Our family has been blessed, or cursed, depending on your perception, with a rather quirky sense of humor. My son from the moment he exited the womb, adopted his Irish heritage, and innate playfulness and was nominated for salesman of the year before he sucked on his first teething biscuit. I believe, but can’t confirm, that he was the front man in negotiating a contract a new diaper service contract with the RN’s while he was still wrapped in his blue blanket in the nursery of the maternity ward.
As a little boy he found his passion in sports and participated in everything available. As he got further along in elementary school it was obvious that soccer was going to be his strong suit, and is, in fact until this day. I bought cleats for this and cleats for that. Couldn’t they just have one cleat that works across the board? On top of the initial expense with one pair for each individual sport, at that age they grow out of them in one season so you’re on the hook again the following one.
Nonetheless, we supported his obvious gift and interest in sports. On entering high school my young athlete was still height challenged. A small straight-haired blonde, standing just a hair (and we always counted that hair) above five feet. In his freshman year he expressed an interest in football which seemed a little out of his range, but if he wanted it, we were there behind it. I remember going to his first game. One particularly diminutive player sprinted out onto the field. I questioned my friend on allowing such a little guy to play, when she pointed out that the number on his back belonged to my son. Ach. When that line of larger players moved in his direction I just covered my eyes. He took his lumps, and what he lacked in stature he made up for in heart.
In his junior year he achieved a growth spurt that was quite amazing. In that year he went from a small blond-haired boy to a man standing nearly six feet tall. It was like watching reruns of the Incredible Hulk. Gone was the straight wheat colored hair replaced with a dense mass of black curls. His neck, which up until that point had adequately supported his head, suddenly spread to a point where it could have supported several heads adequately with room to spare. Stretch marks appeared on his young body and suddenly he went from a bud to a full grown flower overnight. For me it was just unnerving.
Blessed with his dad’s Irish charm and good looks, along with the addition of the curly black locks and lopsided sense of humor he drew young girls in his peer group like meat bees to a barbecue. They would call in groups and take him to dinner, and more than once I found one bailing out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night. During those times you might have seen me sitting in a rocker outside of window with a chew of tobacco stuffed in one cheek and a shotgun resting on my right leg.
At eighteen he enlisted in the army, and with the bright star that seems to shine on him, got assigned to Ewa Beach, Hawaii. After doing his basic training he and three others of the same rank took an apartment off base and enjoyed the pleasures that Hawaii has to offer, mostly the endless supply of young girls coming and going as the planes landed and took off.
I began to wonder if one in particular was ever going to catch his eye or if I was going to continue to just become accustomed to one fresh young face when it was quickly replaced with another. Mandy’s, Buffy’s and Tiffany’s flew through my life like hopefuls at the Playboy Mansion. Finally, in his mid-twenties he found one that had his number, but wasn’t dialing it, and that was that. Soon they announced their engagement.
In celebration we invited them to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, Le Virage in Walnut Creek. Not only was their food outstanding, but the restaurant was charming both inside and out. The exterior walls were brightly painted with murals on all sides giving you the feeling that you were strolling down the Rue du Pont Louis-Phillipe on a cool Paris evening. People dressed to have a meal there, and the waiters and head waiters returned the compliment by moving through the intimate dining areas in black dinner jackets and crisp white shirts. Old time charm prevailed. Caesar salads were prepared at the table in wooden bowls seasoned with garlic and tossed with a raw egg as it’s supposed to be done. Desserts were flamed at the tables, and their veal dishes were truly out of this world.
That evening we enjoyed a delicious meal and our waiter and my son spent the evening sparring good humoredly with one another. When the bill was delivered, my son, with a twinkle in his eye, told the waiter that the people seated at the table across the room were picking up the tab. The waiter looking for a little reciprocity for the playful ribbing he’d been taking all night at our table, bowed slightly picked up the check and went over to the table indicated. My son, totally taken aback, which was unusual for him, turned the color of a rich borscht, and for once his mouth remained tightly shut. After an animated discussion between the waiter and the couple at the other table they waved and smiled and kept the bill. As it turned out, they were neighbors of our waiter and happily participated in gigging my son a bit. All being said and done, they did not, however, pick up the check, which would have been most appreciated.
I believe the restaurant has closed after many years in business. For me, it will be missed.
I mostly fly by the seat of my pants when I cook. Taste, taste, taste, and then adjust. I write tons of notes and readjust, and then readjust again. Every once in a while I run across a recipe that just intrigues me and I go with what’s written on the page. This one I wouldn’t change a thing, well slightly tweaked. My other half was totally thinking this wasn’t going to be good, but something told me the blending of flavors would, at the very least, be interesting. This is from Bon Appetit mag for this month with a few minor adjustments, but I have to say we liked it a lot. I hope you do as well.
Fettucine with Prosciutto and Orange
12 oz. fresh fettucine
2 Tbsp. butter
2.5 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1″ pieces
Zest and juice of one large orange
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a small handful of Kosher salt. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, stopping 2 mins. before directed time. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.
Melt butter in large heavy nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add prosciutto. Saute until browned, about 3 mins.
Add reserved 1/4 cup of pasta water, orange juice, zest, and cream. Bring to boil. Add pasta. Stir until sauce covers pasta. About 1 min. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among warm bowls.