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Date night dinner

So after a more than 10 year absence from the dating pool, I'm jumping back in with both feet.

I've been on a few dinner dates with a handsome gentleman, and am planning to have him come over to my place for dinner in the next week or so. So I need some menu advice. He's reasonably adventurous, well-traveled, smart, and I don't want to screw this up.

I can cook almost anything, but obviously want to stick to my comfort zones for this one: things I know I can do (reliably) well, and not so labor intensive that I look like I've knocked myself out. My thoughts are for an either French(ish) or Italian menu.

French(ish):

Appetizer: Some decent terrines (store bought from a good place)

Entree: Roasted chicken with white wine, tarragon and mustard sauce. Frites (home made).

Dessert: Chocolate mousse

Italian:

Appetizer: An assortment of interesting antipasti (from a good local place)

Entree: Risotto Milanese (made the way my ex-mother in law taught me with saffron, bone marrow, etc)

Dessert: Zabaglione with raspberries.

Thoughts? Advice? Especially on wine choices and what 40-something guys would enjoy.

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  1. It would be great if you knew what this guy usually ordered when you were out. That said, I would choose the chicken because if you make the risotto it might be hard for you to not tell him it was your ex MILs recipe--and would a new boyfriend really want to like that dish?

    1. I would go for the chicken. It is easy but visually very impressive. Also, because a white wine for the chicken should be easy to pick.

      A reason against the risotto is he may think the bone marrow strange, probably not.. you said he is well traveled. Another reason against the risotto is it takes all your attention. Something you should have turned to your guest.

      1. Frites are delicious when they are fresh from the fryer, but don't really hold for very long. If you want to have a leisurely time, you might want to reconsider something requiring that much attention. Maybe roast potatoes instead? Or a gratin?
        Both entrees sound great, though if it were up to this 40-something, I would say chicken.
        As for wine, either of these dishes would pair nicely with a bubbly. Of course, I think almost everything goes well with champagne.

        1 Reply
        1. terrines and pate are a good start since they can be plated way ahead.

          are you able to roast a chicken so the breasts remain moist, while the legs are sufficiently cooked? ;)

          agree about the frites though -- they need to be cooked immediately before serving, the oil can make a mess and definitely makes a smell. something i don't like when i have people over. honestly, since the first course will have plenty of bread, you could just go with roasted asparagus or green beans and skip the starch. i don't find men to be the carbs fiends that women can be.

          chocolate mousse is easy and delicious but v-e-r-y heavy. chocolate dipped strawberries and some seasonal fruit with cream will be plenty.

          risotto requires too much time at the stove. not good for when you should be making flirty-talk over a glass of getting-to-know-you-better.

          zabaglione after risotto would be coma-time.

          you could start with some bubbly and olives and anchovy puffs. or a bowl of cooked, chilled shrimp. (stuff to eat with your hands.) then drink a good rhone with the pate and the chicken.

          1. i'm with most people - do the frenchy version - for the reasons stated above. and tho the frites sound amazing paired with that chicken and the mustard sauce, a gratin will pair great and doesn't have you sitting in the kitchen being spattered with oil, or serving wilted fries.

            maybe a green salad after the chicken? butter lettuce is beautiful right now - simple and clean, with a dijon shallot dressing, to echo the sauce with the chicken?

            as gilintx said, champers is a good pic. maybe for the terrines, and then a bone-dry rosé with the chicken, if you don't want to continue with sparkling.

            1. Thanks all.

              I was leaning toward the French idea. No problem on the frites - I've got those down to a science (I do them twice cooked and only need to crisp them up at the right time). If I time everything right, I'll only be crisping the frites and making the sauce at while he's there. He's also (or claims to be) decent in the kitchen, so I can perhaps put him to work on some small task like chopping herbs or the like. Not much sexier than cooking together.

              Now I just need to think about what to make in the AM if the date "goes well" <ahem!>

              4 Replies
              1. re: bonefreakchef

                Another vote for the French menu. And the Champagne.
                Good to see that you are already on top of your post-date meal planning:-)

                1. re: bonefreakchef

                  I love it. You have gone out with him a few times and now you are going to cook for him at your home.

                  We (men) aren't entirely stupid. Although we can be dense at times. He will show up with a bottle of wine and clean underwear and he will rave about it even if you serve him braised dog food.

                  Have a nice time.

                  1. re: bonefreakchef

                    Overnight French Toast? : ->

                    ...Always the options of leftovers in the AM... unless those get eaten as a midnight snack...
                    Go easy in the morning -- just make scrambling or frying eggs look sexy.

                    Have fun... I love and hate having new boys over for dinner -- on one hand, I get to start at the beginning of the cycle, knowing they've had none of my signature dishes yet; on the other, I feel a bit more pressure to put out good food. As long as you're making stuff you love to make, that shines right through. I suggest not being done cooking when he arrives. You want to impress him, yourself, but he best not think you've been cooking for hours (even if you have); better he think you're a busy gal, with a busy day, and just squeezing dinner in for him at the end :)

                    1. re: bonefreakchef

                      Keep breakfast foods around and let HIM cook for you in the morning! Now THERE'S a date!

                    2. I'm afraid I have to disagree with both menus, save for the terrines and mousse. They sound like something I'd fix if I were hosting a bunch of girlfriends having a ladies' night away from their spouses and kids. Unless he's a raving metrosexual, first time cooking dinner for a man, I'd go with beef or pork. Pot roast, meat loaf, steak, roast pork. Potatoes - roast or baked if it's steak, mashed for the other choices. Unfortunately, a lot of men don't eat many vegetables. Make two or three so he has a choice: creamed spinach, glazed carrots, green beans. Red wine.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: greygarious

                        Pot roast, meat loaf

                        ~~~

                        both seem like something a mother makes for her son. ;)

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I disagree. If the OP said she wanted to serve him quiche, okay maybe it sounds too girly. But roast chicken, no. All I know is that if I served meat loaf or pot roast to my husband, he'd probably throw it at me.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            a lot of men don't eat vegetables? really? you live in a different world from me!
                            OP has no doubt seen what this man has ordered on dinner dates. I like the roast chicken option.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              my BF is far from a "raving metrosexual", and loves his meat, but he'd love a great roasted chicken with pommes frite. and ADORES veggies. there are so many men out there with so many different tastes. it's really hard to generalize.

                            2. Again - I do very much appreciate all the suggestions. I'm going to go with the French(ish) menu.

                              The reason I suggested both of the menu ideas is that he's been a great dinner companion, adventurous, always willing to share bites of his plate and steal some of mine (a very sexy trait), and not easily grossed out (we have both lived in Asia and had amusing conversations about odd things we've seen/tried).

                              The last time we were out he ordered a sherry and juniper roasted chicken. The time before that, cheeseburger. The time before that, we wrecked some stuff on the raw bar. And he actually eats his vegetables.

                              I'll save the meatloaf and the like until I know if he's a "boxers or briefs" kind of guy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bonefreakchef

                                i love it, bfc! you've taken the measure of the man, and you've got your tools in hand (frites)! i'm sure it will be a great success. please report back!