if this is what the first twelve hours of my trip were going to be like, I could not wait to see what the next eight days would bring.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cheese and angels on a Thursday night

More than a little tipsy last week after sharing a cheese plate and some Ugni Blanc with my Favorite Foodie Friend, we chatted with the owner of one of the most respected restaurants in town.

Frits is originally from the Netherlands and has a background in the hotel business. He is also a very accomplished French chef, and recently made it into the top 20 of the James Beard nominations for this region. His restaurant is expensive, and intimidating to many, but he is down-to-earth, generous, an avid reader, and a lot of fun. He is always up for a drink, and forever trying to set me up with his son. In short, I adore him.

Last week he spoke a bit of his late father, and shared with us one of his favorite quotes that he used when talking about wine.

"Frits," he used to say, "this wine is so good, it's like an angel tinkled in my tongue."

Maybe I let him at least introduce me to his son. This sounds like a family that I could slide right into.