It’s no secret, I love food.
I love good food, fancy food, silly food, simple food, comfort food.
I love cooking it, watching it being prepared, eating it, savoring it.
And as much as I have learned to enjoy a solitary meal on a patio, or curled up in a chair at home, I love “breaking bread” with friends. There is just something special about convening over a meal. It makes a mediocre meal better, and a fantastic meal spectacular. Such was the case on Thursday night.
I often find myself lamenting that I don’t have a “Sex in the City” gaggle of girlfriends to pal around with. Often watching wistfully from across the room as other tables of gal pals laugh and cavort. It’s not that I don’t have friends or “gal pals”, It’s just that we all lead very different and jam-packed lives which leaves very little time for the weekly gatherings of sitcoms and chick flicks. Which is what makes nights like Thursday so special. After literally a month of failed attempts and rescheduling, we finally settled on a time and place for a gathering.
We met up for drinks first. The “mega catch-up” over glorious red wine at the quirky and quaint Swirl in Leslieville. This was where we expunged the “bullshit” of our daily existence from our forethought. I like to think of it as a mental palate cleanser. Life was stressful but mostly good for all of us. Changes behind us, changes ahead of us, some difficult, some exciting, but we were all… good. And it was good to finally be in the same place at the same time.
The inclement weather actually changed the next part of our plan (which wasn’t really laid out all that well to begin with) and we ended up at one of the more popular restaurants in lower Riverdale, Table 17, without a reservation (gasp!) As if the universe knew we all needed this meal, a reserved table had opened up, and it was now assigned to us.
That’s when the magic happened.
Plans fell away, time fell away, over thinking fell away.
It was no longer about squeezing in a bite to eat and rushing off.
It wasn’t about limiting intake or budgeting the outcome of the final bill.
It was just about enjoying a meal with good friends.
I always take it as a good sign that I can’t remember the decor or the fellow patrons. It means I was completely present and engaged in the moment, which is rare in this rush-rush world we all reside in.
I don’t even remember a lot of what we talked about, but I do remember smiling and laughing; a lot. I remember our amazing server Gavin, who took care of us with humour and an impeccable European flare, stealthily refilling our wine glasses while serving our meal with great care and timing.
I remember the perfectly cooked scallops, just one of the many exquisite dishes that we shared “family style”, in a forks and fingers free-for-all.
I remember boyfriends and husbands being sent “we’re going to be late” texts when it became clear this night was too good to let slip away into a strict preplanned schedule, and feeling a sad twinge that I had no one, man nor beast, to alert of my tardiness.
I remember being completely surprised by the time when we finished our final bite of desert, and I remember not even balking at the bill when it arrived, which was followed by a conversation about the “value” of a good meal out with friends, which, we decided as a group, you can’t put a price on.