Behind The Butter

the time I drank too much wine and got yelled at in french

You know what I love? A big plate of mussels in garlic and white wine sauce at a small Paris bistro.

You want to know what I also love? Laughing so hard it hurts while mistakenly eating goat instead of beef at a tiny Jamaican burger shack.

Oh, and I also really love diving into big plates of oysters drenched in buttery hot sauce somewhere on the Northern California coast.

A couple meals in my life have really stood out as being “extra memorable”. You know, the type of meal that’s perfect in every way, whether from the company, the place or the food itself.

The type of meal you know you’ll tell your future kids about and the type of meal that, if you close your eyes and concentrate, you can still taste.

The type of meal that just remembering makes you smile.

Today I would like to tell you about the above photo because that meal my mom and I shared in Paris was certainly one of my most memorable.

I had just turned twenty two and was studying abroad in Paris. My mom was visiting for a week, and for dinner one night we went to this tiny restaurant on Ile Saint Louis. We went because my mom remembered going with a girlfriend back when she was a flight attendant in the seventies and was in Paris on a layover.

The restaurant was dark and cave-like and when we ordered, the server brought out huge baskets of fresh vegetables, charcuterie and farm fresh eggs for us to build our own meal. And so we did.

For the next hour and a half, we drank cheap French wine and build gigantic salads with fresh romaine, red bell pepper strips and cucumber rounds. On the side, we ate salty strips of meat and stinky French cheese smeared on chewy, crusty bread. I was glowing in a way that only a twenty two year old girl in Paris for the first time can glow, and then after we left the restaurant I got confused and tried to go into the next door grocery shop through the narrow cashier’s exit.

And then I got yelled at by a little Frenchman and my mom and I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants.

And then I went in the store the right way, bought way too much chocolate, and then went to bed.

The End.

What’s one of your most memorable meals? Details, please!

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  • Taysa
    October 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    One of my most memorable meals was while camping on a spit in the Puget Sound. We only had room for one cooler in the boat that took us to our camp spot, so we filled it with Corona beer, lemons, and crab that had been caught and cooked by my friend’s mom earlier in the day. We consumed it all around the fire that night.

    Another memorable meal was the first meal I had in my apartment when I moved to San Francisco. I had just gotten rid of almost everything I owned and driven thirteen hours overnight from Washington state to move in with my boyfriend. He cooked the best eggplant parmesan I have ever had for our first meal together and immediately I knew I had made the right decision.

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    October 18, 2010 at 11:57 am

    My husband and I got married in Vegas and for the first few years of our anniversary we would go back to Vegas and celebrate. We had one of the best meals of my life at Michael Mina at the Bellagio. Truly 5 star. Nothing like paying 5 bills for dinner but it was worth every penny and every time I’ve ever gone to that restaurant, I am blown away by the impeccable service, the phenomenal food, you name it, it’s just truly 5 star all the way.

    Other most memorable meal(s) is at restaurant near our second home in the Caribbean. Dining with your toes in the sand at sunset with perfect food, a perfect view of the ocean, it’s just great.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Louise
    October 18, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Fig in Charleston for my honeymoon. The food was amazing, as well as the ambiance. I get a warm, glowy feeling just thinking about that meal.

  • allison @ thesundayflog
    October 18, 2010 at 11:59 am

    i was studying in south africa and took a trip with my friends to namibia for a week. we stayed at a gorgeous lodge in the namibian sand dune park where wild animals would run free during the night. we joined the rest of the guests for dinner one evening, and i was surprised to see a barbecue of wild game. there was eland, kudu, zebra, ostrich, and crocodile tail. i figured i would never have another chance to try it, so i went for it all (and then spent the rest of the trip sick). but i was out of my element and trying to immerse myself in a new culture. i think i succeeded, and now i can say i ate zebra ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat)
    October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Dublin: After catching the 3am flight out of London (poor college students), we arrived in Dublin, threw our bags into the hostel storage room and set out to explore the city. It was November, chilly and rainy. By noon, we had wound up in a pub, soaking wet and freezing cold. I was craving stew but it wasn’t on the menu. When the bartender heard me mention to a friend that I had been craving stew, he went back to the kitchen and discovered there was a little beef & Guinness stew bubbling away for the dinner hour. He poured me a huge bowl (served over mashed potatoes) with crusty bread on the side.

    Warm, filling and so friendly. I love Ireland. And stew. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Ingrid
      October 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm

      dublin and ireland are the best EVER

      • Ingrid
        October 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm

        and guinness beef stew is amazing. comfort food and beer to boot? love!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is
    October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    My most memorable meals are really just those shared with my family, specifically my grandmothers who are both gone now.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    that’s awesome! i have to say that one of my most memorable meals was last year on St Thomas at a little hillside restaurant overlooking the bay – it was the best shrimp i’ve ever had, and the bartender made up drinks for us on the spot. it was amazing!

