...there is one place I'm happiest. As an emotional cheeseball at the best of times, I can often be found grinning away tucked somewhere behind a table full of the people I love - and it doesn't matter where on the globe we are. It is almost always the highlight of any trip we make anywhere in the world (the only exceptions are the countries where we can’t
stalk visit anyone which are few and far between).
So in no particular emotional order, rather by date to avoid any family rows, my 5 favourite meals ever are:
My 21st birthday in Paris
On a romantic birthday break and the first time in the French capital for both of us, having given up on the tourist-y haunts of the main streets, Mr Kiwi and I were searching the twisting back streets for a jewel. A genuine French bistro. I wanted a moodily lit restaurant where real Parisians treasure age old cooking methods, incredible fresh bread and umm, well snails. Hey, we were tourists after all.
Spotting a wee treasure at the back of several offices, we made our way towards the small doors surrounded by wildly gesticulating smokers enjoying a post-work vino. A little scared, we steeled ourselves and entered the busy room. Espying the menus - all in handwritten French - we decided on escargot, bouef and dessert roulette (employing the point and be surprised method). Little did we know that our Parisien evening would leave us on a knife edge…
My first family Christmas in England
Aside from the year that I spent Christmas as an expat orphan in Bath (it was rather more boozy than traditional – my only Christmas present was a bottle of wine and the news that my then boss had forgotten to pay me over the festive period) my favourite British Christmas was the first one that that my adoptive family took me into their hearts & shared a toast to the Queen.
We gathered in the lounge, two families plus a random kiwi they invited in out from the cold. In the corner a Christmas tree adorned with lights, in the frosty window a Menorah awaiting the tradition lighting, canapes seemed to float out of the oven, my glass was continuously topped up with champagne and a turkey roasted with an assortment of vegetables. It wasn’t my first in the country, but it was certainly the first that I felt like I’d settled into my new family. (The next year for balance we spent Christmas in our PJs watching Doctor Who at home whilst it snowed outside.)
After officially/legally tying the knot in London and enjoying a champagne Toast and mini-dinner (confusing called a wedding breakfast in the UK still as it’s the first meal that the couple will share after their marriage has taken place), we spent our first night in a lovely Mayfair Hotel before bolting up north to Grimsby, where a Saxon tower waited for us to properly take our vows.
We had as many as possible of the people that we love the most in the world gathered in one room, everyone was having a good time at the Country Club and little snippets of home were everywhere. There were ferns in my bouquet as a nod to the primordial New Zealand forests, we had Minties (a Kiwi sweet) and chocolate limes in our favours and slices of kiwi were on each dessert plate. Simple little things that made me smile from ear to ear.
Our Honeymoon picnics
The sun shone, the bees buzzed around the flower stalks and foolishly we decided one day to kayak under one of the ancient wonders of the world – the Nimes aqueduct. Booking our honeymoon apartment based on the gorgeous garden and feline owner called Mamont (who was kept in treats and cream by a lovely English couple) made total sense to us – and we still have a Renoir print in our lounge to remind us of the sunny trip.
It was a lazy, hazy break, starting the day with fresh coffee every morning taken in sunshine in the garden. We ate al a fresco picnic lunches each day wherever we were with market finds, and - more often than we should have - carb-loaded with freshly made pizza in the evenings.
Christmas in New Zealand
We were entirely upside down and in a completely different hemisphere. It was Christmas Eve in New Zealand: the sun was shining, we had our drinks fridge all chilled and the ham was in the oven slowly being honey-glazed. One by one car loads of family were pulling into the drive before unloading copious amounts of kids and presents under the Christmas tree.
Narrowing missing the cut has to be the day we went to Paris just for lunch – I suppose I could have made it a top 6 meals, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. We woke up in the morning, grabbed a coffee and a seat on the Eurostar, took in a exhibition at L’Orangerie, ordered lunch at the infamous Angelina then came home. To a person growing up in a country & lived a minimum 3 hour flight from anywhere else, I can't tell you how brilliant that was!
So, what are yours?