It would be Paris in the spring and I would wake up in the Hôtel Plaza Athénée with one of my lovers. We would have a classic French breakfast in our room: hot black coffee, sparkling water and a delicious fresh croissant with apricot confiture. I travel a lot for work, but the only place I go to for pleasure, besides Patagonia, is Paris. The feeling I get is like being in love with a beautiful woman, who I madly desire, yet who doesn’t think I’m good enough for her. So I become like a hungry dog when I am there and I love that.
When it comes to eating, I believe in opposites. So, after an elegant Parisian morning, I would have the most simple lunch on the Greek island of Rhodes. When I was 19, I bicycled from Rhodes City to the coastal town of Lindos. Rhodes is very hilly and when I arrived, I remember looking down to a beautiful little white town with a very blue sea. I could see the coast of Turkey. I had a very simple Greek salad and a white fish grilled over coals with tiny pieces of fennel inside, dressed with lemon and olive oil. I also had some very cheap, but very good white wine called Achaia Clauss Demestica. I often dream of having that meal again. All around the Greek islands, even now, you will find outstanding grilled fish every day of the year. They know that a fresh fish needs care and attention, but little else, to be delicious. I would go back in the height of summer and eat alone. I would take watercolours to the top of the hill, find a shady spot and paint beautiful naked women, from memory.
After a light lunch I would need to indulge my desire for decadence. One dessert I often dream about is from Fiesole, just outside Florence. When I go there, I stay at the Villa San Michele, a hotel with a façade attributed to Michelangelo. Not far from the hotel is a small, rustic trattoria called Le Cave di Maiano. Here they serve giant profiteroles, stuffed with mascarpone cheese and a dark chocolate mousse, and covered with hot chocolate ganache. They are packed tightly into a bowl and are spooned inelegantly onto your plate. They don’t take care at all how they do it; they just spoon it out. I love that.
Nothing would bring me more joy than to finish my day in Argentina eating Cordero al asador, a lamb roasted whole on an iron cross. The lamb is seasoned with salt, tied to the cross and cooked – bone side first, then flipped to make the skin crispy. The technique is typical of Patagonia, and the local lambs are particularly delicious. One of the best places to eat this dish is Tierra Mayor, a restaurant near Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. You don’t need more than salad and bread to enjoy it, but I like to drink a bottle of Chacra, a good Patagonian Pinot Noir. I would love to have my wife and children with me, and my eldest brother, who is my best friend. A meal like this is simple, elemental and fundamental.
Francis Mallmann was talking to Amalia Illgner