  • Laughter-Loving Stacy
    October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I remember almost every time I have eaten cheese fondue. For years, it was an annual meal to have on New Year’s Eve. Before my brother and I were old enough to hang out with our friends that night, we would sit at the table, reflect on the year and all that has happened, and set goals for the next year.

    Simple. But now that I’m in college and my brother graduated… things are different, my parents go out with their friends, because they know my brother and I will do the same. Now it’s my birthday dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • jenna
      October 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      mmmm I heart fondue.

      • eatmovelove
        October 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm

        I’ve never tried Fondue – but apparently there will be fondue parties with friends in the future! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Camille
    October 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    That sounds incredible. I wish I had a meal that memorable!

  • Cecilia
    October 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Can I just say that I love love LOVE the focus of your blog lately, just a lot of fantastic, amazing mouth-watering food!

    One of my most memorable meals was a steak of moose with a sauce of whey butter, served with lingonberry preserves, eaten after a long day of hiking in the mountains, as the summer sun was setting. Dessert was fried camembert with cloudberry jam. I’m salivating right now just thinking about it.

  • Alaina
    October 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I think 90% of my “memorable meals” took place when I studied abroad, as well…the one that comes to mind is the one I had in Pisa, Italy, barely two weeks after I’d arrived for a four month adventure in Florence. It was me and my roommates’ first time riding the trains alone, and we were so proud to have arrived in Pisa without a mishap that we decided to go out for lunch at a little place recommended by one of our program advisors. In all of the glory of arriving in Pisa in one piece, we forgot to ask where in the hell this restaurant was located.

    We ended up standing around in the freezing February rain for several minutes before deciding to just go big and ask a taxi cab to take us. When we finally found our destination, hidden off the street in a stereotypically gorgeous (even in the rain) courtyard, we all dove headfirst into curly fusili pasta served with fresh tomatos, olive oil, basil, and calimari, which I had only ever eaten fried.

    I don’t know whether it was the warm glow of victory or the delicious pasta heating me from the inside out, but I have rarely felt more alive that I did that day.

    • Amara@GirlinaWhirl
      October 20, 2010 at 7:47 am

      Wow –you’re a great writer! You made me see it and feel it with you . Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite
    October 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    My best meal was rack of lamb… in Hawaii of all places! It was the best I’ve ever had!

    On a side note – I just want to say how much I LOVE your new blog format. It was great before, but I truly love what you’re doing! And by your writing, I can tell you love it as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  • katherine
    October 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    my most memorable meal was on my honeymoon in zurich, switzerland and it was also amaaaazing fondue. we were starved and way jet lagged and having a tough time deciding where to eat….we stumbled upon this little place, sat outside, drank wine and realized how grateful we were to be there & have each other.

  • Kathryn
    October 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I was studying abroad and spent Thanksgiving in a homey chalet in gryon, switzerland. Our Thanksgiving dinner was shared by 12 Americans, 2 Australians, 3 Brits and a couple of Germans. We had everything from duck to green bean casserole to homemade croutons and a million things I can’t even remember now. It was my first Thanksgiving without my family but stands as one of my favorites ever.

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair
    October 18, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I went to the same (or a VERY similar) restaurant on the Ile St. Louis when I was in Paris in May!! Was it all you can eat for a flat fee??

    My boyfriend and I were also brought giant baskets of vegetables and sausage and plates of cheese and UNLIMITED WINE (we had three bottles in about 2 hours!).

    Definitely one of the most memorable food nights I’ve EVER had!

    • jenna
      October 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      yes, yes, yes!!!

      • Kristen
        October 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

        Do either of yall remember the name of it?! I’ve most definitely been there!! I stayed at a hotel on the same street and that was one of my favorite meals in Paris. I think my mom and I drank our body weight in wine! I’ve been trying to think of the name of it to tell other people to go there but I haven’t Bren able to come up with it!

  • Therese
    October 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    My last week in Japan (I was teaching english there for just over a year) a student decided that she wanted to take me to her favourite sushi restaurant as a going away dinner. It was this little restaurant on a side street near her house and the owner knew my student very well! We sat up at the bar to watch him compile the most amazingly fresh sushi I have ever tasted in my life! And while he was slicing and molding he was desperately trying to have a conversation with the redheaded gaijin (foreigner) that his favourite customer came in with. He knew no English, I knew no Japanese. My student had to translate and we had the best time! He made me laugh so hard and told me that his daughter moved to Toronto (where I live now) and that if he moved in with his daughter would I teach him English in exchange for sushi?! Ha! Of course I agreed! He seriously made the BEST sushi!

    That was quite a wonderful memory.

