Basi Italia. November 30, 2006. I left my camera at home this night. But I think I can paint you a picture of the evening that will more than delight.
It had been an unseasonably warm week in Ohio that week. Unfortunately, by Thursday, the rain had set in. It rained steadily from the afternoon into the evening. Miserable rain, but not cold. Surely our plans for outdoor dining would be dashed?
Oh, but not so. Jenny and I arrived first. The restaurant is nestled in an alley in a downtown residential neighborhood. The lights of the place shine out onto the bumpy cobbled street of the alley where the valet awaits. We go inside. It's a tiny place, like someone's house converted to a restaurant. All the diners look at us as if to say, "oh no, there isn't room for 2 more." The host lets us know that we are set up for our large group to eat on the patio if that's ok with us. They have it covered and heated, so we should be nice and comfortable. We are the adventurous sort, so we head back out the front door and around the side of the building.
Walking into the back courtyard is like inviting yourself into a friend's backyard. There is a cozy chimnea burning and two heat lamps under a spacious tent where our tables are set up. We are early, so we take a seat under an umbrella near the fireplace. A waiter brings us drinks while we await the rest of the party and he finishes setting our tables. We drink our beverages, warmed by the fire, listening to the sounds of the city and the rain falling softly around us.
The rest of the girls start arriving. Each one has a look of awe and fascination as she takes in the specialness of our monthly dining experience for November. On this occasion we are missing some regular attendees and have acquired some new members who also brought a friend. The warmth of this group of people continues to fill the place with warmth on a rainy night.
Our first round of appetizers was a special treat from the owners. Delicious, though I can't remember the name. From the menu, we ordered sauté of zucchini, grilled endive & fresh figs, and roasted beets. The bread is delicious and continuously replenished. We sampled many of the main course selections also. The roasted chicken, pumpkin ravioli, and shrimp & crab risotto were popular selections. We ended the evening with a variety of desserts including their special spiced mocha chocolate pudding and the canoli.
One of the best Fork experiences of the year! I am looking forward to another year of friends and food myself. And I hope that those of you who have joined us will continue to attend. It is so much fun to keep meeting new people and forging deeper relationships with the rest.