The table cloth was crisp and clean. The lights were dimmed and the music mellow. The waiter pulled out my chair and helped me with my napkin. Within minutes warm fragrant bread was placed on the table. I had trouble choosing between the walnut bread and the rosemary baguette. The warm baguette won. Four pieces later though I thought that it might be best to put the butter knife down and leave a little room for the rest of dinner.
Once I had pulled myself away from my love affair with the bread basket I was able to focus on the menu. Just reading it made me salivate. After much deliberation I decided on the Shrimp Cassoulet (very hip with the foodies) and the Sole with Herbed Gnocchi. Now that the difficult decisions were made I was free to enjoy my meal.
We took advantage of the lull offered by the wait to toast the birthday boy. The chardonnay was a pleasant surprise, sweet and smoky, running down my throat like liquid candy. At this point I was perfectly happy with just the bread and wine, but the evening was only getting started.
The cassoulet arrived shortly, the beans white and tender and the shrimp glistening with succulent butter. The spices and flavors rose up to meet my nose. I savored every bite and wished instantly that my plate could magically refill itself. Once my plate was bereft of it’s food I consoled myself with another glass of wine.
After a respectable amount of time the waiter brought out our main course. Gnocchi being my favorite pasta I dove right in. Within seconds I was in heaven. The texture of the little potato dumplings and the light herb notes were perfect and complemented each other perfectly. My only complaint was that it was all over much too soon.
All too quickly the desert menus were being handed out and coffee orders were being taken. I was enjoying myself so much I wasn’t ready for the meal to end. Despite being already full we pushed ourselves a little and ordered desert. I think we all wanted to prolong the pleasure a little. M ordered apple pie a la mode, his favorite. I ordered a plate of assorted cookies to share. We all had a few bites of each cookie, savoring the chocolaty richness and the lemony tartness. The pie vanished in a few bites, too quickly for most of us to have a taste. The meal was finally over, each diner pleasantly full.
As I swallowed my last sip of coffee and cookie crumb I leaned back in my chair and sighed.
“That was good. Really good.” I said to no one in particular.