    There was also the time my friend and I got lost in Tokyo and stumbled upon a CANADIAN pub called “The Maple Leaf”! I was so happy to have Canadian beer in Japan!

  • marie
    October 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I drank too much beer and got yelled at in German! I was at a gas station in the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and opened the door to what I thought was a bathroom but turned out to be their back office. *fist bump*

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking
    October 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    My most memorable meals are family Thanksgivings growing up. My Italian grandmother would make a ridiculous amount of food (including homemade ravioli, yum!), the turkey wouldn’t be completely done, because she’s impatient, and I would eat a whole plate full of mashed potatoes. oh, how I miss it.

  • katie hery
    October 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    i think when i went to Italy with my mom and for every meal i ordered CHEESE as a dessert. sooo good

  • Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)
    October 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    bottles of 2-euro wine, and a huge bag of stinky cheese and crackers, all eaten on the champ de mars as it started to rain the evening before bastille day. does that count as a meal? i certainly remember it as if it was!

  • Amanda
    October 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    My favorite would have to be the first time I cooked for my family. I was about 14 and made chicken parm. I have since changed and revised the recipe and it is still my favorite to make. Everyone loves it and it makes me happy!!

  • RhodeyGirl
    October 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Jenna remember when you started writing about culinary school or something like that and you left it with a “…” and promises of a part 2 soon? How soon is it coming because I can’t wait!

    One of my memorable meals was doing a progressive dinner with friends where we went to a different location for app, entree, and dessert and we couldn’t stop laughing the whole night… until our cars got stuck in the blizzard.

    • jenna
      October 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Unfortunately my editor didn’t like that too much so I had to stop ๐Ÿ™ But it will all be in the book!

      • RhodeyGirl
        October 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

        Bummer, yet understandable. Luckily your book is coming out semi-soon!

  • cathy b. @
    October 18, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    the first day of our honeymoon (in San Fransisco) we headed out in the misty midmorning and walked into the Boudin bistro for steaming bowls of french onion soup and crusty bread…..:) Perfection!
    Cathy B.

  • Emily
    October 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I love love LOVE your blog!

    I’d say my most memorable meal was last April when I visited St. Malo, France. My girlfriends and I wanted to get away from the touristy things our tour group was doing and thus set out to discover real St. Malo. We happened upon this tiny restaurant in the back of a building. We thought it was too cute to resist so we sat down and peered over the menu. My French skills are very limited but I could understand the menu, so I ordered from the huge selection of salads. It came to our table and it was the most beautiful thing: fresh romaine, fresh tomatoes, boiled eggs (this is sounding a lot like your salad), emmental cheese, and a curious looking meat. My food motto is, of course, I’ll try anything once, so I sampled a piece of the thin-cut sausage. It was amazing. The waitress came to our table to check on us, and in her best-but-choppy English she asked me if I was enjoying the andouille. I knew andouille was sausage made from intestine. She asked me if I actually knew what it was, and I said, “yes?” and with a laugh she exclaimed “Chitterling! Pig intestine!” My friends were entirely grossed out but it was delicious and I didn’t care.

    I just found a website that said the finest andouille comes from the Brittany region of France…and that’s where we were. NICE!

  • claire!!
    October 18, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    My husband and I have an absolute favorite restaurant tucked away in a tiny little corner of a tiny little town called Yellow Springs, Ohio. We live in a little podunk town not far from there, so needless to say, our restaurant choices are limited. Originally from a big city, I love to eat and cook and eat some more. I love trying out new restaurants and definitely have my favorites from where I’m from. But this one – this little restaurant in this little town – is probably my favorite restaurant I’ve ever been to. Ever.

    We went there on our very first date, and go back every time they change the menu (they have a seasonal menu that changes according to what is local and fresh- LOVE). The restaurant itself is actually very Northern-California, which I’m sure you can appreciate!!! The atmosphere is comfortable and chic, and you feel completely at home whether you’re in a fancy dress or a comfy sweater. Every time we go there is special, but our most recent visit included lots of red wine, the cheese service (obviously), the most delicious pumpkin squash lasagna I ever did see, and pork chops. I don’t really remember the details of the husband’s pork chops as I was busy basking in pumpkin glory – but he said that they were out of this world. The night ended in dessert (again, obviously), and then we ended up making friends with a table of 3 elderly couples who are from out of state but get together every year just to visit this very restaurant. And then they bought us lots of Sambuca. The end.

    • Erin
      October 18, 2010 at 1:23 pm


      I bet you are talking about The Winds Cafe? I live in Cincinnati, and whenever we visit YS, we also go there to eat. Love it. Mmmm!

      • claire!
        October 18, 2010 at 3:14 pm

        yup!!! love it!!

