When the clock struck 2011, I quit my job and lept into a brave new world, vast and endless.
Scared? Out of my mind.
Unfettered, a free agent to the world, I shrugged off responsibility and began my adventure in Europe, grabbing life by the cheeks and squeezing as hard as I could. And the world smiled back with a journey of a lifetime.
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Rarely is life like the movies.
But for the last month, I have lived a fairytale, moving through scenes too perfectly scripted, too beautifully framed to be real. From the wind-swept coast of Kent to the sunny Costa Brava, I pinched myself every day, counting my blessings and praying that my trip would never end.
I met friends, old and new. I occupied spaces familiar and unfamiliar, high and low, simple and breathtaking.
I stepped foot in five countries, a dozen cities, and countless restaurants, patisseries, and cafes.
I slept little and ate a lot. Over twenty-five Michelin stars passed across my plate in less than twenty-one days, towing with them my weight in cheese, butter, and bread.
I spent two lovely days among the oyster coves of Seasalter, reveling in salt marsh umami.
In London, I ate a glove of pig, stuffed with mousse made from chicken, sweetbreads, and morels.
I had mille-feuille near the Place de la République one day with my friend Sophie, and again at the Place de Trocadero the next. The day after that, we indulged in ice cream on the Ile St. Louis. Two days later, I returned with my friend Hue to the Place de la République for more mille-feuille. Such are the luxuries of lingering in Paris.
I attended the third annual Paris des Chefs conference with Food Snob, where graffiti artists and jewelers teamed up with chefs from across the world to explore the visible and invisible.
In Lyon, I was out late and up early with Team U.S.A. for the Bocuse d’Or competition. There, I also bumped into my friend Bruno Verjus, who invited me to attend a private tasting with one of my favorite chefs, Christian LeSquer.
I learned to drive stick-shift – alone in the Vosges mountains – in search of tarte flambée.
In St. Moritz, I pretended to be rich and beautiful eating white Alba truffles on the slopes with my friends Talie and Scarlett. That was a wild and short-lived dream.
And in sunny, breezy Spain, I finally arrived at the destination of all destination restaurants – el bulli.
About these things, and more, I’ll write in the coming weeks. But for now, I leave you with a list of restaurants and eateries I visited on this trip. I’ll hyperlink them to the reviews when they are posted. To everyone who has been a part of this amazing journey, I send you a big-hearted thanks – your support and encouragement has been invaluable.
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Berthillon Glacerie (Paris)
la Bigarrade (Paris)
Brasserie l’Est (Lyon)
Brasserie l’Ouest (Lyon)
Carette Patisserie (Paris)
Chez l’Ami Jean (twice; Paris)
les Fines Gueules (Paris)
Jacques Genin Patisserie (Paris)
Paul Bocuse (Lyon)
au Pont du Corbeau (Strasbourg)
la Baraca (St. Moritz)
Dolder Grand (Zurich)
Johri’s Talvo (Champfer, St. Moritz)
el paradiso (St. Moritz)
Philippe Rochat, Hotel de Ville (Crissier)
la Stalla (St. Moritz)
* Photos: The first photo is of the Grand Palais at night in Paris, France. The second photo was taken on the coast of Kent, in Whitstable, The United Kingdom.