Giovanni died, and other losses. November 19-December 5, 2019 (part 1 of 3)
When I departed for Morocco, there were 4 people that I especially feared I would not see again, due to their health problems. However, my dear friend, Giovanni Gaudio was not among them. Most of my friends have either met Giovanni or at least heard me speak of him. I first met Giovanni, and his wonderful wife, Sheri, when they operated a restaurant in the heart of Fair Play, the location of my Mellowood Winery. I would brave the Friday night traffic through the I80 corridor, between the Bay Area/Sacramento/Foothills, just for the pleasure of their company and his food. I liked to sit at the little bar near the kitchen. There was no menu, just “How hungry are you? Anything you don’t like?”. They would host a Monday night for locals, where all the wineries would bring a bottle of wine to share.
Even after they closed the restaurant, to focus on private events and writing (he was working on his third cookbook), he would continue to cook for me; winery events at Mellowood or in their amazing kitchen, and even doing events for me in Oakville for Tierra Roja. We did joint charity events, including hosting the owners of the 49ers and their Foundation at my home.
Giovanni’s food was beautiful and delicious, but what made the events special was the man himself. He spent years researching and preserving traditional Italian dishes, and every one had a story, a history. Twice a year he and Sheri would take small groups on culinary trips to Italy, and Giovanni spent the recent summers working at a small restaurant in a National Park, in the Italian Alps.
Before I sold the winery, he would drop in, at least once a weekend. He would visit with the guests, or sometimes just me, and lift our days with his wonderful stories; of small food purveyors in Italy, of 6 years spent living in the Alaskan wilderness, with only his sled dogs for company, and much more. His joyful laugh and impish grin were magical. We shared a love of the Giants and the 49ers. He introduced me, and my wine, to so many lovely people. He and Sheri were planning to visit me in Morocco this June, and I with them in Italy. So many things we will never get to do. I miss him very much. “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain….but I always thought that I’d see you again.”
In a sense, I also lost my host sister at the same moment. I decided it would be best not to write about it here, but a sad day all around. More on Thanksgiving and the soccer league in another post.