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Old 10-21-2007, 11:08 PM   #1
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So what are your "amazing" food experiences?

Most unusual, most memorable, most extravegant, whatever.

I'll start.

My work has taken me to a number of places around the world which, of course, has led to some interesting meals. A couple that come to mind:

Had fire roasted whole goat in the desert outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Was magnificent, felt like I was in a National Geographic magazine. Somewhere between lamb and pork. Didn't like SA but glad to say I have been there.

Had an amazing meal in a restaurant in an ancient castle (thousands of years!!) on a hill overlooking Ankara, Turkey. Was with a bunch of Turkish politicos. Main course was a braised lamb over an eggplant puree, accompanied by a ton of raki (hiccup). Also accompanied by some really fine Cuban cigars.

My last anniversary, spousal unit and I went to Seattle's take on the French Laundry. Place called Rover's. 13 course Grand Gustation. Totally over the top. Was a mortgage payment (most expensive meal I have ever paid for..$600) , but well worth it.

These are the first three that come to mind. There are others.

What are your amazing food experiences?

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Old 10-22-2007, 10:41 AM   #2
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Well, amazing to some is blah to another, but mine is memorable none-the-less.

I was a graduating middle schooler, many, many, many, years ago. For "my" graduation my mother decided we would have lobster. I had never tried it but wasn't picky. We drove to the importer, a shack on PCH in Huntington Beach that sold live Maine lobsters. They had three rows of tanks that were roughly knee high and the lobsters were just running around, oblivious to their upcoming fate. We picked out three. My mother brought out the saddest looking pot (that I now have in my shed because it doesn't fit in my cupboards) and then turned the lobsters on their backs and put the little 3 pounders asleep. The most memorable part, I ate the whole thing. My mom had my dad get me a 3 pounder just like them thinking I wouldn't eat it all. She was wrong.

And, yeah, some will say that doesn't qualify as amazing, but if I'm remembering it 30 years later, I think it's pretty amazing.
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Old 10-22-2007, 10:44 AM   #3
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Hmmmmmmm......does Burger King count?

Let’s see, the first time I had Escargot and Bananas Foster. The Escargot was excellent, and served in the shell with a rich butter sauce. Incredible and weird at the same time. Then the dinner was finished with a table side preparation of Bananas Foster which was very cool....especially considering my fascination with fire!

Other than that, there’s the first time I deep fried a turkey. The nervousness, the uncertainty, the near disaster with having too much oil in the pot so that it nearly boiled over! BUT, the turkey turned out great. IMO, it’s the best way to cook a turkey....the meat is simply incredible.

Then there are the childhood memories of the big cookouts with my grandfather running a huge homemade fire pit fired by large oak and hickory logs (no wimpy charcoal for him!). He would load that thing with meat on one side, and large pots for boiling crabs, shrimp, and crawfish on the other. Incredible.

And finally, all the off shore camping trips I used to do with my Dad. He’d take us about 10 miles off the coast to little deserted islands where we would camp overnight and cook our food in open fire pits. Some of he best grilled fish and crab I have ever had was on those beaches.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:14 AM   #4
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Hi qmax I have heard about the goat bbq and even more outlandish stuff (camel bbq) from family in SA. I think it must be an experience to remember. Here are some of mine, I would not call them extravagant but they were unique and I will cherish them for a long time to come:

India: A place called Vishala in Ahmedabad where they have created an old village type theme. You sit on a jute bed and eat under the stars in a thali (plate). Simple fresh food and an experience that cannot be beat.

Eygpt: Eat in an authentic Shwarma joint in Mohedeseen locale. It was great local food that you can't exactly get outside of Cairo. Also went to the Khan e Khalil market and ate at a popular restaurant there. The best kababs and falafel ever. The food on the Oberoi Philae (a Nile cruise ship) was also truly authentic and spectacular. The chef would take us inside the kitchen and we got to eat fresh eygptian flat bread and falafel as they were making it.

Austria: Loved eating at the little authentic restaurants dotted along the highways. The coffee and pastries (especially the apfelstrudle) which are so fundamental to that culture was great every time.

Amsterdam: Really great dutch pancakes. Tried them for breakfast. They were huge and talk about different toppings from apple to strawberries to pineapple. The pancakes were super thin and almost like a crepe. So good.

Paris: Food is good there period but I love the simple sucre crepe sold by the road stalls. I was there in December and it was chilly and to eat that warm crepe (steam still coming out) as you stroll through the beautiful locales of Paris was an experience I will remember for some time to come.

Hawaiin Luau: I don't eat pork so cannot enjoy the kalua pig but the other stuff was great and the experience for us was unforgettable.

