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eG Foodblog: JennyUptown - Fun with food


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However, never, ever EVERflambe brussels sprouts in tequila.

Why? What happens?

Brussels shots are the outcome. And the flavor of brussels sprouts does not seem to compliment tequila

maybe you tried the wrong alcohol.

someone did a gazpacho vodka that came up really good in the spirits forum.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Another food memory...

As a freshman at Cornell, I started off on the 7-3 meal plan (three meals a day, seven days per week). I rarely made it to breakfast, preferring to grab a Pop Tart in my dorm room or in a crowded lecture where no one cared if I ate, so long as I didn't try to copy their class notes.

For lunch, I tended to eat at one of the central campus dining halls near my classes such as the Ivy Room (where I'd usually dine solo, semi-wallowing in my melancholic state) or Trillium (the very social dining hall, a very intimidating place even with a plan to meet friends). From what I hear, Cornell's dining program is highly rated, but I wasn't all that excited about it at the time. Much like now, I craved diversity; choosing between dining halls didn't qualify. Instead, I wanted restaurant food, or food from home, or even to cook (the dorms had small non-kitchens and were generally crowded with forgotten ramen and other crusty leftovers - I can still smell it). I lived on grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken fingers (lunch) and mushy pasta (dinner) followed by blueberry pie. Lots of blueberry pie.

At night, I'd often eat again ("Hello Freshman Fifteen...do I hear Twenty?"). Usually we'd get Hot Truck but there were plenty of nights when we ordered Pizza Hut. I'd be willing to bet that I ate vegetables less than ten times the entire year. After seventeen years of meat+starch+veg meals with Mom and Dad, I created my own food plan. Truthfully, even now I don't eat well. I've added a few vegetables to my diet - asparagus is the favorite - but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Back to here and now. I wonder how much the pro athlete's diet is determined by their age?? I ate like crap at 19 and 21 also, just didn't really know not eat what they told me to on the TV. I'm impressed when I read eGullet posts by people in their late teens and early 20s. I was so un-gourmet at that point in time. Eating was just kind of secondary to living (and drinking). I did it, but I wasn't good at it yet. By the time they are old enough to know better, the athletes' professional careers are probably almost over. I suppose though, unlike me, these are guys who are looking for peak performance from their bodies. They really should take in better stuff. Does a professional team do nutritional education?

The age part is absolutely true. There are many more 18 year olds in the pros now (esp. the NBA) and both the League and individual teams have made efforts to address the issue of preparing these young guys to live independently. The programs have life skills components (e.g., teaching the kids about how dry cleaning works, opening a checking account, etc.), but more often than not, most emphasis is placed on avoiding money-grubbing hangers-on, hoochie-mamas and drugs.

Actually, this is a good spot to share what I think is a piece of excellent journalism. For those of you with any interest in this sports/food topic, check it out.

"Growing Pains" by Sally Jenkins

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But what if he sees the leftovers in the fridge, tastes them, rushes to Tiffany's and returns only to fall on one knee and beg for your hand?

Engaging writing, great sports take, charming blogger...thanks, Jenny.

(If he really does propose, I'm telling Ms. Ray!  )

Maggie, you are hilarious. NOT GONNA HAPPEN, however I think you should draft that note to Ms. Ray now...just for entertainment purposes.

Thanks for the compliments! I'm having a lot of fun with this.

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:sad:

sounds like you didn't reduce enough?

now i don't cook enough, if at all, so take this for what it's worth.

what did you replace the crushed tomatoes with?

if with sauce or more liquid than would be available with crushed tomatoes,

wouldn't a slightly reduced volume of liquid components be appropriate?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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what did you replace the crushed tomatoes with?

if with sauce or more liquid than would be available with crushed tomatoes,

wouldn't a slightly reduced volume of liquid components be appropriate?

