Or: the Trials and Tribulations of an Uptown Girl with a Boyfriend from Old Europe

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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Painting the town red (or at least a pale shade of pink)

Last night, Swissy Pie and I went to a charming wine bar called Rosario's Lo Spuntino, a cozy, casual little place on the Spalenberg, where we met one of his friends (and former boss). The seating consisted of a handful of tall oak barrel-topped tables and comfortable stools. An animated waitress with steely, close-cropped hair reigned over the bar, dispensing wine with a precise but generous hand. In the back, a small blackboard described two daily specials.

The menu was short and simple. The front page listed wines that could be had by the glass; the reverse side described cheese and/or meat cold platters that could be nibbled alongside. Everything was written in the type of oversized font I used to use back in college, when I was trying to get my papers up to the required minimum page count.

In New York, there would've been nothing particularly noteworthy about the place. Though the Italian Merlot on the menu was excellent, the Dolcetto was not. The mixed plate we got was good, but anyone can throw together a decadent plate of charcuterie. What's more, most of the patrons were smoking, which I'm not used to any longer.

Yet being there was like wearing a favorite sweater, comfortable and familiar. Part of it was the wine and food; part of it was the thrill of experiencing a new city. But mostly, I think it was the good company. Swissy Pie's friend reminded me of some of my own friends in New York, and it was unbelievably comforting to bask in the warmth of their laughter and their jokes. I felt welcomed and accepted. And for a brief time, I could pretend that I've always been here.

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