In spite of ancient plumbing with water that needed to be heated by wood fires every morning, and a charming host who warned us frequently to prepare for the coming Changement (the technological meltdown of the world), we loved it.
We’d already spent many happy hours writing in the sun-warmed garret, going for walks through the tiny community, and visiting happily in the beautiful courtyard, but tonight would be our first dinner and we were excited.
We arrived far too early, as evidenced by the empty dining room inhabited only by staff members bustling about setting tables and creating a ruckus in the kitchen. But we didn’t mind. It was a gorgeous night and we headed outside to wait for our feast.
We found seats near the outdoor dance floor and waited contentedly under the glow of thousands of tiny lights. Slowly but surely local couples arrived out of the darkness, strolling through the big metal gates and greeting each other like the old friends they undoubtedly were.
We heard music begin and soon our host beckoned us in. At last it was time to eat. With tummies rumbling we took our seats in a far corner where we could people-watch to our hearts content.
Soon the restaurant was filled to capacity, the babble of voices just audible over the jaunty strains of a local band playing Italian country songs. The mood was jolly and vivacious and we grinned as our sociable host made his way from table to table greeting folks with kisses and back slaps and hearty handshakes, welcoming one and all as if they were treasured guests.
Then the food began to arrive.
We started out with a basket brimming with flour-dusted fresh bread, copious amounts of local red wine and a glistening bottle of water. These were followed by:
- a platter of warm, chewy flat bread
- chilled asparagus frittata with fresh tomatoes
- fork-tender slow-roasted beef with carrots and parsley
- thin crust pizza with savory roasted garlic, tomato and eggplant
- glossy strands of fettuccine with sausage and cheese
- tender gnocchi with a rich cream sauce
Imagine our surprise when our waitress then asked us if we were ready for the meat course!!! Apparently we were just getting started. Alas, we were already about to burst, so we begged her to skip right to dessert. Such a choice captured the attention of our host who came to our table to verify that we really only wanted the “small menu.” I love Italy. 🙂
Duly assured that yes, we were perfectly satiated with the small menu, our waitress arrived with dessert. All three of them:
- heavenly dark chocolate studded with crushed cookies
- silky custard cake with crumb topping
- luscious caramelized apples with custard
It was truly marvelous. We settled back in our chairs with one more glass of red wine, feeling warm, full, and contented.
After draining our glasses we bid farewell to our host, assuring him once again that we had adored and were satisfied with every last morsel of our small menu. Choosing the teensy elevator over three flights of stairs, we collapsed happily into our beds and grinned as the band was joined by the crowd bursting loudly into song. Normally such goings on would keep me wide awake, but after such a feast, not even a restaurant full of raucous Italians could keep me from drifting off into luxurious sleep.
What is one of your favorite dining memories?