Replaced crushed tomatoes (32oz) with 15 or 16oz of tomato sauce. I thought I had it [reasonably] covered. :blush:

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I'm curious if the people who dislike seafood grew up in inland areas? I have frequently met midwesterners and Minnesotans that would not eat fish or seafood. I grew up in Northern CA where most people seem to like fish and seafood. I also feel that Californians seem to eat a lot more vegetables and salad.

I did, Ohio. We also didn't eat much seafood when I was growing up. I now eat lots of things I didn't like as a kid, and still test the seafood waters (har har :rolleyes: ) when I am feeling brave, or there is a good opportunity. So far, though, not much luck.

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Halupki (aka halushki)

Pennsylvania has a lot of Eastern European cultures represented.  My father's family is Polish.  My mother's side of the family is Welsh and German - strangely enough, it was my maternal grandmother who liked most of what I considered to be the weird foods.  I hated it when Nana would make these meat and rice-filled cabbage rolls.  Again, it was primarily the smell and they would usually convince me to eat some of the filling (never the cabbage shell though - bleechh).

My father is Polish from Buffalo and we call these galumpki (I probably totally butchered the spelling) in Polish. You're right -- they smell absolutely terrible and I can't get past that either. I detest them.

I'm also part Greek and, when you can't find grape leaves, you're supposed to makes dolmades with cabbage. Ick! Greek galumpki! Ew!

My Happy Childhood Food Memories are almost all Greek or Polish food. My grandmother used to come to visit and make pots and pots of avgolemono for my brother and me when we were little -- chicken avgolemono, turkey avgolemono, lamb avgolemono. Rolling dolmades with my grandmother. My grandmother's pans and pans of tiropitakias and spanakotpitakia. At Greek Easter we used to dye eggs deep red. I remember eating eggs (a dozen? maybe more) until I broke out in a rash one Easter. We always roasted a lamb on a spit in the yard, marinating it in lemon and garlic and oregano, pulling the skin off as it cooked.

My father's aunties used to come visit and make homemade kielbasa and kapusta (sauerkraut) and poppyseed babkas and lemon squares.

Calamari. Oh my god, calamari. The summer I spent in Greece with my grandparents and I ate calamari all summer long.

Chocolate. Neuhaus and Leonides and Godiva.

As for the seafood/fish issue, I'm convinced that people who don't like fish typically haven't eaten (1) well-cooked or (2) really, truly fresh fish. People who grow up buying fish at the grocery store and cooking it until it's rubbery are bound to dislike it. The Greeks (or at least my Greek grandmother) tend to cook fish until it's dead -- and then some -- and as a result I wasn't a fan until my late teens, until I finally had a well-cooked cut of fish. But I honestly didn't become a real fish eater (although I ate seafood) until after I started eating sushi, because sushi convinced me that fish didn't have to taste "fishy."

Edited by MichelleW (log)
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babkas

Michelle just reminded me... even though my father is Polish and his mother (who died when I was a baby) was actually from Poland, I never had babka until we went to Newark for my uncle's funeral. I was a senior in high school racked with guilt over being so excited about this marvelous new food in the midst of my father's grieving.

Even now, I hear "babka" and I feel this quick flip-flop of emotions.

Other Polish foods are popular on both sides of my family - I think it's more about where I'm from that the ethnic background of my own family. Kielbasa, as long as it's not too fatty. My Russian aunt's pierogis (which I wouldn't eat until I was an adult even though I liked all of the components).

As for the seafood/fish issue, I'm convinced that people who don't like fish typically haven't eaten (1) well-cooked or (2) really, truly fresh fish.

What about people like me who have never eaten it - ever? To be truthful, I really think I'd rather start off by trying sushi or sashimi rather than some baked or broiled whatever.

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I remeber my first trip to Iowa in the early 80's (for Gary Hart -- the General Clark of his day) and even though I was not much of a cook back then, it was clear that distance from the coast dictated frozen or god-awful "fresh" seafood. One restaurant in Des Moines advertised its lobster dinner a couple weeks in advance -- you signed up early and they ordered the lobsters flown in for the dinner. No fresh crustaceans in the state, as far as I could tell.

