Black Tagliatelle with Peas and Parmigiano
An old friend of ours lost a bet with Mr. ABF and as a result, agreed to treat us to a tasting menu (each course paired with a wine) at this restaurant in Manhattan on Saturday night. With Bella deposited at a kind friend's house (hopefully not bossing around her child), the three of us embarked on a culinary experience the likes of which I haven't had in . . . well, years. Year before last I wasn't drinking because I was pregnant (fuck, what a waste of potential Brunello imbibement '06 was). Last year I couldn't taste. I simply lost my desire and ability to discern one food from another, one wine from another. I really didn't care. Not to mention we lost valuable babysitting karma with Bella leaving her alone for the week of Maddy's life and then again every Tuesday evening in April and May so we could attend a support group. It was hell on us all, leaving the house and her in someone else's hands, during a time when we all needed to just be together, eating cold cereal for dinner.
"Casunzei" with Poppy Seeds
A whiff of the first wine, one I'm familiar with but not that exact appellation, confirms that much is coming back to me. The second wine swims under my nose and -- although not my favorite -- I'm able to rattle off the butter and apricot tendencies, and the dryness yet the more structured body underneath in order to compliment my favorite pasta of the evening filled with beets and topped with a heavenly grating of smoked ricotta salata. I sit and simply inhale the smoke for a few minutes and wonder if I'm really back.
Garganelli with "Funghi Trifolati"
Pinot Nero "Mazzon"
By now I'm considerably relieved that I still have the ability to taste. I continue to impress our dinner partner with the smells of our turn to red wine (a lighter one, to compliment the earthiness of the fresh mushrooms in the dish). This course turns out not to be my favorite separately in wine or food, but by far my favorite pairing. Each does the other so many favors. Our dinner companion is slowly, course by course, talking us through some work related politics, the other tables are clearly happy, and I may be developing a crush on our sommelier.
Domingo's Pyramids with Passato di Pomodoro
Because by this point I feel the need to insert myself in this conversation about online business and prove that I have some sort of clue (and probably because by now I've had a fair amount to drink) I out myself to dinner tab-picker-upper that I blog -- on not one but TWO blogs. He's genuinely surprised and happy and asks how it's going. I not only impress him but myself with my knowledge of this particular wine -- I knew two of the grapes in this blend, but not the third, and what I'm picking up in unfamiliarity is with the third grape. I confirm this with the sommelier and pat myself and taste buds on the back.
Fuck it's nice being in a dress and heels, drinking wine knowing that my child is being tended to. And this is a big wine, obviously, to go with the meat. I begin to ponder if it's time we think about going out to nice restaurants at home. I'm all a twitter thinking about our wine cellar nearing completion and our holding being delivered in a few short weeks. It hits me that when we packed up our wine, I wasn't drinking it. I was pregnant. Swill a bit more.
"Frittelle di Caprino" with "Uve Moscato"
Colli di Scandiano Malvasia "Daphne"
I'm readily approaching the point of saying basta. This course does nothing for me, it's a bit . . .gratuitous. Nothing about it grabs me. I've even tasted better honey. Wondering if we've hit saturation on the evening, and maybe I'm overselling the whole going-out thing. This dress is tight. My foot hurts. I hope Bella is ok. I check my phone for messages and note the late hour.
Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta with Licorice
Vin Santo di Chianti Classico
Wait. Vin Santo. My favorite dessert wine. And maybe I'm completely creamed by this point not to mention sitting over my (thankfully small) thimbleful of chocolate, but I detect chocolate in this bouquet of usually honey and nut with a hint of citrus. I finish my glass, and our friend who doesn't like Vin Santo gives me his. I don't drink it, I'm getting sated, but I sit and occasionally just put my nose over the glass. I tell the waiter not to take it even though I'm fairly sure I'm not going to drink it.
Chocolate Chestnut Budino with Chestnut Gelato (Plus two additional desserts, one different for each diner)
Uncomfortably full. Ready to go. I lick my spoon, but pass my dessert off to the men, and barely sip the last wine, which is delightful. It's too much. The rest of weekend is a blur of hangover, Bella tripping the next morning and getting a bloody nose, driving home in silence. I haven't eaten much of anything since Saturday night, not so much from penance but because I haven't been hungry.
And while delightful to know that my senses are returning, and I can enjoy food and wine again, there's always the uncomfortable grumble letting you know that what you were (a late-thirties mom) and what you are (a late thirties mom) sometimes ain't all that. Being gone for 48 hours means I come home to 48 x 10n unread things in my reader. Of the first six random blogs I click on, two are by people already pregnant; one paints a scene that reminds me of "those crazy kids" while I was in grad school but takes one commenter back to the summer she was 15; and the remaining three I randomly click announce pregnancies.
Niobe once wrote "for some reason or for no reason at all, someone else's good news has tasted bitter, has burnt acrid in my lungs." To be honest, I'm not sure why I'm feeling so melancholy about it all this Monday. I'm not trying. I'm not even thinking. I know this won't take away grief, because you can't replace a child. When I read these things, quite frankly, they scare me. When people tell me, "envision yourself in the future. What do you see?" I can't. I can't go there. My mind puts up a steel curtain, and I can't see myself there, with or without. I get this overwhelming feeling that I'm in over my head, and maybe I'm just too old for all of this shit -- staying out drinking until midnight, getting nose blood out of the weekend's laundry, running with people young enough to consider music of my fifteenth summer "oldies." Maybe I regret not having the drive or desire.
Maybe I just miss having the hunger.