So impressed was I with an extremely tasty and unexpectedly cheap prawn baguette from Harrods Sandwich Counter that, when I got home, I decided to start a food blog. I already had a blog - in the classic, now-almost-obsolete mould of the straightforward online diary - but it had become neglected and I had felt for a while that it was time to focus on one subject; I just wasn't sure which one. That baguette was my light-bulb moment.
I've always loved eating out. As a child [screen fades to denote misty-eyed reminiscence of idyllic, bucolic Dorset childhood] 'eating out' meant very occasional family trips to the pub; I remember thick, sugary tomato soup, probably Heinz, big slabs of paté served with toasted brown bread and foil-wrapped pats of butter, and gammon steaks with chips, peas and pineapple - a meal that I would, and do, still happily order anywhere I see it.
As I got older, into my teens, eating out became something I did with friends, from birthday meals at Beefeater (one chap who ordered his ice-cream 'Chocolate no nuts' rather too enthusiastically was lumbered with that as a nickname for many years - kids can be so cruel) to more sophisticated group outings to La Lupa, a family-owned Italian restaurant where we first tried breadsticks and, if ordered with sufficient confidence by the boy with the deepest voice - which wasn't me, not then - you could get wine.
And then - after a long summer spent working as a host at Chiquito's, whence began a love which endures to this day for tacky Tex-Mex and frozen Margaritas with heavily-salted rims - I went to uni, and London, and a whole new world (albeit a far, far smaller one than today's) of culinary possibility opened up to me. I remember still my first visits to a smart new place called Wagamama where they didn't take bookings (fancy that!) and served big bowls of soup noodles called ramen (it'll never catch on); to Yo! Sushi, and Atlantic Bar & Grill, and - oh, the glamour! - to Quaglino's.
So I've always loved eating out. And I've always loved writing. So writing about eating out - making one new hobby from two existing ones - was, as a contestant on The Apprentice might put it, a no-brainer win-win. I've done it for nearly four years now, and I think I've done OK at it. But now it's time to stop.
Because I have, as some of you will know, landed a rather fantastic job with a restaurant group, doing their communications - social media, copywriting, press, PR, all things that I have developed an expertise in as a direct but I can honestly say unintentional consequence of starting this blog. The poacher has turned gamekeeper; I've gone over, as more than one restaurant PR has put it, to the Dark Side. Entirely organically, two of my great passions, eating and writing about it, have become my living, and I couldn't be happier.
Which means that, for now at least, it's time to say goodbye to blogging. I certainly won't stop writing, and I most definitely won't stop eating out, good heavens no, I just won't be doing one about the other on this platform. You'll still be able to hear my views on restaurants and the industry on Twitter - God, just try shutting me up on there - and of course face-to-face. And I'm sure there'll still be occasional posts on here about anywhere that particular blows me away, and non-food topics including another passion of mine, travel - something I recently dipped a toe into to an encouragingly positive reception.
Blogging about restaurants is a very different game now from what it was when I started in 2009. It's been fun - huge, crazy, booze-fuelled, stomach-distending fun - but this feels like a good time to get out. I have my views - oh boy do I have my views - on the ethics of restaurant blogging, on who's worth reading and who isn't, on the cynical manipulation of SEO and how businesses confuse readership with influence, on freebies...but those are for another time.
For now I would just like to say, thank you for reading (and for reading this far), for commenting, for challenging me, for sharing, and au revoir. I hope it's been for you even 12.5% of the pleasure it's been for me.
Posted by +Hugh Wright