Dinner out. Lark.
My mother has invited two friends to dinner at Lark; as usual, we settle upon an early hour, and as usual, I am sent ahead to secure a table. Also as usual, I come straight from work, at a run. But it is a Thursday night, and while the restaurant is still popular some of the heat has slowed down so that at six o'clock the room is mostly empty. It is only a moment's work to put two tables together for the five of us, and I seat myself at the head of the table, all the better to survey the room before me (and to keep an eye out for my parents and their friends). They arrive, and my mother assigns me the task of ordering our meal. And then the fun begins.
It is all a blur, the yellowtail carpaccio, the slender yellow and green beans, still just crunchy. A creamy chilled corn soup, with the shock of warm corn sautéed with finely diced red peppers. There are veal sweetbreads with bacon and a perfectly fried egg, and veal scallopinni (the special of the evening), both perfectly crisp-tender. Chewy grains of farro with morels and cucumbers. (It is always a bit strange to have cooked cucumbers). Sweet carrots with candied ginger and chervil, sautéed wild mushrooms.
I order the rösti potatoes (which I have always wanted to try), and am assaulted by a stray shard of crunchy potato as I divide it into five pieces (one for each of us). It hits me in the eye, but such suffering is worth each bite of potato, crusty outside and soft within. There is wild striped bass with potatoes and tomatoes and caponata (another special), confit of tuna with a little salad of beans and peppers on the side (probably the least exciting of the night's dishes), and at last, trofie pasta with cuttlefish. I might have missed a dish or two.
Then there is dessert. I have a summer pudding, thick with cherries and berries and crispy bits of bread. There are two blueberry tarts, filled with a tangy mascarpone custard. The lacquered peach is a perfect foil for white sesame ice cream and sesame brittle. And there is a gift from the kitchen, the tarte tatin, this time filled with nectarines, all buttery pastry and warm caramel and melting ice cream. As I leave K. tells me she was impressed by how much we ordered; I kept adding more dishes throughout the meal, egged on by my mother, who while a tiny slip of the thing likes to try everything. And so do I.