  • eliza
    October 18, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    mmm dinner at the Back Bay Grill in portland, Maine. seriously, Jenna, come to Portland–small foodie (foody?) city of America. Soo delicious!! Best service hands down!

  • Marina
    October 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    my most memorable meal…hm. I guess this summer was filled with those.
    Humongous amount of sushi in Google office in Zurich was definitely one of those!

    But also, when me and my sister were little, my mom always prepared for all of us dinner, after our bathing time. We sat there in the living room, in front of tv, with a crazy amount of food in front of us, enjoying the good food and the good company.

  • Laura
    October 18, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    You know, I think I’ve been to the same restaurant! For me it was quite a few years ago, when I was a 7th grader (eek), on a student exchange trip. I recall the huge loaves of bread, the fresh eggs and whole veggies. That was definitely a memorable meal as my group got into a food fight with some German students! Bread was flying everywhere and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard, ever. What a fun memory!

  • Jennifer
    October 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    My most memorable meal: I had just finished signing my life away at settlement on my very first house that my boyfriend (now husband) and I were going to be moving in too. After we left settlement we drove directly to our new house so we could run through every room in our bare feet. We then had several of our dearest friends over to show off our brand new and very empty house, and sitting around on the floor of our new living room we ate Papa John’s pizza and sipped Verdi champagne together. It’s not the great culinary meal of a lifetime, but a meal that started our lifetime together.

    • Heather
      October 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      This is my favorite one. So sweet ๐Ÿ™‚

  • R @ Learning As I Chop
    October 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Mine, too, was in Paris near the Pantheon. Red wine, entrecote, frites, assiete de fromage, creme brulee and cafe creme. AMAZING

  • ida
    October 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Eating at the river cafe in london with my dad. Rose and Ruth were in the kitchen that day, and made me a special plate of roasted vegetables and calamari that were out of this world. It was also the first time that i had young olive oil, and fell in love with that peppery bite.

  • Kati
    October 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    One of my fondest memories of a meal was the night I got engaged. My husband’s parents were visiting. We took them and my parents to a little Italian bistro where we had a nice quiet corner table. When we all sat down, my soon-to-be fiance and I were seated at opposite ends of the table. I had absolutely no idea he would propose to me later that evening, but I’ll always remember him glancing down the table at me throughout the meal with a sly smile on his face. It was such a wonderful evening and so special to share it with our families!

  • Lizzie
    October 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    I am blessed to have so many positive yummy meal memories and the opportunity to make more. If I had to give a bad one, it would be my husband’s friend’s 30th birthday at a ‘shall remain nameless’ upscale chain steakhouse. His friend let his friend order the wine. There was a group of us. My husband had 2 beers. I had no drink. I had the chicken. He had the least expensive steak on the menu. At the end of the meal our total tab was $250!!!!! Wasn’t going to dispute it out of kindness to friend, but we would never and have never (since) spent that much money on a meal. And it wasn’t even that good.
    Your Paris story reminded me of when my husband and I were wandering around the city kind of peckish, but not meal peckish, and found a cute little bistro with colored blankets on the chairs outside (for diners to keep warm and still enjoy the outdoors). The owner ended up being British and even though they weren’t on the menu when we asked, she said she would have their chef make up a small cheese platter. Ooh lala! Yum! ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of my best home food memories are from my Nana’s sunday roast lamb . .. why hasn’t time travel been invented yet??

  • Lauren at KeepItSweet
    October 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    what an amazing way to get dinner at a restaurant

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write
    October 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    One of my most memorable meals was at a restaurant in San Francisco. My husband and I were on our honeymoon and we’d just driven up the coast from San Diego. We were exhausted and didn’t have the energy to go any further than the (5 Star) restaurant in The Intercontinental where we were staying. Pity, right? So, we threw on some fancy clothes and went downstairs to dine. I ordered this black pasta dish with a soft-cooked egg sitting on the top. When the waiter brought the dish, he instructed me to break the yolk and stir everything around. It was truly one of the most decadent meals I’ve ever had in my life and I shall tell my children and grandchildren about it, no doubt. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • allison
    October 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    It was my first date with my husband, and my last meal before getting engaged.
    My husband, then my boyfriend, asked me if I wanted to go on a date. I said yes. I love the beach, and he knew that, so we got in the car, and he looked at me, smiled and said we are going to the beach. The beach was 3 hours away. So away we drove. When we got to the sleepy little beach town played on the beach until sun set, then asked me if I would like to see an overweight italian man with a pipe, or an overweight nude woman. I chose the man (the woman was a mural painted on a wall). We walked in to this tiny little italian resturant. We were greeted at the door by an italian man in an all white suit with a pipe in his mouth. All around were bottles of wine, red sause, and pasta. It smelled like heaven. I ordered tortellini, and he ordered pork chops. The pasta literally melted in my mouth. It was warm, filled with cheese, covered with cheese. It was gooey. It was beautiful. And now my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
    We left, drove the 3 hours back, and like any good first date, I feel asleep on the way home.
    Less than a year later, we made that exact same drive again, but then next day at sun rise, on the same beach in the same spot as our first date, he asked me to be his wife.

