When this post popped up in my RSS reader tonight, my first thought was, gee, I don't think I'll participate. (Okay, maybe I didn't think "gee" exactly. Don't be so nitpicky, Internal Editor.)
But then I thought, well, what are the top 5 things I think everyone should eat before they die? It's kind of a crazy question. Should I make my list the top 5 things I want to -- and have not yet -- eaten before I die? Or the top 5 things I have eaten and think everyone else in the world should, too? And then you start to wonder, well, obviously french fries has to be on that list, but then hasn't pretty much everyone had french fries once in their lives? Can we cross french fries off the list?
It's a conundrum. In the end, I decided to quit thinking so much and write down the first 5 things that really felt like they belonged on the list, whatever they may be.
1. The chef's tasting menu at Manresa. Like many people in the Bay Area, I am a bit of a broken record about how much I love David Kinch's cooking. On my birthday last year, I was treated to no fewer than 23 separate courses of things as lovely as abalone meuniere paired with rich pig's trotters, or braised kid goat. It was so magical that I spent five days -- 5! -- blogging every single detail. If I was only permitted one last meal on Earth, this is where I would go.
2. A cup of grapefruit sorbetto and yogurt gelato from Gelato Milano. I discovered this East Bay gelato Mecca while writing an article about ice cream for the Oakland Tribune, and dammit if it hasn't spoiled me forever. Mr. Food Musings and I now happily drive across the bay at least once every week or two for a taste -- and this is a man who still gets horrifically carsick! Owner Curtis Chin employs an Italian gelato artisan full-time on the premises. Chin handpicks all the fruit himself at 2 a.m. when the market opens every morning, and he orders almost everything else from Italy so as to remain as authentic as possible. The result is the creamiest frozen treat you have ever put in your mouth. I can't even eat anything else anymore. On our next trip, we're taking a cooler of ice so we can bring some back with us. (And no, we are not going to share it with you, so don't even ask.)
3. Macaroni and cheese. I have always loved macaroni and cheese. I still think there is almost nothing better. It can be my Great Aunt Margaret's version made with crushed saltine crackers, bright yellow cheddar cheese and milk, or the ooey-gooey version at Tablespoon that is studded with a million hunks of smoky bacon. Hell, I even like the stuff that Kraft makes. It's all good as far as this belly is concerned.
4. A Krispy Kreme donut, hot off the presses. I grew up in Virginia, just one state away from where Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937, and we had plenty of stores throughout the state. I can remember making runs in college, late at night, praying we'd see the "Hot Donuts Now!" sign in the window. You can watch as the sumptuous dough is fried, then draped with a curtain of hot icing, before coming to rest in a big glass case in the front of the store. Grab 3 or 4 -- trust me on this -- and a glass of milk, and your life will change forever. Mr. FM and I once drove an hour north of the city to some podunk suburb because I heard they had a real Krispy Kreme store. It was worth every frigging mile.
5. A really good tomato sandwich. Irony of ironies -- I grew up hating tomatoes. I thought they were foul. My mom didn't care; it just meant more for her. In summer there were always a few ripening on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Sometimes they grew in my dad's garden, other times they were gifts from friends of my grandparents whose own gardens produced more than anyone could reasonably eat. One day in college -- I remember it exactly -- I offered to make lunch for my boyfriend, and ran to the store. And suddenly, inexplicably, all I wanted was a tomato sandwich. White bread, slathered with mayonnaise, sprinkled with salt and fresh pepper and piled high with impossibly thick slices of red, ripe Southern tomatoes. From that day on I've been hooked.
If you're a blogger, feel free to do your own post and let Melissa know. If you're not a blogger, I'd love to read about your top 5. Just post them in the comments section.