once upon a time it was thursday, and i went to Porchis to photograph fabio’s newly remodeled Land Rover.
then it was friday and FL and I went into Udine for dinner with some friends. We ate moroccan food and drank pink spumante and then went out on the town like 22 year olds, danced and scampered through the cobblestone streets.
saturday morning we were hurting, but giggling non-stop. there was an inexplicable jar of plum marmalade in my purse, source unknown.
we spent the day shopping for gifts for people back home, and somehow ended up at the mall in udine, where FL surprised me with his intent:
to get me a proper engagement ring.
there were at least 20 different jewelry stores, each with hundreds of rings to look at. pearls, rubies, gold, silver, pink, sparkle, twist, design. was overwhelming. my head was swimming, and FL looked a little green. i couldn’t tell if we were still icky from the night before, or because the idea of picking out our symbol of forever under hot florescent lights with Maroon 5 blasting in the background and some snotty sales assistant glaring at us just seemed so wrong.
after what seemed like an eternity, I tugged on his sleeve.
“hey,” i whispered (because what i was about to say seemed like something that needed to be whispered), “let’s go back to cormons. to that little jewelry store in the piazza. it’s safe there, and true, and i have a feeling they’ll have just what we’re looking for.”
FL looked so relieved i kissed him, and we fled the commercial center of udine for the comfort of sweet cormons.
in the car it came to me clear as the river Natisone. what ring we needed, what ring was right for us. somewhere along the line we had made the decision in that unspoken way that true-lovers do that this ring wasn’t just for me, it was for us. i’d wear it, cause i look better in things that sparkle, but it’d be ours, jointly.
so and we didn’t want something flashy. no show piece. we didn’t want something “in vogue” or “youthful”- because styles become outdated and we will not always be so youthful. we wanted something classic, honest, simple, beautiful and timeless. we wanted something that was so delicate that it would become a part of our bodies, just meld into our skin, become another bone, another beating heart. we wanted a ring that meant something, that represented our promise, unbreakable and white, elegance and beauty sans pomp and circumstance.
it was dark and cold outside when we entered the store, and the windows were fogged. we were the only customers, and the sales lady smiled warmly. she’s known FL his whole life, and was the one who sold him the necklace he gave me our first christmas together, when he first told me he loved me.
her eyes were twinkling and she said, “and what are you here for this time?”
FL just smiled and I smiled and she came around the counter and kissed our cheeks.
the sales assistant began bringing out boxes of rings. there weren’t that many of them like in the other stores but they were all of exceptional quality, each one unique but solid.
FL and I saw it at the same time. i gasped, and he pointed. there, in the top right corner of the very smallest box was the very smallest ring. practically only a shimmer, but it caught my eye more than any of the others.
a tiny white gold band, a fleck of diamond. it was perfect.
I slipped it on my finger and said, “oh, amore, what do you think of this one? isn’t it just it?”
and his eyes got misty and he started to say something but his voice choked so he just nodded and then my eyes got misty and i said, in a voice also choked with tears…
“well then, here it is.”
to celebrate we went to La Subida or, more specifically, La Trattoria dalla Subida, one of the most famous restaurants in Friuli, and certainly the best in Collio (which is really saying something).
we showed up at 8:30 on a saturday night, sweating bullets that there wouldn’t be a spot for us. the place is usually packed, a reservations-weeks-in-advance type of place, and we’ve never had the courage to bite the bullet and call ahead. i’ve been begging and pleading FL to take me there for so long, but he always gets this terrified expression on his face, like he’s afraid if we go eat there he’ll have to sell the house afterwards or something (fine meals don’t come cheap, sometimes). this evening, however, with our ring nestled in it’s little velvet box in the breast pocket of his jacket against his heart, he was feeling invincible, or maybe just too happy to care anymore, and we were ready for a hell of a meal.
the owner greeted us at the door, and led us into a room where a fire blazed in the amazing two-sided fireplace dividing the dining room from the front hall. he smiled and seemed genuinely pleased to see us, and said, “reservations?”
when we said no, he smiled even wider.
“well, then, the handsome couple will just have to sit here.”
he led us over to a romantically isolated, gorgeously set, alluringly comfortable table right night to the fireplace, wedged between two giant windows that overlook the front garden and a bookshelf full of maddeningly intriguing cookbooks.
my heart just melted, and we took our seats on rocking chairs, cushioned with fluffy enbroidered pillows.
a glass of spumante and a complimentary tartlet of chestnut cream and locally-produced fois gras to kick things off? yes, please!
this is what we ordered (we ordered really well!):
a bottle of Cabernet, Carlo di Praids, from a vineyard right by our house
an antipasto of venison tartar with chilled persimmon, some sort of bizarre emulsified olive oil/lemon sauce, watercress and vanilla salt. perfection.
fresh pasta with all of this season’s bounty: candied apples, walnuts, wild mixed mushrooms, valerian, pomegranate seeds and wild boar, topped with aged montasio. the combination was autumn in a mouthful.
bleks, a traditional fresh friulian pasta, with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and a rabbit ragu’ in an oven-crisped bread bowl. balmy, savory, delicious.
to clean the pallet, complimentary sorbetto, made with the house specialty: accetto di uva (grape vinegar). FL almost convulsed, he loved this so much.
venison tenderloin, with a sauce of red wine, wild berries and cloves, accompanied by candied pears. amazing, amazing, amazing.
a selection of local cheeses, all but one cow’s milk, with a variety of ages. served with house-made honey and a selection of autumnal-fruit marmalades. just…so unbelievable. i love cheese.
and for dessert…nothing. we opted out. we were too stuffed, just couldn’t handle it. figured a grappa would be better if we planned on ever eventually removing ourselves from the restaurant. so they brought us a grappa. but also…
delicious tiny cookies and petits fours, oh my! what joy!
and the sweetest little jars of vanilla and chocolate custard filled with kiwi, pomegranate seeds and persimmon slices that you ever did see
coffee, grappa, the works. and we were beat. we were thrilled, we were full of both love and food from another incredible meal together, we were ready to go home and fall into bed…
i think sometimes that what is most important for me in this life, what i love to do most, is to sit down and share a meal, a snack, a glass of wine, a cup of good coffee, with someone i love. to have friends and family that love to eat, to cook, to taste, to experience, to have people i love to be with sit around the table with me and do what is (in my opinion at least) the most wonderful thing that a person can do (i.e. eat! does this make me weird?) is just the tops…
…and having a lover and a BEST FRIEND and a fiance and a FUTURE HUSBAND to do this with is just…
well i’m grateful. heart-swellingly grateful.