So when I went to that exhibition the other day with Sim’s Lions Club, she invited me to dinner at their house that night for their son Stephano’s 26th birthday. She said there would be several people there, many that I had already met and a few that I hadn’t. Mark my word that I will never, ever turn down a dinner at Sim’s house because she really is one of the best cooks I have ever met. She obviously has a lot of Italian influence in her cooking, so most of her dishes are really traditional, but with this great imaginative twist. It is always a pleasure to taste any one of her dishes because, though they have a lovely creative flair, they are never pretentious, always comforting. It is funny because I was just doing a mental inventory of all the women in my life, and as it turns out, they are ALL fabulous cooks: my mom’s food really soothes the spirit, my grandmother’s soothes the soul. The promise of dinner at Fiorella’s gets me through even the toughest of days, the bread my sister makes beats that of any bakery in town, and I swear to God above that I have had dreams about that asparagus pasta that Sim made at Easter… and the roast pork. Between all of these beautiful ladies, it is a wonder that I don’t weigh 500 pounds! But I am straying from the subject.
So I arrived at the Rabaglietti’s and was immediately greeted by a Hawaiian-clad Nic and was given a stiff-ish drink. I have been to their house before, but just saw it in passing. However, this evening, as I settled myself in on the couch, I smiled inside. It is always nice to be in a home that is both beautiful yet lived-in, where you can tell– by the furniture, the photographs, the art, the candles, and all the other things that gives a home its character– that a lot of people have made a lot of good memories, and maybe even a few bad ones. It begins to take on even more significance when you are in a city as ancient as Florence, where the walls of any given home have been standing for centuries– just imagine what they have seen! But, again, I am straying from the subject.
I am convinced that Sim has some kind of magic up her sleeve, because it was only a few short hours before that we had visited the museum together, and in the meantime she went back to work, went to the gym, and prepared a feast like you wouldn’t believe. First there was the brie en croute, the salami, and the cheese, then came the pasta and the gnocchi (potato dumplings), then the hamburgers, ribs, french fries, and spinach sformata (don’t ask… all I know is that it was DELISH-ous!)… oh but we can’t forget about the dessert (which a friend brought)– a torte consisting of layers of pastry and cream, then topped with cream puffs. Good God Almighty! It was so funny because on the way over to their house I kept lamenting the fact that I wasn’t very hungry and wouldn’t be able to eat very much, but when all was said and done I probably ate twice as much as I normally do. And I didn’t regret a single bite.
The party itself was, in a word, fabulous. Every single person there was extremely down-to-earth and easy to talk to, not to mention lively, happy, and cheerful. I thought I would say a word or two about each of them, just for memory’s sake. However, I take no responsibility for spelling errors in people’s names.
Nic and Sim (host and hostess) you are all semi-familiar with by now, but I swear the more I get to know them the more I really, really like them. They are both very special people, and I am so thankful to have been put in contact with them.
Stephano was the birthday boy, and the oldest son of Nic and Sim. He plays pro basketball and studies economics. He has his father’s great sense of humor and is tall, blond, and handsome (like his mom). He’s got a great personality and brightens up any room he walks in.
Irene is Stephano’s girlfriend (for 3 years?? not sure on the number). She is so, so, so sweet. Genuinely so. She got her masters in Criminal Justice in the States, but now works in the fashion industry. She is always very well dressed, has the cutest shoes ever, but is not one bit pretentious. Really, the only word I can think to describe her is sweet. From her head down to her perfectly painted toes. Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet.
Jenny is the younger daughter of Nic and Sim. She is studying to be a veterinarian in Pisa. Jenny’s got a little bit of a fire to her, you can tell, but in a good way. She, too, is tall, blond, and beautiful– it obviously runs in the family. She is kind, honest, and down-to-earth. Seems like Nic and Sim did a few things right with their kids!
Pasquale is an old family friend with whom I didn’t speak much, but I instantly liked him. Sometimes all you have to do is look a person in the eye and you just know that they are a good-hearted person through-and-through. Pasquale is one of those people.
Michael is another family friend, and if I had to guess his age I would put him in his late 20’s. He owns a restaurant in town that I have eaten at before, though I cannot vouch for the food because it was after Easter and I was really craving a salad. But everyone else’s food looked great. He made Stephano’s birthday cake. Michael has a great spirit– he always has a smile on his face and has a generous spirit. Really sweet guy.
Michael’s girlfriend was also there, though I cannot recall her name. Actually, it is not that I don’t remember, but rather that I didn’t understand when she told me and before I could ask again, she had flittered off, playing social butterfly. However, what I do know is that she is Argentinian, very cheerful, free-spirited, and about as honest and genuine as they come. I have run into her several times since the party– completely by chance– and she always greets me fondly, as if we were old friends. I liked her a lot.
Duccio is an old buddy of Stephano’s (though he is a few years older than Stephano), and I swear he is one of the smiliest people I have ever met. I don’t think he stopped smiling for a second the entire night, except when he was shoving food into his face. Wow, that boy can eat! He has a great sense of humor, hence why he and Stephano get along so well. His girlfriend was also there, Gemma, who was very sweet but sort of quiet. We didn’t speak much, but I still liked her a lot. He also brought along an American girl who is home-staying in his house, who was really nice. We talked a lot in English throughout the evening, which I think was nice for us both and made for a bit of a bonding experience.
So there you have it! Put all of these people together in one room, and a big, lively, hilarious, and very entertaining evening is sure to ensue…especially when you mix in tons of good food and alcohol…. did I mention the flaming shots of Sambuca?