  • Jenny
    October 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Nice story! My most memorable meal was definitely the first time I made a real meal. Stuffed peppers! I browned the meat, boiled the rice, stuffed the veggies. It turned out so good, and I was just way too amazed for my own good.

  • Kelly
    October 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    My mom and I went to Paris 3 years ago and I know not one lick of french. We were ordering lunch at a cafe and I saw something called, “soupe de poison” (something like that) and in my english speaking mind I thought it meant mushroom soup (mushrooms are poisinous…see how I got there) and yet it was actually fish soup and let’s just say I am not a fan of fish soup. ๐Ÿ™

  • Chicago Cuisine Critique
    October 18, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I love any meal that involves family and friends and is home-cooked. Laughing, good food, great people, always memorable.

  • Natalia - a side of simple
    October 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Aw I love Paris <3
    One of my most memorable meals was a few years ago when I helped my grandparents make homemade raviolis for a family dinner. I was in the middle of assisting my grandma with the cheese filling while my grandfather and I let the dough sit. Halfway through the process I ask my grandma where her other earing is. We find the front part of it on the counter text to the bowl of cheese, but can't find the back (you know, that little tiny annoying part that you always lose?). She starts to panic and we both try nonchalantly to find the little stud. We have to be real stealth like because of course grandpa can't know or suspect anything is wrong. Then REAL panic sets in. Grandpa grabs the bowl of cheese and announces its GO time. Why do we panic? We're pretty sure/ praying devoutly we're wrong, that the stud is in the cheese mixture. So after he dollops all the cheese out on the dough, my grandma and I try to see if we can see it anywhere. No luck. And grandpa is moving too fast for our detective eyes. We figure, Oh well, how many raviolis can there be? Chances are it didn't even call in. Grandpa announces "105 raviolis, girls! That's a record!" Blank faces. We're doomed. My family of 7 soon arrives and before we know it the 9 of us are dishing out raviolis. Still praying for the best and that no one chokes. We all take our first bite together, you know, tradition. All of a sudden my grandma gives me a kick under the table. She got the golden ticket, in her first bite, out of 105 raviolis. Thank.God. is all I have to say =)

  • Jamie @ Food in Real Life
    October 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    That’s a really sweet story! Cute that you shared it with your mom. One of my most memorable meals took place on a trip to Sicily. We asked the hotel for a very traditional Sicilian restaurant in Palermo. I speak Italian pretty well but they only spoke dialect at the place (at least they only spoke that to me) and we didn’t even order. They just started firing out dishes from this little window in the back. we had no idea what we were eating, but some things I remember were (cow stomach (tripe), rabbit head, citrus with anchovies….) It was like Italian fear factor and we didn’t know how to make it stop! Hilarious!

  • Jennifer Demartini
    October 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    One of my most memorable meals would have to be a home-cooked feast in Vanuatu: fresh pig (sorry, vegetarians), starfruit, and plantains – cooked in a firepit on the beach of a local village. Amazing food, amazing atmosphere!

  • Sarah
    October 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    i went on a trip to italy this summer with my mom and dad to visit my brother who was studying abroad in florence. i remember everything i ate there because it was all so amazing (and i took pictures of it…i was a wanna be food blogger!). that is the first vacation i have been on where the food was that big of a deal. the meals were an event and the food was all amazing. mmmmm i am hungry and missing it just thinking about it!

  • Lisa
    October 18, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    My most memorable meal was in Vegas. My boyfriend and I went on a whim (literally one day notice) and he surprised me by making reservations for Craftsteak! It’s Tom Collichio’s restaurant and I LOVE Top Chef. The food was magnificent and it was such a memorable, special night! (And the martinis were super strong!)

  • jessica
    October 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I love answering this question.

    I was a freshmen in college – taking the standard freshmen survey course, Freshmen Studies, at my small liberal arts school. This class always became somewhat of a family for everybody — every student HAS to take it. It is the thing that unifies the class. We all read the same books. study the same art, listen to the same music at the same time.

    My professor was the library director — it was his first time teaching the course, and he was so excited to get to know all of us. He invited us all over to his home for dinner… the first home cooked, non-dorm food of the year. Hurrah! His wife prepared such a spread that it changed the way I felt about food, cooking, and entertaining forever.

