A Letter from Katie Botkin in Rome:
To celebrate Emma and Thomas’ papal blessing, Emma has made reservations at Ciampini Ristorante, their favorite restaurant in Rome. We meet at the top of the Spanish steps and walk over, with the smell of jasmine hanging in the air, and seat ourselves at our table on the terrace overlooking Rome at sunset. Emma tells me that she loves this restaurant because the food is outstanding and the service is excellent. Indeed, our waiter seems to appear exactly when we need him to, and is helpful without being condescending or overly jovial. He brings us some amuse-bouches with caviar. Mary orders a negroni and says it’s made perfectly. I order prosecco, agree to a portion of the seafood platter, risotto with seabass and spaghetti as my next courses, and then want beef with a side dish of Roman artichokes.
After the seafood platter, a spread of prawns, ahi tuna and octopus salad, I realize I’m going to have to start taking it easy. I’m not sure how Italians make through an entire meal like this. I have a few bites of the pastas and sit back to converse for awhile to let my stomach rest. Emma makes me try some of her wine, a valpolicella she’s swooning over due to its aromas of leather and oak.
When the main course comes, I concentrate on enjoying the beef without making myself sick. “Next time we come here, I am definitely only ordering the main course,” says Thomas. I groan and agree. It’s just too good to waste, though. I ask the waiter if they do doggie bags in Italy. “But of course,” he says, and disappears with my plate. He comes back with a nice little package for me to take away, and I excuse myself before anyone can guilt me into trying desert.
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