Sometimes our lunch date would be teamed with a spot of shopping but often we would find a nice little pub in the Staffordshire countryside with a good reputation for food and meet there.
Then, over the course of two or so hours, a glass of Pinot Grigio and something to eat we would put the world to rights before heading back into our family lives.
Those lunches are probably the thing I miss most living here in Germany, with the way the school system works it is impossible to be a lady who lunches (unless of course you have children at private school or who are old enough not to want you waiting at home for them) and although frühstücking with my expat friends has fitted into the gap left by the move it's not the same.
So this weekend away in Rome with Al was heaven sent. Not just one lunch to eat, drink and gossip over, but three lunches and two dinners. There were two breakfasts too (up on the roof terrace don't you know, fresh fruit, pastries (healthy cereal) and fresh cappuccinos) but breakfast is too early for much chatter, my brain doesn't function unless there's a certain level of caffeine in my blood stream.
Our (almost) three days in Rome were full of P's; prosecco, pizza and pasta.
Prosecco is the perfect lunchtime drink, especially when you're sitting outside at a little table watching the Romans promenade past*, it goes perfectly with pizza too, which when accompanied by a little salad makes the ideal midday meal, although we did do as the Romans do** and had lunch fashionably late (2ish)*** so it was hardly 'midday'. The only problem with prosecco is that it needs to be cool and so ideally needs an ice bucket, but the little round café tables are far too small for two plates, a bowl of salad, a bottle of water, two water glasses, two prosecco glasses, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bread basket and an ice bucket!
The second P I mentioned would belong to pizza. Naples is supposedly the birthplace of the margerita pizza (possibly the most boring pizza in creation) but we found the pizza in Naples to be soggy, especially in the centre. Roman pizza however is different. Perfectly cooked (to my way of thinking anyway) crisp edges and an unsoggy middle, yum.
The final P is for pasta. I adore pasta, it's so quick and easy and rarely disappoints. One of my favourite pasta dishes is made with a barolo sauce, there's meat and I guess tomatoes are involved too, but the flavours of the dish are so round and full it really does make a delicious dinner.
I must also mention the simple food that is tomato and buffalo mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella and the shop bought stuff are two completely different animals. The one is nice, smooth and uniform all the way through, the other is more fibrous in the centre and oozes slightly and is so delicious just the memory of it is making me salivate.
* the tourists don't promenade, most of them are foot weary and sun sore, with rucksack on their back and guidebook in their hand, obsessed with just getting from one monument to another.
** when in Rome and all that.
*** when you breakfast around 9-10am and plan on dinner for 9pm then lunch has to be late, don't you think? I dread to think how the Germans cope in Rome, they like to eat early in the evening (6-6.30) rather like the Americans, at least there wouldn't be any problems with table reservations, but eating in a mostly empty restaurant isn't fun.