How often are important questions asked and vital decisions made over good meal? Isn’t it so true that the perfect dining situation can be the right moment to say ‘Will you marry me’, ‘let’s make this official’ or ‘shall we start a family?’. For me there have been several meals that have been memorable whether for the amazing location, the fantastic food or a life changing decision made.
1. Ticking off the bucket list
The list of restaurants that I want to visit is about as long as my arm but topping the list had long been The French Laundry in Yountville, Napa Valley. When we visited Napa Valley on our honeymoon I was determined to get a reservation at the legendary and much sought after restaurant. I tasked the rather excellent concierge at our hotel, Calistoga Ranch, with getting us a reservation and when an affirmative email pinged into my inbox you can imagine my joy!
Me: ‘OMG we have a reservation at The French Laundry…but it’s a 5.30pm’
Mr S: ‘What’s The French Laundry? And I don’t want to go for dinner at 5.30’
Me: ‘Trust me, if you get a reservation at The French Laundry, you take it!’
If you haven’t heard of it, The French Laundry has three Michelin stars and has frequently been ranked one of the best in the world. Thomas Keller’s renowned restaurant has the most glorious location in rural Yountville inside a beautifully rustic cottage, service is another level and the nine course tasting menu is utterly sublime.
After seven savoury courses, about gazillion desserts and a bottle of champagne, we left feeling very, very full but incredibly happy after the most wonderful experience at this gastronomic temple.
2. Unique Dining Companions
One of the most amazing hotels that I’ve ever stayed in is Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Thailand. This beautiful hotel, in the heart of the jungle in Chiang Rai, lies adjacent to an elephant sanctuary and from our amazing tented suite we could view the elephants in their own habitat, bathing and playing with each other. The hotel offers some of the most incredibly unique experiences so that we could interact with the elephants and feed them their breakfast.
Even more special was a unique private dining experience that the hotel organised for us at the Elephant camp. Dinner started with a greeting from those beautifully graceful gentle giants…
Before we were led to a table made up on the grass, surrounded by twinkling lights, a fire and special live music just for us. With a menu tailored by the chef, and several other magical experiences after dinner, it really was a meal of a lifetime.
3. An Incredible Setting
During our time in French Polynesia, Mr S and I stayed on the beautiful vanilla scent isle of La Taha at Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa.
Though we’ve had some amazing private dinners on the beach and in beautiful settings, nothing quite compared to this!
And outrigger canoe took us across to our own private islet where a table was set up for us to enjoy a five course dinner. As we sat eating the food we were serenaded by a traditional Polynesian band, but the band kept on getting bigger and bigger. Soon dancers joined to further enhance the entertainment and it wasn’t long before we had our own personal fire dancer.
At one point I counted around 14 people there for our entertainment on our own private island! I don’t think it get much better than that.
Another truly beautiful dinner setting was once again in Thailand at Four Seasons Chiang Mai. This beautiful hotel has unique location on a rice field on the Mae Rim valley, around half hour outside the city…
Our incredible private dining experience took place in the Rice Barn where we enjoyed the most amazing five course meal right by the rice paddies and the hotel’s lake.
A menu created just for us, a private waiter and a beautifully decorated table with the sounds of traditional Thai music in the back ground even further enhanced this experience.
After dinner we released a Krathong or a traditional banana leaf into the pond whilst making a romantic wish. When we got back to our villa, and incredible turn down of rose petals adorned the room…the night couldn’t have been more magical.
4. A Gastronomic Dream Come True
Regular readers will know that my all time favourite cuisine is Japanese food so one of my dreams was eating authentic sushi in Japan. After our emotional journey to Tokyo, Mr S and I arrived tired and fraught ready to sink into our beds at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. It was that night, our first in Tokyo, that we would be eating at the hotel’s restaurant, Sushi Sora, our first taste of real Japanese sushi.
Needless to say we were in foodie heaven and kept looking at each other saying ‘this is amazing’….Each piece of fish was cut so finely with the smallest amount of rice and a brush of soya sauce. With only around eight other people in the restaurant, the sushi master could prepare each piece with total precision creating mini masterpieces on our plates.
Another amazing meal experience in Tokyo was visiting the Tsukiji fish market, it’s the world’s largest fish market and popping down there for a sushi breakfast is an absolute must.
Though we didn’t make it to the famous Daiwa sushi, as we weren’t willing to come to the market at 5am to queue, but we were still bowled over by what was probably the fresh sushi that we ever tasted at a place called Sushizanmai
5. A Life Changing Moment
I’ve blogged before about the day Mr S proposed to me but I wanted to include it in this post as the most memorable meal of my life. We were on a five week trip in Australia and after a rainy Christmas day we had a rather exciting Boxing Day to look forward to.
We’d booked a seaplane to take us to a gorgeous restaurant and boutique hotel called Jonah’s on a cliff top in Whale Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. After a delicious meal and copious champagne we headed outside to take in the beautiful view of the ocean below and that was the moment that Mr S asked me to be his wife and to be with him forever.
More champagne, some tears and lots of smiles later… you couldn’t have had a more happy pair!
One thing I noticed when putting together this blog post is that I didn’t actually include many photos of food! Of course food is very important but what makes a meal truly memorable is the person that you spend it with and the feelings it evokes. What are you most memorable meals and why?
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