When I go to a steak restaurant, I always order steak, seafood restaurant I order seafood. I do remember one night going out to dinner with my husband and two friends Sue and Mike. We took a ride up the seacoast ended in a beautiful 5 star restaurant in Maine and couldn't wait to crack open the tail of a freshly steamed Maine lobster.
I had the pleasure of ordering first. Yes please, "I would like to order the 3 pound steamed lobster, clam chowder and colossal shrimp as an appetizer. My husband says, sounds good, I will have the same, Suzie chimes in, me too. As the waitress walked around the table to take Mike's order, he politely ordered apple stuffed pork chops. Of course he did......
This story does make me wonder why anyone would come to Rig A' Tony's Italian Take-out for a chicken pot pie. That is like going to a lobster shack and ordering a pork chop...really Mike? I still have the buttery lobster stains on my favorite t-shirt.
One day I took my son, Anthony, apple picking, I picked up a frozen chicken pot pie and a ton of apples. While peeling apples, I put my chicken pot pie in the oven to cook. I followed the instructions perfectly. Ding.....out comes the Chicken pot pie and with two forks, my son and I started digging into this 10 inch round pan of nothing.
The next day while working at Rig A' Tony's I thought to myself how could I have made the pot pie better. I started boiling fresh chicken, strained the broth, thicken the gravy, added fresh peas and carrots and topped with a flaky pie crust. "What a pain in the ass".
When cooking Italian I have all the necessary ingredients at my fingertips but starting to make a new menu items is almost suicidal. Well, the Chicken Pot Pie was the special of the day, and then I started making them only on Tuesdays, then Tuesdays and Thursdays and now it has become our daily routine. At any given time you can walk into Rig A' Tony's and see the freshly baked chicken pot pies sitting on the shelf.
Who would've thought that a short, puffy Italian Girl, could make a fabulous chicken pot pie.
- Lisa Spofford
What do you give your fifty-five-year-old Brother for a wedding gift when he is getting married for the first time? Double nickles wouldn't be appropriate. Maybe a holy bible would be, because in my Italian family, seeing my only brother finally getting married was like seeing Jesus at the alter. At least it was to my mother.
I was totally one of the most popular girls in high school. But that's because everyone wanted to date my brother. My tall, good looking, strong (and I mean very strong), silent brother. He clearly got all of the good genes -- I am short and fat with bad knees, and not at all silent.
When my brother announced that he had proposed to Maria, I was not surprised. Maria was the first Italian woman my brother ever dated, and although she's not a great cook, she encourages and instills the family values and traditions that my brother and I grew up with.
As many of you know, Christmas Eve is our busiest day of the year at Rig A' Tony's. For three days my crew and I work around the clock frying eggplant, layering lasagna, crafting antipasto and filling cannolis. This past Christmas, for the first time ever in my entire adult life, my brother invited us to celebrate Christmas eve with his fiance and her family. So I closed Rig A' Tony's two hours early to drive my mother down to spend Christmas Eve with her son and his new family. As I locked the doors for the holiday, I called Mom to tell her I was on the way. Overjoyed, she started crying. I asked her why she was crying and her response was, "I'm so happy to be going to Stephen's for Christmas Eve!"
Are you KIDDING ME?!?!
I have been hosting Christmas Eve for THIRTY YEARS and I never got tears of joy! The most I ever got was french onion dip and Frito Scoops. Okay, maybe a Congo bar or something, but NEVER tears of joy. Anyway...
Like all smart Italian families, we fake that we are good Catholics by eating fish on Christmas Eve. Not just one fish, but thirteen different kinds of fish. l don't really understand why we do it but it has been a life-long family tradition. Turns out Maria's family are good Catholics, too, because when we arrived, her father was frying calamari, my brother was stuffing clams and someone else was making baked stuffed lobster. I really wanted to jump in and help, but I didn't know how. It was the best Christmas Eve ever because I have never seen my brother so happy.
Until his wedding day.
The wedding weekend started Friday night with the rehearsal dinner party at Maria's family's house on the Lake. I had begged him to let me do the desserts and he finally agreed. I arrived while the wedding party was at the rehearsal and I set up a dessert spread like no other. It had Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, Charleston Chews and -- can you believe this -- Hydrox cookies! See, as kids my mother would never buy Oreos because they were waaaaay too expensive, so we got Hydrox. Who would have guessed the Hydrox cookies would be the talk of the dinner table and the first dessert gone. I guess we all came from the same neighborhood.
The next day was the biggest and best day ever. You see, a year ago my mother got terribly ill and we didn't think she would get to see my brother ever get married. But on Saturday, she walked down the aisle with her grandson on her arm, holding back her tears (again -- no tears at MY wedding), and so very proud to be the mother of the groom. She looked beautiful with her satiny auburn hairdo, sparkly white jacket and her silvery shoes. I sat there watching every move my brother made, and when Maria turned the corner to walk down the aisle in her white laced dress, my strong, silent bother began clapping as loud as he could. We all stood and clapped along with him.
It truly was worth the price of Oreos.