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The Best Meal of Your Life...


Carrot Top
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Well, I'll be brave and start this off. I'd say it was at West, in Vancouver, last summer. Sitting at the chef's table and getting a little extra attention because of that, excellent wine pairings, getting to watch their calm and controlled kitchen work, and out of sight deliciousness of the food, that's what made the experience.

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The best meal I ever had in my life was probably not the "best" meal I ever had, but it stands out in my memory nonetheless.

Once upon a time, me and the Evil Ex were heading up to Algonquin Park, camping gear strapped to the top of the Honda. There we were, on a remote northwards-facing highway, and we were hungry. We stopped at a gas station, and asked about the nearest food (expecting Joe's Hamburgs or suchlike). The gas-station guy says, "there's a really good restaurant just up the road a ways."

Just up the road aways was a motel and campground, with a restaurant attached. This was years ago... I don't remember all the details, but the owner was a retired chef, and this was his piece of paradise. But he still cooked.

I remember a gazpacho, exciting with new-to-me spices, perfect on the tongue, and decorated with fresh edible flowers. What else? Some kind of chicken, I think, with a lively sauce, and beautifully-roasted young summer squash with garlic and fresh herbs. All very simple (I don't remember if there was anything more exciting on the menu, but I was young and timid and probably wouldn't have ordered it) but all prepared with such gentleness and respect that I tasted everything with the lingering care of a person eating for the first time.

And, of course, it was a beautiful day, slanting into early evening, and Ontario's north was at its crisp, pine-scented summer best. That was the best meal of my life so far.

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I've eaten more chef's tasting menus in more cities than I can rememeber. The one meal I would take over all of them would be a cheeseburger and a manhattan with my late grandfather at the golf course we always played early in the season.

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It was the first meal of my husband's first trip to Paris (and only my second). We had dropped our stuff at the hotel and wandered off to explore. We ended up across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens at some non-descript cafe. We sat, ordered, and were served fabulous composed salads, Nicoise for me, with a glass of wine. We wept with joy.

My husband decided at that very moment that he was French, and cursed his Polish ancestors for coming all the way to the US rather than stopping there, where he clearly belonged. :cool:

I mean, it was nothing special, really. But the slight formality of the waiters (who declined to serve some other Americans who were moving chairs around and putting their feet on them), the feel of the street and watching Parisians going about their weekday business, the fact that our salads were to be dressed by ourselves from the cruets of oil and vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard all in a cute little rack...

Surely we had better meals later in the trip. But that was the best.

Margo Thompson

Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,

You're my little potato, they dug you up!

You come from underground!

-Malcolm Dalglish

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I have a few meals that resonate in my memory but they all go back to the original. Perhaps I have been trying to recapture that original experience all these years.

About 35 years ago, I went to Cozumel with some friends. This was when Cozumel was one of those "Lonely Planet" type places. We stopped at San Francisco beach, a beautiful beach with the crystal clear and astonishingly turquoise water and blinding white coral sand. There was this "restaurant" under a big palapa. They had this huge griddle thing going on. We ordered the grilled dorado (mahi-mahi). Three filets came on a pedestrian white porcelain platter with refried black beans on one side and a seasoned rice on the other. Ho-Hum you say. Not so. The cook had a big oil can that he sloshed onto the griddle before putting on the filets. They were cooked to perfection. The surface had this lovely brown and crispy texture while the insides were moist and perfectly cooked. The oil from the griddle was taken up to the plate and oozed toward the rice and beans. It was the oil. It was lightly fragrant with the sweetest toasted garlic. I have been searching for that experience ever since. Many meals have come close. One was at the El Presidente in Cozumel where the chef cooked our catch. We kept ordering more fish... and more fish... and more fish. He came close. Another was the griddled wahoo at Hotel Cabo San Lucas some years later. But, all of these later experiences were grounded in that humble meal on San Francisco beach many years before.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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That's easy. My shared birthday dinner at La Cocay on Islas Cozumel Mexico - January 2003. My GF and I have the same birthday and it was the first one we'd had together. The meal was exceptionally good but apart from remembering that the main dish was pork, I have no idea what I ate. It was the atmosphere and the company that made it so memorable.

