Monday, September 11, 2006

Take Me Out

I have never completely understood why couples (especially married couples with children) insist on regular "date nights." You live with the fellow and ideally see each other often, why would you need to go on a date?

Dates seem even less needed for the unmarried, childless set. I am fortunate enough to eat amazing food and go special places with my love all the time. Dates seem irrelevant, and even more then that kind of bratty. For me to insist that he take me out on a date after we've spent Saturday morning walking the neighborhoods of SF, eating dim sum, and becoming members at the art museum together seems a bit high-maintance and demanding. This is why I was caught off guard when the discussion turned to our evening plans.
"I was thinking we might try to go to Chez Panisse," he said.
"What?" I had been expecting a low key weekend full of cooking and eating at home. I didn't even pack a skirt.
"Chez Panisse. I called yesterday and tried to make a reservation. They were full but we're on the waiting list. I'm going to check and see if anything has opened up."
"Ok, that would be great. But we could plan ahead and go next month too."
But M was insistent. He called again, and though they had no room downstairs, there was a 9:15 spot in the cafe upstairs. We had a date at Chez Panisse.

In my mind Chez Panisse was an epic restaurant. M warned me not to get too excited, that often people got so worked up about eating there that the experience was anti-climatic. But I had no such expectations other than that I hoped it would be wonderful, a truly special dining experience.

M wore a shirt I'd given him for Christmas and a jacket, fancier dress then I had ever seen him in. Chez Panisse was low lit and elegant, like eating in a very special dining room. The service was excellent and the food was simply beautiful. Each plate that arrived was like a perfect piece of art: colorful, balanced and tantalizing.

To start we shared a pizetta with wild nettles and pecorino cheese, and Martin's romano beans and roasted figs with duck confit and sage. Next M had Tomato Panade with shell beans and pounded basil while I enjoyed oven roasted Georgia white shrimp, frisee, and gypsy pepper salad with almond salsa. For dessert? A light and spongy almond cake with Lucero Farm strawberries, and fresh whipped cream. To accompany all this goodness we drank sparkling vouvray from France to start, and a beautiful rose (also from France) with the meal.

A dinner, and a man definitely worth waiting for.

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