On the meal that turned me into a Foodist

I was chatting with fellow Foodists a few weeks back when someone suggested dinner at the Alibi Room in Gastown.

Alibi Room downstairs bar (by randal-schwartz)

“Oooh!” said I. “I haven’t been there in years, but that’s the place that turned me into a foodie!”

The Foodists leaned in for the rest of the story that I now recount to all of you.

Turning back the clock to the previous millenium…

It’s Fall 1998. My best friend, who was enrolled at UBC’s Arts program, dragged me as his +1 to the ultra-hip Alibi Room for a poetry session. It was nowhere near my cup of tea, but he was into a girl and needed a wing man.  Besides, any restaurant that got me a degree closer to the dreamy David Duchovny was bound to be in my good books. (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?)

While my friend mingled with the artsy folk, I hid away and ordered what was to be my first taste of wild mushroom barley risotto.  Oh….what heaven.  Decadent, oozy, creamy, earthy; an elevation of what I thought to be a boring grain to gourmet heights.  It was served with a decent roasted chicken breast, but the risotto was the star.

Wild mushroom risotto (by tiny bites)

If that wasn’t enough, the dessert hour introduced me to the crackly, creamy, custardy magic that is crème brulée.  I fell even more in love with France after the first taste. It was topped with a single gooseberry – also a fruit I hadn’t previously encountered. All of it was gone in a flash.

Cobre: mango crème brulée (by tiny bites)

I haven’t been back to the Alibi Room.  Despite that, with it being 2009 and over 10 years after this episode, I can still picture the bowl and ramekin vividly in my mind’s eye.  You could say that my road to gastronomic journalism began with this night as Ground Zero.  And even after a decade of additional culinary adventures, I’m amazed that that risotto remains my favourite dish in the world, that crème brulée is the first dessert I seek on a new menu, and that I’m quite partial to gooseberries.  Thank you a million times over, Alibi Room.

Share your earliest memories of phenomenal food with us

Your turn:  what event was the catalyst to your evolution as a Foodist?


5 Responses to “On the meal that turned me into a Foodist”

  1. Posted on March 9th, 2009

    what a good story and an interesting idea. I’ve been trying to think of my formative meal all morning, but too much time spent working in the food industry has blurred them. i’ll keep thinking tho. ;)

  2. Posted on March 9th, 2009

    Loved the story, but I gotta comment on one of my pet peeves. :)

    Those are ground cherries, AKA “Cape Gooseberries”. They are not, however, gooseberries. Goose berries are another fruit altogether, and taste much better!

  3. Posted on March 10th, 2009

    Growing up in a multicultural family that loved to experiment with food, I’ve been exposed to a lot of strange and wonderful foods right from the get-go. But, I remember in 1995 when my brother took me to A Taste of India on Robson street and I had my first taste of butter chicken. My eyes popped as I cried out to my brother, “My taste buds are freaking out!!! What is this?”

    Seriously Mom and Dad, why didn’t we go for Indian food??

  4. Posted on March 24th, 2009

    I think the dish that instilled in me a love of food was pan fried squid that the sous chef at the fine dining restaurant in Langley that I was working at, made.
    One taste of those garlicky morsels made me appreciate food in a whole new way. It’s been a pretty great adventure ever since!

  5. Posted on May 8th, 2009

    […] since Karen’s Post on the meal that turned her into a foodist, I’ve been thinking about how I ended up going from a re-heater and assembler of things that […]

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