Before I flew out of Switzerland, two days ago, I enjoyed the best meal of my life. At least the best meal I can recall since that joint in Madrid I wrote about. I'm not a big steak eater, though I come from Horse and Cow Folk who are known to eat beef four times per day. I zig zag toward an "In and Out Burger" and stick to yardbird and fish. But then again...the three best steaks of my life have been: 1. Tri-Trip on an open fire in Cuyama, California - at my sister-in-laws place. That's the far end of a sirloin, cooked over oak coals. Fresh air and Hank Williams music helps.
2. Peter Luger's in Brooklyn - aged steak and sliced tomatoes under the Williamsburg Bridge - go there...take a cab....disregard the snotty lawyers...enjoy...; and 3. Betley and Ollie's Chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. Betley and Ollie are in their 80's. They used to run a cafe near the train station in Saanen, and now they cook private gourmet meals in their Chalet, which was built in 1754. Ursulla Andress eats at their house. She was James Dean's first girlfriend in Hollywood. Time flies. She's still ruggedly handsome. We all are.
We were sitting outdoors admiring the Alps and enjoying the salad Betley pulled from her garden: greens and tomatoes. Real tomatoes. They tasted like strawberries soaked in Sicilian oilve oil. Trains rolled by that looked like Lionell toys and the snow gleamed high up on the glacier. Then Ollie pulled out this giant propane cooker and Betley got the oil hotter than a
Pittburg slag burner... then she threw in the "entrecote." Two minutes each side. Meat science. Smoke. Alchemy. Mountain air. Or maybe it was the wine. South African whites to Italian Reds. I've lost my mind.
The last thing I recall was a glass of Dewar's Scotch and somebody smoking a Havana stogie.
Fade to pink and green. I am not a scotch drinker. Train whistles and toots. What a meal. What a life. Sabroso.
I think there was a desert of fresh berries. I cannot be certain of this. I do know that Betley and Ollie were singing romantic songs in German and French; then Ollie put on a record of some cat playing Hot Jazz on an electric saw in Paris sixty years ago. I think everyone was dancing in the garden. I'm pretty sure of this.
Betley and Ollie were in love. I was in love. The record began to skip.
I think we staggered home.
I cannot be certain....."between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow...."
Woke up. Caught a plane.
Dreaming of entrecote. Tomatoes. La vida extraordinario. Love.
TR El Paso...