Monday, February 05, 2007

Fancy Food and Romance

Saturday, Girlfriend and I got our romance on. We're talking fancy food, dressing up like we were respectable, and long, moony looks over candlelight; the works, in other words. Because we're a forward-thinking Couple of the Millennium, Girlfriend payed for the evening. In effect, she "took me out." I'm okay with this because I'm a thoroughly modern male whose sexuality isn't threatened by the action of his female counterpart picking up the check. Also, I'm broke right now and free food is free food, regardless of whether we're subverting our society's cultural norms or not. In truth, Girlfriend wanted to take me out because we don't do a lot of romantic stuff as a general rule (that would be entirely my fault; I tend to be about as romantically inclined as a bag of old laundry), so she figured that she might as well take the reigns herself and make it happen. And I'm glad she did; we had a blast. Actually, we had so much fun, it made me want to attempt this whole "romance" thing myself; I suspect that me realizing the benefits of romance might have been her secondary motive for this whole affair and I'm okay with that. When the girl's right, she's right (Ed. Note - She's right almost always; it's freaky how right she always is). Anyway, so I shaved off the universally-hated-by-everyone-but-me beard and I got a nice haircut. I threw together an outfit that didn't closely resemble the clothes of someone who frequently rides the rails and Girlfriend wore this awesome dress that's like if Stevie Nicks had some actual fashion sense. And we were off.

We went to this little French restaurant called Quercy, which is in the Cobble Hill part of Brooklyn. It was great because it was an appropriately cozy place that managed to achieve the desired levels of romance without ramming them down your throat; no cutesy "private booths" that are so intimate you feel you should be fucking in them or lighting so dim you can't see how much salt you've put on your food. And speaking of the food... actually...

Side Note: Neither Girlfriend nor myself are what you'd call "foodies." We both like to eat, yes, and we prefer it if that food is, you know, good food, but we're not by any means gourmets. We tend to cook at home a lot (Girlfriend, by the way, is an awesome cook; I get by without embarrassing myself and/or setting anything on fire) and when we go out, it's usually to the diner or to the Chinese place a few doors down. Eating burritos with a fork equals fancy dining at our place. Make no mistake, we like it that way. It's much more economically viable, for one thing, and it beats the hell out of braving the lines at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's all the time. However, the flip side of that is that we watch The Food Network constantly. I mean, like, it's the default station on our TV. We watch so much Food Network that even The Food Network would prefer it if we backed off a little because we're making it uncomfortable. In particular, we're Iron Chef junkies and on Iron Chef, they use, at minimum, ingredients that cost for an ounce what the entire contents of our kitchen costs without coupons. What I'm trying to say, is that while we don't regularly partake in the finer things that you can shove in your head, we have an appreciation for their existence and we were eager, on our romantic date, to try them by the plateful.

So. The food at Quercy (which was what I was talking about, if you'll remember) was outstanding. Like "Holy Shit!" outstanding. I can't say how it stacks up to other French restaurants here and abroad, but to my Cheeze-Its and Schlitz-saturated palate it was like being smacked in the mouth with a magnificent Gauguin painting while splitting a bottle of wine with Catherine Deneuve. It went like this:

First Course - Terrine of Foie Gras Pate with Plums and Toast

I'd never had Foie Gras before, but I'd read about it in books, seen it on TV, and heard about all the controversy surrounding it's method of preparation (so not getting in to that here). It didn't taste anything like what I expected; being as how it's liver, essentially, I thought it would taste, well, livery. It didn't. It's sweet and meaty, and when combined with a slice of the plum and a bit of this thick, nearly french toast-ish bread, it was unlike anything I've ever tasted. While I did enjoy it, I probably wouldn't get it again. It seems way too much like "rich people" food and I think, to truly appreciate something like that, you've got to have a fat bank account and/or be really snooty.

Soup - Carrot, Ginger and Lobster

Three things I wouldn't put together. Not a big carrot fan unless they're liberally dipped in Ranch dressing, ginger I tend to only enjoy in candy form, and lobster I just never really "got." I understand that a lot of people think it's the best the ocean has to offer but, for me, eh. I prefer shrimp and crab for my shellfish needs. This soup, however, was spot-on. All the flavors were perfectly balanced (I learned that term watching Top Chef) and it didn't taste too carroty, gingery or lobstery.

Wine - Bordeaux

It tasted like red wine. It was good. (I know absolutely zero about wine, other than it's made from grapes, and I only know that because of that one I Love Lucy episode that everyone says is a classic but really isn't that funny, which, incidentally, is kind of how I feel about I Love Lucy in general. But I digress.)

Main Course - A Cassoulet of White Beans and Carrots with Duck Confit, Sausage, and Organ Meat

Oh. My. God. They served this right out of the oven in a baking dish that was roughly 9,000,000 degrees. I had to scoop out its contents on to a plate that wasn't currently hotter than Baptist hell and enjoy it thusly. And, brother or sister, did I ever. The duck was falling off the bone-tender, the sausage was smokey like a glass of whiskey stuffed into an intestinal casing, and the organ meat was earthy and mild, not gamy like (I'm told) it can be. The white beans and carrots the made up the base of the dish were creamy and, okay, I was really impressed by this: some of the beans tasted like the duck, some like the sausage, some like the organ meat, all depending on what protein they were nestled up against during the cooking process. I know that's like, duh, but it really blew my mind. Girlfriend had a Beef Bourginion that was fork-tender and tasted like wine, onions and darkened French cafes during La Resistance.

After our romantic dinner was through, we caught a screening of Pan's Labyrinth which was excellent, though not exactly what you'd call a "date night" movie. Heavy films about war and death tend to extinguish the romantic spark (though to be fair, the walk home in sub-zero temperatures didn't help much either).

And... yeah, that was our brush with the romantic side of couplehood. I really regret not doing this sort of thing more often. I know that money's always a factor and I know that if we did it all the time it wouldn't seem as special. Still. The evening made me want to try harder in the romance department. For the love of my girlfriend, yes, of course... but also because, turns out, romance is accompanied by totally kick-ass food.


Blogger i like cheese said...

Congrats on your quest for Romance and the perfect meal--which do indeed go hand in hand.

I'm always glad when one of you fellows crosses over to the other side. It gives me hope.


1:59 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Yeah, it's not to bad. I'm realizing that it really doesn't take as much effort as I'd previously thought. If nothing else, it gets me out of the house more.

2:37 PM  

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