I was so excited I was out of breath.
I called the Wine Goddess at Lowell General Hospital/Saints campus. She heard the puff, puff, puff in my voice and was ready to hit the red alert button for 911 when I started singing her favorite Andrea Bocelli song, "Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye)," into the phone.
"Are you OK?," she asked. "It's 9 o'clock in the morning."
"Sono bene," I replied.
"Do you have a treadmill in the office?" was question No. 2 of the day. I felt like City Manager Bernie Lynch at his weekly Inquisition before the City Council.
"This job is a treadmill," I said. "But instead of losing weight I lose hair."
It was worth a chuckle.
Then I told her the news. I have come into possession of a pre-screening video of Andrea Bocelli's new Great Performances concert, Love in Portofino, which will air during the month of March on PBS (check your local TV listings).
I inquired if she would be available to watch the show that night, in the comfort of our home, with no cat staring me down like I was an intruder.
"Why wouldn't I be able to watch it?," came question No. 3.
I have a special request, I pleaded.
"If you make a nice Mediterranean meal, I'll get a special wine and we'll watch the concert, va bene?"
There was a familiar silence on the other end. The Wine Goddess was constructing a great Chinese wall of cement that could crash the connection at any moment. But a nanosecond later -- and to my delight -- the wall broke my way.
"I'll see what I can do but it will have to be quick. I'm not cooking for the Ritz," she said.
"Mille grazie," I said a thousand times over. The phone clicked.
I knew she could do it. The Wine Goddess was a legend on TWA for more than 25 years. She cooked in the first-class cabin on the Paris-to-New York flight, when flying was an adventure, and once made Chateaubriand and chocolate chip cookies for actor Lee Marvin and friends at 35,000 feet. That's a whole 'nother story.
Tonight, thought, was going to be Bocelli night and I already had the wine. It was Andrea's own -- a 2010 Sangiovese from the Italian tenor's family winery in Tuscany. Alberto Bocelli, the singer's brother, is the winemaker.
I had tasted the wine over the weekend at the Wine ConneXtion on Main Street in North Andover and picked up a bottle. As celebrity wines go, the Bocelli Sangiovese ($11.99) is pretty good: Ruby red, lush in cherry and berry flavors with a dry, lingering finish.
Arriving home that night, I climbed the stairs to savory smells coming from the kitchen. The Wine Goddess, wooden spoon in one hand and a glass of Pinot Grigio in the other, was slowly stirring a pot on the stove.
It was a light tomato puree sauce, enhanced with cinnamon and brown sugar. In the oven, there was an oversized pan of six huge bell peppers stuffed with brown rice, walnuts, golden raisins, ground lean turkey, mozzarella and feta cheese and seasoned with fresh dill and parsley. It was a Greek-Arabic recipe she whipped up in 45 minutes from the Food Network, she said.
Fifteen minutes later, we were eating an onion, tomato and romaine salad with Greek olives and drinking a glass of Mionetti Prosecco.
The Bocelli wine was opened and poured into a decanter. The main course was cooling.
I slipped the concert disk into the video player and surrendered myself to the Wine Goddess' charms and Bocelli's love songs from Portofino.
Read more at http:// blogs. lowellsun.com/ winenovice.