Pony Party: Best Meals Ever!

Cross-posted at GOS.

Last week, my Pony Party covered the unsavory topic of Worst Meals Ever. Kossacks shared their horror stories which made my experiences pale by comparison: from something that resembled shaved, boiled hamster to turkey testicles and slugs in hot chili garlic sauce, I was repeatedly amazed by how many dreadful food experiences we’ve had.

These memories clearly continue to make us shudder with revulsion. But, I thought, we must also have memories of some stellar meals; I was not alone in this belief. So, join me on the flip side for a synopsis of some of my favorite meals.

Anyone who mentions fish soaked in Drano runs the risk of being TRd!***

With that basic ground rule established, we can now attend to the task at hand: what’re the best meals you’ve ever had?

I love certain aromatic foods (preferably without benzene). Our sense of smell, of course, contributes significantly to taste. The mere smell of some foods and spices make me nostalgic for particular occasions, whether it is a holiday feast or romantic evening with my hubby. Not surprisingly, some of my fondest memories from such special occasions.

Another great memory is from a visit to Europe with my mom a few years ago – this was her first trip to Europe. We really stretched our wallets to make the trip happen, but I have no regrets for burning a bit of plastic in this case; my mom died the following winter, so this trip was her only opportunity to visit Europe. Carpe diem, indeed.

In any event, we did go on the trip, and ate our way from Paris to Rome. In particular, one restaurant, Cafè de Paris, on Via Veneto, a grand avenue that was once the Roman hotspot for the rich and beautiful, stood out for their exquisite cuisine and impeccable service, even though it was clear that we were not affluent jet-setters.

I’ve also had the opportunity to visit some phenomenal restaurants for work. We have an expense account of $60 per person, which sounds great, but really doesn’t get you far in Vancouver, if you include a bottle of wine. Even so, I’ve enjoyed being able to try a number of really outstanding restaurants. My favorite is Vij’s, which takes a modern twist on Indian cuisine. Their menu includes delights such as saag-paneer and lentil, fennel and zucchini dumplings in pomegranate curry and wine-marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on spinach potatoes. Contrast that with our conversations here last Monday!

***Just kidding! I think…



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  1. How’re you doing?

    • pfiore8 on December 17, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    my father’s food. whenever you think you’ve hit the best meal of your life, he turns around and makes something simple, like pasta with red sauce that blows you away. me? i eat and hum because i don’t know how else to express it, it tastes soooooooooooo  good.

    but there is one meal that stands out. there were about 10 of us around dad’s 1930s mahogany table on a saturday night. the holidays around the corner… i remember wearing red heels (this was several years ago and i say this because red heels are not a NEW fucking trend like they’re making it out to be this season, but i digress)…

    anyway. the dinner. killer pasta with red sauce, tuscan chicken (oil olive, salt, pepper in the oven til falling off the bone then fresh lemon juice squeezed on it out of the oven).  steamed greens (escarole or spinach) with butter, salt, and pepper. a wedge of iceberg lettuce and french dressing.

    well, we were falling over ourselves. simple dinner and yet the flavors were so good, it made us giddy (although several bottles of wine added to the sense of fun and well-being).

    but it wasn’t just the food. dining seems to me to be a 3600 experience. it’s ambience and food and company and background music or noise. and that night, the lights settled just right in the room. the chemistry among the guests was sparkling, and yes, the food pulled us all together.

    amazing and memorable evening.

  2. I like eating, and I like a restaurants that try to have a distinctive look even when it fails. Case in point, a local restaurant from a well known family that does Italian. This particular son has a liking for seafood and talent for doing it, a girlfriend and I ate out on the sidewalk in the summer and loved it, but the inside looked like a post modern dance club and I hated it! It was trying to hard to be hip and frankly you can’t put the words “Memphis” and “hip” in the same sentence, well you can but only when talking about great music, not fashion,art, design, or restaurants.

    I ate a to die for roast suckling pig in Madrid more than 20 years ago that really influenced me because I thought good food only happened in overtly fancy restaurants at that time.

    • odillon on December 17, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    for my sister and her 31 year old daughter, both with December birthdays, was pretty darn good. Nothing like the menus you are mentioning here but more comfort food.

    I made one of their favorites, chicken paprikash, from a recipe a college friend, Kaylyn, made back in the 60’s for a party she had. Her husband was getting his Ph.D. in astronomy at OSU, that’s Ohio, and she was the smartest women I’d ever met, putting him through school running the Commerce Library where I worked for a time. It was my first time to ever have that dish.

    Chicken Paprikash is best made with some bacon renderings–and a little olive oil and butter help. Interestingly, none of the recipes I googled used bacon. Kaylyn used all bacon fat–it was the sixties!

    Saute many sliced onions in bacon fat before adding the chicken pieces which you can sprinkle with flour, salt and a little pepper in the pan. I add lots of paprika (1 T.) after the chicken has browned nicely. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup water depending on amount of chicken and simmer gently on low with a lid askew for 45 minutes. Add dollops of sour cream, stir and heat, but do not boil. Serve on egg noodles.

    Green beens sauteed in just a bit of butter go well with this.

    Dessert last night was a homemade carrot cake complete with pineapple, and toasted walnuts with toasted coconut atop the cream cheese frosting.

    Kaylyn’s dessert, the first time I’d had it, was vanilla ice cream with defrosted Birdseye raspberries. One of the best things ever invented I guess.

    • RiaD on December 17, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    MrD & I took our first real vacation (no kids, no dogs) to Puerto Rico for two weeks. (I wanted him to see blue water, & no visas/passports or changing currency was necessary) We stayed in San Juan the first night & went to a little place called The Greenhouse. When we walked in I knew it was the right place…it smelled just like Gramma’s 🙂 I had black beans & rice with an avocado salad, MrD had picadillo over saffron rice…we shared platanos & had cafe con leche… Excellent- just like Gramma’s!

    The next morning we took a puddle jumper to a little island off the coast- Culebra. After we got our rental car we went to the panaderia for some late breakfast. They had cubano sandwiches that tasted like heaven- pork, chicken, cheese & ??? then squashed in a waffle press thingey. We hd ice cold guanabana nectar to drink. We sat on the curb eating our breakfast, chickens were running around, a couple guys rode by on their horses calling out Buenos dias…the sky was periwinkle and the air was sparkling.

    When we left Culebra we spent two days in Old San Juan site seeing (& buying herbs & food to take home) We spent one morning seeing El Morro (huge old castle) and asked some guy where we could find a restaurant, as it was late-siesta time. He walked us to Sams- famous for their hamburgers! Well, it was the neatest little place… there was a bar up front, then you go thru like a hallway (but there are 4 sm tables there) and then out into a charming tiled courtyard! 2 story all the way around (the owners house) about 12-15 tables and huge potted bouganvilla & palms… and a lovely old waterfountain. We did get hamburgers & laughed about not waiting to get back to the states….& they were the best damn hamburgers I’ve ever eaten…no kidding!Big & thick, perfectly cooked, juicy… They said they get their beef from two ranchers in PR and they are field raised…

    and flan….mmmmm

    and amazing drinks–Bushwackers (equal parts- rum, vodka, amaretto, kahlua, irish cream, coco lopez)

    thes are the best meals I’ve ever eaten

  3. one has for a meal greatly increases just how much one remembers it as well, a charming companion or just somebody enthusiastic about trying something new makes a big difference. My mother will try just about anything and I have a few friends who are like that.

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