I drank the good stuff today.

Posted by    |  May 13, 2011  |  Filed under: Foodlife, Home

I woke up this morning with a nerve pinching between my shoulder blades. Dammit.

Dunno how it happened. Might have done it lifting free-weights. Might have been the consequence of the heavy, awkward sleep that results from hitting the pillow after three margaritas, a half a glass of wine and a tequila shot. My neighbor threw a fantastic Margarita party on her porch last night with lots of other moms from my kids’ school. At least I didn’t wake up with a headache.

I booked a 90-minute massage for this afternoon. A pinched nerve seems like a good enough excuse to dispense with ambitions of productivity on a Friday afternoon.

We’re embarking on a major redo of our new house. The architect on the project, Richard, stopped over with the most recent iteration of plans. He brought with him, however, something far more exciting to me: a paper shopping bag with 5 or 6 big, beautiful morel mushrooms he’d scored on a recent foraging expedition near his home in Vermont. I was squealing like a four-year old who just got a pack of SillyBandz.

Richard is a fellow food lover. He was the first architect we interviewed about working on this house. We’d planned to interview three or four. Ten minutes or so into the conversation, I mentioned that I teach cooking and do food photography from my kitchen- important and unusual factors that will drive the kitchen design. He told me about his gentleman’s farm in Vermont. He stayed for three hours and we probably spent half of that time gushing over food, cooking, eating and agriculture.

We never interviewed another architect.

As Richard unfurled the plans onto the coffee table, he mentioned to me that he was bringing the rest of his foraging bounty to a local Italian restaurant to have the chef prepare them for him and some friends. He suggested I join them. His dining companions were Mimo and Mimo’s brother-in-law, Michelle. Mimo runs the landscaping business that has been madly relocating azaleas around our property and pulling out the jungle-like overgrowth that made this house look like a haunted mansion. When Richard introduced me to him, one of the first things he mentioned was that Mimo owns an olive orchard in Calabria, Italy. His family also makes their own salumi- the Italian process for curing and preserving meats. Cool, right? Michelle is an Italian wine importer and- by natural extension- gourmet.

I’d just finished a run. I was a bit of a mess. I’d set my mind on a massage that afternoon to take care of a very real pinched nerve. And is it weird to have a spontaneous luncheon with your architect and landscaper? I chewed on these things as we talked about great room configurations. Massage or lunch? Massage or lunch?

It was actually a no-brainer. I knew the company was going to be fun and interesting and refreshing. I knew the food and wine would be great. There was no decision to make. I dashed upstairs, spritzed myself with a light perfume and thew on some jeans.

Mimo and Michelle couldn’t have been more hospitable to this hanger-on. We talked about food and wine and life. We enjoyed papparadelle with morels, green garlic, golden garlic slices and a lovely olive oil finished with parsley. Then we enjoyed the morels sautéed with a bit of shiitake and served over tuna, which was served on a large slice of cucumber. The same mushrooms graced a piece of steak as well.

We sipped a lightly carbonated, berried, red wine (the name of which escapes me because I’d never heard of such a wine) and a Barolo. The fizzy wine was a standout: lighthearted but unusual. The Barolo wanted to be paired with cheese and salumi, but was nonetheless tasty.

Michelle related several stories about wine collectors with outstanding cellars who won’t drink good wine. Seriously. They have hundreds of thousands of dollars of wine in their cellars. That cellar probably boasts a gorgeous tasting room with a custom mural of a vineyard and special lighting and humidity controls. These folks are- nonetheless- drinking Yellowtail shiraz most nights.

Why wouldn’t they drink the good stuff? They’re “saving” the special stuff to impress guests. They’re waiting for occasions that live up to their grandeur. One collector died with an amazing wine collection that was auctioned off weeks after his sudden death. He’d rarely enjoyed any of it.

It’s a great metaphor, isn’t it?

Today I opened a bottle that seemed promising and took a sip and it was wonderful. Glad I didn’t just open the same old stuff that I could drink any day.

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