Thursday, 22 September 2011

How to survive in a restaurant: lessons from Italy

One way of making sure that your panoramic lunch on a holiday is enjoyable is to make sure that the foods keeps the toddler content and are among his or hers favourites. At Montepulciano, famous for its vino nobile, we were lucky to encounter a restaurant looking up towards the hillock town serving pizza. At lunchtime! This is not guaranteed in Italy before dinnertime. We ate a nice meal of local cheese, honey and ham, wild boar and steak while enjoying the landscape in the heartland of Tuscany.

A stop in a nice street cafe and an ice cold beer makes Archaeologist Husband to suffer happily any short-lived periods of entertaining Number One Son during our museum visits. For a successful – or bearable visit - to a cafe the key is to pay attention to detail. First of all, it is essential to sit. Yes, it costs more in places like Italy but a chair and the props provided by a menu and such like guarantee some relieve from an immediate run away around one pedestrian area or worse - roads full of traffic. Number One Son quite enjoys being entertained by a straw.

Another way to survive even a higher end establishment is to burn our toddler’s energy before contemplating lunch. Air conditioning makes life so much more enjoyable in the Mediterranean but these restaurants often clearly target the local town people and lack the terrace area essential for attracting tourists. In Chiusi we visited Zaira where the food turned out to be beautifully executed. Archaeologist Husband enjoyed his marinated trout starter and I marvelled with my angelotti with local pork sausage filling and truffle sauce. It was not a busy day so other clients and staff hardly paid attention to our son’s antics. Only cooed a bit. We were able to enjoy the food of a highly decorated and awarded gourmet cook because the business was slow. However, even with understanding staff and quiet dining room, a three-course meal just doesn’t happen. The short attention span of a toddler just wouldn't take waiting for a dessert. Even if it was chocolate...

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