I am the first to admit that I am the worst foodie to travel with. I want to eat anything and everything, but if it involves booking in advance I am not usually that organised and we end up missing out.
Not this time! TimmyC and I decided a long time ago that we would make our honeymoon a feast we would not forget and on the top of that list was Osteria Francescana. Being the number one restaurant in the world at the time, I knew it was going to require some coordination and timing on our part to secure one out of the twelve tables. Bookings usually open a month at a time, three months in advance; they are done online the first of the month at 10:00am CEST which meant 8pm AEST.
I initially thought that meant we would be looking for bookings on the first day of 2017 for our April meal, where I would have some advantage on the hungover people around the world, but we found out that March and April bookings were to be released at the same time on the 1st of December 2016. I was coming home from Melbourne for a work trip at 7:35pm, so I told TimmyC not to pick me up and that I’d figure it out as I needed him to be near a computer.
The hard part about booking Osteria Francescana is that you don’t know if you got a table straight away. You put in your request for a day that isn’t sold out and hope to get an email back from them. Waiting for a response to see if we got a table was so nerve-racking, it was like waiting for exam results. I kept refreshing my inbox and when an email from Osteria Francescana popped up, my heart skipped a beat.
TimmyC figured that since we were on that side of the world, we may as well go to The Fat Duck in Bray. I had watched many YouTube videos about the revamp and we very much enjoyed our meal when they ‘popped up’ in Melbourne; so it didn’t take much to convince me.
Bookings open on usually on the first Wednesday of the month at midday BST, which meant 7pm AEST. I was nervous if they would be open around Easter time which was when we would be in London, but the calendar was wide open.
You know if you get a table immediately as you also pay at the time of booking on the website.
We had our two restaurants booked; we were done… Or so TimmyC had thought.
The plan was to just go to two countries and take our time exploring the area instead of country hopping, but I had my eye on a restaurant in Barcelona.
It probably doesn’t make sense that we went from London to Italy back to Barcelona, but this is the order that we booked the restaurants. I had just finished a book called ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ and knowing I couldn’t get to Ferran Adria directly at El bulli, I learned he has a brother and they share a tapas bar called Tickets.
They open reservations for the same day but in two months time, which meant I had to have a day in mind and remember to jump on the website in February for my April dinner.
I remember I when I booked The Clove Club. It was the 1st of March and I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday eating dinner while booking another dinner for April. That was being a foodie multitasker at its best.
I asked TimmyC across the table if he didn’t mind I squeezed in another London restaurant winning accolades for one of UK’s best restaurants and had been featuring in The World’s 50 Best list for the last few years, he said ‘sure why not’. Bookings had just opened up for April (two months in advance) and I easily got a table in the Dining Room; the booking system also uses Tock which also asked for payment straight away.
That was another restaurant booked!
TimmyC and I have a bad habit of browsing through our social media channels and email before getting out of bed in the morning. One particular morning he had shown me a video on The World’s 50 best Facebook page for Disfrutar, a restaurant in Barcelona who had just won the ‘Miele One to Watch’ award. This video was wonderfully shot; the music, the array of dishes, the hustle and bustle of the kitchen- I was hooked.
During my lunch break, I read a bit further and discovered that the restaurant was run by none other than the three key chefs in the El Bulli kitchen – Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas. I immediately went to their restaurant website to check their calendar and it was wide open while we were in Barcelona. What a coincidence! I booked a table for two immediately. Later that day my phone conversation with TimmyC went something like this:
Me: ‘Hey, you know how you called me a spoilt girl this morning?’
Me: ‘Well I booked a fifth restaurant for our honeymoon’
TC: ‘I thought you would have after showing you that video this morning’
He knows me too well, or did he deliberately plant the seeds so I thought it was my idea when in fact it was really his? I don’t think he is that cunning, I think he just knows me too well hahaha.
So with five world renowned restaurants booked, we were set for our amazing feast adventure aka our honeymoon.