I don't know how things are now, but I suspect if you grew up in the Midwest before 1990 -- unless dad was a fisherman -- you didn't taste much good fish growing up. Even these days, in Denver, good fish is harder to find than it is on the coasts. And, of all things, I think freshness is most important to seafood.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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what did you replace the crushed tomatoes with?

if with sauce or more liquid than would be available with crushed tomatoes,

wouldn't a slightly reduced volume of liquid components be appropriate?

Replaced crushed tomatoes (32oz) with 15 or 16oz of tomato sauce. I thought I had it [reasonably] covered. :blush:

I have a feeling that the combination of tomato sauce and proscuitto is what made the sauce too salty.

(Can someone confirm the proscuitto? I've never eaten it due to kashrut)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The proscuitto is indeed salty - even though I didn't use much, I'm sure it made a difference. Plus, I checked the can and the sauce also had "salt" and "spices," albeit low on the list of five or six ingredients.

I *thought* I had planned for the salt issue by not adding salt when I was told to. No such luck.

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Cooking stinks. The worst part? I made enough for leftovers so I'm stuck eating the stuff for lunch tomorrow. If only I'd had volunteers to cook for me.

Sorry about your misadventure tonight. :sad:

One idea is that you could use the leftovers in a scrambled egg dish. I haven't made my scrambled egg dishes in a long time and have been thinking about starting again. I used to be good at them. Basically, I would start off with some chopped garlic and onions, and fry them in a frying pan with EVOO. Then I would add tomatoes and whatever green vegetables I felt like putting in (fresh basil is great but Italian parsley is also good; feel free to experiment with other greens). The next step is to add some eggs (at least two but probably three is better) and scramble them all up with the sauteed vegetables. I would add some dried oregano at some point if I didn't have fresh oregano, and a nice amount of black pepper or paprika. Then I'd add some cheese, like mozarella, parmesan, provolone. All that would be mixed up. At that point, you could add your leftover sauce, if you didn't throw it all into a bowl with the pasta. Mix all that up. Add a good helping of the wine of your choice (I used to use Sherry). Stir periodically to prevent the food from sticking to the pan. Taste and add whatever seems needed (I usually don't add salt because it's in the cheese, but you could). Eat over freshly toasted bread.

Actually, my best version of this included leftovers of a Portuguese stew my mother made. I wrote down the recipe as best I could but was never able to duplicate it.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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What about people like me who have never eaten it - ever? To be truthful, I really think I'd rather start off by trying sushi or sashimi rather than some baked or broiled whatever.

I have a friend who cannot stand cooked fish but is slowly learning to love sushi. We eased her into it, starting with tuna.

One great thing about sushi is that the fishy smell isn't a problem. ( Unless you smell it, and then it's a problem!)

Let me know if you need sushi recommendations! They are my specialty :smile:

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I hear you on the dinner ick. made rasam last night, thinking it would miraculously cure this stinkin' cold. tasted it, realized I could give myself a sick stomach with it, and had to settle for jello and crackers instead.

next time, maybe try a drained can of diced tomatoes (muir glenn is my emergency stock o' cans) instead of sauce? more tomato, like in the recipe, and fewer extraneous liquids & tastes.

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Jenny, I've found that in the off-season (sadly, most of the year) grape or cherry tomatoes usually give you the best real tomato taste.

I'm sorry your dinner didn't turn out. It looks like it would make a killer flan/souffle/refrigerator pie with the leftovers (as well as helping to tone down the salt).

Look at this recipe from Good Eats and put your sauce in where it says "any one of the following combinations. You probably won't need the cream, either. A little spinach or artichoke hearts may go well, also.

Best of luck, and remember, keep cooking!

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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eGulleteers are a great bunch. Thanks for all of the encouraging words.

