In my opinion chance encounters and spontaneity seem to occur more when you are away from home. You are open to suggestions and are often going with the flow. This dinner was definitely one of those circumstances.
One lazy Sunday afternoon, my mum and I were out and about in London shopping with the plans to meet some of my friends later for dinner. After the shops unexpectedly closed for the evening we decided to kill some time with a quick drink at a near by pub.
The sun was shining for the first time since we’d arrived. We were keen to sit outside. There were no free seats when we went searching, but a lovely Italian man who was sitting alone with his motorbike helmet offered the other side of his table. So there we were keeping to ourselves when the heavens literally opened. It was raining so hard that we had umbrellas up under the pub umbrellas. We huddled in to the table and found ourselves almost nose to nose with this complete stranger. To try to help the awkwardness mum says “I wouldn’t usually sit this close to a stranger I promise!” We all burst out laughing and the awkwardness was gone. We chatted about our trip, about his life in Sicily and about the fact that he owned a restaurant. The next thing we know he is handing us his card and asking us to drop by before we leave. He looked at what I was drinking and said, “I can give you a real glass of Prosecco”. Well I was sold!
With no plans for Monday night we took a chance and headed to Siracusa Italian Kitchen. After getting sufficiently lost in the taxi to the point where he turned the meter off and called the restaurant for us, we arrived.
We were welcomed with huge smiles and I think a little surprise… we were also given the promised glass of Prosecco.
I do have to admit we were spoilt a lot this evening with Sicilian olives and a twist on the Caprese salad called ‘Bufala Tricolore’ to enjoy while we perused the menu. This was a first Caprese salad for my mum. It had the addition of avocado which I had never seen before, and probably would prefer without, but I really can’t complain when there is fresh Buffalo Mozzarella involved. My mum was quite excited to say the least. It resulted in her ordering Caprese salads at almost every subsequent Italian restaurant we dined at. After spending a week in Italy, this was quite a lot.
Once we finally got to the menu it was quite standard for an Italian restaurant with pastas, pizzas and a few mains meals on offer. I opted for the Fresh Gnocchi with Crayfish, Tomato and Chilli.
I was very happy with my dish. The gnocchi was beautiful and the rocket which was served on top added freshness and a peppery taste to the meal, which I really liked. The pizza bases, which we sampled in the form of a garlic pizza, were traditional, crisp, thin based and really quite delicious.
Mum opted for the Tagliatelle with Classic Italian Meatballs, Garlic and Tomato Sauce. She did mention it was a little dry to me when she was eating it, but no other complaints. Interestingly enough when the owner spoke to us towards the end of the evening, he seemed to be apologising for this particular dish saying it was not something he particularly liked being on the menu.
When we were getting ready to leave out waiter told us that we should probably stay as Limoncello and espressos had been ordered for us.
Again my mum was in heaven. Limóncello was another first for her. For the following three weeks she ordered Caprese salads, espressos and Limoncello at every opportunity. I’m not exaggerating here.
It was a lovely evening with really nice food and turned out to be somewhat of a foodie awakening for my mum.
I’m thinking I should start sharing umbrellas with strangers more often, you never know what could happen.