    They lived on a hobby farm and the tables were huge thick wood slabs with farm benches. Low dripping candles in the dim rooms. Beautiful tableclothes. Pottery plates and bowls. Butternut squash soup (which I’d never had before — it was 1996), baskets of crusty home made bread of all sorts. Grilled vegetables. Assortment of fresh salads. Roasted chickens, mashed potatoes, gravy… bottles and bottles of red wine. Apple pies and vanilla ice cream (all home made) for dessert. ANd the 13 of us talked about literature, music, art, life… until the wee hours of the morning before Professor drove us back to college…

    I think about that meal all the time.

  • rachel @ fadedapron
    October 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    i hope to take my husband to france when he’s done w/medical school this spring.
    maybe a backpacking/culinary tour of france, italy & spain??? i’d love to hear more a/b your time in france (When to go, where, what to eat, what to read, etc..).

  • Katie
    October 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    It was my junior year of college, and I was studying abroad. Over spring break, 3 of my girlfriends and I went backpacking and made the trek out to the tiny little Greek island of Aegina. Unlike Athens, there aren’t a lot of English-speakers on Aegina, so we were having a great time with the language barrier — tons of laughs just with that. We were at a tiny little taverna for lunch, and one of my friends ordered what she thought were shrimp. They turned out not to be shrimp at all. We were being watched very closely by the wait staff and didn’t want to offend, so my friend picked up her seafood and bit right into it…and bit the head off of the creature, whatever it was. We never did figure out what she had actually ordered, or why she felt the need to bite the head off when she could have cut around it, but to this day, the 4 of us girls can’t get together without laughing about that meal!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    October 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    The best meal that I’ve had was my last birthday meal, actually. My family took me to Mon Ami Gabi (a French restaurant…which you probably could have figured out, lol). I had almond gazpacho (amazing!) and then brown-butter scallops with pureed cauliflower and spinach.

    It. Was. Amazing.

    And then we told them it was my birthday, of course, and they gave me this mini-chocolate molten cake. It basically was what dreams are made of.

    So..definitely best meal to date ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Hope
    October 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    I loved reading your story and have enjoyed all the comments and stories as well!

    My most memorable meal would have been Valentines Day this year. Hubby and I hadn’t really celebrated our first wedding anniverary due to trying to finish the renovations on our house, so for Valentines Day he whisked me away to another city for the night – he took me to the zoo (I hadn’t been since I was a child!) then we had a bubble bath, relaxed in giant fluffy white bathrobes and ordered room service. The fillet steak was the most amazing steak I have eaten in my entire life! I could almost cut through it with a butter knife it was that incredible! We sat in our room in front of the amazing view of the city and the habour, eating gorgeous steak in our massive white bathrobes and drank champagne…bliss!

  • valen
    October 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    On an RV trip in the west with my parents we stopped at Bisbee AZ and ate a 5 course vegetarian meal at Cafe Roka. It was the best meal I’ve ever had, everything was PERFECT. It started with salad, then tomato bisque, lemon sorbet, some vegetable main course, and dessert. Everything was the perfect size, and temperature. We were lucky to get in that night, it was packed and they just had a cancellation. When we left we could smell chocolate as we strolled the streets because the chocolate festival was going on. That meal was 5 years ago and nothing has lived up to it, yet.

  • Angie - My Life in Bites
    October 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    To be completely cheesy, I think my most memorable meal is when my boyfriend (now husband) made me chicken parmigana. We’d only been dating a few months and I know it took him forever to find the right recipe, to buy the ingredients, etc. And the cooking process was definitely really stressful for him – quite the “labor of love!” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Betsy
    October 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I think mine favorite food memory was when I landed in Rome, Italy to study abroad all by myself but luckily I met a few girls at the school when I got there so we decided to go grab some food. When we got the restaurant they came out with a huge pitcher of wine for us (did you know wine in Italy doesn’t give you a hangover?!) and the most delicious white pizza. I also got a taxi drivers number that night so he could show me the city….. But I was too scared to ever call him ๐Ÿ˜€
    Take me back to Italia!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit
    October 18, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Cute story! One of my most memorable meals is from my honeymoon- my husband and I went to a swanky Italian place in the North End of Boston. The pasta was homemade, and the whole meal was amazing. We bought cannoli and tiramisu at Mike’s Pastry (the most famous pastry shop in Boston) afterwards ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie
    October 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    It’s hard to tack down my favorite meal. Really hard. One big turning point in my foodie life was when I was a kid and my family was at a Chinese place I realized the genius of fried rice before I ever tried it. We were praying over the meal and I opened my eyes to look at the food and saw the carrots, peas and egg in the rice that was tinted brown with soy sauce and thought to myself “that is going to taste so good.” I had never had a cognitive thought about food before eating it before that and it was revolutionary.

