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Old 10-22-2007, 03:12 PM   #11
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Mine is having fondue with my family as a kid on New Year's Day. It was a tradition that lasted for several years, and I always look back on those meals with warmness. I think the most memorable one was when we had a caramel fondue for dessert. YUM!
That sounds like a fun tradition! I love fondue. I have decided I need more than the one pot I have.
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Old 10-22-2007, 03:27 PM   #12
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I remember as a kid, my dad was stationed at the Naval Base in Anapolis, Maryland. We lived on base in apartments that backed up onto the Chesapeake Bay. There was a long pier and families were always crabbing. At night, everyone living in the apartments would go out back onto the beach and there would be huge pots on the brick pits filled with boiling crabs. Lots of slightly tipsy adults doing the limbo and twisting to Chubby Checkers. I can still to this day remember the taste of that fresh caught crab. Heaven. There was always lots of sides - whatever the commissary had on special - but I only remember eating crab until I couldn't manage one more bite.
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Old 10-22-2007, 03:36 PM   #13
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I remember as a kid, my dad was stationed at the Naval Base in Anapolis, Maryland. We lived on base in apartments that backed up onto the Chesapeake Bay. There was a long pier and families were always crabbing. At night, everyone living in the apartments would go out back onto the beach and there would be huge pots on the brick pits filled with boiling crabs. Lots of slightly tipsy adults doing the limbo and twisting to Chubby Checkers. I can still to this day remember the taste of that fresh caught crab. Heaven. There was always lots of sides - whatever the commissary had on special - but I only remember eating crab until I couldn't manage one more bite.
That’s my kind of party! We used to do something similar at the Marina were Dad docked our boat. Marina’s can be a sort of floating community, and the one we docked at had several regulars that actually lived on their boats. The intricate network of piers ran like a maze under the covered slips, and each slip had it’s own little pier and landing. People would set up little grills and boiling pots on the weekend, and you could walk up and down the main pier to chat and share foods with everyone. Good times!
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Old 10-22-2007, 03:40 PM   #14
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That’s my kind of party! We used to do something similar at the Marina were Dad docked our boat. Marina’s can be a sort of floating community, and the one we docked at had several regulars that actually lived on their boats. The intricate network of piers ran like a maze under the covered slips, and each slip had it’s own little pier and landing. People would set up little grills and boiling pots on the weekend, and you could walk up and down the main pier to chat and share foods with everyone. Good times!
Oh yes, I have a friend who has a boat and she describes weekend "food fests" at the marina that sound just like the ones at your Dad's. I keep trying to wrangle an invitation because it sounds wonderful!
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Old 10-22-2007, 04:18 PM   #15
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Oh yes, I have a friend who has a boat and she describes weekend "food fests" at the marina that sound just like the ones at your Dad's. I keep trying to wrangle an invitation because it sounds wonderful!
If you get the chance GO!!! Marina folks are awesome and very nice and inviting. And man do they know how to cook! A Marina party is an absolute blast; there's nothing else quite like it! If you ever go, take pictures so I can re-live it all vicariously!
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:33 PM   #16
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Most amazing food experiences:

*The absolutely trancendent beet-and-potato gnocchi in butternut squash sauce at Valentino in Santa Monica, CA. Sounds so simple, but it was utterly orgasmic. The rest of the meal wasn't too bad, either. (Which is to say that everything I ate that night was outrageously delicious.) The appetizer was this:"Culatello 'the king of prosciutto', Reggiano crackers, & Cremona’s mostarda di frutta." There was pasta with fresh white truffles, filet mignon in a perfect red wine sauce, and a 1971 Barolo. But honestly, it was the gnocchi that really drove me wild. (For dessert, of course, I took the cannoli. )

*Ten-course tasting menu at Michel Richard's Citronelle in D.C. Plus the penguins with the Osetra caviar. Champagne and a good Bordeaux. (I peeked at the check while the SO paid: $1200 including the usual extravagant tip.)

*The "set-o" meal at a little sushi bar near Tsukiji in Tokyo very early one morning, after being up all night and arriving around 4 am at the fish market to wander around and look at everything and watch the tuna auction. It was the only sushi bar that would let us in; the others were apparently not keen on gaijin as customers.

*The incredible skewered things at a yakitori place in Roppongi, Tokyo--especially the asparagus wrapped with some sort of paper-thin, deliciously fatty/crispy pork-belly product. mmm....I still dream about that sometimes.

*Dinner at the Hotori-An (Turtle Inn) in Nikko, Japan: Beef sukiyaki--the real deal. Thin slices of beef, slender enoki mushrooms and other vegetables that we cooked in broth in little hotpots at our table. When the beef was just cooked, we dipped it in raw egg and ate it. It was so good—and I felt all brave & native with the raw egg thing. For the first course, they’d given us a small trout, filleted but with the head and tail still attached, fried in a cornmeal coating, most likely caught in the lovely river that ran through the town, right past our hotel. We had sake (my companion said, “yum. Tastes like warm hairspray,” and I realized she was absolutely right), and a cute little muffin for dessert.

