chronicle: the summer – a mere memory 9 oktober 2014
I’m sitting right now and looking out over a quiet and breathtaking natural area outside my window on Lidingö. It really is the calm before the storm. So quiet, so harmonious, still dominant green, only with small lovely touches of ocher yellow and autumn redness. I have just been and left my little Leo in kindergarten, in the same privileged scenic natural park and was struck by the harmony of the whole nature and all the positive people who seem so rested and eager to get started with all of their lustful work projects after the power-collecting holiday break of this summer. I love this time in the middle of September when the sun is still warm, but not too hot to sit in at a lunch serving. The wasps are gone and the air is high and clear, the desire to workout and the clever incitement spirit pervades most of us this time of year. Tomorrow it is election day and it seems like people love the time just before the election and walk around with the feeling that all the best is ahead of us. A new start, fresh breezes and improvement. Rather illogical really because all parties are so similar to each other and too cowardly and weak to bring about a real change if that is what they really want. Do we not have it quite good really? I would like to have something strong political to burn for, but I believe that politics in a functioning democratic country like Sweden is extremely overrated. It is important to vote yes, but I am convinced that today we are formed much more by international trends, media noise, globalization, cultural trends and spirit of the time than political issues. What if you could vote for the Weather Party which shortened the Swedish winter, then I would feel the same commitment that so many unaccountable do today. From an international perspective, we only have an enormous problem in this amazing country. Our climate and our location right next to the North Pole!
We are very soon there. In the midst of darkness and the chill polarizing inhospitality distant from the Mediterranean July heat that apparently made people so excited and happy this year. It seems that people seriously think that three weeks, oh yes there was actually no more, I’ve checked, of days with a temperature above 25 degrees is enough that we can consider ourselves with five months of freezing. Maybe I should not express an opinion because I was not home one single day during this heatwave. Tru to my habit I took the family to the Mediterranean for a month because I did not dare to risk the holy common holiday to rain away. Yes it was a wrong decision this year. I know! I would have happily experienced the archipelago night where you could be out overnight just in a t-shirt, but I can not help but wonder if it really turned up this year?
I myself experienced several such nights when I after every late dinner in Mallorca, lay alone, stark naked on our terrace peering up at the sky busy with my hobby counting shooting stars. Never sweaty, never too cold. The same silky weather caressing all night. Was it really like this old Sweden?
It was really wonderful to lie there until the evening when our English neighbors locked themselves out and silently crept around the corner to climb in through the bathroom window when they forgot the key in the room. They were so silent that they did not notice the naked Swedish man before he screamed when they stepped on his toe. Embarrassing and scary but otherwise it actually says a lot about how relaxed and domesticated we got to to feel at the British-owned family hotel Reads in the otherwise fairly godforsaken Santa Maria del Cami. People often talk about an oasis in the middle of nowhere, but it is rarely more appropriate than about this place. A stone’s throw from the airport and twenty minutes from the stinking cesspool Barcelona-wanna be Palma, the hotel is tossed out in the fields a few kilometers from the unexpected wilderness and the beautiful Tramuntana Mountains that was so magnificently towering in the background. We found the hotel in the fantastic reliable guide Relais Châteaux and was amazed at how cheap it was, especially in comparison with the in itself incredibly stunning Grand Hotel Timeo in the Sicilian Taormina where we spent the first two weeks of our vacation. When we arrived at Reads, we were initially a little disappointed when we were told that both the Relais Châteaux nomination and a Michelin star was history, but the longer we stayed, we felt that just maybe this was a blessing. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the service more informal and personaly friendlier for a family like ours when the pressure of performance eased a little.
We were also told hilarious stories about the management that was reminiscent of Basil Fawlty’s hotel management, but when we got to know Viv and his family, we realized how wonderful they were. With the best dry British humor, he treats his guests in a somewhat demanding way, but I love it. He is justifiably very proud of his creation where he has been involved in every progress since the beginning in 1988, knows his value and sees the meeting with the guest as a mutually respectful treatment. In the same way I personally look at each restaurant visit. If you often go to the world’s finest restaurants, you can not just demand. You should be able to behave respectfully and knowledge initiated so that you can fully embrace the meeting between the cook, staff and guest. Only when that symbiosis occurs great art is created. This occurs at Spanish British Reads. Go there, sit on the patio and bring a bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon P2 and pay a pittance in cork fee along with truffle pollenta and stay put into the wee hours of the night and let the summernight breezes caress your intellect. Or take a tough mountain pass on a bicycle in the nature reserve of the Tramuntana Mountains wilderness with the Uruguayan receptionist Damien and in a few hours and you will see why Mallorca once was considered to be such a beautiful tourist destination before the charter tourism ruined beaches and towns. A few hours away is Deià, my favorite place on the island with a world-class hotel in the form of the unreal La Residencia, so beautifully set that that I made the decision on my next book right there with a glass of Taittinger in hand.
This summer’s strongest memory? Germany-Brazil 7-1
The summer’s greatest outdoor experience? The hike on the boiling slopes of the Mount Etna volcano with my children.
The best dining experience? Es Raco des Teix, Deià Majorca. Without children and woman I myself sat and studied the absolutely perfect service spectacle that the young German waitresses played up. It was completely in line with the German passing game against Brazil at the World Cup this summer. Like a team of small Philip Lamm they danced perfectly between the tables with consummate gastronomic cuisine and while the nature acted supportively in the background.
The main wine sensation? I, whom are not usually to fond of Spanish wines, became completely overshadowed by the enjoyment of the 2008 Vega Sicilia Valbueno.
The main champagne experience? After the large-scale tastings this spring with 600 Champagnes at Decanter in London and the total transparency tasting of all existing prestige champagnes, this summer’s bubble experiences was more about just the overall experience. Then the peaks would be, a 2000 Roederer Rosé on Timeos Terrace when Etna had a small safe enough outbreak and the aforementioned 1998 Dom Perignon P2 and a 2004 Cristal at the super relaxad Reads Hotel.
Sthlm Richard Juhlin