My day of birth got into gear with a splendid breakfast of parmesan and Ranchers (a savoury snack a lot like Frazzles but hardier, they’re excellent) and IC and I set off by car to the Lake of Garda and the venue for my birthday lunch, sort of.
It was drizzling when we arrived yet this did nothing to diminish the splendour of the desired location, the 13th century castle -almost a fairytale cliché- presided over medieval streets and buildings as the lake enthusiastically chewed the sea walls.
We took in the town; sublime doesn’t really do it justice (despite the damp atmosphere) and walked to the restaurant where we were booked for lunch at 1pm. On entering I knew I was out of my depth. The bright interior was lined with a pedantic designer distress that echoed a refined nautical polemic, within this, tables suffocated under rippling white- crisp linen that seemed to elevate the filigree silver perched atop. It was right fucking nice. Almost, but not too much.
We were greeted by three immaculate waiters; one took our coats whilst the remaining two directed us to our table by the window facing the blue grey water and distant snow-topped mountains. In unison they seated us and pulled in our chairs. If it wasn’t for the manager appearing with a beatific smile that I almost believed genuine I would’ve screamed the ‘f’ word and run out using the plural version of the ‘c’ one. That and the fact that all we were about to eat and drink would be free of any charges.
The manager was actually disarmingly likeable; he didn’t seem at all full of himself, despite his 3 Michelin stars, and he was very helpful in deciding what we might like to eat as most of the menu contained stuff I’ve ever heard about on BBC4. A wine list the size of a cathedral bible was bought over for a laugh (the cellar had bottles worth over 2 fucking grand) and we were offered a selection of different mineral waters. Really.
I’m positive the wine the manager chose for us was their common or garden house red yet it was sensational. Food arrived and was ceremoniously presented by two waiters who removed each cloche at the exact same time, it felt almost absurd (bearing in mind I was dressed like The Ramones) but what was revealed soon put pay to any of that nonsense. The food was frankly unbelievable, it should’ve been a £100 a pop yet we were eating gratis.
In all we had five courses, including two sweets. I’m not going to sit here and describe everything we had due to time constraints but let me put it like this, it was simply one of the best meals I’ve had. Actually if it wasn’t for the meal I had on my birthday last year it’d be numero one.
Each course came with its own wine so by the end of it I was feeling rather jolly (though IC had to take it a little easier as she was driving). The meal concluded with a torte containing a firework gushing silver, the plate bore my name written in chocolate and wishing me a happy birthday. Before we left I rather sheepishly asked the manager if he’d like me correct some of the English in the English menu. To say he was delighted is something of an understatement, in fact he was so grateful he insisted IC and I stay as long as we wished with unlimited Cognac as his guest.
But we couldn’t stay too long as we had an appointment with a priest, in a cloak, in a church.