Friday, September 5, 2008

Laurant Perrier Champagne **** (not TJ's)

I'm blogging from London. Yes, I am an American, but home is where the heart is, and my heart lives in London. No Trader Joe's here. As a matter of fact, my life changes drastically the moment I step off the Heathrow Express at Paddington Station.

Home is in Knightsbridge, a place where I never cook. (well, every once in a while, I'll throw together some mushroom risotto) and every day at the crack of 6PM, the cork goes pop and the Laurent Perrier takes the edge off the day.

Yes folks, my casual life in NYC is wonderful, but in Knightsbridge, we dress for Saturday night dinner, there is always a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table, and music rules.

My palate was born in Maine, where fresh food straight from the garden and dinner parties were my social life. When I was a child, I woke up at 5am to watch THE wedding, and for the rest of that week, I polished my horse. I wanted him to look like the horses in the procession, carrying Diana to the church. Years later, as I walked past the Horse Guards in Hyde Park, I had a daily chance to compare the real Royal Horses to my horse from my childhood. I did a pretty good job cleaning him up, if I must say so myself.

Dreams do come true. As a child, I was fascinated with England, and after my parents passed away when I was young, Europe was my playground. First, it was riding in Northern Ireland. My horse Sarge was a huge grey who carried me all around Downpatrick. I was a frequent visitor to family friends, who were living in a house that has been in the same family since it was built in 1763. And I was riding through the fields and woods of a working estate, loving every trip. But I was a horse mad teenager in Northern Ireland, there, we drank in pubs, and drank beer. This blog isn't about beer. Let's get back to wine...

It was while living in London that my palate was refined, I discovered a taste for wine, and one day while walking through Belgravia, I watched as a cute young couple headed off for a dinner party, a bottle of wine in hand. I thought to myself, "I'd like that to be me one day". And years later, it was me. I have an amazing group of friends and family here in London, and I've brought many a bottle of wine to countless dinner parties.

This is the first time in two years (since I started dialysis) that I've been home. I am hiding out today, as I am here for a surprise party, and I am the surprise. I am sitting in a flat that is decorated remarkably like my own in NYC. Typing on a computer that is remarkably like my own in NYC. I am comfortably reminded that family share traits and tastes, which is why, sitting in Lucie's flat, I feel at home. We share nearly 20 years of memories - no wonder I am so comfortable.

Tonight, we'll spend time with friends, and pop a bottle of champagne, drink a toast to my arrival, gossip and prepare for tomorrow - the event, where Maria who studied at Le Cordon Bleu has prepared an amazing menu. Maria has been cooking and keeping house for almost two decades, her Spanakopita, Mermaid Morsels and Chicken and Pasta cause my mouth to water with just the thought. All washed down with Laurent Perrier.

Champagne doesn't taste the same to me anywhere else. Knowing my reputation for bubbly, my European friends always bring me a bottle when visiting me in NYC. But it just doesn't taste the same. Taste is affected by your surroundings, by the sounds, smells, and sights that enhance your experience, so I can safely say that a glass of Laurent Perrier in the evening, in Knightsbridge, is the sweetest wine I will ever drink.

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