I don’t know why, but this post has been slow to form in my brain! It’s about food, and I love food, so I’m a little surprised that I’ve found it as challenging as I have. For days, I’ve been reviewing favorite meal time scenarios in my mind as I’ve been pounding out miles on the treadmill in preparation for running my second half marathon at the end of January. As if the running wasn’t making me hungry enough! The entire process of running and thinking about writing a food blog has surely been unproductive for my waste line!
As my sister once said to me, “we come from a long line of big butts”. My Southern family is the KING of spread preparers. Each holiday is marked by counter tops covered in HOMEMADE cakes, pies, casseroles, vegetables, pickles, platters of fried turkeys, chicken and baked hams. Family meals have always been one of my favorite occasions and I’m excited there is one on the horizon. However, there have been a few meals outside of my home place that stand out above the rest. They have been more than simply meals with good food. They have been dining experiences.
There are two common themes with all of them. One is that they’re always with my sister, and the second is that they have always been in London. I’m pretty sure that everything cool in my closet was a gift from my sister, and I’m 100% positive that all of my best food experiences were gifts from her as well. Dining with her is what I look forward to most when I’m heading across the pond. Not only does she feed me well at home, but we always go out for some kind of treat meal. People are all the time talking about how crappy the food there is, and I can never relate! They just need my sisters guidance. That is all.
Over the years that she’s lived there, we’ve eaten at some famous London eateries: Rules, the oldest restaurant in London, with our Dad; The Ivy, with our Mom (one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth, tomato basil gnocchi, was that meal), Nobu, and Jaime Oliver’s Fifteen (this was before he was the mega-superstar he is today, and I had monkfish. It must have been good for me to remember it). But two others, found off the beaten path, will forever hold special places in my heart.
Le Relais de Venise serves only one meal. Hundreds of times per day. The limited menu of steak and frites, allows them to serve the finest quality, grass fed, French beef, and the only decision you have to make is which bottle of wine to go with. And the best part. . . you get SECONDS OF THE BEEF!!!! When I was there with my cousin, Scott, I commented as I watched servers passing around seconds of the fries, that the only thing that could make the experience any better was if they also brought around seconds of the BEEF! Moments later, our server brought out a sizzling, smaller portion of the buttery filet. The simplicity of the meal, in a beautiful atmosphere, made it one I will never forget.
And lastly, if you’ve ever heard me talk about my favorite food, you have likely heard me talk about, La Fromagerie. It is my own personal heaven on this gorgeous earth. A European cheese shop at its’ heart, this little farm style eatery, just a few blocks from Le Relais de Venise, serves a huge selection of fresh cheeses unlike any cheese you can find in the States. Seating is limited to only a couple of long farm tables and a few bar stools, so there is always a wait. I like to duck into the stinky cheese room to get excited about the food I’m soon to enjoy. The ordering here, too, is simple. A cheese plate, a meat plate and then a choice of their five or six daily salad selections is all there is to offer. The one I’ll never forget, and have never seen again, was a roasted rabbit and lentil salad. Sounds disgusting but it was a gastronomic delight unlike anything that has ever touched the lining of my stomach. I dream about that salad, and every trip to La Fromagerie makes for a dreamy day. I always leave there feeling alive and well.
I really love dining experiences. They generally always include good company, a good glass of red wine, an interesting atmosphere, and amazingly tasty morsels. With that combination, I don’t think you can wrong.