dinner was sublime, the company a bit regrettable

27 May 2008

I hosted my first dinner party when I was 15 – Terriyaki Chicken with mixed vegetables – for my guests Anika, Karen and my classmate Steve.  The food was terrible.  A snow storm meant that Anika and Karen were almost two hours late and everything in my wok was painfully dry by the time of their arrival.  As bad as the food was, I was addicted to entertaining.  Amidst the last seven years as the General Manager of restaurants my passion for entertaining in the home was one of many casualties of my workaholic ways.  For the last several months, I have rediscovered the dinner party as my favorite way to socialize with friends. 


My dinner parties are prolific affairs – at least four courses, copious amounts of very good wine, and normally a six hour evening.  For this month’s dinner party, I invited the guest of honor to invite his friends – it was difficult to place control of the six seats at my table in another’s hands but GH is a dear friend with great news we were celebrating.


This was a bad idea.  But, let’s deal with the good elements of dinner first.  Everything came out of the kitchen beautifully.  


Champagne and Canapés

Ahi Tuna Tartar in homemade tortilla cups

“Texas Sushi” Chicken Chorizio Sausage, Seranno Peppers, and Guyere Cheese rolled in sundried tomato tortillas gently baked.  Served sliced into ¾ inch discs.

Mountadoun 2000 Brut Milleisme Champagne & some random bottle of Cava that I opened instead of 1996 Cuvee Doyard Brut because I deemed GH’s friends not worth the really good stuff.


Day Boat Sea Scallap Carpaccio with a baby Arugula Salad

2004 Weinzorn Single Vineyard Grand Cru Reisling


Roasted Tomato and Sausage Bisque with a dollop of herbed Crème Fraiche

2003 Toluca Lane Pinot Noir


Pork Tenderloin wrapped in Black Forrest Bacon poached in Olive Oil, and served atop a bed of Potatoes Escoffier and Spinach and Goat Cheese purses.

2004 Montes Folley Cuvee M Syrah

(ed. note: I know that wrapping pork in more pork is culinary overkill, but my approach to cooking can sometimes be described as “Shock and Awe”)


Selection of Cheese from local hoity-toity cheese shop, with truffled honey, wild berry compote, sliced almonds

The wine would have been 1977 Grahams Port but no one wanted any more wine.


I can ignore/forgive the following facts:

  • That four of the five guests arrived in jeans.  I really didn’t think it necessary to instruct a group of thirtysomething professionals that jeans are not appropriate attire for a dinner party. 
  • That four guests lack the social grace to not arrive 20 minutes early to a dinner party.
  • That the fifth guest thought it acceptable to arrive 45 minutes late without the courtesy of a phone call. 


What I cannot ignore or forgive is the pathetically paltry amount of wine consumed, and that one of my dinner parties ended in four hours.  GH can have another invite, but his friends are 86’d.




p.s. If you want recipes, drop me an email.  I would be happy to write them.




a tale of two dates…

21 May 2008

A tale of two dates…


I first must admit that I enter the blogosphere with trepidation.  For at least the past two years, I would readily declare that I lacked the “vanity and outsize ego” I dismissively cited as a prerequisite for writing a blog.  I would publicly express this sentiment, while nursing a more than healthy interest in the blogs cited to the right.  It took two women, one oddly leading to the other that prompted this “step.”  It took the desire/need/blood letting urgency to discuss this experience and the temporary unavailability of my closest friends to get me to this step.


It started with the website OKCupid.  I have tried internet dating in the past with some generally mixed results, but given that OKC is a free service I threw common sense and humility to the wind and joined.  A conversation began soon enough with a seemingly charming Meeting Planner, MP.  MP and I exchanged pithy emails containing random facts about ourselves.  Pithy emails led to a lengthy phone conversation – she really did give good phone – which led to a dinner date.  Mistake number one – never invest in dinner on a first date – too much time, too many expectations.  She was more attractive than her pictures had reflected but in person she possessed the conversational abilities of a sack of hammers.  She is also a non drinking vegan – I would have thought this important information to share beforehand.  After dinner, thank the sweet baby jesus, a cab was nearby and we were able to part ways quickly.


After that train-wreck of an evening, had I a blog at that time I would have posted there.  I would have had a place to vent my frustration to the dating gods.  Instead I wrote this….