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I love simple questions... :biggrin:

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, November 1, 2003. My three best friends, two of our caddies, and myself, obviously...and while I could tell you exactly what I ate or drank that night, I'm still searching for the words to describe how I felt.

Todd McGillivray

"I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feelin' bulletproof..."

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It wasn't the most extravagant or exotic meal by any stretch but the food was simply perfect. It was 8 years ago in Chicago, at a little place on the ground floor of our hotel. I had ordered a very simple meal of House Smoked Pork Chops with boiled redskin potatoes, homemade sauerkraut, and sauteed apples. Not a misstep for the entire meal. Service was impeccable. Food was perfectly prepared. My wife believes that in the 12 years that we have been together that this may be the only meal in a restaurant that I was unable to find some small imperfection with.

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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The next one.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Sunday lunch at my Grandmother's house. I would give up a year of whatever life I have left for just one more of those meals.

The food, the people who are now long gone except in my memory, the house, the table (which is now in my kitchen), the china and silverware, the laughter, the relish trays, the sweet tea, and the peach cobbler for dessert.

I have eaten many fine meals in many, many fine restaurants-but none can compare to those Sunday lunches in that modest dining room in rural Louisiana. Thanks for reminding me of them.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Tacos of corn smut and bright green sausages at a roadside stand outside of Mexico City.

Green papaya salad made from a green papaya that they plucked out of the tree over our heads on the Mekong river in northern Thailand.

Gnocchi with blue cheese sauce at a trattoria outside Bologna where we watched the old women sitting in the kitchen making the gnocchi as walked in. It was all that they were serving that day.

A meal at Georges Blanc in burgundy in 1984. The standard against which all high end tasting menus have been measured since then--and none have met. Perfection and innovation without attitude or overreaching. I can still taste the amuse bouche of foie gras, tomato coulis and quail egg as I write this.

Edited by fredbram (log)

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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While on our honeymoon in France, me an' Hub spent the better part of a day circumnavigating the Gorges du Verdon in a small rental car. It was about as beautiful and exhilarating a drive as you can possible imagine. In places, the barely-wider-than-one-lane road kisses the rim of the canyon, sans guard rail. It's a two-way road (most of the way) with heavy tourist traffic (most of it travelling at a brisk clip) with the occasional full-size touring coach.

We had planned ahead for lunch; that morning I breezed through the little town where we were staying and picked up a baguette, a bottle of red (4 euros), a button of crottin de chavignol and a nice, ripe puck of St. Marcellin. A melon that had been rolling around the trunk since St. Mairies sur Mer 3 days previous had perfumed the car in such a way as to suggest an ideal state of ripeness.

When we reached the eastern end of the canyon and crossed the river to start the return drive along the northern rim, we turned off, following signs for a hiking trail. The road led us to a parking lot, where there were twenty or so cars parked and a small crowd of people following the trail off to the left. The trail also went off to the right (though the crowd did not) so we followed Frost's advice. The trail cut through a large hole bored in a rock face and continued – marginally "cut" from the cliff – down to the canyon floor, with no railing and a surplus of skiddy gravel.

i11415.jpg

By following the trail less than a quarter of a mile, we found ourselves on a little ledge about 20 feet above a rushing stream and far away from humanity.i11416.jpg

Just as we settled there with our picnic, the sun broke through the haze that had dogged us through the morning. So there we were: deeply in love, with our perfectly ripe cheeses and melon, a heady bottle of wine that had cost us a pittance, surrounded by untainted natural beauty, serenaded by the running water, kissed by the sun, caressed by a light breeze.

That night, we blew a wad on dinner at Clement Bruno's truffle mecca in Lorgues. Feh. The picnic is the meal I'll never forget.

