As a travel writer I’ve had my wings clipped and have been grounded for the last few months, with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.
My recent amazing trips of a river cruise on the Mekong River from Cambodia to Vietnam and a decadent week at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como, are simply unforgettable memories.
One of the secrets to surviving this period of isolation and maintaining my sanity was having my amazing girlfriend and traveling partner with me.
Another secret was taking invigorating walks every day no matter the weather on the historic Old Croton Aqueduct trail outside my door. It’s how New York City got their water for more than 100 years.
I also survived by losing myself in three very diverse books: “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson, a story on how Winston Churchill helped the United Kingdom survive the Nazi blitz and outwit Hitler; “Apropos of Nothing,” Woody Allen’s hysterically funny and revealing autobiography; and “The Plague” by Albert Camus.
We quickly realized the only time our lives appeared to be normal was when we were immersed in the planning, preparation and devouring of our incredible dinners every night.
We never ventured out to supermarkets; we ordered everything from the folks at Fresh Direct.com, OmahaSteaks.com and Sockeye@WildAlaskanCompany.com.
I could not have survived without these spectacular food suppliers and their life-saving home deliveries. My hero is Fresh Direct and their dedicated, professional food mavens at its Westchester warehouse. We had ultra-fresh seafood that tastes like it just jumped out of the ocean, their organic chicken breasts, freshly-sliced prosciutto, aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and freshly grilled Italian artichokes, along with the picture-perfect fresh vegetables, seasonal ripe fruit and anything else we needed to prepare our meals.
For my steak fix, I ordered filet mignon from Omaha Steaks. I also reached out to the Wild Alaskan Company, and their box of overflowing fresh sockeye and coho salmon and black cod.
Perhaps my biggest hero was caviar supplier Khavyar. Nobody has fresher, more delicious caviar at more affordable prices. I would splurge for a jar of Osetra Black Caviar and a few jars of the less pricey Ikura Caviar, the delicious orange salmon eggs.
Every Friday at 6 p.m. we would celebrate one more week of sanity by devouring a jar of caviar with a glass of iced Champagne or Grey Goose Vodka. We’d toast to “next year at this time being away on an outrageous adventure.”
Other decadent dishes we created included chicken parmigiana and a tower of small medallions of chicken with layers of Rao’s marinara chicken sauce, mozzarella, oregano, topped with shredded mozzarella.
Then there were the Greek-inspired dinners featuring layers of sautéed eggplant, sautéed ground lamb, tomato sauce, pine nuts, topped with ricotta cheese and baked.
My piece de la resistance, fish and chips, was made with black cod, which was crunchier and moister than any devoured in London. My secret ingredients were baking soda and beer, flour and egg. We dipped the fish in thick batter, tossed it into bubbling oil for 10 minutes or until it was golden brown.
Take heart, one day soon this plague shall lift and you’ll be off on a well-deserved vacation. But until then, consider cooking up some savory meals, losing yourself in a book and taking a long walk in the woods. They’ll help keep you maintain your sanity. Bon voyage.
Hastings-on-Hudson resident Richard Levy is a former advertising “Mad Man” creative director and now a travel writer. He’s also an inventor of innovative new products and is writing and illustrating a new children’s book. You can contact him at RichardLevyTravelWriter@gmail.com.