My mom took two years of lessons from Madeleine Kamman. Needless to say, we ate well. In addition to my two grandmothers' much-loved home cooking, I'd have to to include the 1974 and 1975 Passovers at Sy and Shirley Sattler's. The 19-pound lobster we cooked on Long Beach Island, NJ in 1978 was assuredly a one-time experience. As for restaurants, early childhood memories include being amazed by my first truly exotic dinner at Omar Khayyam's in San Francisco (flaming kebabs and rose petal preserves, incredible pastries), the HUGE rib of beef and brown clay crock of baked beans at the old Durgan Park in Boston and the sunset luau on the beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. More recently, my unrepentant raw oyster pig out at Messina's in New Orleans, the 20-oz. fresh grilled halibut steak in Alaska and having a mound of fresh black truffles sliced tableside onto my linguini Alfredo at La Truffe Noire are indelible.
Rich, slow cooked chicken stock with arborio rice, large chunks of chicken and lots of veggies served with hot, fresh baked crusty bread and parsleyed plugra.
My top 5 favorite restaurants:
Quanjude Road Duck Restaurant - Beijing, Bistro La Viola - Philadelphia, La Caravelle - NYC, The Jackson Diner - NYC, La Truffe Noire - Brussels, and about 100 others
My most tattered cookbooks:
Encyclopedia of Practical Gastronomy by Ali Bab, Craig Claiborne's Gourmet Diet, Cafe Beaujolais - Margaret Fox, World of Food - Paula Wolfert, Complete Vegetable Cookbook - Ruth Spear, Northern Italian Cuisine - Francesco Ghedini, The Best Recipe - Cooks illustrated ...actually, most are in pretty bad shape but still readable.