Tuesday, December 11, 2012
If you’re sitting in the Alta Praha restaurant in Prague, that is, if you’re sitting in the big semi-circular window, then you have an all-embracing view of the river Vltava and the old town with its multi-coloured roofs, old church steeples and huge castle. If you fancy eating the chef’s signature Czech dishes then you order pâté of duck liver and smoked duck breast, cream espuma with foie gras, marinated white radish, espuma of cranberries and red currant, as a starter, followed by baked drake breast, red cabbage confit with apples, warm red wine jelly, and boiled potato dumpling. Chilled Ryzlink Rýnský - late harvest, Habánské Sklepy 2008/09 is a good accompaniment. You finish up with strawberry mousse on strawberry powder with home-made macaron, much admired by the locals.
The young couple sitting at table 5 have ordered these dishes, although the girl had been tempted to have the pastry pocket of coconut ice cream, strawberries and mango sauce. Maybe next time. Their heads are close together when they are not eating and they smile at each other a lot and they seem very happy. He frequently places his hand on hers.
‘We’ll have to leave for the airport, soon,’ he is saying.
‘I know,’ she replies. ‘But we will come back to Prague from time to time, won’t we?’
‘Of course,’ he says.
The young man looks quite well in his dark suit. He has an amiable face and a confident manner. But the girl, she is a beauty. Truly lovely. Auburn hair piled high on her head, a slender neck with tendrils curling onto it, a heart shaped face, dark eyes under arching brows, a mouth which almost pouts, a feminine and gentle manner….
The young man’s mobile buzzes. He groans. ‘Excuse me,’ he says, raising his eyes to heaven, and looks at the screen. It is a text message from Dobri, 'Pls call asap.’
‘I have to call Dobri,’ he says. ' Won’t be long, I promise.’ He strides off to the foyer.
A waiter appears and clears the dishes, smiling at her. When he has gone she puts her elbow on the table, rests her chin in her hand, and looks out at the town.
In a corner of the foyer, the young man calls the London number. When he returns the girl is sitting looking pensively but happily at the rooftops. She is so beautiful, he thinks, still marveling that she should be with him.