I love food and I especially love food from independent businesses who are passionate about the food they make. I co-own a walking food tour business which takes people on a tour of the city whilst stopping to sample lots of delicious eats. Having an eating disorder for many years meant that I didn’t allow myself to eat the things that I wanted to and food came with a side-ordering of fear. Every food choice was decided and calculated and made me miserable. I am so pleased to finally be in the place where food brings me complete joy. I don’t second guess my food related decisions, unless I’m jealous of what you’ve ordered, and I now make the most of all the things that are out there for me to eat. Interestingly, when I began to allow all foods, in time, I naturally wanted to eat a variety of things. Recovery took a lot of time and patience and is a journey which I will continue on for the rest of my life. Perhaps I’ll blog about it more some time but today I want to talk about the really tasty stuff that I want to eat.
As mentioned in my previous post, I am a big fan of the Off Menu podcast. Hosted by James Acaster and Ed Gamble, guests are invited to the dream restaurant where they can have their perfect starter, main (with side) and dessert. Each week there is a secret ingredient and if the guest mentions it they get immediately kicked out of the restaurant. Luckily it is usually something obsure or universally categorised as gross so this rarely happens. When it does, it’s very funny. This podcast has got me thinking about what my dream menu would be, if fullness was out of the question and money was of no object. Hopefully my menu of choice would be approved of by Acaster, Gamble and the many fans of Off menu.
My starter would have to be loaded nachos. Specifically the ones from Lorenzo’s restaurant in Plymouth. A lot of my favourite foods are linked to special food memories. Growing up near to Plymouth, independent options were far and in between but Lorenzos was the jewel in Plymouth’s food scene crown. It is still there and well loved but I am talking about it in the past tense as I don’t think the menu has ever been quite as good as when I first went with my pals, so I specifically want the nachos from 12 years ago but made fresh. Obviously. Me and my best friends ate there a lot and even now when I go home we’ll regularly go there for old times sake. As tweens, this was a step up from Pizza Hut and we felt extremely grown up eating there. I still do. Lorenzo’s serves Spanish tapas in English portions and their nachos are genuinely one of my favourite things to eat, ever. Loaded high with melted cheese, flavoursome shredded chicken, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and no jalapenos please and thank you. Unless I’m eating this with my friend Tony and in which case, he can have them. I’ve never seen someone eat a jalapeno with as much glee as Tony.
For my main course, I would like a prawn Pad Thai from Everyday Thai in Fishponds, Bristol. I have only been there once and have only had the Pad Thai from there twice (the second time during lockdown) but it is absolutely exquisite and I am already excited for when I get to eat it again. The flavours, textures and size of prawns are spot on and I could easily eat it every day, quite happily. Thai food has a happy place in my heart – memories of visiting my brother out in Thailand and eating amazing fresh dishes made by the locals. I am a baby when it comes to spice so a Pad Thai for me, is the perfect choice. There has to be lots of lime for squeezing and crumbled salted peanuts on top. To go with my Pad Thai, I would like a bowl of prawn crackers but a mix of Thai ones and the white fluffy ones you get from a Chinese restaurant and I want to eat my Pad Thai by taking forkfuls and using the prawn cracker as an edible spoon.
EDIT: My girlfriend has read this post and said that prawn crackers have to be the side & I don’t get an extra dish according to the ‘rules’ of the podcast. She also said she hates my menu and none of it goes together. Anyway. I would like a portion of fish and chips, from with some homemade tartare sauce, just baked warm white bread with salted butter and a wedge of lemon for squeezing over the cod. You have read this correctly and I am having Fish and Chips as the side to my Pad Thai and you’re going to have to deal with it because this is the dream restaurant and reason goes out the window. Growing up in Cornwall means that I believe (read: know) that Fish and Chips is the perfect meal and it always tastes better eaten on the beach, after a swim in the sea. I want to eat this with my hands and it is also absolutely essential and non negotiable that I can smell the sea whilst I’m eating.
Dessert would have to be a warm, salted caramel brownie from Loaf. Loaf’s brownies have the perfect amount of fudgyness inside. Don’t come to be with a cakey, dry brownie – I’m not interested. With my brownie, I would like the option of whipped double cream, vanilla pod ice-cream and a jar of peanut butter (if I have to choose, it’s Manilife original crunchy) I will dip between these as I wish. After I’ve polished off the brownie, cream, ice-cream and peanut butter I’ll move onto my cheese course. My cheese platter will, of course, be prepared by the Bristol cheesemonger and must include Ragstone by Neal’s yard creamery and the one with crunchy salty bits in that I can never remember the name of. Served with artisan crackers (darling), pickles and grapes.
And there you have it, my dream menu. I would love to hear what would feature on yours so please let me know in the comments!