Gluten. Dairy. Sugar. Eggs. Meat. Soy.
Seems everyone has some kind of allergy these days, myself included. However, as far as allergies go, mine is decidedly un-hip.
I cannot have red wine. This basically just serves to makes me look unsophisticated in every fine dining establishment.
There was a time that I sipped red wine with gleeful abandon. After all, you’re supposed to have a glass a day of the stuff in order to live an extra long and healthy life, right?
But then, I began to notice a pattern.
Every time I enjoyed red wine, I became quite ill, almost immediately.
One of those times, before my pattern recognition skills kicked in, we dined at the stunning Restaurant Bellevue in Helsinki.
Andrew ate bear. He said it was kind of sweet. I was immediately jealous.
Restaurant Bellevue is Helsinki’s oldest Russian restaurant. Very elegant, with a sombre note which was no doubt enhanced by sad-sounding old Russian music. I think we also felt kind of sad because this was the last day of this particular trip… we flew home the next day, after three weeks of travel.
So! We arrived around 10 pm and there were only two other tables that were occupied. Elegant older ladies seemed to run the place. It was pretty dark outside… and inside as well. I loved it.
But there was something I did not love: THE WINE.
I’m not so sure about this wine, honey…
Oh wow, I think it’s killing me. This red wine is absolutely killing me.
When we were looking at the menu, deciding what to order, Andrew noticed one particular wine was from Georgia. As in, Georgia the country that was once a part of the U.S.S.R. We’d never had Georgian wine before!
Andrew thought it was a very nice wine. I’m sure it was… for normal people.
I am not so normal.
I hated it. I absolutely hated it. Or rather… the wine hated ME. I felt worse and worse. Which was really nuts, because I was in this absolutely amazing restaurant, in this fantastic city, with the man I love. And all I could think about was how this wine would be the death of me.
(This next bit might be TMI… feel free to skim quickly.)
Usually when I drink red wine other places, I will get a tremendously brutal headache and then vomit spectacularly. On this occasion, I certainly did get the headache, but I did not vomit. Instead, I began to inflate like a balloon. At one point I went to the bathroom just to peer at my side profile in the mirror. I looked like I was 8 months pregnant. Except I was NOT. My belly was just puffing and puffing and puffing up, and it was really painful.
I knew it was the wine. What a terribly unfortunate time to make the connection in my head that for sure I am allergic to red wine. Then again… there probably never is a good time to feel so utterly horrible. Even still.
So, from my experience, the most notable thing about Restaurant Bellevue is that it’s very very near to the Uspenski Cathedral… and when we emerged from our dining experience, we were greeted with this breathtaking sight:
And so, there are some things I know from this experience:
I will never drink red wine again.
I will return to Helsinki someday… and Restaurant Bellevue.
I am supremely grateful for this extraordinary man I have married.
“I’m not so sure about that wine… but I’m VERY sure about YOU.”