I cannot name one dish that so dominates my gastronomic adventures (neither can those chefs, really), but in the spirit of the game: warm crusty sourdough bread with Stilton and a ripe beefsteak tomato, perhaps a drizzle of good balsamic and maybe a slice of double smoked bacon. Glass of Malbec or Carmenere.
Perhaps not necessarily the best, but the most memorable:
As a teenager, a high school lover and I were in San Fransisco on Fisherman's Wharf. We bought a wheel of warm, freshly baked, pre-scored sourdough bread and a pound of freshly steamed prawns in a paper bag from a street vendor. A bite of sour dough followed by a bite of prawn while watching the Sea Lions play, smelling the salt air, having to stay close in order to keep the wind and chill away, and being very much in love was absolutely wonderful!
Seafood Category: ~~~ Raw Oysters at The Ranchero In of all places, Clarksdale Ms. in the Mississippi Delta. I had ordered the KC Strip Special and the owner's daughter/owner ask me if I liked raw oysters..."Yep, Sure do"! ...We just got in a shipment from Abbyville (Louisiana) would you like to try them?..."Yep! Sure would"!...Bring me a 1/2 Dz....After the fourth oyster, I asked the daughter if I could cancel the KC Special and order more oysters..."Yep, sure can"...3 1/2 dozen later I left a happy camper...Ice cold, very plump and briney...Awesome. Never before nor since have I eaten Oysters that were that good!!
The very first chocolate truffle. I was working in a bakery and the owner/baker decided to make his own truffles and sell them. I watched the entire process and at the end he gave me one truffle to taste...it was heaven and I've been trying to get back there ever since, flavor-wise.
Seafood Category ~~~ Pure unadulterated Maine Lobster...then drowned in lemon butter . Must be cooked so it's tender and juicy. There's nothing worse than tough, dry, expensive Lobster.
Accompany this with a fabulous white wine like a 2007 French Pouilly Fuisse by Louis Jadot. It says "White Burgundy" on the label which sounds like a contradiction in terms to me. I've heard it referred to as a Chardonnay also.
Just as fresh oysters were to Anthony Bourdain and Sole Meuniere was to Julia Child, the meal that was my epiphany to refined food was an unforgettable dinner of French onion soup and herb-encrusted rack of lamb at the Le Meridien Hotel in New York back in the mid-1990's.
Summer squash salad with candied pine nuts, sliced fluke with pickled pearl onion, and steamed pork buns from Momofuku in NYC. The flavour combinations were amazing, I was completely blown away. I think it was then I became a devoted foodie!
Omigosh! There have been sooooo many "best" things I've eaten that I can't say only ONE.
However, I would have to say that my introduction to some of the most awesome gourmet food would have to have been when my father took me to the Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans when I was 13.
The dining room was like a movie set and I felt like a queen when we were seated at a beautifully draped table that was set with beautiful china, glassware and silverware...even a few fresh flowers.
I can remember like it was yesterday what I had:
tiny roasted Cornish game hen with wild rice stuffing
green beans almondine
I'd never seen anything so amazing in my young life and I was in heaven when I took my first taste of the tender, sweet little bird.
My daddy loved good food and guided my menu choice that night. I've always had a special place in my cooking repertoire and my heart for Cornish game hens.
Sadly, my daddy died when I was 24, but that memory is still crystal clear and as sweet as the little hen was.