My Calgary friend and wine guru, Geoff Last, is visiting Italy on business. He’s invited me to join him this evening for a glass of wine at one of Florence’s top ranking restaurants Buca Lapi.
Geoff and his colleague Steve are knowledgeable Food & Wine writers who have been invited to Italy for a private tour of the distinguished Antinori Wineries here in Tuscany. Steve possesses the innate ability to charm, and has convinced the restauranteur that they are world famous food & wine critics. While it’s true that they are in demand for their expertise in cuisine and fine wine, world famous is a bit of a stretch!
My fashionably late arrival finds the two of them being treated like mini-celebrities. Since I’m joining the self appointed Siskel & Ebert of the wine world, Buca Lapi’s owner, Luciano Ghinassi, naturally assumes that I too must be a VIP. I willingly go along with the charade and allow Luciano to spoil me with his homemade wine (an honour in Italian culture), and the most scrumptious, decadent dessert I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The house-made chocolate tortais the only true celebrity at this table. Not surprisingly it has become my top-ranking VIP.
The velvety smooth layer of exquisite dark chocolate merges with the fruity red wine which in turn triggers a mini-choir of angels to perform a symphony in my mouth… if you think I’m exaggerating, come to Italy and prove me wrong!!
I love my newly acquired celebrity status, and as we leave the restaurant, Luciano gently takes my hand and raises it to his lips, imploring me to return as his guest. For a moment I contemplate setting the record straight. Fortunately the inner actress, together with my two infamous sidekicks, convinces me to continue my role as La Diva Shauna.
Leaving Buca Lapi in search of a nightcap on this quiet January evening we wind our way through the deserted streets of Florence, and discover a little hole-in-the-wall that serves chilled Limoncello in champagne flutes. It’s an appropriate drink to match my newly acquired notoriety. The proprietors of this less-than-sophisticated establishment have chosen a freaky little monkey as their design motif.
In keeping with this bazaar theme, it appears that drunken monkeys are hired to clean the bathrooms. With one quick look inside I reconsider, and return quickly to the table. Fortunately the Limoncello more than makes up for the catastrophic facilities. We toast newfound fame…
After saying goodnight to my partners in crime, I settle comfortably into the backseat of the taxi, or is it a limo? I wonder to myself where this little mistaken identity will lead … could that possibly be the paparazzi up ahead?