Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Was the Best Meal You Ever Ate?

Instead of one guest blogger, today a number of our friends are chiming in about memorable meals.

Courtesy of Lorna Barrett
Afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, Canada.  It was perfect.  The food was perfect, the tea was hot, and the ambiance was sublime.  I can't wait to go back.

Tea sandwiches (cucumber and goat cheese (forgot which kind), salmon sandwiches, egg salad, and ham with mango chutney).  The BEST scones in the world.  The raisins had been soaked in jasmine tea.  And incredible chocolate desserts and tarts.  Yum!

Hands down, the best meal ever was at a company Christmas party. This wasn't any old Christmas party; this particular party was held at my husband's (former) employer's home. This gentleman happened to be good
friends with one of the top chefs in the area and the chef came to the house and cooked the best food I've ever eaten in my life. We ate on china and drank out of wine glasses he brought in, and were served by waitstaff handpicked for the occasion. An amazing meal.

Restaurant Jean-Georges at 1 Central Park West, New York City. Unbelievably delicious!

I’ve bitten off my share of the Big Apple, enjoyed amazing meals in Paris, Rome, London, New Orleans, and San Francisco, but none of the noshes I’ve nibbled have compared to my late aunt Mary’s Thanksgiving dinner. Born in Italy, she brought her love of food to America, along with her giant bread board and fluted pastry wheel, and every November, she helped us all celebrate out blessings by serving foods from both lands. Mary’s incomparable Italian wedding zuppa with homemade mini-meatballs; her hand-rolled gnocchi; and her fragrant stuffing with Italian chestnuts joined a thirty-five pound turkey and it’s more familiar trimmings of mashed potatoes, gravy, and buttered green beans to make a meal I long to enjoy again. I can recreate these dishes, but they will never be quite the same as when my beloved aunt made them with her own two hands. As far as restaurant meals go, I've enjoyed so many that it's nearly impossible to narrow the field. Among the most memorable, however, was a dinner I savored one spring in Anchorage, Alaska, when Simon and Seafort’s kitchen served me the best dang salmon I ever tasted.

Always the best meal ever was at my grandmother's house on Christmas and I still serve it today to my family.  It's roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and string beans (sliced then by the end of a potato peeler) cooked in salt/butter water.  Apple pie with ice cream or icebox sugar cookies for dessert.  Granted, I have to make everything gluten-free for me now, but I still serve the family "the meal" and everyone looks forward to it.  Yum.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

There have been so to choose?  I think I'd have to nominate my first dinner in Paris:  boeuf bourgignon, followed by tarte Tatin for dessert, in a small bistro on the Left Bank (no, I'm not making this up).  I was a very conservative eater until my early twenties, and French food changed all that, fast.

I knew my palate had finally grown up when I found myself enjoying a country pate with whole-grain mustard and cornichons--and I had refused to eat liver, mustard or pickles at all up until then.

Gorgonzola stuffed gnocchi in a hole in the wall restaurant in Florence, Italy with tiramisu and espresso for dessert. Oh, and the carafe of house wine (red) that went with was delightful, too. Sigh...Jenn

I don't think I've ever had a bad meal in Paris. But I couldn't possibly narrow it down to ONE best meal, no matter if it's in the US, Europe, or wherever I've been. I've been fortunate over the years to travel widely and enjoy it and have dined well so many times I've lost count. Calories be damned. :)

Some of the best meals I've ever eaten, I cooked. (My grandfather was a chef and my grandmother was a baker). Because of my health problems, I don't cook much anymore but a few of my faves are the Chicken Fricasse (sp?) from McCall's Cooking School made with cream and topped with herbed biscuits (McCall's Cooking School is 3 huge 3 ring binders of  recipes I collected back in the 70s. I am missing some of them as it was one of those "recipes of the month deals" and I quit collecting too early--grrr). I also have the family recipe for Sauerbraten, red cabbage and German potato salad, finished off with strudel. These recipes were handed down from my grandfather (born in Germany). We often have it on Christmas as it a pretty labor intensive meal and I can get some help in the "German" kitchen from my grown kids. That's probably my favorite.

Now it's your turn!  What was the best meal you ever had and where was it?


  1. I have two different meals .. both were at my house as I am always having the family here for the holidays.

    I make a dish called Pork Mornay. It is delish. The other meal I make is my meat sauce, homemade pasta, meatballs, sausage. I make my own antipasta salad and garlic bread. Add some of my chicken cutlets and you got a wonderful meal.

  2. I am happy to share the Pork Mornay recipe if anyone wants it :)

  3. Oh my gosh, all your meals sound amazing! Can't believe Sheila never ate mustard or pickles--what a breakthrough you had!Leeann, would love to try the chicken fricassee--and Mary's homemade gnocchi! I did have an amazing, crispy roast chicken in Paris, and the best ever pizza in Rome, and Greek salad in the East village, and a lobster dinner cooked Italian style at the Jersey shore...and fish tacos in Key West!

  4. These sound wonderful! I hate to say it, but the best meals I've had were at Southern funerals...what a terrible thing to admit! But the ladies who bring food--comfort food--for families and friends after the services are always absolutely amazing cooks.

  5. Krista - This is a wonderful post that you put together. Thank you for letting us share our foodie memories.

    Elizabeth/Riley - Southern, and now that you mention it, you're right. I have enjoyed amazing home cooking after funerals.

    Lucy - I could go for that Jersey shore lobster dinner tonight. :)

    BusyMom - Pork Mornay recipe - I've never had this; count me in.

    ~ Cleo

  6. BusyMom, if you would be willing to send your Pork Mornay recipe to me (Krista at KristaDavis dot com), I would love to make it and post it here!

    ~ Krista

  7. along Cleo's same thoughts my favorite meal was my mom's oven fried chicken, macaroni salad with her spice cake with mocha frosting. Can I make all these things? they taste the same as hers...nope. Mine always miss the secret ingredient..her abidng love for her family. Oops...I also forgot her turkey dressing...the Thanksgivng after her passing my late husband was doing a fellowship at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. I stayed back here (in Michigan) because I had a teaching job that was our only income...I was intent to recreate her T'giving meal in his little tiny dorm kitchenette. So there I was dashing to the airport with a 15 lb turkey and all the fixings loaded in a box. Little did I know that it was the busiest travel day of the year...but I made it!!! The next morning I stood over a bowl of oven dried white bread, loading it with sage, onion and bacon...sobbing...missing my mom. That year and that year only...some 20 + years later the dressing was perfect. Thanks Mom...

  8. Everyone, thanks for the memories! Nanc....that brought tears to my eyes.

  9. I would be happy to share. I will send it to you :)