British Airways High Life

Food & Drink

Our favourite feasts: by Ricky Gervais, Rupert Grint, Candace Bushnell and more...

October 2008

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From bargain to blow-out, discover the most memorable dining experiences of some famous faces
Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais craves comfort food
Gill Flett

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Victoria Hislop
Victoria Hislop likes a free meal

To whet your appetite before you get voting in our fantastic food competition ( bahighlife.com/gourmetawards ), we asked some well-known faces to tell us about their most memorable meal.

Ricky Gervais, comedian and actor

I can recount the favourite starters, mains and puddings I've had. Favourite starter: pan-fried mullet at Gordon Ramsay at The London in New York. Favourite main course: a risotto at Le Manoir in Oxfordshire. Favourite pudding? At Buddakan in New York, the dessert was a work of art. It looked like a Turner painting. But overall, my favourite restaurants are 21 Club in New York and the Ivy because they do homemade comfort food to a five-star standard. If Gordon Ramsay could make me the greatest cheese and beans on toast ever, that is what I would want. None of this frightening panda's liver in a Nike trainer with champagne.

Simon Calder, travel editor

Best-ever meal? The one that, half an hour earlier, I feared I would never eat. I suffer from twin complaints that are at odds with each other: a love of walking in the mountains and a fear of heights. The two collided most painfully on the Chemin de la Mâture in southwest France, on a path carved from an almost sheer rock face that tumbles down into the Aspe river. Should you survive this ordeal, you turn the final corner and discover the village of Etsaut is just down the valley. Here, the Hotel des Pyrénées has cheap, cheerful rooms, hot showers, cold beer and a fiery stew that seems designed to repair the damage to your muscles – and restore your emotional equilibrium.

Douglas Coupland, author

On Halloween 2006, my friend Michael Stipe had an apartment fire in New York and had to move out permanently within one hour. Two days later New York's über-chef Mario Batali hosted a private nine-course meal for Michael in a tiny workroom above his main restaurant. It was an act of deep generosity and amazing cuisine and I'll always think the moon of him for it. Big guy, big heart and huge opinions on food. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Victoria Hislop, author

Tucked away in a small street in Granada, in the via Almireceros, is the Bodega Castaneda. I had one of my favourite meals there for absolutely nothing. With every glass of wine, a small plate of tapas was automatically and smilingly served. The portions were dainty but perfect, and that lunchtime, we ate the best jamon I have ever tasted (from the dozens of hams that hung from the ceiling), delicious smooth pâté and slices of manchego cheese. It was simple yet exquisite. I loved the lack of choice, the faultless quality of everything, but above all the bustling atmosphere around us as uniformed Granadines appeared for their glasses of rioja. The best thing of all, the perfect café con leche came in a tiny dark chocolate cup, filled with liqueur and topped with a fresh dollop of cream.

Fuchsia Dunlop, author

One meal in Chengdu, the Sichuanese capital, changed my life. I was passing through the city, and an acquaintance took me for lunch at a small restaurant near the bus station. The food was incredible, a glorious sequence of colours and flavours. There was cold chicken in soy sauce, chilli oil and Sichuan pepper, fish braised in chilli bean sauce, 'fire-exploded kidney flowers' and aubergine in a sumptuous sauce. The most amazing thing was that this was a very ordinary restaurant and that Sichuanese people eat like that every day.

Jancis Robinson, master of wine

With some French friends near Roanne, we had Sunday lunch outdoors at a long table under the trees. The meal went on and on in the most delightful way. Wine followed wine and we moved seamlessly from wheels of crusty bread with platters of charcuterie to hunks of Charolais beef with soft, smoky local puy lentils and no fewer than three cheeseboards before a selection of giant fruit tarts and thick cream. The French certainly know how to enjoy their time at the table.

Barbara Trapido, author

I loved eating out in Mexico, whether it's at restaurants, cafés or at street stalls with their homemade crisps and cubes of mango in plastic bags. Think tables in ceramic-tiled city squares, with crumbling Baroque cathedrals and Orozco murals on your way to the loo. Think Seville with more exotic fruit, more chillies, more chocolate and a thousand ways with corn. I'll go for the Café Tacuba in Mexico City. Tiny blue-corn pasties, a sea bass named after the True Cross and a creamy Spanish flan. Live music. Wonderful espresso. The revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata came by in 1912. Good choice. Viva!

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Posted by Emma Parfitt

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celebrities, television, film, music, food-and-drink, restaurants

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