May 15 2012 by Sam Lowe
In those halcyon days I still longingly refer to as "my youth," dining while on the road was rarely more than a burger and fries, or a Twinkie with a chocolate shake. But as I continue the march into 'seniorhood', my away-from-home eating habits have undergone drastic changes. Now, rather than rush into a convenience market or a fast food outlet, I look forward to sit down, white napkin experiences that are a far cry from candy bars and salted peanuts (although they remain at least a minor part of my diet when traveling alone).
Some of them are permanent fixtures in my travel recollections, not only because of the good food itself, but also the ambiance that surrounded the meal.
I think fondly of a dinner my wife, Lyn, and I shared in Szabla I Saklanka Restaurant in Krakow, Poland. We found the place while attempting to avoid the more touristy establishments that line the main square. It was on a back street and the interior walls were painted orange and bright blue, joyful colors without being garish. It was late evening, and we were the only customers. We ordered things we'd never heard of before, simply because the waiters said we'd like them. And we did, so we ordered more things we'd never eaten before and will probably never taste again. I cannot possibly remember the names, only that everything was a taste treat, enhanced by the obvious delight the waiters expressed as they brought plate after plate. We stayed for almost two hours and the staff's enthusiasm for our presence never waned.
While wandering around Budapest, we came across Gerloczy Kavehaz Restaurant which, despite its rather obvious Hungarian name, was French. From our table on the second level, we had a magnificent view of the violin player whose music completely absorbed us as we dined on French food with Hungarian accents. The filet mignon came with a sort of goulash; the gnocchi were floating in a bearnaise sauce. The musician's repertoire actually seemed to match whatever course we were in, and a fragrance from the multitude of fresh flowers sweetened the atmosphere. Rather than leave such pleasant surroundings, we each ordered dessert - and then another dessert to share.
Breakfast is not my favorite meal, but I shall never forget a morning repast at the BEST WESTERN Hilltop House Hotel in Los Alamos, N.M. The complimentary food was good; the view was memorable. The dining area is in an old chapel attached to the hotel, and features open beams and floor-to-ceiling windows. So as I ate, I was treated to the sun rising over the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Biscuits and gravy have never tasted so good.