so, even though you have to spend the morning at kinko’s, and the afternoon at the ear, nose and throat specialist to see whassup with your freakishly large tonsils (three months and counting), there is no reason why you cannot have a spur-of-the-moment lunch date with a handily located friend. you just have to remember to pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, and some dental floss for after.
we met on the sunny corner of broadway and abercrombie, not the best place to meet at the best of times, but these days it’s at least worthy of curious gawking now that the old brewery has been torn down. just look at all that sky!
[ i happened to walk by the day they began -- a crane with a large pincer at the end of its arm was grabbing hold of the walls and ripping chunks off it. such violence and destruction. a crowd of people stood and stared. ]
cafe giulia is a heaving mass at lunchtime, every booth filled; every table, counter stool, comfy chair, window seat… taken. the number of people in the queue to order at the counter is only surpassed by the number of plates of food on the counter waiting to be delivered. but the long queue gives you just enough time to confront the even lengthier menu. it was deb‘s first visit, and my second, and i think we may have changed our minds about four times each before we finally made it to the cash register.
despite missing out on the waffles with brown sugar yoghurt last time, and my ensuing vow to go sweet on my subsequent visit, the word that popped out of my mouth was, “panzanella”. i like bread and i like salad, but i don’t think i’ve ever been compelled to order bread salad after my one soggy, oily encounter at an outdoor food fair a decade ago. what made this version particularly alluring was that it was panzanella with prawns.
which i suppose is neither figuratively nor literally kosher, but the thought of grilled prawns and cool tomatoes on a hot day was so enticing. and when it arrived, this riotous tumble of colour held aloft, i was not disappointed. in fact, i believe i may have said out loud, “i am so happy!”.
but, so. the tomatoes were succulent, though not bursting with flavour; perhaps it’s still too early into tomato season. the prawns were perfectly cooked — plump and juicy, and a little charred around the edges. there were just enough of them, until i got to the end and wanted one more. the croutons were crunchy, and the shards of parmesan plentiful. but something was missing… i think it may have been the fruity flavour of olive oil. and salt. this, from me, who doesn’t like salty food. still, it was an enjoyable meal, perched up at the front counter, overlooking the rakish barista with the rockin’ collection of fine tattoos.
“it feels just like new york,” sighed deborah wistfully. i think she rather enjoyed her corn fritters with bacon too.