When my sister and I were little, we surprised
our mother on Mother’s Day with breakfast in bed that we had
Sharp knives were off-limits to us, and we never lit the stove, so chopping or sauteing was out of the question. We filled a large bowl with all of our favorite foods: Rice Krispies, crumbled potato chips and a few chocolate chip cookies that we crushed with a rolling pin. Raisins were sprinkled over the top of the bowl.
A large glass of milk, a smaller glass of grapefruit juice and two slices of lavishly buttered toast completed the meal. We piled all the dishes and glasses onto a tray, and then added a glass with tulips that we picked from our garden. Before the tray was carried to our mother, we poured milk over the Rice Krispies melange.
The tray was heavy with glasses and bowls full of liquids, and as we climbed the stairs - each of us holding one side of the tray - some of the milk spilled onto the toast and into the breakfast bowl. Undeterred, we placed the tray near our mother, who was feigning sleep, and shouted, "Surprise!"
And, surprised she was.
Sitting up, she took one look at the breakfast in front of her and exclaimed, "Did you girls make this for me?" and "No mother has better girls than I do!" She took a sip of the juice and nibbled at the sodden toast; bravely tasting the Rice Krispies mess, she smiled and pronounced it "Delicious!"
I could offer my mother a bowl of crumbled potato chips and Rice Krispies for Mother’s Day this year, but I doubt the gift would be met with as much enthusiasm.
Instead, my sister and our families will be taking her to Sotto Voce on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. We know she’ll appreciate the dining room with its warm gold and copper sponge-painted walls and the tables nicely set with linen clothes and flowers. If we were a smaller group, we could sit at a table outside the restaurant and enjoy each other’s company in the sunshine.
We’re a big group now, spanning three generations. The kids in the family want familiar dishes with no surprises, and the adults prefer big flavors and plenty of choices.
If we opt for brunch at Sotto Voce, the children can fill up on simply prepared pasta, or big platters of traditional breakfast dishes like scrambled eggs and French toast. The adults, who want bacon and eggs, will find it on the menu, but there are options.
If we’re in the mood for lox we can order the smoked salmon plate and pile our fish onto toasted focaccia instead of the usual bagel, or try the pasta version, farfalle al salmone - tomato cream sauce served over bowtie noodles with salmon. There are two hearty, delicious sandwiches: grilled chicken on chewy semolina bread, and a sandwich piled high with well-seasoned grilled vegetables.
If the kids promise to behave, we could all sit down for dinner at Sotto Voce, order a bottle or two of wine, and enjoy the evening. An order of spaghetti and meatballs and another of fettuccini with meat sauce would satisfy the kids and hopefully keep them quiet for a while. To sate my mother’s passion for fresh pasta, she can order the house-made gnocchi served with sauteed shrimp and asparagus in a sun-dried tomato, mascarpone sauce.
Other choices that should make the rest of us happy are filet mignon in a natural herb broth served with vegetables, and grilled swordfish with baby clams and oven-roasted tomatoes in an arugula pesto sauce. A pear tart with a crumbly, cookie-like almond crust is a must. Have it with the restaurant’s good, strong coffee.
Because mothers need to be acknowledged for their wonderful spirits, their beauty and humor; because they love us and nothing is too good for them, managers Giovanni Tafuri and Michele Dibari will give each mother a rose.
Sotto Voce (225 Seventh Ave. at Fourth Street in Park Slope) will be serving brunch on Mother’s Day from 11 am to 4 pm for $10.95. Mother’s Day dinner is served from 4 pm to midnight. (Mother’s Day brunch and dinner are popular at Sotto Voce so make your reservations early.) Dinner entrees are priced $6.95-$17.95, special entrees are priced $13.95-$28.95. Cash only. For reservations, call (718) 369-9322.