Last weekend (or was it the weekend before?) I drove up to NYC with two of my guy friends. The topic during the entire four hour up and seven (yes SEVEN) hour drive back was sex. Favorites, dislikes, bests, toys, fantasies, lists etc etc etc. We promised that "what was said in the car stays in the car" so that every last detail could be explained. I'm only going to share one - i think - inconsequential tidbit. One of the questions was: "what normal everyday thing do you most equate with sex?" Two of us immediately said food (the third said sports, but he also "doesn't enjoy eating" so i think he has bigger issues).
It is becoming more clear why I put a lot of emphasis on the dinner date. My date's choices surrounding the initial dinner(s) is not a make or break situation but very telling. Choice of restaurant is obvious ... but choice of drink, main course, how he goes about discussing and ordering shared appetizers, discourse with the wait staff (huge) and another obvious, dealing with the check work just as well as any personality test.
I'm not positive how I got on this tangent because my initial point was to talk about two dates I've had recently where I cooked dinner. I guess the same general concepts apply.... behavior towards host/chef, gratitude.... tip ;-). I didn't realize it was possible to be utterly frustrated with the male race after one date and a giddy bliss-filled girl anxious to hear from the new (or in this case old) crush after the next. I doubt it had much to do with my choice of dishes because i think they were both pretty successful, but one has to wonder.
Date number 1 was last Wednesday with the same boy who scored top points for taking me to Indebleu the week before. I made Tarragon Chicken Fricassee over orzo and a simple salad. I took the recipe from epicurious.com (although I decreased the amount of heavy cream to about 2/3 cup) so I will simply link to it, but it is very easy and very yummy. He seemed to be relatively pleased with the dinner but I think he was more interested in pounding wine (and encouraging me to do the same) so as to more generously tip me. This did not go over so well and I probably will not be dining with him again.
Date number 2 did not actually begin as a date. My ex - the love of my life ex - came to town to visit and was lamenting how he never has time to cook anymore. One of our favorite things to do together way back when was to cook. We experimented and ruined perfectly good dishes and enjoyed every second of it. Separate for almost three years now, we have both continued cooking in our respective worlds and become much more versatile, adventurous and successful. So we decided to cook and Lamb Chops with a Mint Pesto sauce over angel hair pasta. As he is an almost-doctor (otherwise known as a medical student) and on-call our cooking party turned into me cooking for him and trying to get food on the table at about the time he arrived (10pm). I felt quite a bit like when we were living together and he was a first year med-student with even less time and me looking for work and therefore cooking ALL THE TIME. Ignoring the fact that the deja vu was unsettling and the fact that I've never even attempted to cook lamb before or the fact that i normally ruin any non-basil pesto .... i set to work. .... and had a perfect evening which could have taken place three years ago.
I kept it simple with the lamb chops and seasoned them (8 chops) with salt and pepper. I started them on a grill pan searing each side for a couple of minutes and then put the whole pan in the oven at about 400 for 10 minutes or a little less. I tried to use the instant read thermometer to make sure I was cooking them thoroughly but it was reading much less hot than it was supposed to be. The chops were threatening to be massively overcooked so i took them out despite the thermometer being 20 degrees lower than it should have been. They were perfect ... so don't trust the lil' gadgets. For the pesto I threw in about 2/3 of a cup of mint, 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, a small handful of pine nuts, two cloves of garlic (use one for a date....), parmesan cheese, lemon zest, salt and olive oil. I had to tweak it quite a bit to be happy with it and i still contend it was too salty. I opened a bottle of Cabernet Franc that i was saving from a Virginia winery called Pearmund Cellars to remind him of our old adventures in wine tasting. The bottle didn't quite compare to the french bottle he brought over, but i like to think it jogged some good .... great memories. The dinner was great, i was an impressive impromptu chef (yah) and we fell back into a perfectly comfortable "us" evening and maybe even rekindled what sadly fell apart three years ago.