hummous dusted with cumin and pomegranate seeds
saganaki with lemon juice
tender lamb with cinnamon and cloves
creamy goat’s cheese pastries with pine nuts
She’s the only one who could persuade me to do shots.
The night hasn’t even begun but we’re laughing already. She opens her presents as the bartender pours liquid fire into shot glasses for us all; my Scorpio woman, with warm heart and dirty laugh, on her birthday.
We clink, swill and shudder, feeling the burn inside as we head across the street to the restaurant, holding hands to cross the road in shafts of late afternoon sunshine. We all reach for the wine menu with greedy hands, and the first splash of mellow red greets the dishes that begin their dance around the table.
I would do anything for the richness of goat’s cheese, and spear a pastry with hungry tines. The creamy globe melts down my throat and my moan brings forth laughter from my people. The rich scents of spices and juices circle our heads and begin a battle of hands and cutlery, knives clinking against wine glasses and laughter drawing glances from other customers.
A swell of minted sausage is offered on a fork tip, and exchanged for an octopus tentacle sprinkled with lemon juice and peppercorns. The plump little quails are so succulent we barely need to chew, and the slabs of salty haloumi bring forth a moment of indulgent silence as we gaze at each other in wonder, and heave a collective sigh.
And when our girl holds her camera above us and exclaims that this night heralds her tenth year in Australia, the cheers as hands are held under the table make even the waiters smile.
Black coffee washes the feast down and then here’s strutting through the Collingwood lanes as we head to the avocado house with whiskey bottles in hand. We spill into the back yard and bring out the word games, singing to Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot as my little red book of quotes comes out, and laughter spirals from our joyous mouths.
My Scorpio woman, wary of birthdays and unsure of whether to celebrate this one, beams as her man brings out the birthday cake and we all serenade her with whiskey soaked love.
And the words that burst from her mouth makes each of us shine as she circles our table with loving hands stroking hair…..I’m too happy to sit down.
We all clink our glasses, and reach for our dessert plates.
Food plays a huge role in my life.
There are those nights when it all comes together beautifully – the food is divine, the wine superb, and you’re so comfortable in your skin that the world seems golden. When you can share such a feast with the ones you love, it’s something special indeed.
I wish you all a blissful feasting season, and to welcome in the new year with love, light and laughter.
And cheese. Plenty of cheese.
My other feast pieces, taken briefly out of hiding: