My friend L'Asticot has an amazing memory and faculty for recalling dreams. He keeps a mental list of his top five days in his life from the time he woke up in the morning until going to sleep at night (or the next morning). Since discussing "top five days" with him - spurred by our trip to Yosemite, which, happily, made it into his top five - I have been trying to compile a list of my own top five days, but, so far, have been unsuccessful. Because I've experienced nothing else like it, I can name my graduation in Sweden in 2007 as one of my top five days, but can't decide among the many other memorable occasions.
With that said, I have been able to successfully compile a mental list of top five meals. On a recent trip to Los Angeles, friends spoiled me rotten, taking me to some of the nicest galleries, cafes and restaurants in Santa Monica, Venice, Silverlake and West L.A, and, needless to say, I came home terrifically inspired, unable to stop thinking about the honeycomb from Gjelina still certainly somewhere in the depths of my digestive tract.
This list has no particular order, because I can't rank any of these meals over any of the others. Rather, I enjoyed them all wholeheartedly, and treasure their memories and my connections to the people I shared them with.
Nothing could have been better than the smoked herring and beer I had on the Danish island of Bornholm after biking around half of the island with my friend Dice. Plus, it was served with raw egg yolk and chives. Fat, salt, sugar and bitter - perfect.
To celebrate the spring equinox last year, I went with Indigo to our friend's summer cottage in the woods of eastern Nordsjælland (Denmark). We were hoping to commemorate the season by swimming naked in the sea to but it was too cold for that, so we did yoga inside in sweaters and leggings and prepared a half-raw, mostly-vegan, splendidly-seasoned feast over which we ate on the floor by candlelight before swaddling ourselves in blankets and cuddling up with pot after pot of tea. It was a real lovefest.
I went to Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, with my friend Johan to visit our friend and former housemate Laura. We celebrated Easter with her and her family. We had a four-course meal with soup and salad plates and everything, and a golden chocolate bunny apiece after.
But when it comes to all-out gorging yourself, nothing compares to a Danish julefrokost, or Christmas lunch, the point of which is to eat as much as possible while getting as drunk as possible. Somehow, you are still supposed to be able to play games after the dinner. It's a lot easier just to break bottles and spread confetti around. But anyway, the food! They finally got me to try liver paté (baked with bacon and mushrooms). It wasn't bad, but the salmon was so much better.
There are so many more good meals. Although these all happened outside of the U.S., I have had many a memorable meal here in the States as well, and the one that stands out the most is from the last restaurant Stacy and Stephanie took me to in Venice, Gjelina.
Like the label on a bottle of fine wine, Gjelina's website has no superficial features. It's not trying to convince any consumers how good they are, because their clientele already knows. Fresh, local veggies and artisan foods are what they're all about, but it's really their flavor pairings that make them stand out.
Waiting for dinner with a glass of Pinot.
The first dish - fava beans.
The table fills up! Okra, spices & parmesan, and an heirloom-tomato-and-squash-blossom pizza.
Burrata cheese with prosciutto, some green and peach.
Cheese plate with olives, almonds, some paste I couldn't identify and honeycomb.
Scallops with roasted corn.
There were a couple other meat dishes - lamb and pork - that I didn't bother to take pictures of because they were just so savory in and of themselves.
And, finally, the desserts - shared, like everything else, by the six of us - butterscotch pot de creme, flourless chocolate cake, chevre gelato, burnt honey gelato and hazelnut gelato. And a tiny bit of espresso left in the cup.
Our table when we were through.