Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 1: Episode 7

January 11, 2011

Running his hands through his dark, tousled hair, Johnny’s velvety brown eyes surveyed the interior of Medina. The tapas bar where he was sommelier and part-owner was empty.

In fact, the whole of Melbourne still seemed to be in that peaceful, post-holiday daze. Not that his business was suffering, mind you. Another brilliant write-up last week in one of the city’s best food guides had seen hordes of tourists and locals flocking in to sample Medina’s innovative Middle Eastern menu and spectacular wine list. Tonight, though, the rush had come early so, even though it had only just hit 11pm, the place didn’t have a soul in it.

Opening a beer, Johnny wandered through to the small kitchen to check in with his business partner and head chef, Franco. He’d already sent the staff home and when it was quiet like this Franco would usually cook a late dinner for the two of them – something that wasn’t on the menu – and they would sit for hours eating and drinking and reminiscing about their days sweating it out as kitchen hands and busboys all across Melbourne.

“I had a feeling about tonight!” exclaimed Franco as Johnny sauntered through the kitchen’s swinging doors. “I’ve been marinating this incredible piece of aged porterhouse for 12 hours. I got it on my last trip to Gippsland. I was going to put it on the menu, but I just had this feeling that we could enjoy it instead.”

Johnny laughed. It wasn’t the first time that Franco had saved the choicest morsels for them to enjoy. This was a man passionate about his food.

He wandered back into the bar area, taking another sip of beer. Crouching in front of one of the bar’s many wine racks, he started perusing the selection for a bottle of red to match the steak.

“Hello?” a voice called into the empty space. “Are you open? I didn’t see a sign on the door…”

Johnny looked up to see a woman standing in front of the bar. If a customer came in at the end of the night he would usually have turned them away, but there was something about this one. She was a little older than him – pushing 40, perhaps – and stylish, not a single dark blonde hair out of place. His eyes travelled slowly over her body as he stood up, taking in the straight, dark pencil skirt that hugged her round hips and the pink silk shirt that clung to her torso. Johnny liked older women.  Well, no. To be fair he liked all women – but he’d found that, like a good wine, more complex inner flavours were often brought to the surface with age.

She cocked her head to one side, a smile playing at the edges of her lips. “So, do I pass?”

Busted! Johnny grinned sheepishly. “What can I get you?”

She looked at the bottle in his hand. “A glass of that would be nice.” Crossing her legs elegantly as she sat on a bar stool she said, “I don’t suppose the kitchen is open? I’m ravenous!”

Johnny shrugged. Why not? This woman intrigued him.

***

Franco winked at Johnny when he came back into the kitchen. “Luckily I’ve got three pieces,” he said, gesturing to the porterhouse. “And I think I’ll have mine to go.” In truth, Franco – who was married, with his second daughter on the way – wanted nothing more than for Johnny to settle down and be as sublimely happy in domestic bliss as he was. And the woman at the bar was seriously beautiful. Not to mention mature. Unlike the usual young girls who stayed way past closing time hoping for the handsome, brown-eyed bar tender to notice them.

***

Johnny and the woman ate in silence, side-by-side, slowly slicing into the tender pieces of meat, the steak juices flowing onto their plates and mingling with the pepper brandy sauce. Johnny reached across the bar and refilled her glass. She leaned in to him as he did so.
They chatted – idle banter – he had seen enough of interest in the small tapas bar to never run out of anecdotal material. A few glasses later, he locked the front door and switched off the house lights. The woman made no move to leave. His heartbeat quickened a little as he picked up their half-finished bottle of red, took her hand and silently led her to the staircase.

They were halfway up the stairs when she suddenly grabbed him, pulling him towards her in a smooth embrace. They moved together as one mess of arms, hands and lips. As she fumbled with his belt, he stopped her by grasping her wrists firmly in his free hand.

“Not yet,” he whispered.

He pointed her up the stairs again, and gently pushed her towards the second floor.  She would soon understand why – one of the rooms was dimly lit, with an inviting set of couches. On the table was a very decent bottle of Pinot and a couple of glasses. Johnny almost laughed – Franco had obviously seen where this was heading.

Johnny pulled her towards him and kissed her deeply.  She moaned and leaned her head back as Johnny lifted her shirt, exposing a delicate lace bra.  Pushing him back onto the couch, she straddled him and unbuttoned her skirt, revealing matching underwear.
Then she got back to his belt.

For what seemed like hours – certainly for several bottles’ worth of time – the two alternated between tastes of the flesh and the grape.

***

Johnny slowly opened his eyes. Judging from the light coming through the windows, and the morning chorus of rubbish trucks and street sweepers, he guessed it was about 6:30am. He heard a tap running in the restaurant. Throwing on his jeans, he went downstairs.

Putting down her glass of water, the woman smiled. “Good morning,” she said. She looked a lot fresher than Johnny felt. “I didn’t want to wake you. I can show myself out.”

He wasn’t hurt, exactly, but he had to admit it was a weird feeling. He usually had to beat them off with a stick! Still, he wasn’t in any hurry for a relationship, intriguing as this woman was. Reaching into his pocket he produced his keys. “Ah, but you need these to open the door,” he said. “You can’t escape so easily!”

Sunlight hit him in the face as he pulled open the door. He held up his hands to shield his eyes and stepped outside.

A bemused voice cut through the glare. “Johnny?”

It took his eyes a few seconds to adjust to the light and see who had spoken.

Mia?

Johnny was suddenly very aware that all he was wearing was jeans.

“Mia, what are you doing here?”

His friend shrugged, “I’m on my way to work. I didn’t realise you slept at the restaurant sometimes. Must have been a busy night!”

Before he could answer, the woman from the bar stepped through the door and, blowing a kiss over her shoulder, walked away down the small cobbled laneway.

Mia’s eyebrows shot up. “A very busy night!” She’d heard stories about Johnny’s antics from the others, but had never actually caught him in the act, herself.

For the second time in 12 hours Johnny felt like he’d been busted doing something he shouldn’t have. “I can explain…”

Mia looked at the ground, flustered, before laughing awkwardly. “What you do is your business. You don’t have to explain yourself to me.” She turned and walked quickly away from the restaurant.

No I don’t, thought Johnny. So why do I feel like I want to?