I don’t know how to express what I felt when I opened that menu alone at Ristorante Oliviero in Florence on the eve of my 50th birthday only to see my birth year printed on that very menu.
I thought, chances of this would be like winning the lottery (if I played it!). This was my lottery to win though. This was my sign, my message, my assurance that I was in the right place at the right time and that I was going to find my way out of the lost place in which I had been.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I had absolutely no intention of letting anyone know that is was my birthday, but when I saw that darned menu and almost fell off my chair, I had to tell someone. When the host understood what I was saying he grinned from ear-to-ear and welcomed me wholeheartedly.
I enjoyed a wonderful dinner of rabbit leg stuffed with a chestnut and mushroom puree.
After, dinner I was presented with a beautiful dessert compliments of the restaurant. A mascarpone stuffed baked pear with chocolate and caramel drizzle and walnut shells filled with walnut gelato. I am not a big dessert person nor sweet tooth, but are you kidding me?!
There was even a birthday candle! I immediately thought of my dear Mother who was a bit freaked out about me traveling alone to a foreign country, and being alone on my birthday. I knew that she would be very happy that I had a candle to make a wish upon and blow out on the evening!
The host poured me a glass of moscato (complimentary again). I sipped it while indulging in my beautiful birthday dessert. He poured me a second. I sipped that one. Then he went to pour me a third and I said “No Grazie, I have to walk back to my apartment!” He asked “Is is far?” I said “No.” He said “OK”, and proceeded to pour me a third–such a precious moment!
Before I left he gave me a copy of the menu as a keepsake of the evening and of my birthday.
Wow. That was more than I could have hoped for on my birthday evening, but the night was not over yet!