Wednesday, November 01, 2006

5 Things to Eat Before You Die

Melissa at The Traveler's Lunchbox has offered this challenge to food bloggers -- things you've eaten and think everyone should eat at least once, and the answers are fascinating. How to limit this to 5? And then comes the really hard part: When I think of memorable meals, they are linked to a time and especially a place -- the food isn't actually the most important part.

Favorite meal of all time? An overstuffed turkey and ham sandwich, eaten while dressed in foul weather gear, sitting on the windward rail of our 27-foot racing sailboat, pounding on a beat in Block Island Sound. Oh, and while watching the competition -- far behind. The setting was definitely important here, since we all know that salt air makes everything taste better. But it was a really good sandwich.

But to limit it to food, here's my list:

1. Oysters, harvested 10 minutes earlier (ours came from an oyster farm off Cuttyhunk, an island off Cape Cod. We bought them literally off the boat.) Serve with lemon and fresh pepper. Although Oysters are usually good, a truly fresh one is ethereal, and unlike anything you've ever eaten.

2. A Mortgage Lifter tomato, just picked, still warm from the sun. Now, this is good with just a little salt. The sublime: a BLT, with toasted Pepperidge Farm white bread, Hellman's mayo, applewood smoked bacon, buttery Boston lettuce, a touch of salt and fresh pepper.

3. Pizza from Pepe's in New Haven, CT. Super thin crust, slightly charred in spots from the incredibly hot brick oven. The pizza has a light coating of red sauce, and mozzarella is applied with a light hand. The best pizza on the planet.

4. Beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde in New Orleans. Actually, I don't think it's possible to have a bad meal in Nola -- those people know food. A pile of fresh boiled crawfish, served on a table covered with brown paper, at a local dive, is also on the list. And anything at the Commander's Palace, for the sheer theatrical joy of it. Hmm, guess it's not possible to eliminate terroir totally, is it? A Café du Monde beignet is not just a doughnut...

5. Fresh, homemade cheese. Follow the simple recipe in The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells. It couldn't be easier, although it does take a little time. Two quarts of milk yield about 2 cups of essentially home made ricotta. It's very light, delicious with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, sliced tomatoes, or even as a breakfast spread on toast. It's magical to watch curds develop, and get an inkling of what's involved in creating cheese.

It's hard to limit to only 5... the clam chowder at the Black Pearl in Newport, R.I. fought hard for 5th place...

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