30 Dec 10 Commandments of the At Home Dinner Date
The 10 Commandments of the At-Home Dinner Date
by A Manly Guest Contributor on March 18, 2011
Courtesy of The Art of Manliness
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mike Fisher, a classically trained chef and consummate bachelor.
There’s nothing more romantic than a dinner date a home. Without the distractions of a restaurant, all of the focus can be on you and your date. You’ll find that the conversation will be more comfortable and honest. And of course, women love men who can cook. But when you’re cooking for someone else, it’s like you’re putting on a little show, and the pressure can be a bit nerve-racking. So just follow these “commandments” and recipe suggestions and you’ll be sure to have a romantic and successful dinner date at home.
Commandment #1: A Dinner date at home does not make a good first date.
No matter how excited you are to impress her, it’s kind of creepy to invite her to your house on the first date. She doesn’t yet know whether you’re a serial killer who’s literally planning on having her for dinner. Save it for the third or later date. Also, taking her to a restaurant first will give you an idea of what she likes. Pay attention to what she drinks and eats; it will help you develop your own menu.
Seriously, don’t do it.
Commandment #2: Get as much done in advance as possible.
In trying to impress my date, I’ve made the mistake of preparing overly complicated dishes. But with poor preparation all of my attention was on cooking and not on her. That completely defeats the purpose. Prep as much as possible so cooking can be effortless, but leave some simple tasks for her so that she can get involved. It will add to the experience and can give you a distraction if the conversation lags. Having her make the salad is perfect for this, that way she will be cooking at the same time you are.
This also means you need to read through your recipes before the date. If you need softened butter, get it out of the fridge before you start cooking. If you need 1 cup of beef stock, measure it out before you start cooking. If you need the oven set at 425 degrees, turn it on before you start cooking. See a trend here?
Commandment #3: Never serve anything messy or difficult to eat.
No spaghetti, no lobster, no French onion soup… etc. Things can get very awkward if you are both concerned with getting pasta sauce on your shirts. Don’t overlook your salad in this respect; make sure your lettuce is chopped small enough to be bite size.
Commandment #4: Offer her something to drink that you know she likes.
If you followed rule #1 then you would know that she likes cocktails, loves beer, or hates red wine. If she’s a teetotaler, don’t just offer her water or soda; whip up something a little more interesting. Mimic what she would order at a restaurant, and she’ll be very impressed that you paid attention.
Commandment #5: Don’t chew with your mouth open.
Mind your table etiquette; you should know better. You’ll feel more comfortable because you’re eating at home, but the basic rules still apply. Put your napkin on your lap, not in your shirt. Don’t shovel your food and keep your mouth closed when you chew. Read this article for a full guide on table manners.
Commandment #6: Don’t get too drunk.
My girlfriend’s grandparents were in town for the weekend, and I decided it would be nice to make dinner for the whole family. Unfortunately, I had a rough day at work and decided to start in early with the tequila. I am not kidding when I say that it contributed to the demise of our three year relationship.
Commandment #7: Have a backup plan.
Did you absolutely destroy your entrée? It’s ok, have this in your fridge: Butter, heavy cream (milk in a pinch), grated parmesan cheese (the stuff in the plastic thing), and garlic. Boom…you’ve got alfredo sauce.
Melt ½ stick of butter, add 1 cup of heavy cream and some chopped garlic (one clove or so). Let simmer for a couple minutes then whisk in 1.5 cups grated parmesan. Salt to taste and add a good amount of fresh ground pepper. Serve over pasta with chicken, shrimp, or whatever you have on hand (having a rotisserie chicken in the fridge is always a brilliant move).
Mess up your alfredo? Laugh at yourself and order a pizza. She’ll appreciate your humility.
Commandment #8: Don’t bother with dessert.
Don’t go overboard: after you eat, stay out of the kitchen. Buy some ice cream, some sugar cones, and sprinkles or whatever. It’s impromptu and cute as hell. Who doesn’t like ice cream cones?
Commandment #9: Keep it simple.
The more variables you have the better the chances that things will go wrong. You don’t need candles and a table-scape to make a lasting impression on a woman. Making things as simple as possible will take a lot of pressure off of you and her. The recipes I have included focus on this concept, so stick with it.
Commandment #10: Relax
It’s supposed to be fun.