When great Food, Wine, and Service matter most…

Lights are dimming on the life of my Grandmother. My exquisitely vibrant, warm, nipped waist, full bosom, big lipstick, bigger smile grandmother. Mom and I sat with her a good nine hours today. All of my Palmer family has been flying in and visiting her. The end is near.

Early scenes for my Grandmother and Grandfather's life.

Early scenes for my Grandmother and Grandfather’s life.

Mom and I slipped out for lunch (and fresh air). She remembered a small bistro my Uncle Jeff discovered and we beelined to Celestino’s on Lake here in Pasadena.  We walked in — late for lunch service, mind you — at 2:45 PM with the look of “Please Hug Us.”  They could have closed the doors. Anyone is hospitality knows lunch ends between 3-5 PM to prepare for Dinner Service. Especially in a place where the Chef and Sous Chef make every bit of fresh pasta by hand each morning… But here’s the thing. And I watched their faces watch ours. Instead of rightly closing, they opened their arms.  WIDE.

Every slice of Pasta is made fresh each morning at Celestino's.

Every slice of Pasta is made fresh each morning at Celestino’s.

We split everything. Mom and I. Starting with a beautifully bright and sunny Gavi I Gavi Italian white wine suggested by the epically perfect server Carlos. Then marinated shrimp over sliced cucumber and capers. Followed by a planed asparagus salad with radicchio. And a fresh fettuccine alle Vongole that still held the sweet salty brine of the ocean. This dish took my breath away.

Italian Perfection in a bottle.

Italian Perfection in a bottle.

Marinated Shrimp with Capers on Sliced Zucchini.

Marinated Shrimp with Capers on Sliced Zucchini.

Planed Asparagus with Radicchio and shaved Parmesan.

Planed Asparagus with Radicchio and shaved Parmesan.

At this point the servers, hostess and cooks were eating their Staff Meal at the bar. Chatting away in Italian. The restaurant had long emptied but they insisted we stay. Dessert arrived and more wine. Two perfectly served espressos and ricotta orange cheesecake.  Heaven. Each and every bite.

Perfect Fettucini alle Vongole.

Perfect Fettucini alle Vongole.

I like to think Carlos and Celestino’s somehow knew they were healing part of the fractured pain my Mom and I are experiencing. That great food and fine wine infuses hurting souls with sunshine and fresh ocean flavors. Fortifying us to return back to that hospital room where our one and only Mima is wasting away. Unable to eat or drink. I brought with me these food pictures and smile temporarily renewed back to show Mima. Because there’s one thing she always loved. And that was laugh over a bottle of white wine with me and Mom.  A kaleidoscope of lunches past washed over me.  I was grateful for simple lunch of perfect food. And friendly Servers who hugged us with their kindness. And still am.

Back to Mima.

Three generations: me, Mima, and my Mom.

Three generations: me, Mima, and my Mom.

 

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