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Top 20 Culinary Memories - Part 2

Today I will continue describing some of our most memorable restaurant meals during our 50-year marriage. Several are recent. Others happened during "another time, another place." What fun we have had!

1. Bountiful buffet breakfast at the Grand Hotel in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We arrived in our new home country of Ecuador about midnight on December 27, 2002. Rather than make the 3-hour trek from the coast to the mountains in the dark, we were taken to this hotel in Ecuador's largest city to spend the night. We were so grateful for a clean, comfortable room, but we were over-the-top happy when we walked down for breakfast the next day. Favorites of Ecuadorians and expats plus every imaginable fruit greeted us. We ended up using this hotel for numerous volunteer teams who came to help us while we were there. An added bonus is the hotel's location a short walk from the Malecon and Parque de las Iguanas, and the price is amazing -- about $47 per night.

2. Tavern on the Green, Central Park, New York City. It had been on my Bucket List for a number of years to see Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. In 2008, we finally marked this off the list. Weeks in advance I made reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at Tavern on the Green. The food was great, the atmosphere was festive, and I wanted to pinch myself that I was actually enjoying a meal in this iconic restaurant.

3. King's Arms Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA. In the spring of 1987, we took the kids on a fun trip to Washington, DC, Mount Vernon, and Williamsburg. Our special dinner in Williamsburg was enjoyed at King's Arms Tavern. The period costumes, music, and dishes created an "authentic reproduction" that was a feast for the senses. Currently, King's Arms Tavern is closed, but hopefully it will reopen along with the rest of the world very soon.

4. Cooking class in Florence, Italy. In the fall of 2013, Steve and I spent 16 days in Italy with our friends Rick and Martine. We started in Rome, then headed to Positano and the Amalfi Coast, on to Florence and Tuscany, up to Milan, and we ended in Venice. It was magical. Steve and I particularly wanted to attend a cooking class at some point on the trip and were able to book a pasta-making class in Florence through This was a hands-on lesson. Oh, the smells! It was so much fun creating 2 different kinds of pasta, 2 sauces, and panna cotta for dessert. After 3 hours of working up an appetite, we were delighted to sample our results. I highly recommend this company and the chance to cook with real Italians. I wrote about it here.

5. Acre in Auburn, AL. Acre is a very popular farm-to-table restaurant owned by David Bancroft and is only a short walk from Toomer's Corner, Auburn's famous place to celebrate after big victories. I especially liked wandering through the fruit trees, plants, and herbs on the property. The menu is filled with fresh, seasonal produce and locally-sourced meats and poultry. Those who love charcuteries will be very happy at Acre. Chef David stopped by our table and was extremely personable. I'm not surprised he's having so much success. More details in this article.

6. Commander's Palace, New Orleans, LA. We had dinner here when we visited Matt and Katie while Matt was enrolled in the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It was intended to be a splurge occasion for them, since they were poor students at the time. The whole meal was great, but the White Chocolate Bread Pudding is a dessert Steve and I have never forgotten. Absolutely divine.

7. Afternoon tea at The Plaza in New York City. Famous people have stayed at The Plaza. Movies have been filmed there. And for two unforgettable nights in December of 2018, Steve and I stayed there, too. We tried very hard to avoid acting or looking like we'd just dropped in from the set of The Beverly Hillbillies. :) For his Christmas gift to me, Steve paid for us to have afternoon tea in the restaurant at The Plaza. It was everything I had hoped for PLUS we were presented with chocolate replicas of The Plaza as parting gifts. :)

8. Mama's Fish House in Maui, Hawaii. This was a splurge for our 44th anniversary during our 4th trip to the islands. Our table was waiting at the exact time of our reservation with a personal welcome note. The service was exceptional, and so was the food. Our table looked out on the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

9. Jamison's By the Sea, North Shore on Oahu. The kids would include the Sunday buffet at the King Kamehameha Hotel on the Kona side of the Big Island in Hawaii on their list of memorable restaurants, but this is MY blog, right? Steve and I discovered Jamison's By the Sea during our first trip to Hawaii about the time of our 12th anniversary. After spending a few days in Waikiki, we drove out to the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore for the remainder of our trip. I remember keeping our balcony doors open so we could hear the tumultuous waves nearby. Jamison's was across the highway from Turtle Bay. The food and atmosphere were incredible. When we took the kids back with us in 1986, we let them have pizza in the hotel room while we snuck away for another dinner at Jamison's. That made all 5 of us happy. It is known today as Haleiwa Beach House, but it's in the same spot.

10. A pork sandwich, bag of chips, and slice of coconut pie at Big Bob Gibson's BBQ in Decatur, AL. This one might surprise you, but you need to remember that Steve and I grew up going to Big Bob's, even though we didn't know each other yet. He just lived a few blocks away as a boy, and my parents almost always stopped at Big Bob's when we went to Decatur from Athens, which was my hometown. We both remember seeing Big Bob himself manning the cash register in his original 6th Avenue location. I include this today because of a vivid memory Steve and I have. We were living in Cuenca, Ecuador. It was a Sunday afternoon following a challenging week and admittedly we were somewhat homesick. We sat down for a meager, not-so-great lunch that I had prepared. Steve said, "Close your eyes." So I closed my eyes. He said, "Let's pretend we're at Big Bob's. Can you smell it?" I was immediately transported. He said, "What would you order?" Oh my, how could I choose? He said, "I'd have a pork sandwich, a bag of chips, and a piece of coconut pie." Naturally, during our next trip home, that's exactly where we went and what he ate. :) Read more here.

(Steve and Birti barely waited for this photo before diving in with 2 forks).

I'm sure I could come up with more memorable culinary events, but you get the idea. We've had a delicious 50 years and look forward to many more. I'll be sure to share them with you.

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