|Marco and Chef-Friend Stanley, in his wine bar, Barcelona|
The best way to see a new place, to experience the culture, eat the food that the locals are eating, is to have a friend in the location that you are traveling. In no other way can you experience a place as well as if you have someone willing to host and show you around. Luckily enough, with my travels I have mostly had wonderful people willing to give me a small view into their culture, life, and eats.
Upon seating at the prime location of the bar, in the to-the-street-bustling restaurant, I left all the ordering to my friend Marco, and the tapas seemed to never stop coming! Gambas, Sollomillo, Queso Fresco, Tortilla Patata, Crema Catalana, Estrella, Patatas Bravas...euphoria......
To getting woken up in the morning in a small German village, with the mention of a classic German breakfast awaiting especially acquired for me: Dark Breads, White Breads, Käse, Leberwürste, Wurste, Sausages, Leberwürste, Leberwürste, did I mention the Leberwürste?
Perhaps the best thing I ate on my three and a half month voyage de Europe...smokey, fatty, unctuous, umami laden, spicy, this pork liver infused spreadable pate smeared generously on some wonderful rye bread, this my dear friends is what dreams are made of. It kept me coming again and again. The day that the opportunity arises to eat that mouth-watering, swine-lovers cured Christmas will be a day that I very much look forward to.
Having a stew made specifically by my request prepared by a German grandmother was also a very, very memorable meal. Linsensuppe, or lentil soup with potatoes and spicy German Frankfurters, was an hour event that will be remembered for as long as I can remember.
Kuchen, kuchen, it kept on flowing. Apparently when one celebrates a birthday in Germany it is expected to receive and eat multiple pieces of cake throughout the day. It flows endlessly, all served with copious amounts of coffee. A sugar and caffeine induced celebration is assuredly acquired. Birthday jitters? Or sugar-caffeine IV to the main-vein coma? Gooseberries cake made from berries in the garden, with whipped cream, almond meringue, next up dark chocolate-raspberry and alcohol soaked, there was a rum cake, and an apple cake, and perhaps one might have slipped the memory. Kuchen, would you like more cake? Here, have a piece of this. Coffee? Want a refill? Flowing with no end in sight.
|Gooseberry Kuchen, Großmutter|
|Chateau Rayas 2001|
"I have something very special to open tonight." Wait, so the other '89's, 91's, and never-see-again, super obscure, tiny production wines weren't special that you've opened the other nights? To say that the 2001 Reserve Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-Du-Pape that was opened at the Harvest 2011 Dinner was special would be an understatement. The one bottle that the winemaker would sell to our humble leader after tasting in his cave, and in Jean Marc's "Top 10" wines of his cellar, it was a very special wine indeed. Complex, perfectly balanced, rounded from the age, it was an incredible wine that will never be forgotten.
|After a morning of picking in Chateauneuf-Du Pape,|
a Quiche was prepared
There is no better feeling than having someone say they have a special something prepared for you to eat, an agenda for the day that they are excited about, a person that they insist upon you meeting. Furthermore, the mere arrangements that they have made for you to be able to stay with them. It is a feeling of warmth, one created by hospitality and service for others.
I urge you all to one day travel somewhere and have a local show you around, take you to their favorite places, ask them where they hang out. You won't be disappointed.
The best travel is only achievable with a willingness to let go of all pre-notions and leadership, to place your agenda, meals, with someone who is passionate and excited to show you and let you into their daily lives and culture.
And if I am in the situation to host you, feel free to ask and come on over! I hope I can return the hospitality that has been shown to me throughout the world.
|Mid-Harvest dinner, Jean Marc let us each pick|
a bottle from his cave, mine, a '91 Margaux
More to come.
Now Playing: Ingrid Michaelson- "You and I"