Seeking erudite, cigarette smoking, booze drinking, lipstick wearing woman

After typing the title, it suddenly occurred to me that I had just summarized my mate in 8 words (seeking doesn’t count.) To be sure, there is a rather lengthy list of other things, but I shall use the broader headings for starters.

If you had to google the word, please press the back button. The women with whom I have had successful relationships in the past have had few things in common. Among those few is extremely high intelligence. I have never measured such things by degrees earned or IQ tests taken, though they are solid if somewhat arbitrary barometers. Rather, the ability to have brilliant conversations is of paramount importance to me. The monosyllabic or bi-syllabic troglodytes need not reply.

Cigarette smoking, booze drinking
I am done with the overly health conscious, self satisfied yoga practicing vegans who subsist on a diet of wheatgrass and soymilk. I am more interested in a woman with balance. Practice yoga – sure – but don’t do so for that healthier than thou posturing. I’ve run marathons, but I also enjoy a cigar almost everyday. I will not even pretend to enjoy dinner without wine anymore than I could imagine sustaining a healthy relationship with a woman that does not enjoy wine.

Lipstick wearing
I am not interested in hippy dippy, granola eating, flannel wearing, non-leg shaving, would be more comfortable having root canal than wearing a dress women. That describes some friends of mine, friends who I love terribly, but not the woman that I want to date. I like getting dressed and am more comfortable in a tuxedo than jeans. When I take a woman to dinner, lunch, the theatre, or to go eat caramels (one of my all time favorite movies) I appreciate that we share a desire to look our best.

City dwelling, suburb hating, wine drinking, tennis playing, picnic loving, theatre attending, avid reading, jazz loving, Kenny G hating, salsa loving, dinner party throwing, professional writing, far left leaning, deliberately living, intellectually curios and told to be good looking gentleman (extremely deliberate use of the word) hopes to have a drink with you.


And posted on Craigslist.  All I really needed to do was vent, but I created another personal in response to the trouble the first caused – I know, brilliant.


This netted me a conversation with the Almost Divorced Attorney.  I was dazzled by her emails.  ADA wrote in seemingly effortless brilliance – the connection was palpable.  We met without exchanging photographs, it seemed superfluous.  Of course, we would at the very least be friends, of course.  She walked into the bar and I knew immediately it was her, and I knew immediately that it was real.  The ease with which ADA wrote seemed contorted compared to the manner in which our conversation flowed.


The original plan was to meet for a drink and decided on a place to catch the sun submitting into night.  We walked without destination and soon found ourselves eating empanadas on a park bench.  Not one of the high end restaurants that are my normal domain, but it was simply perfect.  We walked a little more and had a nightcap on the patio of a generic Irish bar.  We shared a cab home – we really live in the same direction.  There was high-school kissing in the back seat; there was discussion of how improbable the night was.  There was a goofy moment when we got to my apartment building – after having already agreed that the night needed to end apart – and then she came upstairs, and came upstairs. 


I was attracted to her, drawn really, unlike I have ever been before.  There was an unfamiliar siren of sexuality that sang in a tune just for me.  It was three nights later as I was making dinner for ADA – standing on the other side of the kitchen because her mere touch alerted me to the existence of every nerve ending in my body – that I had an epiphany.  I never understood when a man might say about his wife/partner/lover that she was the “most beautiful/sexiest” woman in the world.  I always assumed it was meant as a very flattering compliment rather than a statement of fact.  Yet I had that same thought – ADA was the most beautiful woman in the world to me (ed. note – objectively she is an attractive woman but I am sure that traffic has never stopped for her.)  All of this was mutual.


We spent the weekend exploring each other, cooking together, drinking champagne, talking about everything; sure, I’ll admit it I have to admit it, falling in love (a weight just lifted from shoulders when I wrote that.)  And last night she had the predictable freak-out of a person that is not quite divorced and afraid to trust her own feelings, judgment, and not insignificantly, another love.  She was a little drunk, and found an excuse – flimsy as hell – to end things.  ADA was hurtful and as Stevie Wonder sang on the Songs in the Key of Life album – she caused ordinary pain.


Her email arrived this morning – an admission of the excuse, an apology for the behavior and the pain she caused.  She also wrote that she is walking away because she is “no good for [me] right now.”