ERROL CASTENS: Memorable meals range from simplistic to sumptuous

While joining an online food forum the other day, I had to answer a bunch of food-related questions to fill out my profile.
One asked my five favorite restaurants.
As I studied my answer, I realized it’s hard to confine myself to five – or even to restaurants that still exist. Here in Oxford, I love City Grocery for its shrimp and grits and for memories of its 10th anniversary dinner.
Then there’s Downtown Grill and its shepherd’s purses and balcony tables.
I also love Ravine for its crampème brulee, usually made with eggs from our Providence Farm hens, and all that Chef Joel can create with tomatoes. And Yocona River Inn Exile for its culinary wonders served in its second quaint former country store.
At the Rendezvous in Memphis I tasted beef ribs that remain the best meat I’ve ever had. At the other end of the spectrum was a restaurant in Southern California, whose name I disremember, which offered a serendipitous exposure to vegetarian cuisine. We’ve dined in the Skylon Tower overlooking Niagara Falls and at the Water Front with a view of the picture-postcard harbor in Camden, Maine.
Delta Point in Vicksburg offered fabulous cuisine, elegant music and a perch over the Mississippi River. I, being much more serious about Sue than she was about me, took her there for our third date – even wearing a new seersucker suit for the occasion.
We sipped champagne, absorbing the river view until dark finally claimed our side of the world. Then I turned my attention fully to Sue.
“Candlelight becomes you,” I said, looking into her eyes, and watched her heart melt. (It was only after we were married that she confessed she hates seersucker and I allowed that candle smoke makes my sinuses hurt.)
Despite some great meals and splendid occasions I’ve experienced at the aforementioned restaurants and others, some of my most memorable feasts were much less formal.
There were Thanksgiving Days at Grandmama’s, family reunions at Mammaw’s, T-bones slightly browned over cedar on a cousins-only campout. On those couple of days a year when field corn was at the right stage, we have had superb suppers solely of roasting ears, butter and salt.
But the best meal I ever had was the simplest. With nothing but ice chips having passed my lips for three days after surgery, I was finally allowed a thimbleful of chicken bouillon. It still brings chills to think how good it was.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal