Friday, December 14, 2007

Eating out. La Spiga.

I had been thinking of going to Café Presse for dinner, but I ask if C. wants to come along and she gives me a look. (Our last venture there was not successful, at least for her. I suppose when you order your steak frites medium-well and it arrives closer to rare it does not endear you to a place). 611 is voted as being too far. (She is not wearing socks, and it's cold outside). Lark is too fancy, Licorous too fussy. 1200 Bistro went out of business a few weeks ago. Boom Noodle has not opened yet. I went to Quinn's last night. So La Spiga it is. Neither of us have been here for a while - actually, I can't remember the last time I had dinner here - and it feels like returning to something comforting and familiar as the hostess leads us to a table near the rear window. We can see the toy store downstairs and a patio with unlit tiki torches, and the lit windows of my own building in the distance.

Some tables have been moved around; the lounge area is by the front windows instead of in the nook under the stairs, but otherwise it seems as I remember it, cushioned banquettes and plain shelves against raw concrete walls. The overall aura is warm and romantic, but the tables are strategically lit with halogen spotlights so you can actually read your menu. (We must be getting old, eating dinner before 6 pm and grumbling about which restaurants give you enough lighting to see your menu). At last, unable to decide, I order tagliatelle with a wild boar ragú.

A basket of grilled flatbread arrives. It is warm and chewy, densely-textured. Once, when we had dinner here, we sandwiched tissue-thin slices of rosy-pink prosciutto between wedges of this same bread as a first course, but tonight the bread alone is all we need. Our pasta arrives, a lasagne of green noodles and bolognese sauce for C. and the tagliatelle for me. As I eat the slippery noodles in their savory ragú I think about how every time I order wild boar I am somehow...disappointed. No, not disappointed, because it is invariably tasty, but somehow it never seems quite as wild as I expect it to be. It might be any other meat, any other animal.

Then it is time for dessert. The chocolate grappa cake is gone from the menu; C. looks at me as if I had lost my mind when I consider the butternut squash flan, and I am not sure if I like the idea of farro in my apple cake. There is always tíramisu, but then there's always tíramisu; plus the espresso will keep me awake. (Another sign that I have become an old fogey, one step away from yelling at kids to get off my lawn, even though I don't have a lawn). I turn to the panna cotta, which is richer than crême caramel but comes floating on that same pool of caramel sauce. I steal a bite of C.'s pear gelato, which has the faint fragrance of pears - so faint I can't discern it, but she assures me it's there - and has an almost icy texture compared to ice cream, which tends to be creamier. We leave the restaurant and turn our separate ways at the corner; the walk home seems to pass in a flash, as it always does when I am full. (When I'm hungry it seems to take forever). I think about the weekend ahead, about errands that need to be run and what I'll have for lunch tomorrow when I walk down to the Pike Place Market, about the crowds that will fill the streets of downtown. But all that is yet to come.

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