What’s the plan? Eat pasta and drink red wine. Perfetto.

Having not done my typical planathon (buying a rough guide, planning my itinerary, packing in advance, at least twice… etc) I’ve arrived in Turin with lots of coughing, low energy levels and little expectation. All I really want to do for the few days is sit in a café, drink coffee and write my blog during the day, then eat pasta and drink red wine in the evening. A relaxing few days away with no exploring itinerary.

So tonight I ventured out of the hotel and round the corner into a small piazza, looking for somewhere I can get a glass of red and a bite to eat. In the piazza are two restaurants. Both have enclosed / heated patio areas in front, both probably have the same number of occupants, but the first one looks busier as it’s smaller. So I go for this one. No sign of a menu, everything is in Italian, and everyone inside looks casual, as though they’ve walked into their own kitchen. Perfect. The staff are dressed equally casually, not a uniform in sight, and they’re all smiles and welcoming. Perfect.

Pull up a chair…

I take a seat in the corner and across comes the waiter. He drops a handwritten notepad on the table, says something in Italian and disappears…? If this was England, I’d wonder if he was he having a strop, or just being very off-hand? But this is Italy 🙂

The notepad lists three items, then a line, then a further 5 items, another line, then four more items. I understand the odd word, like ‘verde’ ‘ragu’ and ‘risotto’ so guess this is the menu? Pondering whether to go for pot luck or get my iPhone out and translate, the waiter returns, pulls up a chair and starts chatting to me – if only waiters in the UK were like this, I’d be in! It’s fantastic! Or it would be if I could understand a word of what Guiseppe is saying?! Assuming he’s trying to talk me through the menu, I’m so tempted to let him continue, just for the entertainment; nod periodically, raise the odd eyebrow, make ‘hungry’ noises to suggest temptation at specific dishes etc. But my sensible (boring?) bone kicks in and I give a little nervous giggle and explain that ‘mi no parlo Italiano’. He smiles and beckons over his colleague, who apologises on his behalf (not that there’s any need) and suggests she will try to explain in English. Of course, her English is brilliant and every dish is described, complete on a bed of Italian detail. Belissimmo.

Water soon arrives, followed by a basket of bread, wine comes in a carafe, accompanied by a tumbler – no wine glasses – and the ambiance is set, to perfection. This is exactly what I had in mind. I love this place! My starter doesn’t take long – cheese (tastes like a cross between feta and mozzarella, creamy but neither crumbly nor elastic) with a green sauce (looks like an oily pesto drizzled on top, but tastes more minty that basily). Three slices on a plate, no frills. My main course follows: spaghetti with sausage (the pasta looks more like noodles than spaghetti – flat rather than round – but the taste confirms it’s home-made, and just delicious.) Again, simple presentation but all taste. I’d considered the local dish of ‘boiled meats’ or ‘lamb and potato’ for my third (meat) course, but don’t have room for more. Well, not until I see the tiramisu appear on the next table… I think the waitress sees my eyes pop out of my head – just as I’m about to ask for il conto she raises her eyebrows, nods towards the neighbouring table and I’ve no choice but to smile and nod. One Tiramisu later and I’m done. Almost…

On presenting the bill, the waiter also deposits a teaspoon on the table, with a sugar lump on it. A little bemused by this, I watch as he produces a lighter from his pocket and sets the sugar alight. OK… what do I do now? Judging by the flame, I’m guessing it’s been doused in a spirit, but do I blow it out or watch it burn?… Is the spoon damaging the wooden table?… The spoon’s metal, so I can’t pick it up, it’ll be red hot!… So do I just watch it burn and look impressed?… It’s bubbling away and I’m not really sure what to do with it?…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s