Just Like Heaven | Wine | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Just Like Heaven 

Ten delicious things you need to try before you die'or diet.

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I suppose at some point most of us have pondered the question of what we would do if we were given six months'or a year, or 10 years'to live? Would you max out the credit cards and buy the sailboat you’ve always wanted? Live out your remaining days in Paris, Fiji or St. Bart’s? Maybe you’d write the novel you’ve been putting off for decades or do good work for a noble cause? Or, perhaps, if you’re a food enthusiast like me, you’d eat. nn

As far as I know, I’ve still got many years and many meals ahead of me. But I thought it might be prudent to draw up a checklist of how I might spend my final days, just in case the memory goes before my body does or I decide to go on a diet. You should probably have a list of your own. Or, feel free to use mine. nn

1. No one should go to meet his/her Maker without having tasted the cream of watercress soup at Taillevent in Paris. Even though Taillevent was demoted one star this year by France’s Michelin Guide'normally a publication as reliable as gravity'it’s still my favorite restaurant on the planet. And the watercress soup there is simple, elegant and ethereal. It starts out as a base of leeks, butter, heavy cream (lots), chicken stock (the real stuff) and sea salt. Ultimately, more cream, lemon juice, white pepper and blanched, wilted watercress puree is blended into the soup. It’s served in a large shallow bowl with a dollop of freshly whipped cream in the middle, which is then topped with a spoonful of Sevruga caviar. If I time things just right, Taillevent’s Crème de Cresson au Caviar Sevruga will be part of my Last Supper. nn

2. Slyders. You can’t lay claim to having lived a truly full life until you’ve downed a bag of White Castle Slyders. It seems insensitive to call them hamburgers, these two-and-a-half-inch square beef patties. The steamed onion fragrance wafts up through the five ingenious, evenly-spaced holes in the patty, which ultimately is topped with a crinkle-cut dill pickle slice and encased in soft, square buns as light as air. Sadly, the White Castle location nearest Utah is in Missouri. Plan a road trip.nn

3. Until Settebello opened on 200 East, I’d always assumed my final eating binge would have to include a trip to Naples. But, since Settebello makes Margherita pizzas exactly like they do in Naples, I don’t even have to leave town to indulge in the world’s best pizza. nn

4. It’s not a traditional PoBoy, and it’s not exactly barbecued shrimp either. But the barbecued shrimp PoBoy at Liuzza’s By the Track in the Faubourg St. John section of New Orleans is worth a trip to NOLA all by itself. I’ll never understand how they manage to get the shrimp molten lava-hot and yet keep them so tender and tasty. For the Full Monty, go for the bread pudding with whiskey sauce and a cold Abita Turbodog Ale alongside.nn

5. Before you check out, you owe it to yourself to indulge in a bottle of Salon. According to Salon Champagne’s Director Didier Depond, “If Dom Pérignon is the Mercedes of Champagne, then Salon if the Ferrari or the Maserati.” Your first sip of silky, full-bodied Salon Les Mesnil Champagne Blanc de Blancs will change your life. I guarantee it. For one thing, your wallet will be about $200 lighter. But, as they say, you can’t take it with you when you go.nn

6. Foie gras. Look, I care about our furry and feathered friends. And I eat foie gras, along with chickens raised in cages, meat from the slaughterhouse, and fish that have flopped around on the deck of a boat until they expired. I especially favor foie gras from D’Artagnan, a company dedicated to free range, organic, humanely raised meat and high standards of animal husbandry. The ducks and geese are not force-fed; they gorge themselves twice a year before migration, naturally. I’d like mine with Sauternes, thank you. nn

7. It may be noteworthy that only the female and hermaphrodite flowers of the Cavaillon melon'an über-cantaloupe grown in Provence, France'yield fruit. Sitting on a Provencal patio with a Cavaillon melon soaked in Muscat and finely chopped verbena leaves will make you believe in a Higher Power. In lieu of a trip to Provence, a good second choice would be Barb Hill’s Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie at Snake Creek Grill in Heber. It’s almost as godly.nn

8. With apologies to The Colonel, the best fried chicken I’ve ever encountered is at the Spring Chicken Inn in Wanship, Utah. This spectacular chicken and Tracy’s banana cream pie might end up killing me, but I’ll die very happy licking my greasy fingers all the way to the grave.nn

9. Named for the unique sound made by Chinese street vendors, “dan dan” noodles are a quintessential dish of Szechwan. My favorite version, from a New York City Chinatown restaurant, incorporates creamy peanut butter (no kidding!), sesame oil, fresh ginger, lots of garlic and black vinegar into its dan dan noodle sauce. For a pretty good local approximation, head up to the Mandarin in Bountiful. The leftovers are especially good for breakfast.nn

10. I know it sounds way too simple, but quite possibly the world’s best food is Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It costs a fortune and is worth every penny. Want to go out with a bang? For my journey to the Hereafter, I plan to bring nothing more than a chunk of nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano to nibble on, a slice or two of shaved white truffle from Alba, Italy, and a bottle of that Salon Champagne I mentioned. That’ll git ’er done.

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