White tablecloths. Beautiful light fixtures. A view of Marin County. Amazing well-sourced food grown in an ideal environment.
Recreating the Chez Panisse meal is seemingly impossible, but you can take elements from the meal and incorporate them into your eating experience.
- Well-grown food You aren't going to score the level of food that Alice Waters does, especially if you live in a world where winter happens. You likely can score some well-grown food, enough for a full meal once a week. Small steps. Have one meal a week completely comprised of well-grown food.
- Eat slowly When you are on vacation, you tend to eat slower since you aren't in a hurry. At Chez Panisse, you tend to eat even slower. You really want to eat slow at Chez Panisse to truly savor what you are eating. Eat better quality food at a slower pace is the ideal.
- Use real silverware Plastic forks and spoons will not cut it. Plastic knives really can't cut it. You don't need the fancy silverware. Something with metal will do just fine. Well, chopsticks count as silverware. You are even allowed to use 2 forks and 2 spoons. Just remember to work from the outside into the plate.
- Pre-printed menu This is an elaborate and very nuanced detail, but putting ink to paper for what you are eating with very spelled out specifics would enhance the experience. Be sure to put today's date to truly personalize the moment.
- Turn off all electronic devices No phones, no TV, no computer, not even a radio. Yes, that silence thing will freak you out at first. Birds may chirp, not like the bad alarm that came with your cellphone. The lack of electronic distractions will allow you to better concentrate on the meal.
You deserve to treat yourself. You don't have to go to a fancy restaurant to pull that off. Just a few classy steps and you are on your way.
photos credit: me