Dinner out last night with a bunch of running buddies, after a particularly strenuous run around Princes Park and Royal Park including the Melbourne Zoo.
The group usually goes to Lygon Street close to the university, where our favourite place, Ti Amo 2 (next door to Ti Amo 1!) has wonderful food:
'schiaffatelli bella napoli - traditional Italian homemade pasta almost like gnocchi but with no potato, tossed in napoli sauce & basil $11.00
maccharoni della zia- handmade pasta with mini meatballs, eggplant, napoili sauce & basil $11.00
spaghetti don giovanni - mussels & clams cooked with garlic, oregano, olive oil, napoli sauce, spinach and served with chilli $12.90'
Believe me, they sound even better after an appetite-inducing run, especially with a nice big glass of shiraz beside you to help you decide!
Unfortunately, Ti Amo 2 had been booked out, so one of our party had chosen La Porcella instead.
Oops. The day before, La Porcella had been the location of a gangland shooting.
No matter. The shooter apparently apologised to the owner of the restaurant (as you do).
So off we went to La Porcella. It's all red gingham table cloths and traditional Italian decor. A little old Italian man sits behind a piano in one corner belting out Neapolitan songs, his frequently-topped-up glass of wine shaking on top of the piano.
Apart from being fairly quiet, unsurprisingly, you would never have thought anyone had so much as lost their temper in a happy place like this.
The waiters milled about attentively, replenishing the carafes of thirst-quenching chilled water and taking orders.
The 'main course' size pasta dishes - carbonara, bolognese, al polipo, calabrese, al matriciana, marinara, alfredo - were huge, easily enough for two normal appetites. Pizzas, steaks, chicken 'parmigianas' and enormous salads with cos lettuce and quarters of fresh tomato rounded out the menu.
After we ate, the waiters turned the lights down and brought a huge sponge cake from the kitchen - specially planned for the eighteenth birthday of one of our party. The sparklers decorating the cake crackled and spat, raising just one or two nervous eyebrows around the restaurant.
Then everyone sang happy birthday to Kylie and after a few more songs including 'That's Amore' from the man in the corner the espressos came out.
PS: I forgot to attribute the words to the song I quoted in part in my St Patrick's Day post. They are of course Van Morrison's On Hyndford Street from his superlative, timeless 1991 double album Hymns To the Silence.