I am a firm believer in food being memorable. Perhaps not to the degree of remembering the exact description and ingredients of what went into a meal, but certainly remembering the quality of the food and whether or not you had a nice time. Since food is a highly sensory pleasure, I find the memory of vivid images and auras also lingers in the memory.
Below I’ve listed my five most memorable meals. They’re all good ones (good meals tend to endure longer than bad ones), and they’re from different times in my life too. Only one of these is during the time I’ve been writing this blog, and only one is in
1) Bunters Pizza Pie: Teddington, some time in the early 90s
This certainly lends itself more to the vague recollection department. I was not ten at the time, and back in those days I was a really fussy eater. (Nowadays I call it ‘refined’…) There was not a lot I enjoyed and my choices were always limited. I did, however, love spaghetti bolognaise. It was my standard ‘favourite meal’ when I was growing up.
This particular experience is one of the first meals out I can ever remember having. We’d not long moved into a new house and my parents had promised us a trip to a local restaurant as soon as we’d got settled in. Bunters Pizza Pie on Teddington’s
It came in a bowl, which surprised me. A big bowl, too. I always used to eat it off a plate. I remember thinking how different and exciting it was. I can also clearly remember feeling very good about the dish as soon as I saw it. It didn’t look like the chunky pasta ‘n sauce combo we’d eat at home – this was more of a dish, per se. It was a classic, simple bolognaise in hindsight: very smooth sauce and lots of tomato. Whilst unspectacular, this is the meal I will remember forever as exposing me to restaurant eating.
2) Fish ‘n Chips: Newquay, September 2003
This one also is vague, but less so than the youthful haze of my bolognaise adventure. Some friends and I embarked on a week-long camping trip to Newquay in search of a little late summer fun. The trip itself was glorious, with no end of frolicking in fields, general tomfoolery and food over a camp fire.
However, it’s the first day’s evening meal which sticks in my memory with such lasting nostalgia. We’d set up our tents in some relative sunshine and wandered into town. Unfortunately the heavens opened and we mutedly trudged around a deserted seaside village enveloped in grey and wet. We did, however, come across what was reputedly the best chippie in Newquay. Scampi and chips in a paper wrap and back to the campsite.
Sitting in a four-man tent in the pouring rain with five friends, eating the best scampi and chips ever: you’ll never forget it. Salt of the earth (or salt of the sea?) stuff, and the kind of memory that makes one shiver with delight.
3) Cilantro Restaurant in the Madejski Stadium:
One might even go as far as saying that this meal started everything for me. Well, started all over again, at least. Mike and I had organised a birthday meal for a friend of ours at his beloved Reading FC home ground, which basically involved a meal in the stadium’s hotel complex.
It was the first meal I’d ever eaten that included some dishes which are now staples of mine. Pork belly with pineapple sauce and artichoke hearts to start, chateaubriand for main course with
This was the start of my education in fine dining. When you hit serious quality for the first time, you don’t forget it.
4) Veal ‘n Mushrooms:
We sat inside at a red-and-white chequered table cloth. We were the only people in there. A football match was showing on a fuzzy television in the corner. I was presented with a piece of veal covered in a variety of fresh local mushrooms with oil and herbs. As I began eating, I started wondering how I could get enough money to buy a house in the countryside near
5) Pavilien Ledoyen:
And so we enter the next level of my culinary education. This is a restaurant within the general area of the
For some extra minimal details, during the course of this meal, I ate the best foie gras, the best soup, the best pasta and just about the best ice cream I have ever tasted. It’s safe to say that if you want food to knock the breath out of you, to re-shape your world, to show you little glimpses of what it’s like to be really, truly satisfied… then eat three Michelin star French food in
(Disclaimer: the restaurant is only mortal. I didn’t like the squab pigeon that my other half ordered. It may not be for you should you ever go there, so please don’t hold me responsible for any misplaced trust on your part. Perfection is near impossible.)