The New World was first sighted by a sailor called Rodrigo de Triana on 12 October 1492. It was during Christopher Columbus’s first transatlantic voyage. Rodrigo was standing aboard the caravel ship La Pinta very early one morning when he caught sight of Guanahani, an island in the Bahamas, and shouted, ‘Land! Land!’
It seemed fitting that my first sojourn out into my own new world post lock down (and post my relationship that became a casualty of Melbourne’s hard lock down) was to a restaurant called La Pinta.
It was a friends birthday and a group of us, I refer to fondly as ‘the old girls network,’ came together face to face for the first time since before COVID (except for one who moved to Adelaide earlier in the year). La Pinta set us up at a table out the back behind the kitchen.
I first met these women over twenty years ago when we were all idealistic young aid workers. They have become a group of my most valued friends – they are at my heart centre. We spent the nine months of Melbourne’s multiple lock downs chatting on Whatsapp about the state of the world, food, politics, plumbing, sharing memes, hopes, dreams and disasters.
For Melbourne peeps, La Pinta is a fabulous little Spanish inspired restaurant in High Street, Reservoir. The eatery was established by a group of Italian, Spanish and French heritage, in what used to be an old billiard room. The walls are still adorned with original murals of Italian landscapes that I suspect may have been the inspiration for the restaurants name. La Pinta translates into The Painted One.
La Pinta serves an ever changing menu of delicious tapas made from the produce of a network of local farmers of small-scale regenerative agriculture. I say delicious with some authority as we managed to get through about 90% of the menu over lunch.
My other passion aside from writing is my garden, so I was instantly taken with La Pinta. My patch of paradise holds about twenty fruit and nut trees, and a very large vegetable patch.
I have been pondering over recent weeks what I would do with the excess produce I grow including citrus, figs, quinces, and seasonal veggies. Visiting friends generally leave with bags of goodies, but large quantities remain. I had contemplated setting up a street stall, but I live in a very quiet street so worry too much would still go to waste. I don’t want to stop growing food, but I hate the thought of it not being used.
As it turns out going to this particular restaurant was not only fitting, but fortuitous. I am going to try to become one of their suppliers so I can keep up as much growing as I like and see it go to good use. I’m excited about dropping off my first delivery of garlic and dried limes on Wednesday. I wonder what they will make with them, and who might eat the food I have grown.