When was the last time you had lunch? When you had a four-hour-long lunch? With friends?
Little is known about a long leisurely meal spiced with banter and gossip. Especially when it is prepared by an accomplished cook by the name of Nicole. This diminutive woman slaved over a hot fire to make this happen.
It just so happens that Nicole is a very good friend of my life partner, Rossana, so an invitation was extended to me, Alie and Maxine to tag along and partake in an afternoon of real cooking, fiery gossip and Just dance with the XBox.
As soon as we arrived, which was not hard to find since Nicole had the only pink facade in the neighborhood, the smell of roasting pervaded through the front door and onto the driveway.We sat down in the veranda at a small picnic table simply decorated with a table cloth and some silverware, much like what you would find at the picnic grove.
We started out with some cherry tomatoes al forno with some warm toasted baguette. With a sip of sparkling wine, this was a pleasant beginning. The soft juicy tomatoes still had its freshness, the crisp baguette and we began talking about how things were not right in Manila. Small talk, mostly. But then again, we were just getting started.
After about half an hour of just sopping up the juices with the soft insides of the crusty bread, Nicole sent out another tomato recipe, of which its simplicity totally emphasizes that gourmet will not work in the early hours of this particular afternoon. No, she had to blow our taste buds. A jar of home made tomato and garlic jam thudded softly on the table, with a plate of baked brie.
Our table knives just sunk into the warm cheese, steam escaping softly as we slathered the baguette with the tomato jam. The sweet concoction spiced up with some garlic was welcome contrast to the warm, comforting cheese as we started to relax and decompress. This was good.
We soon started talking about her husband, who was away at the time. And her son’s fascination with Airsoft Play. The conversation was so light we hadn’t noticed really that she had disappeared into the kitchen. And out came the the next courses, if you can call them that. Prawns and scallop on lemon risotto made our hearts skip a beat. Having not recovered fully as to the extent of her preparations, she laid on the table a platter of pot roast beef, and grilled pork barbecue. She apologetically had to confess that she had to make do with the absence of Arborio, to which we clamored it did not matter. And it really didn’t.
For the texture was divine, al dente, flavorful, the scallops so juicy and nicely paired with the prawns.
The pot roast my mother could not have made it any better. Soft, fork tender beef with crisp garlic flakes and mushrooms
Grilled pork always had a way into my heart. Though not perfect, they were good accompaniment for the rest of the meal.
How does one think of these things on a day when you just want to lie back and veg out. Sunday. We can only momentarily decipher the motives, but the food was too good to be even thinking about anything or anyone but ourselves and the world that extends outside of us, social networks of course not included. This is a real connection among friends. I don’t have to click on a button to say that we liked it. Love it? Nicole only had to bring out the decadent dessert…
Chocolate and Oreo Mousse cake. With some coffee. And the late afternoon sun. You really can not ask for more. Not with this in our belly.
As the sun slowly sank behind the veranda wall, and the air started getting cooler, conversation was noticeably slower, more carefree. A few rounds with ‘Just Dance’ on the XBox was a welcome distraction because we were so stuffed, so satisfied, so intensely saturated with good food, that dancing had to distract the love handles from getting any bigger. For we were at risk to just lay back, unbutton our trousers and sigh with gratitude. And that was what we could call a proper lunch.
Before sending us off, Nicole generously handed us a few jars of limoncello jam, citrus marmalade and more of the tomato and garlic jam. It will start the week out right. How did you spend your Sunday?