I may eat a lot, but I typically don’t spend a lot of time eating. I don’t take the time to really enjoy a meal and focus on the tastes, smells, views. However, there was one meal I had years ago that I can still recall as a) one of the best meals I’ve ever had and b) one of them most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. It was summer 2014 and I went to a restaurant in Newport that I still love very much: The Mooring.
I was on my own for a day trip to Newport and I wanted to go all out. So, I made a reservation at The Mooring, which I had read about in almost every article about Newport. There was mention of seafood doughnuts and I was sold. The restaurant is right on the water and it’s a quick walk from all the public parking lots. I walked in and I was greeted by a gentleman in a nice outfit and some smiles from the young ladies around him. I asked for an outdoor table with a great view and they delivered. The hostess walked me over to a nice two-top and pulled out a chair for me so I could face all the boats that were all about 20 yards from me.
At this point, I was in Heaven. I didn’t even need to eat because I was already content with my visit. Wait. Who are we kidding? THE DOUGHNUTS! I needed to eat. I picked out a glass of white wine, read over the menu, and decided I was going to seriously treat myself. I asked my waitress, Callie, if I would be overdoing it if I ordered an appetizer of the Bag of Doughnuts (Lobster, crab, and shrimp fritters with chipotle-maple aioli… STOP) and the Seafood Pasta (Lobster, shrimp, sea scallops, tomato-garlic butter sauce, fresh herbs, angel hair pasta… PLEASE stop). Without hesitation, Callie said that she thought I could handle it. I love someone who doesn’t underestimate me. After I ordered, I had some time to reflect on the food-sperience that I was about to have. And all of a sudden, it felt different than any other restaurant visit. I felt calm. I wasn’t guzzling down my water or asking for bread. I was enjoying the view and getting excited about the lush meal I would soon be enjoying.
A server came by with my bag of doughnuts. Normally, I would grab those suckers with my hand, rip it in two pieces, dip a piece in that sauce, and eat it in two bites. But something in me wanted to really enjoy this meal. And for some reason that translated to eating slower. And IT. WAS. AWESOME. I placed a doughnut on my side plate, cut it open, cut it in tiny bites, dipped it ever-so-slightly into the sauce, patiently brought my fork up to my mouth, and took a beautiful bite of the warm, crunchy goodness.
It was one of the most wonderful first bites I’ve ever had. I continued to eat slowly, intentionally even. I felt like I was connecting with the food on my plate and, beyond that, with each of the ingredients in it; with the chef who prepared it; with the server who delivered it. For the first time ever, I fully appreciated a meal. And not the type of appreciation that lends itself to me eating the food so quickly that I am actually sad when it’s over. This was the type of appreciation that turned the meal into an experience rather than just food on a plate. As I finished the last bite of my third doughnut, I decided to stop. Callie kindly wrapped up the other three doughnuts. I later gave the leftovers to the parking attendant, who was grateful and willing to take food from a stranger. Then an angel approached me with a plate of delectable treats. In reality, the angel was a server and the treats were the contents of the Seafood Pasta.
I thanked the server for delivering my new best friend. I mean my food. I tried to play it cool, I really did. But I had zero chill whatsoever.
To everyone around me, it probably looked like I had never seen food in my life. But in my little world, I was building a connection with the food I was about to consume. I looked at it from every angle; took time to appreciate the deep colors and variety of yummy things; took some photos. And you know that thing that good servers do when they approach you a couple minutes after you get your food to make sure it’s alright? Callie did that and I still hadn’t taken one bite of it. So, naturally, I lied and said it was amazing because I had no doubt that it would be.
My prediction was correct. Every bite was mouth-watering goodness. The food was cooked perfectly–it wasn’t too salty or too oily, or too anything other than delicious. I took my time, really paying attention to each bite. It was one of the most glorious meals I have ever had. And even though I can attribute that mostly to the wonderful service, flawless view, and delicious combination of ingredients, my approach to eating was also a huge part of it.
I try to eat in this manner every once in a while–truly appreciating my food and either my environment or the company. I don’t do it often, but when I do it becomes a truly memorable experience. I highly recommend giving it a try!
Coming soon: a “Best of Newport” post that you won’t want to miss!