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Remembrance {Osteria La Spiga}

September 11, 2011

 

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I started this post with my own story of where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001 and then quickly deleted it. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with these stories. I appreciate the comfort it brings to read and write these brief snapshots of the most memorable day of the 21st Century. For me, though, it’s more important that we make our stories, our gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price and those who continue to defend our freedom, a part of our personal connections and conversations. Dialogue and human connection are the most important part of the healing process… and we are all still healing. No matter who you are or where you were that day, no American is the same.

My life looks very, very different than it did ten years ago. Aside from my family, the people who are most present in my life are not the same as they were back then. Everything has changed, but just watching the media coverage today, it’s amazing how easy it is to be transported right back to that day.

Lately, B and I have been spending time with new friends. It’s not altogether surprising. Most of the friends we had when we first moved to Seattle have since moved away… and we’ve met some really nice people lately. Last night, we had dinner at La Spiga with two of those new friends, KL and GD.

 

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I liked KL right away. In a very un-Seattle fashion, after we’d only met once a couple months before, she sent me a message to see if I wanted to get together for some wine. It wasn’t one of those “let’s get together” when you know you never will. We picked a day, time and place and had a great time. It’s nice to meet people who are just really interesting and easy to be around at the same time.

B and I first visited La Spiga back in February and were totally impressed. Since then I’ve made one other visit for a work dinner, but it had been awhile. We were hoping to visit Tavern Law last night, still waiting for our illusive first visit to Needle & Thread, but since we didn’t come up with the idea until late Friday night, it wasn’t meant to be. La Spiga wasn’t a disappointing back-up plan.

When eating in an Italian restaurant, it’s helpful to bring an Italian friend. Seriously. It helps to demystify the menu, make you laugh at your own horrible pronunciations and allows you to feel totally validated when you think the food is awesome and they agree. Of course, ideally you would do what we did and bring along an Italian friend who would be equally good company over sushi or tacos. The same, of course, could be said for taking a Greek person to a Greek restaurant or say, taking me to a New Mexican restaurant. It helps to travel with those who know. KL’s boyfriend, GD, moved to Seattle several months ago from Italy. He ended up being our guide through the menu and the wine list for the evening.

GD’s face totally lit up at the sight of the Gnocco Fritto (Fried Emilian flat bread with prosciutto, Robiola fresca cheese, arugula and sottoaceti) on the menu. B and I chose the Fritto Misto di Pesce to share (Fried calamari, shrimp and bay scallops* with salsa verde dipping sauce).

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Everyone seemed really happy with the choices. We all had a good laugh at B’s attempted pronunciation of Fritto Misto di Pesce too. GD gave us all a super quick Italian lesson to help remedy that situation. I don’t think it helped.
 
As it turns out, our server was also Italian. B and I both have colleagues from all over the world, and I’ve often considered and admired how difficult and exhausting it must be to constantly communicate in another language. GD instantly switched to Italian in his conversations with the server. I couldn’t help but think that it must have been a massive relief. Living in a new place with new people and a new job is challenging enough. I can’t even imagine doing it in another language.
 
For dinner, B had the Porchetta (Slow roasted pork shoulder with rosemary, sage and fennel seed
served with fennel alla Parmigiana). I chose the Tagliatelle al Burro di Tartufo (Tagliatelle noodles with white Alba Truffle butter). Though I didn’t take a photo of KL or GD’s meal, she opted for the Lasagne Verdi (six layers of green lasagna noodles filled with ragu, béchamel and Parmigiano Reggiano) and GD chose Tortelli alle Erbe (spinach filled tortelli, fresh sage, butter and Parmigiano).
 
B’s Porchetta was amazing. No need for a knife there. It was so tender, it just fell apart at the slightest prodding from a fork.

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I wasn’t so sure about my choice. I think I’ve been eating with B for too long, but I feel like I’m not ordering a real meal if there’s not some meat on the plate. The truffle butter was just too big a draw to turn down, though. It was delicious… amazingly simple and wonderful.

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Now that I’m thinking about it, we didn’t get a reaction from GD on his Tortelli. KL’s lasagne, though, was the sure hit of the table. She raved about it and GD gave his enthusiastic approval  as well.
 
For dessert, there was no sharing. Tartufo Bianco for me, Panna Cotta for KL, Torta di Nocciola con Pera Arrosto and Tiramisu for GD. I’ve had the Tartufo Bianco at La Spiga before, so I knew I’d love it. Unfortunately, I had a really bad reaction to the gluten in my pasta. I’ve been inexcusably lazy about watching my gluten for a long time now and had somehow escaped mostly unscathed. Before I ordered, I paused to think maybe pasta wasn’t a good idea, but given that I’d been handling it pretty well lately, I went for it. It was a risk, and I’m tempted to say it was worth it because it was so good, but by the time dessert was on the table, the telltale painful swelling in my stomach was making it tough to breathe or swallow. It was the worst reaction I’ve had in months. Looks like it’s time to get serious about watching it. All the same, I managed to enjoy a few small bites of my dessert and the Sambuca I ordered to go with it.

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There weren’t a whole lot of comments on the desserts. I don’t think that says a bad thing about them. We were just busy talking and enjoying our food. There were also shared stories of September 11th.
 
I’ve heard B’s story many, many times now, but I never get tired of hearing it. It must have been such a different experience being in the military, realizing how quickly everything had changed. I suppose that realization, though, was something we all shared… on American soil or abroad. It’s important to remember. Today I’m allowing myself to feel a little sad. What’s more important, though, than remembering or the sadness is to make sure that remembrance doesn’t isolate you, but draws you closer to the people in your life, new and old.

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