Il Clandestino (June 25, part 2)
(June 25, part 2)
Nothing happened for the next hour or so. There were no clouds to count in the blue, blue sky. To look at the sea required lifting my head from my towel. Hearing the surf was enough for now. Kate added the narrative: stories of her teen years in Hawaii and her first marriage to an itinerant puppeteer. I replayed Dario’s seven courses of beef dish by dish; then the Communista social club dancing ballroom under the stars; that cruddy box of fresh truffles I sniffed on Sunday in the mountains; those silver snakeskin stilettos I passed up at the Prada outlet.
I was feeling a bit peckish. We had stopped for a very long, lazy lunch at a quiet but stylish venue on one of the lungomares. We had almost ordered the special pasta made with what our waitress described as a very special long red fish. The chef would only prepare it for two, she said. We wanted only one serving. We ordered other things, but peeked into the kitchen where the chef showed us the long red fish: a lobster–North Atlantic lobster on the Adriatic. They follow me everywhere. We had the cold plate of fruitti di mare, then the tagliatelle with langoustines and a nice mixed salad. Lunch had been wonderful but it had been hours ago.
Dizzy from hunger, sun, and the Adriatico, I was able to roll my head to the right. Up the white pebbly slope rested the blue wooden shack, Il Clandestino. “Maybe we can get a snack,” I say.
The tables in the shack itself were dressed with white table clothes and waiting for a later reservation. There was a seating along a counter along one window looking out over the beach. There were tables and umbrellas around the shack. We found a table for two under a pine tree. It was a high table seemingly improvised using a waiter’s folding tray stand and a large oval banquet tray. Two girls about 9 and 11 were dining at a similar table. We could see the entire restaurant and the sea beyond. We ordered “Happy Hour for Two” two glasses of white wine from Le Marche and a can of lovely Spanish tuna with bread. And a bag of chips. It was yummy and it took the edge off what had been a difficult day of sun bathing. I became more aware of our surroundings. On the blue wall below the service counter to the kitchen in white letters it said, ” il clandestino: susci bar.”
“We should eat here,” one of us said. And that is how we ordered the tasting menu.
Many of the beach goers have moved on. By now the owner is holding court outside at the coffee table surrounded by wooden couches and deck chairs just to my right. It turns out he had a Michelin Star restaurant in one of the bigger cities, a snack bar in another where he sold foods he canned (like the tuna), and this place on the beach to entertain friends and kick back at. His susci bar.
We started with an apertivo of fresh pineapple juice, lime, fresh grated wasabi and sparkling wine. It was a subtle balance: the light texture of the various pulps, the cold bubbles, but no heat, just the aroma of the horseradish and the crashing of the Adriatico.
The dinner reservations in their heels and Armani were beginning to replace the beachgoers by the time the first dish came. Our waitress was dressed in a tunic and soft pants of white linen. In perfect but accented English she described what lay before us in long white plates…