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Camp Bow Wow, Pete’s Mozzarella and… The Passion Principle

I recently received three bits of excellent news. My daughter got engaged to her long-time love—a really terrific guy. My son earned his Ph.D. and will soon have an actual paying job. Most excellent of all, in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists revealed positive new medical effects of dark chocolate consumption on gut microbiota and stress-related metabolism.

Not having particularly excelled in the areas of marriage and actual paychecks myself, I received the first two bits of news with joyfulness and awe, like wondrous fairy tales. As for the third—well, I may not be Dr. Bartlett like some people, but the consumption of healthful dark chocolate is a subject on which I have considerable hands-on experience.

Therefore, I feel qualified to say I found that article disturbing on two counts. First, I do not wish to think about gut microbiota while liquid sensuality melts on my tongue. And second, the study was based on subjects eating 1.5 ounces of chocolate daily. Now who, pray tell, would eat only 1.5 ounces of chocolate a day? Any CEO in this town (and there are tons of them) will tell you: If you bother to do something worthwhile, do it with a passion, and don’t do it halfway.

This certainly explains Norman Love. He left behind a perfectly respectable paycheck as pastry guru of the world’s most glamorous hotel company to putter around in an unglamorous makeshift kitchen and see if he could turn his passion into some sort of business. He couldn’t have known then that he’d become a mythical, godlike creature to chocoholics worldwide. Those close to Norman Love know that the financial rewards (almost) wouldn’t have mattered.

Now comes Pete Moore, who is passionate about his mozzarella cheese. He’s not Italian—though he did marry an Italian girl—but he pronounces it like a real Italian: mutza-del. Try it yourself: very soft “d,” accent on both syllables. Pete kneads, folds and stretches his curd, softening it in a stainless steel bowl of hot water and then stabilizing it in ice water, working it like Play-Doh until he has a bulb as shiny and smooth as glass. There’s this kind of rapture on his face, and his hands are poetry in motion. When you slice off a round to savor atop a garden-fresh tomato, you can almost taste the passion in his soul. Pete has owned delicatessens and earned actual paychecks from fine restaurants. Nowadays, he just makes his mutza-del for the Gulfshore gourmet crowd.

Angela Lombardi is Italian through and through. She started making ravioli, linguini, lasagna and other pastas by hand as a little girl in the family kitchen. Now all her grandchildren (except the new baby) can make pasta, too. Last Christmas, her eight-year-old granddaughter showed signs of carrying on the family tradition by asking for her own pasta machine.

Though Angela has worked with some of the world’s best-known chefs, including James Beard, Graham Kerr (the Galloping Gourmet) and Giuliano Bugialli, she fuels her passion by creating her own private-label pastas. Right now she has two pasta makers working in local licensed commissaries to fill the demand by her customers at the Promenade farm market and other locations. But since being approached by a couple of local chefs, she may outgrow those facilities.

Dominic and Isel Tiziano both had regular paychecks, too. But they traveled often, and no pet-boarding facility ever met their standards for their precious pups. Until, that is, they discovered Camp Bow Wow. There, the dogs and their owners must undergo pre-admission interviews before acceptance. Camp includes compatible playgroups, a puppy pool and three romping spaces. Overnight guests get campfire treats and a fuzzy blanket. And anytime they wanted, Dominic and Isel could log onto the Camp Bow Wow Web site to watch their doggies on live Web cam having fun, getting brushed or curled up in blissful sleep. Dominic and Isel felt the passion, chucked their paychecks and now own the brand new Camp Bow Wow franchise in Naples.  

None of this is new to Carol Torrisi, a former paralegal who followed her passion in 2006 to open her Luvdog Hotel Doggie Bed and Biscuit. If your pup (or other critter) passes the pre-screening, it will spend its vacation like a king or queen in a secure, cage-free, pesticide-free homelike environment. It’ll be served pure, filtered drinking water. It’ll have the run of open spaces or the option to lounge on cushy real-people furniture. Oh, and did I mention the music therapy?

Carol, too, started with a passion and no guarantees. My precious Sarah is making a lifetime commitment with no guarantees, and her brother is leaving the comfortable world of academia to follow his passion as a biologist on untamed islands of the South Pacific. I’m not saying we should all give up our day jobs and make mutza-del, live in a jungle hut or sing to puppies. But maybe there’s a little wiggle room for each of us to follow our own brand of passion here in Paradise.

Meanwhile, I suggest you guard your health with a minimum of 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day. And above all, savor every moment.

From the Heart
Norman Love personally conducts chocolate-making workshops now through September, including two Easter egg-making sessions this month. Reservations required, (239) 561-7215; www.normanloveconfections.com.
Pete Moore gives private mozzarella demonstrations and tastings by appointment, (239) 949-4101.
Angela Lombardi makes gourmet pastas, sauces, meatballs and ciabatta bread to-order for parties and special events, (239) 949-6423.
Camp Bow Wow: (239) 352-2275; www.campbowwow.com/naples.
Luvdog Hotel and Doggie Bed and Biscuit: (239) 777-7739; www.luvdoghotel.com.

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