Ciao Bella! Our beautiful friends called from the street waving. There was joviality all around and fast excited chatter as they walked under the jasmine arbor and up the path.
Entering under the twinkling fairy lights, there was laughter as bouquets of flowers and bottles of wine were juggled. And as we gave kisses of hello on the cheeks, the amazing smells of garlic and cheese wafted up from the pots they carried.
It was our turn to host the rotating dinner. Each month a different house provided the venue, each month a different cuisine was showcased. Tonight, it was a festa Italiana. An Italian feast!
Bottles clinked as the reds were put on the bar – a marble slab on top of a restored antique sewing machine base. Powder-coated a brilliant green, it was one of my favourite additions to our deck. The beer was buried in the ice of the silver buckets and the bottles of Campari and Limoncello stood ready; bold and cocky in their brilliant red and yellow, like they knew better than we of what was coming. Apéritif! Main! Dessert! Digestif!
It was time to crack out my new-old glasses. I had seen them the week before sitting in Shop 32’s Chambers & Crosthwaite. Small cocktail glasses, fine glass with an etched flower and vine on each one. They were vintage, they were ridiculously fragile, they were totally impractical…they were perfect! There were only six which is never quite enough but mix & matching is a vintage gal’s best friend and they would fit quite comfortably amongst the other vessels already presiding in my sideboard.
There was no doubt that the glasses had been christened many times before but this was the first jaunt as part of my collection. Their role in the fabulous evening of homely Italian was to hold the Campari cocktails. The bitter, dark red liqueur was served with soda water and OJ on ice.
Saluti! We offered as we tapped the fine glasses in appreciation of friendship, delicious food and my new-old glasses. The delicate little glass juxtaposed the bitter tang of the drink which in theory, with the prosciutto wrapped melon and bocconcini that we nibbled on, would stimulate the appetite. It wasn’t strictly necessary given the amazing aromas wafting from the kitchen where the lasagnas and fresh fettuccini with mushrooms and pancetta were cooking. Soon, the Italian inspired fare would weigh down the table, set in its rustic theme of raw fabrics and rosemary, jasmine spilling from old Picklehead jars and candles twinkling amongst the foliage.
The layers of tiramisu, the scoops of gelato and the wedges of rosemary shortbread with mascarpone was the crown of the meal. And as we all sat back in our chairs, full to brim, knowing quite well not another ounce of food would fit…out came the digestif. The Limoncello. It’s intended, and much required, purpose was to aid digestion. It was all very fabulous, the night was a feast for the senses…but as I sat back, happy and content, and watched my guests pour the lemon liqueur into espresso cups for the lack of any shot glasses, I knew exactly what my next new-old cup purchase would be.