Monday, November 17, 2008

Dinner for one. Spinasse.

The one thought that has carried me through the entire day is that at the end of it I could head over to Spinasse for a plate of pasta before going home to make bread pudding for tomorrow's lunch party. (Time to celebrate the November birthdays). It is nearly 6:30 by the time I make it out the door, and there are a few groups of diners already seated inside. I recognize K., one of the owners of Lark, but she does not see me. Shedding layers of coat and scarf and my backpack, I struggle into a stool at a bar, inadvertently elbowing the poor man sitting to my right. (I find myself elbowing him all evening, and regret not being able to move a few inches to the left).

Having already tried the ravioli and the fine strings of tajarin, I zero in immediately on the maltagliatti ("randomly cut" pasta) with chanterelles, my favorite mushroom. While I wait for my pasta a small plate with two crostini arrive, one with marinated porcini mushrooms (not as good as the one with chanterelles we had last time) and one with rabbit pâté drizzled with balsamic vinegar, which is as good as always. I chat with the couple next to me, briefly; they are exuberantly friendly, and the wife has big blonde hair, the likes of which I have never seen in this neighborhood, except on the transvestites that frequent the bar on the next block. They are busy trying a sort of degustazione of chocolates.

As they ooh and ah over their chocolate, my dinner arrives, and then they exclaim over my pasta, asking me what I ordered, offering me a taste of their Barolo. (I decline. After a long Monday, a glass of wine would send me reeling off the stool). I hear them debating over whether to ask our server if the kitchen can make them a zabaglione, which they do, cheerfully. Nonplussed, she heads into the kitchen to ask the chef (and owner) and she returns to tell them it is not available tonight, but it might appear on the menu in the future. I don't know whether it really will, but I will check next time I come back. Meanwhile I have my pasta to think about, irregularly shaped leaves of pasta cut into random triangles and diamonds and perhaps trapezoids; I am eating it all too eagerly to examine them closely. There is just the pasta, the fresh chanterelles, a little butter, a whisper of Parmeggiano-Reggiano, exactly what I needed on a Monday night, to ease me into a week of work ahead.

As I gather my things to leave K. catches my eye, and I stop to say hello, realizing that one of the couples dining with her were my table companions at the Lark Whole Beast dinner last April. They recognize me immediately, and express surprise that we would run into each other again. But upon reflection, it is not so surprising. Spinasse is one of those places, like Lark, that is simple and unpretentious, a place for people who really care about food. I am so happy that it is in my neighborhood, and that I live here now.

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