I admit it: I love August. That’s when we publish our annual Food (& Wine) Issue. So, what better use for this space than to write about…food—wonderful, delicious, unforgettable food? I asked some staffers to recall their favorite meal ever, and I thought I’d let you in on mine, too.
The year: 1983. The Restaurant: Oustau de Baumaniere, Baux, France—my first Michelin three-star meal. The company: my in-laws, Aunt Sylvia, and my husband, Mitch. The meal: a light-as-air lobster soufflé (make that two lobster souffles; “Madame, ze chef waz not happy wiz ze first soufflé,” the waiter explained to a profoundly happy me); super-tender rare lamb with rosemary-flecked potato gratin; a fresh-from-the-farm green salad; a variety of rich French cheeses; and a creamy chocolate mousse. I loved it, though I had a bit of a stomachache afterwards. Too much butter? Too much cream? Too much food? You bet. Would I do it again? Oui, bien sur!
Associate Editor Marisa LaScala: Mine is more rare to find than reservations at 42 on a Saturday night. It’s my mom’s chicken soup. My mom is wonderful in many respects, but she was never the quintessential apron-wearing Betty Crocker type. Her chicken soup, though, was something magical—dense and thick, almost a stew. She didn’t make it often, so if my sister and I were feeling under the weather, we quickly learned how to use our extra-pathetic faces around our mother in the hopes that she’d break out the big pot. I know she reads the magazine: Mom, want to invite me over for dinner?
Features Editor Nancy Claus: I had perhaps the best meal of my life at L’Antic Bocoi del Gòtic, a tiny little eatery tucked away in the labyrinth of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, last December. I’ll just tell you the last dish: a chocolate cake, crisp on top, a perfect ooze of chocolate inside, served with a dollop of whipped cream, the best I’ve had in my life. As I left, totally sated, I looked wistfully at guests just arriving, jealous that they were just starting their culinary adventure.
Managing Editor John Bruno Turiano: May, 2001. It’s my first trip to Italy. My traveling partners are my younger sister, Cathy, and my Roman cousin, Martina, who only wears clothing in shades of purple. We gorge ourselves every place we visit, each food experience topping the next: Tuscan bean soup in Rome, super-thin rectangular pizza topped with zucchini in Naples (sort of the Bronx of Italy), creamy noce di cocco gelato in Positano, roadside buffalo mozzarella (literally drippingly milky fresh) in Battipaglia, and gooey Sicilian cassata cake in Messina. Writing about my eating adventures in Italy makes my stomach howl. I weighed 175 pounds before the trip and 175 pounds after, but don’t be jealous; I have a hollow leg.
Associate Editor Marisa Iallonardo: Please don’t evoke any long-held, Italian-American stereotypes when I tell you this, but my all-time favorite meal happens every Sunday. Practically my entire family gathers at my grandparents’ house, where we start with the traditional pasta and then have a wide array of second dishes, which usually include, but are not limited to, meat, chicken, vegetables, and potatoes. Then comes the fruit, coffee, and dessert. It doesn’t much matter what type of food we have exactly, or how much of it even; it’s the fact that we’re all sitting around for hours, talking and laughing, and doing what Italians do best: family.
Esther A. Davidowitz