I waited, breath bated, as the waiter carefully set the plate down in front of me. The white place slightly glistened amongst the low-lighting. I observed the plate. So many choices, but which to try first. Just as I was about to pick up the leafed appetizer I was stopped by a clinking of cutlery on glass. The low chime was localized to our table alone. After one of my roommates had painstakingly divided the wine so well I could hardly be surprised that we were going to toast the evening.
After toasting to our thankfulness of being together to experience something so new and wonderful we our table got quite. Each member focusing on what to try first. I looked at my plate. Bread was always tasty, best to keep that as a palate cleanser. Again I reached for the leaf. I had never been served a leaf before. Sure as a child I had eaten a leaf or twelve, but what child hadn’t. Not counting lettuce this was new. I bit into the morsel. Confused, like the others around, on if we were actually suppose to each the green as well as the cheese or just the cheese. The mozzarella was warm, chewy and gooey a stark contrast to the grape leaf which was brittle (from being baked) and somewhat veiney (making it difficult to bite through). Abandoning the leaf I quickly gobbled up the rest of the tantalizing cheese. That one appetizer set the bar for the rest of the evening.
If the restaurant could do so much with a glorified cheese stick we were in for a treat. And a treat it was. As I too quickly ate each course the robust lemony flavor became an obvious overtone of the seasoning, but the basil, parsley and other seasonings balanced well with the meal. Then came the dessert. The restaurant’s piece de resistance, dessert.
The flirtatious old man who had been serving us all night came around with an over flowing tray of lemon cakes. Each carefully formed ball was carefully glazed and topped with a wafer leaf. It seemed that the restaurant was determined that we not forget about their lemon grove which supplied lots of flavoring for the food. As I bit into the cake the explosion of citrus was almost overpowering until the cake then suddenly counterbalanced the onslaught of flavor. Making the confection refreshing and filling, as if I wasn’t stuffed already.
Although this may not be my favorite meal ever and time has robbed me some of the finite details I’ll never truly forget this meal. It was quite memorable (and a nice memory to take away from my semester abroad). I’d also be hard pressed, in general, to say what my favorite meal ever was. It could be argued the first time I had a burger after being on a four month hiatus from them (that was my first meal when I got back to the states). I’ll always remember that meal too.