  • Lauren
    October 18, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I love your stories. They make excellent bedtime stories. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    My most memorable food moment was eating the best Cioppino of my life on a warm summer’s evening outside in a quaint little bistro cafe in the city where we live. It was also the night I fell in love with my husband all over again for about the 920486030 time. I washed this all down with endless glasses of Rosa Regal sipped in fancy champagne flutes and ended the night with a large plate of the most delectable tiramisu. Best meal of my life.

  • Moni'sMeals
    October 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I loved your story Jenna!
    My best meal actaully just happened. 2 weeks ago-The island of Maui, a place called Mama’s Fish House. The bill was $560.00 and worth every cent. From the fresh bread and soups to than two Unreal appetizers, with one of a kind Island drinks made with the freshest juices and then to the entrees, wow! Still the best fish I have ever had as they catch it that day…followed by dessert with a Godiva chocolate martini and the “Black Pearl” which is a truffle the size of my head in a sea shell tart. It went on and on, the service was perfect and most importantly the taste and freshness knocked my sokcs off. Make sure you go if you are ever there. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Plus, it is right on the beach, right there. ahh! Just heaven!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    October 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    That was too funny.

    My most memorable meal? One time I was with my family& some family friends at the cheesecake factory. My mom’s friend tried to get the waiter’s attention while he was with another table. The people at the other table got mad and started a fight. The police were called. I was embarassed and pretended I didn’t know anyone.

  • Susan
    October 18, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    A nutella crepe from a street vendor after climbing to the top of the Notre Dame.

    A PB&J after climbing Half Dome.

    The French Laundry for a non-milestone birthday dinner. It started out as a joke between me & the BF and I still can’t believe we managed to get reservations on my actual birthday. I’ve never been a huge oyster fan, but I could eat the Oysters & Pearls every day and not get tired of them. And you have me wanting to check out Rocker Oysterfellers!

  • Dimple Snatcher
    October 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Climbing and eating mangoes from our trees when we still lived in Jamaica.

  • Rachael
    October 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    My birthday in Malawi takes the cake. A couple of women found out and wanted to celebrate, so they bought the head of a goat and a couple of fish at the local market. Both were roasted over an open fire, and they were positively beaming when dinner was served. Since candles are an American tradition, they bought two tapers. And stuck them in the head of the goat. Combined with Number One Dry Spirit (read: paint thinner alcohol) and chunky maize beer and dancing, it was the best meal and birthday ever!

  • Suzanne de Cornelia
    October 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Terrific story & beautiful picture. I’ll tell an Ile St. Louis story.

    I was staying on Rue du Bac in a historic small hotel near the Musee d’ Orsay while my son was in school in Paris. The woman who owned the chic little place had
    been an exchange student in Santa Barbara where we used to live & always examined my outfit when I came down. Was glad to see approval in the critical eye of a stylish French lady.

    She telephoned me in my room, ‘Bonsoir, Madame, your son he is ici.’

    We were going to dinner with a father, mother & daughter. I came down with wrapped gifts for all, including a magnum of champagne for the father. I heard Madame under her breath at the counter, ‘Trรจs bon.’ With that into a taxi in a festive air for the short ride we went.

    We alighted here: A 50-yr old+ brasserie. The atmosphere was classic, the people were unforgettable, tho the fare was just adequate, it was still a sparkling time. Because of this. My son is an only child, his father was deceased & I was a single mother. The father in our group had one daughter. There were three languages being spoken English, French, Italian. The father only said a few words in English. He clearly adored my son…& after dessert put his hand on his shoulder & said, “This is my son.”

    They are still all friends & my son has gone to visit them many times. It gave me a lot of peace of mind–and still does that he was his self-appointed protector, and a generous one, with his best interests at heart. How many times does one go to dinner to discover something as generous as that?!

  • Helen
    October 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    My husband and I had our wedding ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica. On our wedding night we had a candle lit dinner on the beach. The food served was soooo amazing, and it was so beautiful! Mmmmm, I am going to have to pull out my printed dinner menu and try to recreate some of that goodness!

  • Lyn
    October 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Funny thing… but my most memorable meal was in the hospital immediately after delivering my fourth child. I had a VERY fast labor and was almost in shock when that baby popped out as the doctor ran in to greet me and caught him. I was so weirded out by not having a “labor” that I didn’t want to hold the baby. I was just SO hungry! So they brought me some hospital meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, which I ate in my delivery bed. It tasted fantastic! And THEN I held the baby!

