Food, especially in the South, is more than mere sustenance we shove into our mouths. Food is a quenching art form, and the perfect meal can leave your belly swollen with sleepiness, remaining in your memory for years to come.
Most of my favorite meals occurred while on vacation. Of course, the magic of travel can make these memories sweeter, but I long to eat these meals again.
1. Chelsea Grill, New York City
My family and I happened upon the Chelsea Grill, located in Hell’s Kitchen, by chance. It was late, and we were starving.
The Chelsea Grill may not be New York’s largest restaurant, but the exposed brick and candles make it a posh, yet rustic, spot. My penne pasta with vodka sauce was creamy, cheesy and slightly, but pleasingly, tart. The tomatoes were fresh, firm and sweet, and the pieces of chicken breast tossed in with the pasta were tender. That night, I went from tolerating asparagus to craving asparagus after trying stalks of the char-grilled vegetable. Seasoned with fresh pepper, the stalks were as thick as a quarter.
The Chelsea Grill offers a variety of food, mostly American-inspired, like steaks, pork chops, sandwiches, salads and pasta.
2. Boma, Walt Disney World Resort
Boma is an African-inspired buffet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a safari-style hotel near Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After visiting Boma during my senior trip, it’s a must-go whenever I’m in Disney World.
Boma offers a variety of food– meats, salads, soups, vegetarian options, desserts and more. The soup and salad bar is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Five unique soups ranging in color (there’s usually a pastel green and/or buttery orange) and ingredients offer a variety of choices. My favorite is a coconut-seafood creamy soup. The salad bar’s tangy vinaigrettes over mixed greens and spinach are fresh and flavorful.
If you’re picky, don’t worry. Meat, potatoes and mac n’ cheese allow even the choosiest eaters something to munch on.
Be sure to save room for the dessert bar. The zebra domes made with chocolate, cream and rum are my weakness.
Be sure to look around the resort before or after your meal. Animals surround the grounds and the rustic, African decor makes you feel like you’re across the globe.
3. Mystery Sandwich, Paris
When I was in France a few years ago on a church trip, lunch was provided on our way from Paris to Normandy. It was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten, and I have no idea where it was from.
A warm baguette with only two ingredients is still etched in my memory. Only Swiss cheese and creamy French butter topped the sandwich, but it was more flavorful than a sandwich with ten ingredients. I’ve tried to recreate the sandwich a number of times, but it’s impossible.
According to our tour guides, putting butter on a sandwich is a French custom, as they don’t typically use condiments.