Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dinner at Fabrizio's

We offered to cook, but our offer was rejected. Maybe this was because our offer was made to two superb chefs - Carlos and Silke with whom we share our first floor corridor here at Chacabuco.
Instead, we were given instructions. 'Do not enter the kitchen until you are invited', and 'Don't forget to dress for dinner'.
So it is approaching 9.00 pm and we are hungry. Despite admonishment, we have kept the door to our room open, so the wonderful smells of cooking waft our way along the balcony.
I am now dressed in black with a scarlet/pink silk handkerchief in my breast pocket, and Stephanie wears her matching 'Vivien of Holloway' orchid in her hair. We will have to walk fifteen paces for dinner, and Stephanie takes my arm. Ahead is the sound of tango, the clinking of glasses and a plume of steam from the hob.
Here on the first floor at Fabrizio's, the dance studio and kitchen are en suite, separated when needed by large floor-to-ceiling doors which form a sound proof wall. Tonight, they are open and the kitchen table has been positioned in the centre of the studio. Glasses gleam in candle light, and rose petals decorate the place settings. To one side is the small bar divider, bearing bottles of Malbec and Etchart Privardo Torrentes.
We are not the first to arrive. Cristina is here, elegantly attired in black tango trousers. Arianna is preparing an aperatif with Schnapps, and Carlos conceals his latest surprise dish. It is at that moment that Fabrizio and Silke arrive.
For the first time, we see Fabrizio in a different light. He wears a cream/white jacket to compliment his new hair cut, his style accentuated by his combats. Silke wears a 1920's dress, her hair cut to a bob, with a 'Vivien' flower to the left side, so that she can dance tango. This is a moment of searing elegance, and a fitting pre-requisite for the meal that is to follow.
Seven of us are seated at the table. Carlos, both chef and waiter, serves the first course of aubergine, with melted goats cheese, blanched pink and white onion on a bed of rocket. The first sensation is that of smell, which rises longingly from the plate. A mouthful reveals that the ingredients I have described are only a small part of the magic. The taste to the tongue is like small busts of joy.
We toast each other, the chefs, and the food. We toast tango, Argentina and Bolivia, from which Carlos hails. Malbec splashes into glasses and the gentle haze across the room becomes diffused with delight. Conversation dismantles and re-builds republics, democracies and the world order. We speak of art, music, and of life.
Love must wait for the next course. This has been a closely guarded secret of Carlos'. But we have noticed several bottles of white wine, and know of the special risotto rice. We have also seen a blue cheese, and tub of cream peep emptily from the servery. The recipe is a family secret, not known outside Bolivia, and its taste transports us to new levels of ecstacy. Each mouthful, accompanied by the smallest of miniature tomatoes, causes gasps from the diners.
In my rush to describe the food, I fail to properly describe the timescale. We have arrived, drank, eaten and danced between courses. Each topic of conversation has been highlighted by personal experience and aspiration. Time has rolled, just as the candles have burned down. The row of empty bottles reveals its true passage.
I sense that this is the moment you have been waiting for. The culinary delights have risen and surfed and we are drunk with taste. But here is Silke's delight - the desert. Between dancing at DNI and dressing for dinner, she has created a special memory. To speak of cake does not disclose the nature of this offering. With cream and fresh strawberries, this is a cake of cakes. We look hopefully that our's will be the largest slice, and are not disappointed. It melts on the tongue, and adds the finish to a memorable meal. How is it that such talent can combine in one small place, here on the outside edge of San Telmo?
Federico and his girlfriend join the party, just in time for the last slice of cake which they share. It is now time to dance again - still in candle light, with a nod of approval from Fabrizio who departs for the night. That our senses are blurred with wine simply adds a new dimension to our tanda of Di Sarli. Now four beautiful tangueras, each with 'Vivien' orchids in their hair, take to the floor. For two songs, Silke leads Stephanie, and we all look longingly at their talent. Later, the tangueros take over, and the evening is sealed with a taste of tango in a truly Argentine way.
I am not sure when or how I reached our room. The fifteen paces became but one short dream. The candles burned to a distant flame, and this night became one of a thousand memories of Buenos Aires - and one of the most special of its kind.