I have talked a bit about factors which I have blamed for inhibiting my desire to cook more often. In the past, I have frequently blamed my kitchen situations, but presently that excuse won't fly. I live in a rented DC apartment with one of the nicer kitchens I've had since leaving the comfort of Mom & Dad's house. Everything is new-ish. Not super-high-tech, but good enough for most people who cook for fun (and certainly more than good enough for this amateur). Lots of counter space, all of the necessary objects and it's separate from the rest of the apartment without being isolated. To others, my kitchen might be nothing special, but to me, my entire apartment is as good as Christmas morning.

I have a dining area too, but to be honest, the table there is used as a writing desk much more often than it is for dining. The living room coffee table sees much more food.

Looking back, I can think of quite a few "key moments in kitchens" so I'm going to break this up into two or three parts. Although, if you find it boring (let me know), maybe I'll stop after Part 1. :wink:

In college, there was the college meal plan I already described followed by one year living in a sorority house. The forty or so of us residing there had a cook responsible for cold lunches and hot dinners. Breafast was DIY during the week. I hated all of it. Complicating matters, my best friend had a rather severe problem with anorexia. Between my distaste for the greasy, nasty food served buffet style in the dining room and her desire to avoid having people watch her eat (or not), we were a weird pair, and during the year, we ended up sampling most of downtown Ithaca's establishments, sometime several times each week. Her father, knowing there was a problem and thinking he should try to help, footed the bill for both of us. I'd eat things I liked - grilled chicken, rice, turkey sandwiches, basic, familiar foods - while she ordered a salad to start followed by a side of whatever steamed vegetables they could dig up. It was a strange year. [Note: my friend struggled for many years, but is doing great now.]

On a decidedly lighter note...I lived in a six bedroom, 1.5 rabbit hutch of an apartment my junior year. Yes, you read that correctly. I cannot imagine how that ever seemed like a good idea. We were part United Nations, part Jerry Springer show. There were two roommates who tried to incorporate select principles of kosher eating, one roommate who was from Korea but could never remember to check the darn rice rooker before it was too late (our apartment always smelled like burned rice), another girl who spent much more money feeding her horse than herself, the anorexic and me. The most significant development of that year? Pasta and peas was conceived here.

My senior year of college was a step in the right direction. I lived with four wonderful women, all of whom I'm still friends with, in a house owned by one of the women's parents. He had a grown-up's kitchen in a house formerly owned by a rabbi and his family and it was such an improvement upon my past college dwellings' kitchens.

My roommates and I ate together pretty regularly. Two of the five were great cooks - the remaining three, of which I was one, offered to clean up. Together we celebrated birthdays and other special occasions with elaborate meals. One of the two cooks was in Cornell's hotel school; the other was a creative vegetarian. Both cooked dishes to be appreciated. When they weren't cooking for me, I worked "hard" to perfect pasta and peas. One of the other non-chefs loved it, but I refused to share with the gourmands (not that they wanted any). It was a good time. And then I moved to New York City.

(Part 2 - to come...)

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Apartment kitchens, especially in cities, leave much to be desired. (well, unless you can afford a large place or are unusually lucky) I am not sure why kitchens seem like so much of an afterthought in apartments - no counter space (and I mean none, the last two places I have lived have had ZERO), crappy stoves, and no cabinets. Huh? Even if you do not cook much, I mean, what do they expect you to do with a stove if there is not counter space? How can you chop vegetables? And if there is no cabinet space, where can you put your food?

IN reading the your post, Jenny, I agree that the kitchen can make a difference. I;ve learned to live with it and keep cooking, but Man! I could really use some counter space. And some cabinets. At least I have a gas stove now.

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Childhood food memories....although I am a very adventurous eater now, not so when I was a kid. My sisters and I each had our list of gag foods (to my parents complete joy I am sure), asparagus and stuffed grape leaves were on all our lists. We lived in Pittsburgh which had (still has?) a large number of middle eastern restaurants, I loved Hummus (not completely unadventurous), but to this day I am still not fond of stuffed grape leaves.

