I write this the day after a doozy of a snowstorm. At present it is a balmy 7 degrees outside with a wind chill of minus 14. After several hours digging out cars, etc, I found myself thinking fondly of the featureless agricultural plains of Piedmont.
That is no small statement because after about an hour of travel, my already frustrated family was getting near the end of their collective patience. My son’s DS was dead and he had no car charger. My daughter was tuned out with her iPod. My wife was staring straight ahead and trying very hard not to look at me. After one or two missed turns the sign for Piozzo mercifully came into view. The five minutes or so that it took us to rumble down the side road seemed to go on forever. Eventually we pulled into the piazza at the center of town and there on our left was Baladin.
The awning stretched out over a dozen tables which were largely filled with folks enjoying the a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was so overjoyed and relieved that we had actually reached our destination that I almost sprinted out of the car having to catch myself in order to allow my family time to creakily emerge from the car and stretch.
They settled around a table while I went inside to get us all drinks and to see if the owner and brewmaster, Teo Musso was around. As I mentioned before I had been carefully planning this beer pilgrimage for months and so had tried to leave little to chance. I had emailed Baladin weeks before to let them know I was coming with the hopes of arranging a tour or even, a chance to meet Teo himself. Moreover, I had not come empty handed. I brought with me some t-shirts from our church beer club and a bottle of our homebrew that I had carefully carried and protected for three weeks and through four countries.
Upon entering the bar I was greeted by Melane. After returning her greeting I asked if she spoke English. Her reply was priceless, “Yes” she said patiently, “I speak English, and French and German and a leeetle bit of Italian.” Her smile was just as charming as I explained that we had come from the US and had driven from Cannes that day with the hopes of a tour and the chance to meet Teo.
“Oh.” she replied, “Teo? He just left.”
I was utterly crestfallen. It now appeared that we had spend the better part of a precious vacation day driving so we could order a couple of beers and a sandwich. Melane must have read the disappointment on my face because she quickly said, “Let me see what I can do. My boyfriend is Teo’s assistant. Maybe he can come in.”
We chatted a bit more and I ordered a Nelson for my wife and a Nina for myself. The children got some of their house made lemon sodas. Although the drinks were all quite tasty- the children insisted that we try their sodas- it did little to cushion the blow when I shared the news that Teo had gone.
While we waited we chatted with our waiter and I ordered a different beer this time opting for a Wayan. As I sipped it I wondered if this trip would go down in family lore as the great beer fiasco.
To be concluded next week….