It is impossible to eat at a highly rated restaurant without a sense of anticipation, even if may be possible to temper oversized expectations. The dinner is a Big Event; the culmination of a lifetime of experimentation on the part of the chef and dozens of man hours of preparation by his team.
In a sense, the diner’s role can be likened to that of a sportsman taking part in a big event. Being in the physical state of being able to enjoy eating the meal requires careful planning. A glass of orange juice in the late afternoon could induce an adverse reaction to acid in the food. While eating too much during the day could blunt the appetite, eating too little is also not good.
It requires a finely honed consciousness of the state of one’s body and how the day’s meals are going to impact on one’s enjoyment of the Big Event.
So, how did I prepare for meals at two of New York’s top Michelin-starred restaurants? Dinner at Restaurant Daniel (8.45pm booking) was preceded by an unusually late breakfast of fruit, yoghurt and muesli at 11.00 am. Then, having spent the day on my feet trawling the discount stores, I snacked on excellent fish and chips in the bar of The London at 5.30 pm.
I didn’t have any difficulty enjoying eight courses, with wines to match, despite the day’s haphazard eating.
The following morning I awoke in a dreadfully hungover state. We had coffee, lazed around and eventually headed out for breakfast at about 10.30 am. This condition called for nothing less than eggs and bacon, which we had at Carnegie Deli, New York’s monument to Super-Size.
The lunch reservation at Jean Georges was for 1.30 pm. I was still feeling rotten, but took that in my stride, opting to go for three courses involving raw fish and one cooked. Four cooked courses would probably have been beyond me, but the bottle of Condrieu from Yves Cuilleron went down very well indeed.
In much the same way as rest days are included in the Tour de France, I then had to take it easy for a day. If only in a figurative sense, eating nearly 15 courses (including amuse bouche) of that kind of food in less than 24 hours was my Mont Ventoux. And I did it without drugs.