I hated tomatoes in all forms except spaghetti sauce when I was 10 or so, as I got into my teens I started to appreciate fresh tomatoes, but only the end slices, so as to avoid the seeds and juice. Now I love tomatoes in all forms, the juicier the better.

I still remember the time when I was about 14 when I first had fresh green beans (from the farmers market, which our neighbor had just introduced us to) that were not horribly overcooked, and were tossed with butter, lemon juice and tarragon after a quick steaming. This was a revelation to me--until then I was sure that I hated green beans.

My 2 younger sisters and I also used to play a game where we competed in trying to make up the grossest blend from what was available in our pantry. This was an old fashioned pantry in what was once a farm house, so we could all three of us pile into the pantry, close the door behind us and then the laboratory work would begin. We would blend up, for instance, worcestorshire, kitchen bouquet, capers, bitters, with assorted dried herbsa nd spices and do taste tests to establish the level of grossness that we had acheived.

On a more culinary note, in my teens, when my father had taken over most of the cooking (my mother had gone back to school and admitted that she never enjoyed cooking much anyway) I became the salad dressing specialist. Probably drawing on my earlier pantry experience, I blended olive oil (it was most certainly not virgin at that point in time or on our budget) red wine vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper (was it fresh ground--I can't remember, but I think so) and usually a little sugar, which was my special, secret ingredient.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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Actually, I think fredbram has hit on a wonderful idea. I've had lots of good experiences making my own salad dressings. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with different herbs and taste enhancers. Things like reduction sauces of fruits and such go really well in salad dressings IMO, and you aren't making huge amounts so if it doesn't turn out, you aren't out a lot of food, etc.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Thanks for the interesting food-related articles on professional athletes. The story on the high school player that went straight to the pros was very poignant though...

edit: sp

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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In the meantime, think about this:

*  What is your first food memory?

okay JennyUptown, :smile:

because i'm finding your food-blog so smart and charming, i did my homework (see quote):

<reverie>

my first food memory is that i am less than 4 years old, and i am coming down the stairs at night, around Hallowe'en, and my mother is making those molasses-popcorn balls for trick-n-treaters.

can you imagine a time so naive (late 60s) when mothers would do this? :biggrin: and such a strong memory: the sulphur-y smell of molasses, and the fresh popped corn.

</end reverie>

as i said, really enjoying your blog!

just edit to say: i'd be happy to make you an avatar! PM me if you want...

Edited by gus_tatory (log)

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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Just back from yet another one of those coworker's birthday lunches. I really enjoy working with the colleague in question, however I was not looking forward to the lunch. He chose Tony Cheng's Seafood House and although I wasn't thrilled about the selection, it was more about other not-great reviews of the place, not my seafood situation. I can always find something to eat.

I was also thinking about 1. my budget and 2. my dinner reservations for tonight at Ceiba for DC's Restaurant Week. These lunches, while always a good laugh because the people I work with are a pretty fun bunch, can stretch on for two hours. I have blogging to do, people! Check, please...

I have a tummyache. :sad:

Anyway, back to my random musings about kitchens.

Good Lord, the kitchens of NYC... My first apartment, on Park Avenue South near 20th Street in Gramercy Park, was under 300 sq feet. Really. The kitchen was in a little alcove and its appliances were just tiny things. Until recently I had assumed that they were manufactured for the sole purpose of furnishing apartments in the five boroughs. Touring apartments here in DC, seeking to find a better rent deal, shot down that belief.

Back to the appliances...this kitchen didn't come with any of the "extras" I've since become accustomed to having. No mounted microwave, no dishwasher and a very old fashioned refrigerator, the kind with a tiny icebox (literally encrusted with years of ice) within. The stove/oven was approximately 24 inches wide and it was a gas stove, something new to me. My mother, a big fan of her electric range, worried nightly about fires, as well as my premature death from a gas leak and how I would ever light the pilot light should it go out. Her worries were unnecessary are I rarely cooked during that first year in New York. The rent was $950/month plus utilities. Even with frequent, uh, subsidies from home, how could I afford food on my tiny magazine salary?

