They were there before we arrived. Tom and Giselle. Or a reasonable facsimile. Sitting directly across the table. At the end of the night, they would more closely resemble Lenny Clarke and Mamma Cass. As did we all.
MC had warned us. And we tried to pace ourselves. My girlfriend and I shared a single piece of bread, a few olives, a smattering of sopracetta. Little did we know, it was the begining of the end.
Consume with pasta and carrots. Three risotti: pesto, seafood, lamb and wild mushroom. I was already getting full. And then, the waitress reappeared with a second, then a third helping of the marvelous, creamy rice. At this point, everyone in the room knew they were doomed.
Still, we ate forward, hard toward the summit.
The timpano was next. Slices as big and thick as the flab on my grandmother's arms. Hearty. Delicious. And like my grandma's meaty paws, frightening. The slice actually quivered in my presence. As did I in its.
The next hour was a blur. Beef tenderloin, duck, salmon, chicken. All seemingly wrapped in one variety of swine skin or another,
I was certain death was imminient. And then - just then - out came the suckling pig.
If anyone had had breath left in their pasta and meat filled lungs, the gasp would have filled the Hood blimp.
Tom and Giselle, color draining from their faces, tried to start a new conversation. She's a doctor, he a private banker. Smart, beautiful people, reduced to what I am on a daily basis: barely functional.
Dessert was merciful: berries in cream. My spoon, hot from overuse, curdled the offering.
Perhaps I should wrap this all up; maybe in the same crackling pork skin that today seeps through my pores.
To Grotto, a big thank you for a job well done. To Tom and Giselle (Ryan and Bronwyn): Thanks for a wonderful time and for being such great company.
The real Tom and Giselle have nothing on you.