Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 59 Birthday party

We celebrated Shay's birthday tonight by going back to that marvelous restaurant just outside Cavallino called Arete. The second visit didn't disappoint.

We wanted to sit in the room on the left, where the roaring fire beconed. But alas, all those tables were reserved. In fact, we arrived about 8:15 pm. Only one other table was occupied -- a family with a baby. By the time we left just after 10 pm, people stood in the cool night air, smoking and waiting for their tables. All of them had reservations, otherwise they'd neve hope to get a seat.

We asked, no we begged the waiter to please give us only a few antipasti. We didn't want to fill up on them, we said. We wanted to leave some room for the primi (pasta) and secondi (meat).

Si, si, va bene, he said. We were five at the table and he promised to bring appetizers for two. Just to get a taste. Out came a ball of buffalo mozzarella and another called a burrato, which has an outer shell of solid mozzarella but inside contains both mozzarella and cream, the size of a grapefruit, each resting on a leaf of radicchio. When you cut into it, the concoction inside oozes thickly onto your plate and very soon around your tongue.

They also brought a plate of hand cut prosciutto some slices of lightly cooked, lightly steamed and dressed orange squash and a few small wedges of soft pecorino. Allelulliah, we thought, the waiter really heard us and we started discussing what we'd order for primi and secondi.

Then the kitchen released their hot antipasti. What? Little eggplants parmigiana, a couple of small zucchini frittatas, tiny balls of fried bread dough, miniature balls, and I don't even want to remember what else. Because we had ordered other dishes to share among us: two primi (ravioli with tiny fresh tomatoes and butter, and a risotto with spinach and truffles) as well as  stuffed chicken leg with a white wine reduction. And, of course, there was also the insalata mista.

We refused fruit, dessert and even coffee. Impossible.

Shay drove us home, the whole lot of us stuffed to the gills -- until we got to Calimera and some wise guy in the back seat (I think it was Frances) suggested we go have a look in the piazza to see whether Vittoria's might be open. It makes the best gelato I've had in Italy. That gelato is Shay's favourite thing, so on the occasion of his  birthday and since he's leaving in two day we voted in favour of going.

Unfortunately, it was open.

Ravioli with tomato and ricotta was luscious

The waiter brought a small table to divide for us the food for dishes we had ordered to share

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