So where were we? Oh yes: Merano, Italy. On our second day there, we asked at the hotel for a lunch suggestion. Lucky for us, the recommended place was closed, and we ended up improvising. We found Castel Fragsburg at the top of a windy road outside of Merano. The posted menu looked interesting, if a bit expensive, so we decided to give it a try. We were led through a large dining room out onto a terrace with a sweeping view of the valley below. Worth the price alone.
Before we can even order the chef starts sending us little ‘greetings from the kitchen’ - tiny dishes of creative deliciousness – a martini glass of cucumber olive oil soup, eggplant carpaccio with cream cheese and flowers, an oyster on the half shell (OK so this last one didn’t interest us, but the others were heavenly).
I order two courses, one of which is an eggplant thing that usually comes with a bit of prosciutto on top. The waitress assures me that it will be no problem for the chef to make it vegetarian.
She was back a few minutes later with a question for me. “The chef wants to know if he may put some burrata on top of the eggplant dish. Is this OK?” I think maybe I have misheard her. The chef wants my permission to put one of very very favorite cheeses, a cheese you cannot properly get in Munich, on top of my main course? Yes, yes he may.
My smile is permanent by this point, and I don’t think I had even seen the bread basket yet.
Course after course of amazingly delicious food came out, including more of the chef’s ‘greetings’, such as this red currant sorbet. It was one of those meals of rare perfection, where the food was creative and interesting and painfully delicious. Every last bite.
The dessert menu looked heavenly, but we were stuffed so we politely declined (actually I agonized over the decision a bit – I’m not usually a dessert person but I was willing to do almost anything to prevent that meal from ending). Somehow our fullness didn’t stop us from downing most of the tiered tray of handmade chocolates and cookies that was presented to us. When the check came I had to stifle the urge to cry, “Here, take all my money, just tell me I can live at this table forever and ever!” On our way out we were each presented with a tiny gold-embossed case holding two chocolate truffles. I still have mine on my desk (sans truffles, natürlich). Every time I see it I am filled with great longing.
I cannot wait to go back.