My favorite dining experiences have always been those that happen by surprise. A last minute invite to the impossible-to-get-in-to Balthazar London when it first opened. The day of window shopping in New York that led to an early dinner at Babbo. And best of all, our dinner at Frenchie in Paris, last November. While standing in line for the Frenchie Wine Bar (first come, first served) the hostess at the more formal restaurant across the street approached us and asked if we’d like to eat with them instead as they’d had a cancellation. Five courses of completely unexpected, delicious, delightful food which just happened to coincide with my husband’s 40th birthday.
Fast forward nine months and we were in Tuscany last weekend for a friends’ wedding. I wandered into the hotel’s office and asked where we might have a really great meal. If we were willing to pay and could secure a table, the manager suggested Ristorante Arnolfo, a two Michelin star legend just 20 minutes drive from the hotel. A chance cancellation that afternoon allowed us a meal that was also unexpected and perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten.
The hush of the elegant dining room, the pitter patter of the staff’s shoes as they delivered dish after beautiful dish of food to our table, the chef making the rounds periodically – not to check in and see if we liked his food, because of that he must be sure after 20 years at this standard – more to witness the pleasure we’d found in his gorgeous plates. Every detail, down to the little pedestal “the small cake” was served on, was carefully thought through. This is what distinguishes a Michelin two star restaurant….and because we can’t just run out and experience a meal even close to this calibre in Amman, it was money very well-spent.
Words cannot capture the many processes and flavors and techniques that Chef Gaetano Trovato put into the five amuse bouche, five savory, and three sweet courses. So I will let this be a purely food porn kind of post with photos of the two different tasting menus my lovely husband and I sampled: Territory and Research (mine, and meat heavy) and The Essence (husband’s, and fish heavy). I admit to feeling over-stuffed at the end, not something I normally find when I eat a tasting menu, but the temporary discomfort was worth it!