Been to London and eaten good food (especially curry)there as well but the ones above stand out more.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:16 PM   #5
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Hi qmax I have heard about the goat bbq and even more outlandish stuff (camel bbq) from family in SA. I think it must be an experience to remember. Here are some of mine, I would not call them extravagant but they were unique and I will cherish them for a long time to come:

India: A place called Vishala in Ahmedabad where they have created an old village type theme. You sit on a jute bed and eat under the stars in a thali (plate). Simple fresh food and an experience that cannot be beat.

Eygpt: Eat in an authentic Shwarma joint in Mohedeseen locale. It was great local food that you can't exactly get outside of Cairo. Also went to the Khan e Khalil market and ate at a popular restaurant there. The best kababs and falafel ever. The food on the Oberoi Philae (a Nile cruise ship) was also truly authentic and spectacular. The chef would take us inside the kitchen and we got to eat fresh eygptian flat bread and falafel as they were making it.

Austria: Loved eating at the little authentic restaurants dotted along the highways. The coffee and pastries (especially the apfelstrudle) which are so fundamental to that culture was great every time.

Amsterdam: Really great dutch pancakes. Tried them for breakfast. They were huge and talk about different toppings from apple to strawberries to pineapple. The pancakes were super thin and almost like a crepe. So good.

Paris: Food is good there period but I love the simple sucre crepe sold by the road stalls. I was there in December and it was chilly and to eat that warm crepe (steam still coming out) as you stroll through the beautiful locales of Paris was an experience I will remember for some time to come.

Hawaiin Luau: I don't eat pork so cannot enjoy the kalua pig but the other stuff was great and the experience for us was unforgettable.

Been to London and eaten good food (especially curry)there as well but the ones above stand out more.

All, thanks for sharing.


You have me pretty jazzed on the India experience. I am currently engaged in a business venture there. So far though I have made to Mumbai for a total of 24 hours. This coming from Seattle.

Spousal unit and I have Paris on the agenda this coming spring.

London might have some of the best Indian food there is. Place I went to there had made a couple of mentions in Bon Appetit. Bombay Brasserie, right by Glouscester Road station. Utterly delicious, but not cheap.

Ever get to Harrod's food court? Foody heaven!

Follow up anecdote to the goat story. My party was being escorted to the Royal Saudi Air Force headquarters in Riyadh. Parked in front was a small, Toyota-esqe pickup. Had about a half dozen or so of the little goats you find in the Mid-East, with a cargo net over them. Our escort says "Hmmm..someone must be having a dinner party tonight."
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:22 PM   #6
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Well, amazing to some is blah to another, but mine is memorable none-the-less.

I was a graduating middle schooler, many, many, many, years ago. For "my" graduation my mother decided we would have lobster. I had never tried it but wasn't picky. We drove to the importer, a shack on PCH in Huntington Beach that sold live Maine lobsters. They had three rows of tanks that were roughly knee high and the lobsters were just running around, oblivious to their upcoming fate. We picked out three. My mother brought out the saddest looking pot (that I now have in my shed because it doesn't fit in my cupboards) and then turned the lobsters on their backs and put the little 3 pounders asleep. The most memorable part, I ate the whole thing. My mom had my dad get me a 3 pounder just like them thinking I wouldn't eat it all. She was wrong.

And, yeah, some will say that doesn't qualify as amazing, but if I'm remembering it 30 years later, I think it's pretty amazing.
If you remember it 30 years, that would qualify as amazing in my book. (especially if lobster are involved).

BTW - Huntington Beach, CA? or is there a Huntington Beach in Maine?
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:55 PM   #7
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Hi qmax, yes the Harrod's food halls are great. They are always crowded and bustling with people and the cheeses, fresh breads, pastries and chocolates are very good.

I like curry in U.K. but still it's not even remotely close to the real deal in India. The next time you make it to Mumbai and are staying for more than 24 hours send me a PT and I will recommend a few places.

I go there every year on business as well and the food is the best part
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:26 PM   #8
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Crabs

One of my most amazing food experiences occured 30 plus years ago in Homer Alaska. My family went camping all across the country in our VW camper. We put up our tent somewhere in Homer, I was pretty young then, so my memories are not so clear. What I do remember is that we rented a net for $5.00 a day and we sat by the water and literall hauled in crabs.,pounds and pounds of them. Then with our campfire ever burning, and the pot of water boiling, we boiled crabs morning , and noon, and evening....Nothing fancy or gourmet, but it will always be my fondest food memory!
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:42 PM   #9
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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!
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Old 10-22-2007, 02:09 PM   #10
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If you remember it 30 years, that would qualify as amazing in my book. (especially if lobster are involved).

BTW - Huntington Beach, CA? or is there a Huntington Beach in Maine?
Huntington Beach, CA, that's why I remember it. I even remember the smell of the lobster tanks.
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Old 10-22-2007, 02:12 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, 02:27 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, 02:36 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, 02:40 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, 03:18 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, 08:33 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, 08:54 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, 08:55 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, 09:07 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, 09:12 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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