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my best meal,steak and a med veg mix of some sort.it sounds boring but i tell it could not be beaten.It is not often that i go to a restaurant and receive a steak cooked to my perfection,this was just spot on.

The restaurant is in turkey called Mama Uno,and is located on the beach front in marmaris.Everything there is perfect the service and the food,the trip was definately well worth it.

"when we accept tough jobs as a challenge and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm,miracles can happen."

Arland Gilbert

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The best meal I can remember was at a place just across the border in Mexico. I believe the little town's name is Progreso and the name of the restaurant is Arturos. It was in about 1974 had frog legs, tenderloin, lobster and a bunch of other stuff. The tab was only about $8 a person or so as I remember.

Never trust a skinny chef

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After sitting on the pier all night with friends.. catching blue crabs with string and chicken backs in Florida. Going home exhausted but with over 100 crabs. Cooking and cleaning those babies while someone whirled up the frozen Strawberry Daquries and someone else melted the butter. Then just eating and drinking until we couldn't hold another bite. Ahhhhh that was heaven!

Life is a feast. Savor every course!

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Oh, I have waited so long to tell this tale to people who would truly understand!

June 20, 1998, Lyon, France. The restaurant Paul Bocuse.

My husband and a whole bunch of other biotech types from around the U.S. were invited by some French government officials to meet with French biotech types to discuss possible business collaborations. We traveled first class all the way, stayed in a very fine hotel, went on some nice day trips, etc., even got to see the U.S. get whupped by Iran at the World Cup Soccer finals.

The hightlight of the trip, of course, was dinner at Bocuse. We arrived by boat, were ushered in with great ceremony, met the Chef himself, and were treated to a wonderful meal.

Unfortunately, this was also my worst meal in memory. You see, I'd gone off exploring by myself during the day and found the open air market - an experience I wouldn't trade for anything - but, since I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever, I got lost and ended up wandering around for a bit before finally finding my way back to the hotel.

July. France. Hot.

Heat-stroke hot.

I really shouldn't have gone to dinner with the group, but, you know, wild horses . . .

Anyway, I didn't exactly disgrace myself, but since I was the oldest, er, most mature woman in the group, I was seated in the place of honor at our host's right, and my being slightly green and sadly, heart-breakingly unable to eat much of anything was noticed. Everyone was full of kindness and treated me so well, though, that I still remember this is one of the greatest experiences of my life.

But dang, it was also the very definition of Hell! To be there and not be able to eat! Aaarrrgggghhh!

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Innsbruck on our honeymoon - It was late and we had just arrived and checked into the hotel. Wandered out for a late night bite, bith of us being famished. Wife and I wandered into this piano bar cum restaurant and sat at a high table to the bar.

The waiter arrived with two glasses of beer and German menus. We asked for English as the last time I ordered off the German menu (mere 24hrs earlier) I ended up with the entire hog's hoof on my plate - hoof and all (I thought I was ordering chicken.) No English menus but his English was as passable as my German. I asked him to bring what he would have - he nodded and disappeared.

Along with two more glasses of beer, he brought out two platters of hash browns, done in about a pound (0.45 kg as we are in Switzerland) of butter with 10mm thick slices of marvelous smoked bacon on top and then covered in melted cheese.

My wife fretted that she might be a widow after only one week - I was shovelling so fast she thought I might have a heart attack - then she tasted it and thought I might get away with only clogged arteries and an aneurysm.

It was good really good. That meal is still 10 years later refered to at the Hash Browns of the Gods.

"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry." - Mark Twain

"Please pass the bacon." - Me

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One of the best meals I ever had was whilst I was living in Papua New Guinea. I had invited 9 friends for dinner as had been promising chilli mud crabs for ages. My downstairs neighbour knocked on the door just before everyone arrived and presented me with a blue fin tuna he had caught that day.

As the sun set over the harbour we all sat on my balcony, drinking a really crisp Sav Blanc that we had found at the local bottle shop for a ridiculously low price whilst my neighbour turned the tuna into sashimi.

