Ladies Who Lunch

Likeminded businesswomen meet for lunch at Bottega Café.

By Jan Walsh

Today I am meeting with another local businesswoman for lunch. She is new to the city. So, I arrive and secure the table needed at Bottega Café for a private business chat, which will also lend natural light for food photos. My guest arrives just as I am settled in with glasses and camera unpacked.

While selecting apps of Focaccia and Deviled Eggs and Caviar, our server shares a little insider info… There is only one order of Arancini in the house today, and it is his to serve. Of course, we add it to the mix. He is a wise man because it is perfect for sharing and allows us to linger longer over the beginning of our meal and relationship. And share we do… We enjoy slices of Bottega’s signature bread, tearing off bites of the soft, moist focaccia, and dredging them in Bottega’s house infused olive oil. And we each take one of the two eggs that are crowned with black hackleback caviar. I recently had the caviar eggs at Chez Fonfon, and Bottega’s are just as divine. Juxtaposing sophistication and simplicity in this dish, the mild, nutty, and sweet caviar are adorned like a collection of jewels atop the humble, creamy, farm yolk and its glistening egg white. We share the middle egg, with its medium sized pearls of bright orange smoked trout roe, with a smoky jamon finish and a full pop. Raising the standard on deviled eggs, in the future, I may sigh at traditional ones. And the delightful Arancini balls are fun to eat, adding a whimsical creamy, crunchiness to the course, as they are stuffed with a playful mix of Italian rice, sweet corn, green tomato, and fontina.

For entrees, my guest opts for Bottega Café’s famous Chicken Scaloppine, not realizing it is one dish that always remains on the menu. Pardis once whispered to me, “There would be a revolt if we removed it.” Last week’s lunch of an incredible lobster and shrimp roll at Fonfon whet my appetite for more seafood. So, the Lobster and Shrimp Spaghetti is a must for me. As we put our heads together over chicken and seafood pasta, our business interests seem to be aligned. Yet our biz discussion is often excitedly interrupted by related and unrelated stories, as we get to know each other’s lives, beyond work. The tender chicken scaloppine is a beauty, golden on the outside, and pristine white on the inside. It is topped with capers, rests on a creamy bed of polenta, and is accompanied by a fresh, crisp, and generous café salad. The recipe for this dish is found in Frank’s Bottega Favorita cookbook. Yet once you read the process of making this dish, or try as I did, you may opt for having it here instead. In my seafood and pasta entrée, ribbons of house made spaghetti wind around the succulent lobster and shrimp, wrapping them up like beautiful bows on this gift of a dish. Garlic, tomato, spinach, and parmigiano-reggiano round out the flavors and textures. Highly recommended!

Given this is my new friend's first experience of a Stitt restaurant, their famous for the holidays and everyday Coconut-Pecan Cake is selected. Again, our server elevates the course, with his addition of peach sorbet, which adds a touch of in season, summer fruitiness to this popular cake. And on first bite of this this tried-and-true treat, it has yet another new fan. Paired with the cake, we toast our new relationship, with glasses of Champagne. Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut NV. Pale gold in color, with complex notes of white peach, its fine bubbles and a persistent mousse tell the tale of its finest juice from first pressing.

And as we part on the sidewalk, we leave with the first step to our biz plans and a feeling as if we have known each other forever.

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