Our travels grew more exotic, and we took our first international trip, to Costa Rica. We spent two nights luxuriating in the shadow of a volcano and traipsing through hot springs before driving to a cloud forest in Monte Verde. It rained the whole time there, so we didn’t do much hiking or zip-lining. But we did find a restaurant with a fig tree growing through the middle of it, aptly called the Tree House, that had pizza on the menu. Drenched from walking in a downpour, we hungrily awaited our meal. After days of eating fish, rice and beans, it was a rich and welcome indulgence.
A few days later, we headed down to the town of Jaco for a “Crocodile Man” tour. From the safety of our boat, we watched a tour guide repeatedly smack the ground in front of a giant crocodile, which hissed in response. After the tour ended, we stopped at a nondescript open-air restaurant. I can’t recall what I had there, but it had some kind of local flair, and it was just okay. I do remember, clearly, that Neil got a pizza that was delicious.
In Negril, Jamaica, we spent an afternoon at the famous Rick’s Cafe. While sipping a cold Red Stripe, I watched the cliff divers — including Neil — plunge 30 feet from the rocky heights into the lapis-blue waters below. It was a rite of passage, and a rite of passage calls for, what else? Pizza.
So we drove to a tiny pizza shack we’d passed earlier. Inside, one guy worked as server and chef. He took our order and disappeared into the back. When he emerged with the pies, Neil asked him about the flour he used, the tomatoes, the oven, and for the next 20 minutes, the two geeked out on pizza while I stuffed my face. Aside from the jerk chicken we’d eaten two days earlier in a restaurant made from a shipping container, this was the best meal we had on the island.
We traveled to Iceland, where our meals ran the gamut from late-night waffles from a waffle truck to an incredibly expensive seafood dinner. But you know what we both remember? The pizza topped with chicken and potatoes at the Reykjavik Pizza Co., which Neil proclaimed the best pizza he’s had outside the United States and Italy.
In Copenhagen, I remained determined to eat something locally inspired, so we found a compromise restaurant. Looking over the menu, which wasn’t translated into English, Neil had no problem ordering a pizza, which in Danish is called “pizza.” I, on the other hand, struggled to figure out what I was reading. I recognized the words for zucchini and salmon, so I ordered what turned out to be a pasta dish with a thick cream sauce and smoked fish.