Any restaurant - even Waffle House - can be the setting of a romantic dining experience on Valentine's Day. But what local restaurants have romantic cachet when it's not the so-called "most romantic night of the year"? (Ask any restaurant server who has hustled plates on Valentine's Day evening how "romantic" that shift is for them.)
On this morning's edition of KCUR 89.3's Central Standard Friday I'll be discussing the best places to take a date for seduction or a marriage proposal, and even the best places to begin an illicit affair - with fellow panelist Christine Becicka of Ingram's Magazine and special guest, novelist, cookbook author and former restaurateur Lou Jane Temple, and the show's listeners at 10 a.m. Feel free to join the radio conversation by calling 816-235-2888.
All right, there are more than five, come to think of it. (I just realized that we're leaving out potential candidates such as Nicholas Grunauer of Grunauer, Sam Silvio of Em Chamas, Ted Habiger of Room 39, Michael Smith of the restaurant of the same name and -- well, God only knows how many others.) And then there are the female restaurant owners, too. But that's a list that someone other than this writer should compile.
It goes without saying that every restaurant has an individual dish that stands out. In some cases, the dish might just be the owner. So go ahead and visit these local hot spots and try to catch a glimpse of one of our caliente crushes. To quote Amy Adams' incarnation of Julie Powell in the 2009 film Julie and Julia: "I read somewhere that it was bad form to say 'yum' while you're eating, but yum."
Bender men traditionally don't cook. Well, to be more accurate, when we cook, we make a significant mess and we don't clean.
My late grandfather taught me to cook a single dish: potato pancakes. The recipe is not complicated, nor is the preparation, but the taste is rich with the memories of watching him at the stove in his Chicago apartment.
I would sit at the kitchen table, both of my hands wrapped around a glass of orange juice. I'd swing my feet, which didn't reach the floor, in anticipation of the breakfast that would leave my tongue raw and my throat burned. Because I was so eager to eat them, I never learned to wait for the pancakes to cool.
Only after he agreed to show me how he made them did I learn that what I was tasting wasn't the ingredients -- it was my happiness at spending time with my grandfather.
In the same way that bacon has become a self-identifier, people are apparently turning to cupcakes as a form of self-expression. Newsweek looks at how they are now a fashion statement thanks to the cupcakism movement
To be a cupcakist is to put your faith in the church of cute and sweet, to believe that childhood is a magical land accessible via a palm-size serving of sugar and fat (and the occasional sprinkle).The worship of sugar and fat doesn't sound too bad. It kind of suggests that life be like Friday morning in the donut shop. But the author leaves little doubt of whether you should consider joining up:
There's something pathetic about creating a world view around a child's treat -- pro or con. Let's look beyond the hype, and return cupcakes to their appropriate status -- as a snack food, not a lifestyle choice.It's a harsh dismissal, but a necessary one if it means that we'll all instead focus on creating better cupcakes rather than better cupcake peripherals. And as long as we're focused on actual cupcakes, there is plenty happening with regard to the frosted, baked goods.
Not all school lunches are bad. In fact, each school has the power to make at least one great dish. Whether that dish comes from instant potatoes or grade D meat is another question.
Earlier this month, Slow Food USA staged a series of potluck "eat-ins" at public schools across the country, in an effort to lobby the government to dedicate more money to school lunch programs. This comes just a few years after a similar movement in England, led by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who saw an opportunity to remake his image and improve the diets of British schoolchildren.
Now, whether the school lunch program changes dramatically or not, it's worth discussing the classics: sloppy joes, taco bars, french bread pizza (before the days of Elio's frozen pizzas), and breaded chicken cutlets (Serious Eats links to a vibrant discussion on Chowhound of).
My favorite was simple, wrapped in three layers of plastic wrap. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread -- the sugary taste of the grape jelly overpowering the peanut butter against bread sweeter than either. For a side, you'd have to pick the tater tots, toasted well on the outside with an interior nuclear lava quality that rivaled jalapeno poppers from the microwave or T.G.I. Friday's.
For dessert, a chocolate milk carton and a no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookie. (The Chowhound threads links to a series of recipes, if you've never experienced the dirty joy of a no-bake cookie.)
So, how about it? What item on the school menu had you skipping to school, counting down the minutes to lunch and the nice lady in a hairnet handing you your tray?
[Image via Flickr: Cornell University Library]
You can tell a lot about a man or woman by his or her sandwich order. And might replace the Zodiac as your predictor of happiness in a potential relationship.
Hellman's and Best Foods sponsored a recent study to try to match lunch selections with personality types. The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation analyzed the sandwich orders of 2,747 adults -- offering them eight choices and then cross-examining those decisions with the results of comprehensive personality tests.
More surprising than the actual results might be one of the first facts in the announcement: Americans eat an estimated 40 billion sandwiches a year -- approximately 131 sandwiches per person. Forget Match.com, that's 131 chances to connect in the lunch room or a park bench! (For those who still feel they need love or condiment advice -- Hellman's has launched a companion Web site -- Build The Perfect Sandwich.)
You might not think that novels involving food could get better than Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but a lot has been written since you were six.
Each month, the Kansas City Library assembles a list of recommendations tied to holidays or the birthdays of famous authors. To celebrate Culinary Arts Month, Kansas City librarian Angela Kille has put together a "Fiction for Foodies" summer reading list.
Just remember, steak doesn't have legs. My favorite scene from my favorite romantic film.
... for making breasts unsexy. As I was flipping through my -- I mean my friend's -- new swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, one advertisement stood out amid all the cleavage and suggestive poses:
This may be a recession but any halfway romantic restaurant is booked by now. Hell, romantic or not, any restaurant that takes reservations is booked by now. So if you have your heart set on dining out this weekend but don't have reservations or just don't like massive crowds, dine out Friday or Sunday night instead.
I'm not a fan of prix-fixe menus at restaurants that don't normally serve them, and most restaurants go that route on Valentine's Day. In this case, the prix fixe will help you avoid ordering an esoteric dish you may end up hating.
Several restaurants in the area that have special Valentine's menus are offering them the entire weekend.
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