A self confessed food tragic, I live in Australia’s food capital, Melbourne. I have had a life-long love affair with with exceptional and innovative food. My blog records, the extraordinary and unique experiences I am fortunate enough to enjoy through food.
My love of food and fine dining is not accidental; merely a collective of experiences in one’s formative years.
My heightened interest in food began in my adolescence at my best friend’s house. Fine dining at last centuries dinner parties, were splendid affairs. The dishes and the ambience reflected my friend’s parents “grand world tour” experiences and were a departure from family food. But it was not just the newly discovered grandiosity, that informed my palate as a foodie, “backyard to plate” was firmly imbedded in my DNA. Our family always had excellent home grown ingredients simply prepared, chefs today sing in unison about the need to source food locally, I grew up with food growing outside the back door my father’s home grown vegetables, the lamb from the farm and the taste of the fruit from the orchard behind out house is what food should taste like.
A long university course came with lenghty summer breaks. I was able to work as a waitress at respectable hotels where I learnt the art of silver service and the function of every piece in those timeless rows of cutlery. This allowed me to save furiously to fund my own grand tours. Eurail was a foodie apprentice’s best friend; we travelled with unimaginable freedom on limited resources, and with providence by our side we ate like royalty. In Europe I discovered the prix fixe menu, real bread and green salad with vinaigrette. I tasted the Best of British in York and then St Davids, straight from the Aga, of a British friends mother, a very accomplished home cook and Elizabeth David doppleganger, and relished Scandinavian food, I was hooked.
As a student I secured a placement for my elective in Boston at the very best Children’s hospital. Short of funds my brother placed a bet on a horse for me, too much of a long shot, so Asia it was instead. A month in Singapore before the high rise and then another in India. Street food as I had never seen before and evenings enjoying culinary highs from locals rich and poor, there was no turning back, food became my hobby.
After graduation, a devoted collector of numerous cookbooks, fortuitously I purchased the book that would change my life, “Great Chefs of France”, by Blake and Crewe. Simple concept, it documented in pictorial detail the chefs and their restaurants at all the three star Michelin restaurants in France outside of Paris in the 70s. Airmail correspondence secured a single bookings at “Restaurant de la Pyramide” in Vienne and at “L’Auberge du Pere Bise” in Talloires. I was introduced in to the magical world of fine dining.
Career, dogs and beautiful children consumed my very existence for the next 2 decades. Now matured but not faded and I find myself with a new vigour to return to the glorious decadence of my fancy-free earlier years. Shoe boxes full of treasured menus and memories in no particular order I lament not having documented those extraordinary times. Recent unencumbered adventures leave me sifting through thoughts of others, essential pre reading before the next adventure.
Incredible food is a reminiscence as much a critique, of my expeditions to the most amazing restaurants in the world, whose position and status is defined by the top 100.
“Lists”, “ Stars”, ”Hats” and reputable, local and national rankings guide me as much as the unexpected discovery, and determine what I write about. A visit to such places on high does not start as you cross the threshold. Unlike my fellow bloggers I live a long way from the main action, a visit is indeed an expedition. It is as much about the preparation, the sense of expectation and the people involved as the incredible food I encounter.
All meals are paid for by myself.
Liz Hallam, Melbourne Australia.*