I was cleaning out my handbag today and I came across this:
It’s the menu from a delicious degustation dinner I recently partook of at a very nice restaurant called Harvest in North Fremantle. The degustation started with a Wagyu Beef Bresaola with pumpernickel puree, herb paste and pickled turnip, and finished with a deconstructed chocolate pudding. In between there was a wealth of other delicious courses. And the matching wines – Lordy me, the wines! I used to work as a waitress in a very trendy cocktail and cigar bar in Melbourne. A Spanish sherry called Pedro Ximinez was very popular, as I recall. And during my degustation I got to try that (delicious!), and fine champagne, and an aromatic pinot grigio, and….well, let’s just say by the second course I was feeling a bit more merry than was strictly necessary.
Luckily, I was being treated to this gourmet extravaganza, as glorious foodie experiences like this don’t come cheap. But that is exactly the point. Dinners like this aren’t just dinners. They transcend the act of filling the stomach, they even transcend the criteria for a delicious meal. Really extraordinary dinners like the one I had at Harvest are an experience, an event, a theatre of incredible tastes and ingredients and textures. The chef, the produce, and the atmosphere combine to give a virtuoso performance, and the memory lingers long after the last spoonful of chocolate pudding and sip of Pedro Ximinez have slid down a happy and full Diarist’s gullet.
Anyway, all this got me to thinking about all my other great food memories. Funnily enough, I realised that most of them don’t come from great restaurants. They are more like links that take me back to a place or a time and remind me of a feeling or a person as well as whatever I was eating. Here’s a brief list:
Cheese Straws: my grandma used to make these for me when I stayed with her on the weekends. They were made of cheesy shortcrust pastry, and there would be about 5 ‘straws’ or strips of pastry, encased in another circle of baked pastry. I thought they were magic. (My grandma’s were way cooler than this photo).
Croquembouche: My mother is an ambitious cook. Sometimes too ambitious. She would spend hours making her version of croquembouche, right down to attempting the spun sugar. Just between you and me, it wasn’t always a success, but I hugely admired her for trying. My mother’s wasn’t quite like this photo.
Masala Dosa: Ah, the masala dosa at Chotiwala Restaurant in Rishikesh, India. A gigantic wafer-thin pancake made of fermented lentil flour batter, curled around the most delicious potato and spice curry, with a coconut relish and the tastiest dahl in the universe. Eating it was like a meditation in taste and texture. I had one every day. Sometimes two.
Green Chicken Curry: If you have not yet been to Thailand, you have to go ASAP. For the food, if nothing else. Authentic Thai food is the most delicious, freshest, most fragrant, feel-good cuisine ever. And the green chicken curry on the island of Koh Chang was the most transcendent curry I have eaten in my entire life. I had one every day. Sometimes two.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I love good food. Good food loves me (sometimes a little too much). Speaking of which, one of these days, I really should update you on how The Molesworth Diarist’s Winter Festival of Exercise and Healthy Eating is coming along. But not today. I’ve got a leek, pea, and pancetta risotto simmering on the stove and a small bar of Lindt chocolate for dessert. Bon appetit!