  • Erin
    October 19, 2010 at 4:46 am

    these stories are all so great!
    When I was 21 my sister and I were living broke in Boulder, CO. Our parents had just sent us a little money each (probably meant to be spent on bills…) and we decided to take ourselves out to dinner no holds barred. Things have changed since then, but at that time there weren’t a ton of fancy restaurants in Boulder, so we headed to the best fish restaurant we could find. There was an 1.5 hour wait so we parked ourselves at the bar that happened to overlook part of the kitchen. after about 30 minutes I noticed one of the chef’s noticing us. He began to show off a bit. Slicing with big flair, dancing around a bit from table to stove top. Finally he caught my eye and called out, “So do you like seafood?” I nodded with a smile.
    He proceeded to create a large selection of shrimp, lobster tail, oysters…you name it…and brought it over to us. “On the house,” he winked.
    it was divine.
    And now he’s my husband! just kidding. but he was apparently the owner and quite a flirt.

  • Angie
    October 19, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Studying abroad is ripe for memorable meals! When I was studying in London some friends and I traveled to Spain and while visiting the Alhambra met some American servicemen who were stationed there (one of them was a graduate of our university!). They invited us to make our way to the coastal town where they were stationed and took us out for an unforgettable meal with the locals they had befriended. I can’t even remember everything that we are, but it was all delicious and fresh and chosen just so that we could really experience Spainish cuisine. To this day, going out for tapas is one of my favorite meals because it reminds me of my 20-year old self that night in a small town on the coast of Spain.

  • Kris
    October 19, 2010 at 6:46 am

    I can vividly remember a fantastic meal we had at Magnolias restaurant in Charleston. The server talked my husband into getting seared tuna steak on a bed of grits. It was out of this world. This was about 17 yrs ago! I also remember a group of locals in the bar ordering Bloody Mary’s with their southern drawl. We had to have one too!

    This just one of many, many happy food memories.

  • Jessica
    October 19, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Jenna, do you speak French/ were you fluent when you lived in Paris?

  • Laurab @. Foodsnobstl
    October 19, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The Girl and the Fig on our honeymoon in Napa Valley and Harvest St. Luois for my 25th birthday. Both had amazing food and wine and I never wanted the night to end. We tried to go back to harvest once and reorder the same thing, but it just wasn’t the same. There are times when it all just comes together perfectly, the food, company and atmosphere.

  • Charise
    October 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Dinner our first night in Rome on our honeymoon, definitely. We were both so tired and frustrated from traveling and mishaps and a not-so-pleasant outing that day. We walked across the Campo d’Fiori from our apartment to the closest restaurant on my “approved good, not formal, not touristy places to eat” list because I was ready for a drink STAT. A tiny table outside in awesome weater, candlelight, wine, music from various strolling musicians, and an amazing meal, which all made me say “Rome by night WAY makes up for Rome by day”. We had the BEST pasta carbonara, juicy and tender roasted lamb, and perfectly seasoned grilled veggies. I’ve had amazing food other places, but the combo of the food, the setting, and the feelings of that day and remembering, oh, yeah, I just got married! put this one above the rest.

  • Angela (the diet book junkie)
    October 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    i just embarrassed myself royally last weekend, actually.
    the husband and i decided to stop in at this classy wine bar (after we already had a few) and there was a SUPER cheesy pianist, interpretting things like THE WHITE STRIPES and “SHE’S A MANIAC” on the piano, but like in a slow, “jazz lounge” kind of way. anyway, i stepped outside and sure enough, pianist guy stops to talk to me and i WENT OFF about how AMAZING he was, just GUSHING like a crazy fan. long story short: cheesy pianist guy was scared of drunk girl. guess you had to be there.

  • Orls
    October 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

    June 2008, Xlendi Bay in Gozo with about 13 friends. Sitting in an open roofed second floor restaurant enjoying platters of fresh seafood, good wine and amazing company. Looked down and spotted 2 divers who were working by torch light.
    We drank lots, ate lots and toasted our friends wedding which was 2 days later.
    I remember looking around at my partner and all my friends and just feeling very content, and happy.

    That, and eating at Maxim’s in Paris. Eating a side of beef, and being astounded at the place and the experience. Everything I had imagined and more!
    thanks for making me remember!

  • molly l
    October 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    i’ve been to that restaurant, jenna!!! and it ranks as one of my most memorable meals! my husband and i were on our honeymoon in paris and a girl friend of mine was GUSHING about how we HAD to eat there (she’d eaten there with her mom too!). we had NO idea what to expect and were quite confused when they ushered over a basket of vegetables (i actually asked my husband if didn’t he think the centerpiece was rather large?)… and then there was too much red wine and there was a guy playing a guitar and i had NO idea what he was even singing but everyone was festive and merry and we just laughed and smiled and clapped even though we had no idea what everyone else around us was doing. when we left the restaurant we were like “what just happened?!”— i will have to dig through my pictures to remember the name of the restaurant but i have the same picture of me posing with a large basket of vegetables.

    good times, great post, jenna. there have been MANY other food/meal memories but that crazy little french restaurant definitely ranks up there and so funny to read your experiences there!