*Dinner at Scott Bryan's Veritas in NYC: My first taste of foie gras, first taste of skate (in a white wine-cream sauce with Osetra caviar)...and a 1991 Lafite Rothschild.

*First taste of Osetra caviar, on toast points with creme fraiche, at the Blue Point in Providence Rhode Island, many years ago.

*First taste of Indian food, during my year-long stint as a vegetarian, at a tiny, empty restaurant in Bangor, ME. Pakora, malai kofta, garlic naan, saag paneer, baignan bartha, rice pilau. I'd never imagined that vegetables could taste so freakin' good!

*An unbelievably scrumptious tofu dish (!) at a Chinese restaurant in the Pioneer Valley. I don't even think it was ordered off the menu, because the meal was part of an outing that included the entire Asian Studies Departments of Mount Holyoke and Smith, and so the teachers ordered everything in Chinese. I've never forgotten that dish, and I've never found anything that comes even remotely close to it in the 20 years since. I think I also had my first taste of loquats at the end of this meal--so hard to find, but one of my absolute favorite fruits!


*When I worked on San Clemente Island as a biologist: the predator-control boys would go out fishing and bring back fresh yellowtail. We'd slice it up and eat it raw, or roll it in sesame seeds and sear it lightly, or grill it over hot coals and make delicious fish tacos. Once they went over to Catalina and shot a wild boar, then came back and cooked it underground and served it with a kind of apple-raisin chutney. I dunno, there was just something kind of revelatory for me, originally a city kid, about eating freshly-killed food. The botanist on island once picked a whole bunch of ripe elderberries and made a fresh elderberry pie. I thought that was pretty amazing, too.

*I imagine my first taste of escargot was revelatory, too, but I don't remember it because I was only about two-and-a-half. My parents tell the story: At a restaurant somewhere in France, they both ordered escargots. I asked to try some. They told me I wouldn't like it. I was unrelenting, so they let me have a little taste, expecting me to spit it out. Instead, I polished off all the remaining snails on the table and then demanded more. Apparently the chef was sufficiently impressed by the waiter's tale of the puerile American gourmand that he came out of the kitchen to meet me.

There are more, but I need to stop now.

NOTE:
These "amazing food experiences" involve revelatory experiences in eating.

Meals that are memorable for other reasons (nostalgia, great company, etc.) would be a somewhat different list.

"Amazing food experiences" that involve some culinary triumph on my part would also be a different list....
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:54 PM   #17
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Wow! Interesting list.

Mrs qmax had one her nursing buddies routinely going to Uzbekistan to help kids with cancer (lot of that there, care of past Soviet nuclear activities). She was somewhat of a celebrity there so the local politicos would always be giving her gifts, which she would pass on to us. We had a regular pipeline of Osetra caviar (and really good vodka) from this lady for a number of years. She was bringing this to us in 1 kilo tins!!!

Tsukiji is a fascinating place.

Did you ever get to the yakitori place under the tracks in the Ginza? Sort of a semi-famous place, although I don't know anyone who knows the name of it.
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:55 PM   #18
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Nothin’ personal, but I find paying $600 or $1200 for a meal incredibly asinine and foolish. It’s not impressive, but it does impress upon one that some have no concept of money or fair value. For the most part, all you do is pay for the name of the restaurant or resident “chef”. No different than buying cookware endorsed by a celebrity chef….but obviously more expensive.

To each his own though, I suppose. Some don’t understand the desire to pay $1500 for an LCD TV when a regular CRT displays a good image. But at least with electronics you can objectively measure the difference. Still, I imagine a $400 Kobe steak grilled to medium rare would taste the same as the same cut bought from a vendor and grilled yourself for only $60 or less.

BUT….that’s just my opinion, say and do what you will.

I didn’t experience this myself, but one of the most amazing food stories I ever heard came from my now deceased FIL. He was in the military and stationed in Italy during WW2. He stayed near a small and impoverished village where the women washed clothes on a rock in a free running stream. He would often go to that village at night and socialize and have dinner. And his stories about open pit cooking, fire brick ovens, and kettle meals blow away anything I could ever hope to attain, no matter how much money I threw at it. You can’t buy stories or experiences like that. Sorry.

But, that is just my opinion….carry on!
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Old 10-22-2007, 10:07 PM   #19
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Nothin’ personal, but I find paying $600 or $1200 for a meal incredibly asinine and foolish. It’s not impressive, but it does impress upon one that some have no concept of money or fair value. For the most part, all you do is pay for the name of the restaurant or resident “chef”. No different than buying cookware endorsed by a celebrity chef….but obviously more expensive.

Well, it was my 23rd anniversary, and not something I would do routinely. That said, I would not ever pass up a chance to dine at El Bulli or the French Laundry, regardless of price.

Fair value is a relative term.
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Old 10-22-2007, 10:12 PM   #20
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I find it noteworthy and very cool that many of the experiences related here are founded in childhood and family.
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