Followed this extremely hard to beat entree with the chilli mud crab which we all ate with our hands and ended up covered in the sauce.

Dessert of cheesecake (made with my precious once month delivery to the country cream cheese so a definite treat) smothered in pulped up mango from the trees in the yard.

An unforgettable setting, good friends and fabulous fresh food ................ what more could you need for one of the best meals ever :smile:

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Sitting on the banks of Lake Trasimeno, dangling my feet in the water on an achingly beautiful Umbrian summer day. Eating fresh fruit, bread, cheese and local meat products and drinking some cheap local wine that was purchased from a little store on the side of the road between the olive groves, orchards and vineyards that seemed to be all you could see for miles. Glorious and an absolute epiphany. Certain smells and tastes make those images flood back to me. Smells/tastes like ITALY.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Driving down the highway on our way from Olema (CA) to Victorville back in '87, it was time to eat. I spotted a little Mexican place off the elevated highway and took the next exit and found it. Genuine Mexican. Nothing in English. The waitress could speak some English and brought a menu (in Mexican.) I said I wanted a bean burrito. She asked with chorizo? I said what's chorizo? She said Mexican sausage. I said okay.

I'll never have another bean burrito as good as that one.

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I had long had a "food fantasy": to be well-known enough at a restaurant - any restaurant - to be able to walk in, hand them my credit card, and say "feed me".

One of my online friends used to be a cook at a little bistro in Kansas City, and I had told him about this ages ago. Through a long series of circumstances it turned out that I would be passing through Kansas City on a road trip, so we arranged that I he'd cook me a meal at the restaurant.

I arrived early afternoon, after lunch rush, and was shown to the best table in the house. My friend came out from the kitchen and presented me with a printed menu of the 6 course meal he had planned. I still keep the menu right here - the meal consisted of:

Chocolate truffles served with wild ripened cheddar cheese

Yellowfin tuna, medium rare, topped with Green Death (see below)

Salad of mixed organic mesclun greens tossed with sherry shallot vinaigrette

Creamy polenta topped with flashed morel mushrooms in demiglace

Green apple sorbet intermezzo

Filet of pork tenderloin marinated in plum wine and jerk spice, served with baby asparagus and

rosewater-orange couscous

Dark and white chocolate napoleon with raspberry and lime coulis

Green death: take a quart of hard cider, reduce to 1 cup or so, and use this liquid to reconstitute wasabi. Eat with caution. Delicious, but will clear your sinuses.

Each course was presented beautifully, and the taste was out of this world. The only problem was that I had to start asking for boxes with the first course, or I KNEW I wouldn't have any room for the rest of them. (My husband and I both were able to make a meal of the leftovers - my friend is nothing if not generous!)

It was a wonderful experience - being served exquisite food tailored to my likes and dislikes, the few other patrons in the restaurant wondering just who I was and why I was getting the VIP treatment, being able to eat at a leisurely pace - and with the morels, being served a dish I would have NEVER even thought of ordering had it been on a menu, but which has ended up being one of the top 10 dishes I've ever eaten, period.

After the meal, I received a tour of the kitchen, had a chance to meet and thank the rest of the staff, and then spent several hours chatting and drinking coffee with my friend.

Sadly, he's no longer in the food business, having gone through the computer business and now looking at law school, but I will always thank him for giving me one of the best experiences of my life.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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Maybe the Big Mac I sent out for after the birth of my first son. I was in labor for 20 hours with nothing to eat, so that smushy old midnight sandwich really tasted like heaven.

Or maybe bacon and eggs the morning after a hard day of paddling and portaging, and a night in a sleeping bag. Cooked over a campfire, with the mist drifting off the lake, and the loons calling.

sparrowgrass
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It's so interesting, reading through this thread, to note how many of the best meals were in foreign countries, or at least far from home. What is is about being cut loose from everyday reality that makes food taste so good? And then the other category seems to be nostalgia meals, those that remind us of how things used to be, before they got so complicated. It's fascinating.

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