The Best Thing You Ever Ate...

Steali…errr…borrowing from the TV show, what are the best things you ever ate? Food that makes you moan and groan even if you’re by yourself.

Grandma’s Okinawan pig’s feet soup Okinawa donuts (deep-fried balls of doughy goodness). My grandmother would call my Dad whenever she made pig’s feet soup (I didn’t realize the name was literal until I was older) and my Mom would sigh (she’s from Mainland Japan), but my Dad and I would rush over to have a bowl. Her donuts were good hot (though I rarely was there when she was cooking them) and even better when cold. For the longest time, I though they were supposed to be slightly stale and oily and even now will let a fresh batch sit for a couple of days to remind me of Grandma’s.

Swordfish or Marlin sashimi - Can never remember which one, but I was told it was the one that didn’t require deep sea fishing. My cousin used to go fishing every weekend and out give up part of his share. After I while I’d try everything as sashimi before I cooked the rest. Oily, smooth and the best sashimi I ever had.

Homemade prime rib - I absolutely love prime rib and tried a $50 one which was the best until I made my own. The roast wasn’t anything special and I accidentally severely undercooked it, as in the middle was raw and just heated through. I ate it by myself and couldn’t stop talking to myself as I ate it. I had a second piece the next day, but because I had to warm and cook it a bit, it lost some of the magic from the day before.

Rainbow Cake - Unique to Dee-Lite bakery in Hawaii, this super light triple layered cake (guava, passion fruit and lime) with whipped cream frosting is my go to dessert when I’m feeling down. Dobash is my favorite cake, but only a Rainbow Cake from Dee-Lite can perk me up!

The 20 oz. bone-in ribeye at Delmonico. Charred on the outside, still mooing on the inside.

The boat captain had 200 lobster houses. We had lobster and eggs for breakfast. BBQ lobster for lunch. and Dinner.

It was incredible. I had never filled up with lobster until this day.

Many good, even great foods, but Unagi (sushi) is a slice of heaven on a ball of rice.

My Grandmothers red sauce by far.
Second would be a pheasant I had once if a French restaurant.

Of the food I’ve cooked myself the wonderful ribeye steak I had the other week comes pretty high. But I’ve had some seriously excellent cooking which makes that pale in comparison.

Probably the one meal I really remember, 30 years later, was some salmon sashimi I had in Kanazawa, Japan. It was in a small, unremarkable sushi shop, but the secret was they had their own fishing boat, and that fish had been caught by them that day. The difference between that perfectly fresh sashimi, and any other sushi or sashimi I have ever had, was a revelation to me.

I have had lots of really good meals over the years, and I think the reason that meal was so memorable was the blank, unholy surprise of how much better it was than I expected.

In 1996, I took my parents on their first trip abroad to the UK. We visited the Cotswolds and my stepmom had a particular wish to see Upper and Lower Slaughter. We hiked out from Upper, ambled to Lower and after poking around for awhile, returned to Upper. Just as we arrived, rain began to sluice down. Seeking refuge, we ducked into a beautiful hotel: The Lords of the Manor.

We arrived past their regular meal hours but the kind staff took pity on the weary, wet travelers and extended their bar lunch menu. I ordered a dish of homemade tagliatelle with wild mushroom sauce. A glass of excellent white wine to accompany. It was so simple, but dizzying perfection. I have since devoted much effort to replicate this dish but have only come close. I guess it wasn’t so simple after all.

As we left, we walked down the path back to our car and I spied a perfectly ripe pear on one of their trees. Plucked it and ate it for dessert. Bliss!!

Dinner at ***Texas de Brazil ***

The cold bar was great, the Lobster bisque was sublime…The meat…Oh the Meat!! and it kept coming and coming.

I left with a true case of the “Meat Sweats”. Would have had a third bowl of Bisque but the lamb was too good.

Growing up in the midwest in the 60s, a “really great steak” was always built up as the ultimate dish.

But now that I’m much more mature, with more refined tastes (and healthier tastes; an almost-vegan-at-times)… I assumed I’d find something better, something greener, maybe even trendy.

Nooope. It was a rare filet mignon that sent me into a transcendent state of being.
…At Disneyworld, of all places (mom had to go there for her 90th, but just for the chefs) (fyi, the steak was at the restaurant at The Yacht Club hotel).

I never liked lamb. Always struck me as tough and stringy. But then I had the most divine lamb in a Muslim restaurant in Shanghai. I’ll never forget it; bursting with flavor and as tender as cotton candy. Had another one almost as good, years later, in New Orleans.

My sister’s Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Tiramisu (my daughter makes a really great one)

Years ago, I was attending a conference in Tampa, FL. Outside my hotel room windows was a billboard for Charley’s, with a picture of a nice steak. Every day for a week I looked at the billboard, and, it being a time where I didn’t want to go to a restaurant by myself because I considered it “loserish”, I didn’t go.
Finally, the last night arrived and I made a decision to go anyway, because I just couldn’t stand to look at that sign anymore.
I ordered the New York Strip and when the waiter asked how I wanted it, I replied with the only thing I knew at the time, learned from my parents - “Medium Well”

The waiter told me “Sorry, we don’t serve steaks Medium Well here, the most cooked we have is Medium” so I order it “Medium”. It was the best steak I had ever had in my life up to that point. Now, steaks I cook myself are better, but as far as restaurant quality, it was the best.

A meatball.

Vietnamese egg rolls are always the first thing I think of when this kind of question comes up.

Fresh uni from Santa Barbara. I have to close my eyes when I eat it so that no other sensory input will interfere with the experience. It’s like ingesting a sweet-tasting tidepool from the Monterey Peninsula.

Ginger dressing salad. Unfortunately my local place’s version of the dressing is so thin that a lot of it lands at the bottom of the bowl, and I often sip it afterward because it tastes so good!

Broccoli simmered in wine is up there too. Add some salt, some onion for variety, and peanuts to make it a satisfying meal, and it is amazing.

A local Chinese restaurant made the best Hot and Sour Soup I ever had. It went out of business two years ago and I have yet to find a Chines place that make a soup as good as theirs was. The rest of their food was great as well-the crab rangoons, the fried rice, the sweet and sour chicken. Every one in my family misses how good their food was.

There’s also a local place that uses a brick oven to make wood fired pizza that’s the best pizza I’ve ever had.

Dinner at Le Fou Frog. I can still remember the steak au poivre and the raspberry chocolate mousse. Unbelievable.

Better yet, two meatballs.