The Animales Atenas Group puts on a fundraiser called, “Table for Two.” The concept is designed to be a win-win for all concerned. The generous “Chefs” donate their specialty dinner which is raffled off to the attendees of the event which was held at the beautiful mini resort, Poco Ciela located in Atenas, Costa Rica.
The theme was wine and chocolate. Oh yeah – two of my favorite things. And the other thing? Yup, lasagne. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where the two most predominant ethnic groups were the Italians and the Jews. In my family, we had our Italians by marriage, and our Jews by birth. To this day, my two go-to meals are spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken soup with matzoh balls.
The only thing better than slaving in the kitchen all day to make the perfect red sauce is eating the perfect red sauce that somebody else slaved to make. I attended the event with one thought on my mind – “I must win the lasagne!”
My budget was limited. Otherwise I would have purchased every available lasagne ticket. I had heard about Dina’s lasagne, and I wanted it. But, it was out of my control. I did what I could- bought the tickets, released the outcome to the Universe, and went on my merry way enjoying the wine and chocolate.
Results had to be tabulated and winners would be notified by e-mail within a few days. I didn’t give it another thought. When I got the email announcing the winners, I did a double-take. I WON THE LASAGNE! Whoo hoo!
The dinner was for six. I lined up my friends, made plans with the Duffys and we were good to go. But wait. There was a family emergency and somebody had to go out of town. We set another date. Oh, but wait. I had an airline reunion in Atlanta and would have to reschedule. This went on for three months!
Meanwhile, my star dining companions, Lynn and Lucas, put in for a company transfer to San Francisco. It came through sooner than we anticipated, and I was recruited to help them repatriate with their big dogs. A plan was laid and we scheduled departure for the end of June.
WHAT ABOUT THE LASAGNE? I’m NOT leaving without this famous lasagne dinner! The Duffys agreed. We made it happen although we did lose some of our dining party to a U.S. trip. We were reduced to a small but mighty party of five, plus Dixie the adorable doggie. This personality-plus pet trots around on three legs. Lynn and I didn’t even notice at first, as she has adapted to losing a leg to a hit-and-run motorcycle rider. Her soulful eyes and loving heart have overcome the hardship.
We started the evening as acquaintances and finished as a “family of friends.” It was one of those times when the energies meshed with ease, the cocktail hour brought out the raucous fun side of all of us and by the time we sat down to dinner, it was like a family affair. That feeling was cemented when Dina brought an elegant silver server to the table and said, “I brought extra gravy.”
Whoosh! I was taken back to Brooklyn, and I could hear my Aunt Yetta (Jewish) who was married to Uncle Charlie (Italian), who introduced me to artichokes and “gravy,” the Italian moniker for sauce, saying, “Here’s some extra gravy,” at the Sunday afternoon family dinner.
We all talked at once, with conversations flying in all directions – just like home! By the time we got to dessert and Limoncello, we were crying about our departure in mere weeks.
Dina, Tom, and Dixie are planning the next dinner for when we return to Atenas for a visit. Lasagne? Yes, please! For that, I might even make a special trip!