Saturday, July 23, 2011

Best. Dessert. Ever.

When Ann and I are on a cruise, we seldom have meals off the ship.  Why would we?  The amount of food available on board that’s included with the price of the cruise is mind-boggling.  Breakfast, brunch, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, late-afternoon snack, gourmet dinner, dessert, midnight chocolate buffet.  If you ever find yourself hungry on a cruise, you have only yourself to blame.  A greeting card we found in the gift shop on a cruise some years ago sums it up perfectly.  The image is a member of the dining staff dishing a substantial portion of spaghetti onto the plate of a wild-eyed, older male passenger.  The passenger is saying, “Pile it on, Guiseppe.  I haven’t eaten in almost 15 minutes.”
Me in 15 years.
There are, however, exceptions.  On our first cruise, our honeymoon in 1995, we indulged in an afternoon snack of nachos and milkshakes in the Hard Rock Café in Cozumel.  I guess we hadn’t fully embraced the cruise food phenomenon yet.  But it was a stop on the Greek island of Rhodes in 2009 where we made our best off-ship culinary discovery.  We didn’t take any kind of guided excursion, deciding instead to venture through the ancient city of Rhodes on our own.  After hours of castles, churches, guilds and every kind of gift/clothing/souvenir shop imaginable, we found ourselves in a small square.  A fountain in the middle, surrounded by a church on one side, shops on the other and various eateries all around.  We were a little tired and a little hungry.  We’d take care of both issues by sitting down at a table under the awning of one the restaurants and ordering a local favorite: baklava.  The waiter assured us that one order would be big enough for both of us, especially since it was served a la mode. 
That's Ann in the blue skirt in the archway to the left (post-baklava).
To this day, I can’t explain why this particular baklava was so good.  The nuts were especially nutty.  The syrup, amazingly syrupy.  The phyllo dough, uncommonly phyllo-y.  And the whole, warm, decadent thing covered with melting vanilla ice cream.  We finished it off as a gentle rain began to fall.  Perhaps it was the food itself.  Or maybe it was the romantic setting of a medieval town on an island in the Mediterranean.  Whatever it was, Ann and I agree that it was the best dessert ever.


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