Margaret and Dick   

     

    
April 2017: The three-hour orgasm

(Margaret's story)

Imagine our disappointment when we read the menu at the last restaurant of our Brazilian gastronomic blow-out vacation: Tasting menu served only in the evening. I had carefully wedged this lunch into the last few hours before our departure to the airport. Chef Helena Rizzo was named World’s Best Female Chef in 2014, and her São Paulo restaurant, Maní, is currently ranked #81 in the world. I had booked for noon several months ago. (First you score the restaurant reservations, then you book the flight.)

Maní, São Paulo

“O menu degustação é possível?” we asked our waiter hopefully. (Is the tasting menu possible?)
“Um minuto.”
He came back um minuto later with the good news. Sim! (Yes!)
With the help of Google Translate and thanks to several months practicing on the DuoLingo app, we had a rollicking good time.  

There haven’t been many Limoux stories lately, because our style of travel has evolved from third-world adventures to out-of-this-world dining. People ask of our culinary adventures, what did you have? My answer is always the same.

Olympe, Rio de Janeiro

I had a three-hour orgasm.  Or was it three and a half hours, or four?  It’s hard to tell when the orgasm ends and the afterglow begins.  

There is a list, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, that has been our travel guide for the last year or so. When we discovered the list (2015), three of the top 50 were in New York, three in Mexico City, and three were in Lima. The dollar was (still is) strong, so we booked tables and flights for long weekends to Mexico City and Lima (January and April 2016). Travel has not been the same since.

DOM, São Paulo

It’s true what you’ve heard: These restaurants are obscenely expensive. The chefs aren’t getting rich from their temples of culinary pleasure, which typically have an army in the kitchen and an army in the dining room. Profit margins are notoriously thin, and most of the great chefs have a second "cash-flow" restaurant on the side to support their passion. I feel it's my duty to visit as many as possible, pulling out all the stops while I’m there.

Lasai, Rio de Janeiro

I’m a financial planner, so I must pause to explain how this works. I have the ability to retire but have no desire to do so. When clients are in this position, I tell them I no longer care what they do with the money they earn, provided they don’t increase their basic cost of living. Give it away, spend it in restaurants, take a cruise, all these options are open – but if you buy a boat or a horse or a second home, we’re going back to the drawing board on planning retirement. As long as I work – and I intend to work forever – I can afford gastronomic blowouts. And, by the way, my car is 26 years old.

noma, Copenhagen

Our meals always end the same way, with Richard leaning back in his chair and me leaning forward to ask, “Are you going to eat that?” He never has enough room for the second dessert or the mignardises that come with coffee.  Lucky me.  

Our Brazilian blowout was well choreographed, with tasting menus at four experience-of-a-lifetime destinations:  
• Lasai (#76), chef Rafa Costa e Silva, Rio de Janeiro. Table in the kitchen - so much fun!
• Olympe (#100), chef Thomas Troisgros, Rio de Janeiro. Disappointing but for its miraculous pressed pork belly.
• DOM (#16), chef Alex Atala, São Paulo. Deliriously good, jungle-to-table cuisine.
• Maní (#81), chefs Helena Rizzo and Daniel Redondo, São Paulo. The perfect end to a perfect vacation.

Eleven Madison Park, New York 

As with orgasms, it’s always hard to say which is your favorite.  Here are my current contenders, with their 2017 rankings:  
• Noma (currently rebirthing, Copenhagen), chef René Redzepi.
• Central (#5, Lima), chef Virgilio Martinez.
• DOM (#16, São Paulo), chef Alex Atala.
• Eleven Madison Park (#1, New York), chef Daniel Humm.

But there are two special places that have given us more joy than all the rest:
• Staplehouse, chef Ryan Smith (Atlanta).
• La Table de Franck Putelat, chef Franck Putelat (Carcassonne).

Franck, Ryan, we’re so happy you are part of our lives. May you live long and prosper.



Central, Lima

Dear reader, the dollar is strong.  Go and spend lavishly.  I’ve included a few photos for your viewing pleasure, but don’t ask for descriptions.  

I already told you what I had.



Eleven Madison Park, New York 


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