The Best Dinner in Italy
02 September 2008 | Cavi, Italy
When we sparked our friendship with Maris in the Azores and Lagos Portugal, we were instantly enamored by her friendly, ever-positive nature and shared laughs as she regaled us with her sailing stories. A competitive sailor, Maris, a native of Wales, now lives with her partner, Michel in Cavi, a small town about 45 minutes south of Portofino. Michel moved to Italy (after studying in the US and Holland) almost on a whim and started his dental practice. Sitting in the cockpit of Windancer in Lagos, Maris invited us to visit not only her new home, but lured us in with a visit to the dentist. Now, going to the dentist does not usually rank high on our things to do, but the opportunity to have an English-speaking dentist check out teeth was tempting.
How often does your dentist pick you up from the train station, drive you to the office, open it up just for you (remember, almost everyone is on holidays in August), check out the family's teeth, fill a broken filling and then invite you for a home-cooked meal. Turns out we all need to floss more; Jenny has two loose baby teeth and Connor's molars are pushing some of the last of his milk teeth to the side.
Sitting outside on the terrace of Maris and Michel's apartment overlooking the sea in Cavi, we enjoyed the best meal in Italy - homecooked, wrapped in the warmth of new friends and good wine, we ended a perfect day in Italy.
The next day we invited Maris and Michel to join us in our home and together sailed to Portofino where George (Clooney that is, but after seeing his face on calendars and ads throughout Europe, I feel we are on a first name basis) rides his chopper from his home in Lake Como. A tiny little town an hour drive north of the villages of Cinque Terre, Portofino's beauty lies in her quaint, under-stated charm. Lining the harbour are all the big names - YSL, Hermes, Zegna - mixed with the art galleries, gelaterrias and small touristy shops. Offlimits to most boats, we anchored in the outlying bay and dinghied ashore, wandered the streets, had the requisite gelato and sailed downwind to Siestri Levanti in the setting sun. We picked up Michel's daughter, Mika (sp??) and cooked up a MacKenzie favourite, tacos accompanied by beers, rum and cokes and the songs of Jimmy Buffet.
The oceans may be large but the family of sailors is really quite small; you meet, you share stories, you head off into different directions, but paths are sure to cross. And we are sure we will cross paths with Maris and Michel again, perhaps in the Canaries and if not, in the Caribbean as they compete in the J class races in St Maarten and Antigua.