Some were great because of the food.
Some were great because of the time, place and people.
Some were great because I was introduced to a new culinary experience.
Chicken with orange sauce.
My cousin Julie had been married the previous day to then-husband Phil. I guess I was about 9 years old. They were flying out of Melbourne to their honeymoon. In those days it was unusual to take an international honeymoon. Most of the extended family, including my parents and I went to the airport to see them off and it was decided by the adults to have lunch at the fancy restaurant at Tullamarine Airport.
There were lots of things on the menu which seemed unusual to me and I finally decided on Chicken Maryland with orange sauce. When my meal arrived I recall my wonder that there was a sauce other than tomato, that there was a sauce you could make from a fruit and how deliciously piquant citrus was with chicken.
Kill a lamb one day, eat it roasted the next.
My Uncle and Aunt ran a dairy farm and I was a regular childhood visitor. There was also a small flock of sheep on the farm which were reared for eating. One day when I was 12 or so it was time for me to see how the sheep was killed and butchered. One of the lambs was tied up and killed by having its throat slit, then my Uncle went through the butchering process until it was a bare carcass. The carcass was covered in a cotton bag and hung overnight in the big tree. The next morning after milking-time the lamb was brought down and my Uncle cut it up. Roast leg of fresh lamb for dinner. No illusions about where the food comes from. It was delicious with a fresh mint sauce.
Chateau de Troja, Prague.
June. Prague summer. It was at a corporate function for dinner. First there was a tour through the Baroque chateau, including the magnificently frescoed stables. Then, on an evening of beautiful weather, down the sculpted staircase to the parterre where tables were set for about 200 people. We sat at a table with some Finns who could not speak any English. I can't remember what we ate, but I remember eating it in the garden of a palace.
.(photo by Guillaume Cattiaux. Used with his kind permission)
More details about the Chateau de Troja here.
Victor's Cafe 52, New York.
We were on our way to New York. A friend recommended Victor's - which specialises in Cuban food. Never had Cuban food before. It was July. New York is HOT in July. The streets smell as the garbage rots. I telephoned for a reservation and the restaurateur told me that the air conditioning was not working and the restaurant would therefore be hot, but if we still wanted to come we would be very welcome. Seemed fair enough to me. If it was too hot, we could leave. Walked past Gallagher's Steak House and the window of their cold larder filled with gigantic cuts of beef. Got to Victor's. The door was propped open and large electric fans circulated the air. Our friend told us to order Mohitos and Champagne empanadas.
Had my first Mohito. Tick the box. But there was no sign of Champagne empanadas on the menu. We asked, we got. They were exquisite.
Le Café Marly at Le Louvre.
Here, position is everything.
When you sit down with your lovely wife at Café Marly , in the Richelieu wing of The Louvre you look out at I.M. Pei's pyramids. You sit on stylishly covered chairs and are attended by waiters who speak English. You drink an expensive, though excellent cup of coffee and take a pastry. You are not dreaming. You are a lucky man.
I have a few more memorable meals to write about. Soon.