This is my favorite meal of the year.
As a child, Arrows Restaurant seemed a mythical place, an enchanting site where my parents would slip away for a culinary journey far beyond my young palate. I heard stories of the chefs, who spent their winters traveling the world, sampling the cuisine of cultures both familiar and exotic, then incorporating the flavors in dishes they dreamed up for their own ever-changing menu. As a souvenir of their evening, Arrows’ guests are given a copy of that day’s menu, and I often remember glancing over the offerings my parents had enjoyed, finding the ingredients much too foreign and unusual.
Fast forward a decade or so: four years ago, I finally visited Arrows for the first time and enjoyed the most innovative meal I’d ever had. It was topped only by the following year’s experience.
Upon arrival to the restaurant’s grounds, diners are welcomed by vibrant flower gardens and encouraged to wander through the grounds. Herbs and vegetables are grown right on the property and harvested to the kitchen each morning.
As we strolled up the walkway to the canopied front door last night, a chef greeted us outside with an amuse bouche, beginning the food journey from the moment of arrival. This time, it was a garden spring roll, paying homage to the chef-owners’ winter visit to Vietnam.
We shared a bottle – and then another – of Ken Brown pinot noir (one day we’ll shock everyone and order a different variety of red). The wine was very smooth – a nice compliment to the meal.
I selected the a creative salad to begin: lettuce rolls from the garden, with house made tofu, radishes, turnips, and a duo of rhubarb – creamy dressing and a ponzu dipping sauce.
The tofu was uncooked and perfect; the greens fresh and flavorful.
Usually I would have to spend a long time choosing an entree, but on this visit, I knew what I was ordering the second I read the description.
The sweetest sea scallops I’ve ever tasted, accompanied by a trio of corns and a trio of herbs: corn infused quinoa, corn custard, and corn and beet flan. So many flavors on one plate, so much variety.
Then dessert came, of course:
A quartet this time: strawberry-pineapple smoothie, strawberry bavarian, ginger ice cream between shortbread cookies, and fresh strawberries with candied ginger.
On our way out, we were offered a tiny chocolate truffle that quite literally melted the moment it touched my tongue.
Meals such as this, in addition to making me extremely grateful for all that my family provides me with, also remind me just how much I adore food. From beginning to end, from words on a menu to presentation on a plate, it is an adventure and a privilege in my life.
I’m already looking forward to next year.
Can you remember the greatest meal you’ve ever had?