Sunday, May 20, 2007

Q1 - the perfect meal

Have you ever eaten a perfect meal – one where the food, company and surroundings were just spot on?

Yes, I can think of one and it involves my husband - so anyone of an unromantic disposition should skip to the next blog entry.

Although, at first glance, it’s quite an unlikely one – tapas in Amsterdam. It's a perfect example, I guess, of how circumstance and company can heighten the experience of food.

It was my birthday, about six years ago now when we were still girlfriend/boyfriend, and we’d ended up going away for a long weekend. Lots of wandering around, holding hands, going to museums and finding which tearoom had the best apple cake. (I’m being careful here by not saying ‘café’, which would give the wrong impression.)

The night before, we’d strolled past a tapas bar, which looked cosy and full of people having a good time. Yes, that looked perfect for a birthday celebration. And so it turned out to be, with some extra help from the weather gods.

Because my birthday is in August it had been hot, hot, hot every day and kick-off-the-sheets uncomfortable at night. By the time we’d started off for the tapas bar, the ominous-looking thunderclouds has ripped open - Amsterdam was being hammered with rain and lightening was flickering across the sky.

When we got there, we found that the tapas bar was full (and we cleverly hadn’t bothered booking). But we could sit outside if we wanted to.

Uhuh. Right. Had they looked out of the window?

Don’t worry about that, they said. And promptly put out some awning, a couple of heaters, some rickety chairs and wobbly tables, then took our order.

So I ate tapas and drank wine with my favourite person in the universe, outside in the middle of a thunderstorm on my birthday, trying not to fall off my unstable chair. I don’t know how authentic the food really was and I can barely remember what I ate, but I know that it tasted good. And that the combination of the dramatic setting and the love of my life enhanced the enjoyment of the whole experience many times over.

The funny thing was, we tried to find the place the next time we were in Amsterdam and we couldn’t. Of course, it could have shut down, but we decided to believe that the bar had Terry Pratchett-eque properties and so, like one of the shops in his Discworld books, it could disappear and pop up in new locations around the world to make more people happy. Told you this was a soppy post.