When it comes to bartering, just pay me in food.
A friend had asked me to take him to his first Folk Fest and I'd obliged.
It wasn't my first time playing tour guide to a FF virgin and one year (2011) I'd escorted two (on separate nights).
Last year I'd missed the festival entirely because I was in Italy, so I was overdue to show someone new the ropes.
What I hadn't expected was receiving an e-mail an hour after I got home asking if I wanted to meet for dinner. A thank you meal, so to speak.
Never one to turn down the gift of food, I said hell, yes and chose Dinamo to provide it.
We walked in at prime time and there at the front table, of all the unlikely people, was my friend Pru with a date.
Surprised as I was, she introduced her charming friend and we stood there chatting with them while the restaurant bustled around us.
They'd ended up at Dinamo because earlier today she'd been getting her hair cut and her stylist had recommended she go to Dinamo for the beef cheeks, in fact, said they were the most amazing thing she'd ever put in her mouth.
Mighty high praise, that.
So of course Pru and her date had gotten the cheeks and were now raving to us about them.
One good turn begets another.
We found seats at the bar, ordered Masciarelli Montepulciano and considered our options.
In addition to being a FF virgin before today, my friend was also a Dinamo virgin, so he took my word that the seafood salad was to die for.
When the massive platter of calamari, mussels, shrimp, and clams arrived, "oh, wow," was about all he could muster.
The dish takes me back to some of the superb seafood I had last year while in Naples, always a pleasant memory.
About then we heard the same sort of surprised sounds we'd heard when we'd arrived and I turned around to see another couple I knew, as surprised to find Pru and her date holding down the front table as I'd been.
When they finished their meet and greet there, they came over to repeat it. 'What is this, old home week?" she asked, laughing and hugging me.
Our beef cheeks with polenta had just arrived and her husband said it was one of his favorite dishes.
A non-beef eater, she began raving about her favorite, the squid ink fettuccine with crabmeat.
Did she already know she was going to order it, I asked her?
"They already knew she was going to order it when she walked in the door!" he husband insisted.
They took the table nearest us and now 66% of the occupied tables were people I knew.
With the Pixies playing, we attacked the bowl of enormous beef cheeks in the kind of carrot-studded red sauce every good Italian mother makes.
The cheek meat was positively succulent, long-cooked and fork-tender, rendering the serrated knife our server had brought superfluous.
We couldn't even finish both cheeks, try as we did, but part of us also wanted to leave room for dessert, namely chocolate espresso torte.
I'm proud to say we at least had the sense to forgo berries and whipped cream on top or we would have exploded, right there in front of people I know.
I've got no problem trading my time and knowledge for a good meal (it's kind of like dating without any lust or intention), but I prefer not to go into a food coma in front of someone I don't have designs on.
A tour guide's got to maintain some decorum. She never knows who might need her services next.