After a year, I moved to a slightly larger (and yes, more expensive) apartment, but the kitchen situation didn't improve. Why? I simply moved up four floors within the building. Same building, same sort of kitchen. Very little cooking.

In an attempt to save money, I moved into a really nice roommate situation on the Upper East Side. The building was gorgeous with two doormen working 24/7. The kitchen was so much more pleasant than the ones I had endured for just over two years. It had a dishwasher - so exciting! Additionally there was a nice pass-through set-up. It was a cute apartment. Pasta and peas was noticed as a trend here. "Pasta and peas? AGAIN??" I can hear Beth saying. Beth is now married, living a happy, busy life in California, yet when we talk she sometimes feels compelled to harrangue me about my habit.

Living with roommates, though, wasn't always a picnic as it reintroduced the food sharing/stealing problem from college. Grr... One of my two roommates was considerate and kind; I liked sharing with her. The other, who replaced Beth when she moved on, was a pot-smoking, e-taking, competitive marathoner (yes, you read that right). Between her food thefts, love of canned tuna (blech!!) and a frequent desire to cook smelly fish, we weren't close. She moved out after a year or so and our new third roommate was bad in her own way. In the end, when we all decided to move, she took off with my blender, the best of my limited small kitchen appliance collection.

My final apartment in NYC was a find. Located in Greenwich Village on what is sometimes called Downtown's restaurant row (Cornelia Street), it was a newly renovated 2 BR place in an old tenement building which I shared with a friend's brother. Everything was brand new, but nothing could hide the smallness of the place. The kitchen and living room were one, and contained in about 200-250 sq feet making cooking while watching tv an easy feat. This roommate really fancied himself to be quite the chef (as he used spaghetti sauce from a jar) and liked to lecture me about...my reliance on pasta and peas. I, in turn, frequently pleaded with him to stop stirring his cooking food with a fork (worse than nails on a chalk board) and doing bad things in the kitchen sink while drunk. Don't ask.

Moving to DC was a revelation. When landlords and other real estate types asked for my list of musts, I couldn't think of any because I had lived without [everything] for so long. No dishwasher? OK. No air conditioning? OK. It took me awhile to make demands but I am learning.

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I saw a post on the New York board that took me back. Someone was asking about a good first-date restaurant for "a friend." Made me think about some of my more memorable restaurant dates (as opposed to the "let's cut to the make-out part" dates). :huh:

Back in New York...I was probably somewhere between 22 and 24. Somehow, I met this guy whose name escapes me, but whose Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) accent shall never be forgotten. I overlooked his accent and the fact that he advertised himself as "Eye-talian" because he was really cute albeit in a cheesy way. Remember Madonna's Papa Don't Preach video? This guy (was it Nick? this is going to drive me crazy) looked like the studly Madonna-baby-daddy in the video. He had a taste for wearing this awful silver chain and putting too much whatever in his brown hair. But I figured we could work on that later if need be.

For whatever reason, this guy REALLY liked me right off the bat. I knew this for sure when he came to pick me up and announced that we were going to have dinner at Provence, a romantic and somewhat expensive spot on Macdougal in the West Village.

Note: I have no idea what Provence's reputation is these days. This all took place at least six years ago. In lawyer-speak, nothing in this posting shall be construed as an endorsement of Provence by the Author.

I've never been any good with guys who come on strong; I pretty much always lose interest and gain squirminess. My interest in this guy immediately began to decline in spite of his nice effort. I remember that I liked the food, but I was more focused on escaping than anything else. "Dessert? No, I would not like dessert. Check, please." So mean of me, I know. Chalk it up to immaturity.

The bottom line: I will never forget Provence. I also never returned (and probably never will!).

Did you ever have a date spoil for you what might have been an enjoyable meal/restaurant?

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