27 hours later, we were there. In Griffith, the small town of mythic proportions. From the window of our third and last plane, Matthew pointed, "I see Angelo". I looked out and saw an Italian man and a small boy. I followed m to the small crowd. He went right for Emilia, I stopped a bit short of the awaiting clan to the known entity. I approached "Angelo" and said "hi! It's nice to meet you!" He smiled, but dismissively looked past me. Thinking twice before going in for the Euro kisses, I awkwardly asked if we were related. He replied "no" and the entire group of real relatives laughed for the next 10 minutes. L gives a great first impression.
We sat at Emilia's lunch counter and ate. The lunch was perfect: a pile of mortadella, ham, prosciutto, homegrown marinated artichokes by D (Diomira), Tony's brother Dom's wife, tomato slices and whole mustard seeds on a slice of white bread. And coffee.
Short walk in neighborhood. Well maintained landscaping. Checked with Emilia, no poisonous snakes here.
The night started and ended with some Johnny Q Moscato, with some of Dom's homebrew and green haze in the middle.
The 11 of us - (name game: Emilia, Coreene, Jacqueline, Alessia, Christopher, Christian, us, Ross, Angelo, and Annalisa) sat around the big table for the famous DeMatteis lasagna, followed by veal cutlets, peas and carrots, and salad, followed with grapes and olives and salami - the pig from Dom and his famous fridge - Annalisa's cup cakes, Emilia's ricotta pie. Alessia provided the musical portion, serenading us with two songs.
And then came the centerba.
Liquore Centerba. Toro.
Angelo says it is made with 100 herbs.
It must be good for you then, right?
Emilia disappeared for a spell, returning with a small green bottle, packaged up italian-rustic-cute with the wicker basket bottom.
Emilia insisted, "It evaporated. I never opened it."
Coreene asked, "How come one label's here and the other's going this way?"
Despite Emilia's concern for our safety, Ross poured just enough so the kelly green liquid covered the glass bottom and created a nice green haze. Something about pickled tonsils... it could degrease Angelo's walnut machine. Lauren cautioned, "Don't light a match near me, I am flammable." Ross complimented Matthew for being a whole Toro while he was merely a half toro. We are all meeting in Ripa next summer. Bring a sleeping bag and a bottle.