THE BLOG

The Ultimate Luxury: Fresh Produce and the Traveling Kitchen

10/27/2009 06:47 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In late August, you could find me in the lap of luxury at the larger-than-life Badrutt's Palace Hotel in the storybook Swiss Alpine village of St. Moritz. Just one month later, I was checked in at the Courtyard Marriott in eastern Pennsylvania. Boy, did my coach ever turn into a pumpkin!

But no matter where I am--whether I'm being escorted through fairytale European villages in a Maybach or zipping through Manhattan's underbelly in its equally fabled subway system--one thing never changes: traveling through life in a clean-celled body is always a first-class experience. Sure, your days can be enhanced by certain luxuries, but true quality of life emanates from within.

When I boarded the flight to Switzerland, my "traveling kitchen" came with me. It was filled with frozen fresh-pressed juices, organic carrots, raw goat cheese, lemons, organic baby greens, stevia, and of course dark chocolate.

My dietary lifestyle actually helps me to get to know new surroundings quickly. Upon arrival in St. Moritz, I immediately set out to find the best local produce. After an immensely pleasurable stroll through the hilly village, I discovered exactly what I was looking for--a little local store run by a couple who refreshed their produce daily with the bounty of the small local farms.

There before me was a cornucopia of the most luscious just-picked blueberries and raspberries, ripe cherry tomatoes on the still-verdant vine, about ten different varieties of hydroponic greens and sprouts, and the sweetest, crispest, juiciest carrots! And to top it all off, there was a selection of mouthwatering local raw goat and sheep cheeses that exceeded my wildest dreams! Fortunately, I had time to taste them all because this outing became a daily ritual over the course of our week in St. Moritz.

We were there for my husband's best friend's wedding celebration, which continued day and night from one over-the-top venue to the next. Entertainers were flown in from all over the world to help our friends seal the deal and give their guests the time of their lives. Between events, we stole away to recover in the pristine mountain air, cycling to the purest icy lake to swim and bask in the glow of the late-summer sun.

But every night, do you know what accompanied me to all the posh venues where gourmet dishes were plated for the most discerning, worldly palates? That's right, the real pinnacle of fine dining was my local peasant produce! I discovered a long time ago the remarkable quantity of baby greens one can fit into an evening bag, which often doubles as my portable kitchen (who needs lipstick, cash, or an ID?). I would make a base of baby romaine, topped with some served veggies, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon, a touch of stevia, and the crowning glory of some goat cheese. Then I'd pass around several bars of chocolate for dessert.

I always had a stunning meal regardless of what was on the menu.

Okay, I know it's unusual to bring food to an event. I never want to offend, so I'm truly discreet in this type of situation. What invariably happens, however, is that my makeshift salad looks so appealing compared to the served dishes of cooked animal protein and starch that everyone around me wants to know what I'm having...then I briefly explain that I keep an unusual diet--no, I'm sorry this isn't on the menu...but there's a great roadside produce stand at the top of the hill...sure, I can draw you a map... hey, I'm supposed to be on vacation...here's my website--I'm going back out on the dance floor!

In the end, careful adherence to the clean-cell principle, combined with fresh mountain air and sunshine, enabled me to enjoy all the fun and frivolity of the week in St. Moritz (which, with the typical fare, the wine, and the late nights, would have been aging and acidifying) and not be any worse for wear.

***

In urban Pennsylvania, a month later, I was cruising around looking for a fresh produce market, since I would be staying in with the kids for the night. All we found was a warehouse store. (I'm sure there were some amazing co-ops and fresh markets, but in a pinch they weren't evident.) But even this store at least offered organic boxed baby greens and other produce for which I was grateful. And hark! I had my traveling kitchen, so I really just wanted some extra lemons and carrots. My daughter and I ran into the store while my husband and son waited in the car.

I was put off by the plastic smells and the endless aisles of needless items, but I didn't express this to my daughter. She was the one who commented. She was astounded at the carts lined up at the checkouts full of plastic-wrapped foods and "wormy poop" (I had to chuckle when I finally realized she was referring to ground beef). She noted the girth of the patrons and the pallor of their children. (While New Yorkers are a far cry from living in harmony with nature, many of us don't witness this kind of consumption.)

Back at the hotel, I tossed a great big salad with all the essential items I don't leave home without, plus those things I picked up in town. Once again, a little preparation and effort to stick to what I know works best for me and my family kept us happily nourished.

It's never ideal to be exposed to chemically cleaned, poorly ventilated stores and hotels, but if you can keep this exposure to a minimum and hold fast to your principles, you can surf the great life-wave wherever you go. Remember, regardless of the number of stars of your hotel, true culinary luxury is always within reach. Never forget it!