03 November 2013

Tanti Auguri

November is birthday season in my family, starting with my dad's birthday today. The celebrations this weekend ended up being rather Italian. On Friday night, my parents had a leaving do in west London, so we didn't meet for dinner at Al Duca until almost 9 pm. Al Duca is an intimate, family-run Italian, just off Piccadilly. When my dad was in London more often, we would sometimes go there for a quick supper after a work out at the Royal Automobile Club.

While we waited for my parents, we children, children-in-law and godchildren got the Prosecco in. The standard menu at Al Duca is four courses: a starter, a pasta course, a meat/fish course and a dessert, but as it was so late and my appetite was rapidly declining, I stuck to the special starter of the day (parma ham, Sardinian pecorino cheese and rocket), followed by the veal escalope with broccoli and a few very small potatoes. The good thing about a place that assumes you will be having a carb course is that if you don't, you don't feel too carbed out after your main.

Sadly, the puddings weren't particularly appealing: we were surprised, for example, to discover that the chocolate parmigiano really did contain aubergine. Still, we ordered a couple of plates of petits fours and the pre-warned waiters brought them over with a little scoop of ice cream bearing a candle. Cue rendition one of Happy Birthday to You (Tanti Auguri a Te in Italian, or "many wishes to you").

In the morning, despite more glasses of Prosecco than I would normally drink, The Bro and I went for a slightly fragile version of the Doughnut Running Club — minus the doughnuts, but plus a coffee from Monmouth — before meeting my parents at the Royal Automobile Club. We then wandered through Soho, stopping for coffee at Fernandez & Wells while my dad checked out the new-ish Gant Rugger store on Beak Street.

Then it was lunchtime, and Dad was torn between two different Dean Street restaurants he'd been wanting to try. Even at 12.15, the Burger & Lobster queue was pretty big, so we went to Pizza Pilgrims instead, for the second time in a week. My dad is a big pizza connoisseur, but I wasn't that worried about whether the pizza would live up to his expectations and indeed it did. So much so that had my mum not donated a big slice of hers, he may have ended up ordering a second. I ordered the buffala again, although I was tempted by the 'Halloween special' that featured roast pumpkin and chilli and fennel sausage from Pitt Cue Co. When even the buffalo mozzarella margherita is so good, who needs fancy toppings?

I'm not normally a fan of sorbets, but I always like puddings in quirky settings, so I went for the lemon sorbet served in a lemon. It was really fruity, sharp and refreshing, though I probably would have preferred coconut ice cream in a coconut shell (ideally with chocolate).

They didn't have any of the ice cream my dad ordered in stock, but still brought over a tiny, Champagne-bottle-shaped candle over with his macchiato. Cue rendition number two of Happy Birthday to You. We spent another hour or two shopping and then my parents headed back to the Shire. And it's only another two weeks until parts two and three of birthday season...

No comments:

Post a Comment