Let’s start from the end and work back to the beginning. She was that one regret that I couldn’t quite shake from my memory, that question mark on lonely nights. Mara.
It was a misty New York night when we literally bumped back into each other on the corner of 8th Avenue and West 51st Street. As the mist turned towards out and out rain, we took refuge in Vice Versa, a nearby Italian Restaurant. I should’ve remembered why this romance would never work when, ignoring the rather fabulous menu, she requested a dressing-less bowl of arugula. Meanwhile, as we caught up, I feasted on the Casoncelli Alla Bergamasca. (Roasted veal, amaretti cookies, raisin filled Casoncelli seasoned with Grana Padano cheese, sage and pancetta! Seriously, this dish is the stuff of sonnets.)
In all fairness, things seemed connected and off to a good re-start with Mara. Until, the dessert arrived, that is. Mara had leaned in rather close and she was using words like “destiny” and “future” when my dessert arrived. I do sometimes ask myself, “What if I’d been less of a foodie on that misty night when Mara blurted out “I love you?” Problem was, I’d just taken my first bite of the warm Vice Versa chocolate cake. And to say that my taste buds were having a mouth party is an understatement. Perfection comes in fits and starts. So, when it arrives, one must take note. And boy was I!
I tasted the moist cake, felt its warm dark chocolate sauce slide down, delighting and soothing the back of my throat. I was in a certain sort of heaven, which is why I was completely surprised when around my third bite, I looked up to see Mara collecting her sweater and purse.
“Did I miss something?”
“I just told you ‘I love you,’” she said.
“I’m sorry.” I replied, trying to explain the impact and excellence of this beyond delicious cake.
Mara, however, was strictly a salad eater. So, my cake talk fell flat. She left, sending a spoon clattering as she bumped a nearby table. I smiled awkwardly at Franco, one of the owners. I was, of course, tempted to chase her down the street, but the thought of not finishing my dessert felt like the bigger crime.
Now, countless Vice Versa cakes later, I know I made the right choice. Some loves are forever and some simply don’t have the right ingredients.
Love freely, eat slowly and ride a horse now and then,
The Down Home Taster