Februry 28 The Are Still Alive

The orchids still have most of their blooms…hope springs eternal.


February 27 A Chievo Soccer Club Fan Dinner

I love Chievo Calcio Club fan dinners because they are so sweetly old-fashioned, the other fans are nice and the players are kind and generous with their time.

Around 60 fans meet at a suburban pizzeria for dinner.  A television set behind the main table plays continuous funny animal videos.  My pal Annalisa, who is facing the set, becomes hypnotized by the animal antics.  The players on hand are Cristian Puggioni (goalkeeper) and Roberto Guana (mid-fielder and Mr. Congeniality).

Cristian, addressing the fans before dinner says:  “Thank you for letting me be part of this miracle that is Chievo,”

After dinner there is always a raffle.  When the raffle had not started by 10:30 Annalisa says to her ward Mario:  “Go up and tell the organizers that this is a school night.”  Within minutes the prize drawing began.   Mario wins a player’s shirt and gives it to his best friend.

Yes, I love going to these dinners because they are like going back in time.


February 22 A Sparkling Gala

A few months ago I was a judge at an international sparkling wine (Champagne Method) tasting sponsored by Euposia Magazine.  Tonight we are gathered at the Antico Caffe Dante to dine and award major prizes.  The Big Surprise Winner of the top prize is Ancre Hill Estates in Wales (yes, Wales) for its simply superb 2008 Brut made from Seyval Blanc. The wine has a firm, intriguing texture and fine full fruit (apricots) that continues to evolve on the long finish. The owner of the estate Richard Morris and his wife Joy are on hand to pick up their prize – a huge blown-glass sculpture. www.ancrehillestates.co.uk  By the way he only makes 3000 bottles of this wine and it goes fast.  However, should you find yourself in Wales I beg you to try wines from this estate.


February 19 Into the Jungle

The orchids are beginning to look peaky and Bud lost a flower.  I move them to the bathroom – the nearest thing we have to a tropical rain forest – and hope for the best.


February  17  A tasting lesson with my student 

We open a bottle of LBV 1986 Port from our collection of bottles.  Michael has had it for so long he no longer remembers who the producer is.

Rich tawny, clear rim. Warm and inviting on the nose and palate. A slight note of rust on the nose…indicative of age, Creamy texture of fine Port. Firm fruitiness.   On the palate, an idea of figs and dried cherries (sour prunes).   A long finish, filled with evolving flavor and narrowing into the flavor of warm fresh hazelnuts. A vibration of rich fruit on the palate. The fig note emerges more strongly on the finish.

Quinta do Noval LBV 2004 Very deep near black color with ruby sheen. Round cherry fruit lifts out of the glass. It tastes tired…perhaps from having been opened a while ago.

The 1986 is a much, much finer wine.


February 14 Valentine’s Day with Morello in Bussalengo (whose patron saint is…)

A visit to the medieval church dedicated to St. Valentine.  Maurizio Ferron makes kiwi risotto. A visit to Flover, a huge garden center and one of Italy’s premier purveyors of orchids.  The kind owner of the shop gives us each a small orchid.  His colleague and bona fide orchid expert says: “Orchids are practically indestructible.  You have to really try hard in order to kill an orchid.”  I hold up my hand and say: “I’ve managed to kill two.”  Others look furtive then confess that they too have never managed to keep an orchid going.  The expert repeats his assertion that they are impossible to kill.  We name our orchids Bud and Val and hope for the best.

At home I open a bottle of the best Bardolino I have ever tasted.  2011 Le Vigne di San Pietro. It is fruity and satisfying, truly strides ahead of the competition.

 I am rereading Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (the Brian Hooker translation) and came upon this bit of perfection:

And what is a kiss, when all is done?

A promise given under seal—a vow

Taken before the shrine of memory—

A signature acknowledged—a rosy dot

Over the i of Loving—a secret whispered

To listening lips apart—a moment made

Immortal, with a rush of wings unseen—

A sacrament of blossoms, a new song

Sung by two hearts to an old simple tune—

The ring of one horizon around two souls

Together, all alone!

And this exchange between  Cyrano and Roxane as he is dying:

Cyrano: The leaves—

Roxane: What color—

Perfect Venetian red! Look at them fall.

Cyrano: Yes—they know how to die. A little way

From the branch to the earth, a little fear

Of mingling with the common dust—and yet

They go down gracefully—a fall that seems

Like flying!