Someone on the Los Angeles board posted a query asking for the most extravagant dishes anyone had ever eaten in Los Angeles. At first I dismissed the thread as "high-falutin," but it ended up getting me thinking about my own extravagant food experiences. My most extravagant food experience was not in LA, so I couldn't post it in that thread, hence, this one.
Several months after my mother passed away in early 1991, when I was 25, my grandmother (my mom's mom) took me on a cruise. She had been invited on the maiden voyage of a new cruise ship on the Royal Viking Line when it was one of the premiere cruise lines. I had given up my job and life in NY to come back to LA to be with mom, and I think the trip was my grandma's way of helping us both cope through a difficult time.
The cruise ship was her world, her modus operandi, and I was by FAR the youngest passenger on the ship (I made fast friends with the next youngest passenger -- the 40-something second wife of a "regular" cruiser). It was the Royal Viking Queen's maiden voyage (leaving from West Palm Beach, through the Panama Canal, and ending up in Los Angeles), and, well, all the rooms were suites, and the meals were NOTHING like you see on Carnival cruise-types today. Fine dining prevailed, but what made it an extraordinary food experience for me was that, although it was not on the menu, you could order Beluga caviar as your appetizer EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Another woman (my grandmother's age) at our table did it, so I did too! My grandmother, a puritan at heart, was a little embarrased (she told me, just because you CAN, doesn't mean you HAVE TO), but I ignored her temperate advice and went for it. Perhaps the finest caviar I've ever eaten (and ever will eat) in my life, in a volume the likes of which I'll never have again, every night at dinner, for the full three weeks of the cruise. Never got close to being sick of it, that's what a little glutton I was ;-)
I'm now very tempered in my caviar consumption, given the environmental issues, scarcity and price, but every once in a while in my dreams I remember those three weeks. Aside from bonding with my grandma over grieving and living afterward, the things I remember from that cruise are these: being taught to play "21" in the casino by Naki Ataman (the entertainment on that particular cruise), wanting to jump ship in Acapulco (there were young people there, and things were actually happening!), and the caviar!
Here's the link to the LA thread that spawned this post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
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