Monday, April 12, 2010

fantasy three-course meal

I was recently tagged in a Fantasy Food Fest, described as a most “self-indulgent meme.” I read about the game, in which you choose dinner and drinks with hunky fictional men, with huge enjoyment.

Tara's Three-Course Meal post hit a lot of things I like: food, books, movies, and, well, interesting leading men.  This exercise is totally silly and gratuitous, but I found it surprisingly intriguing as well. I think you can learn a lot about someone from the food and the people she's attracted to.

And are my picks for food and drink and company in my Fantasy Three-Course Meal. Pull up a chair and join me!

Drink: Grand Marnier on the rocks

Impeccably smooth, strong, and orangey, Grand Marnier is perfect with nothing more than large cubes of ice in a highball glass. This simple but seductive drink makes me think of swanky hotel bars, white linen tablecloths, and well-groomed women in slinky dresses.

I can’t think of a better man to share an intimate cognac with than the sophisticated Mark Rutland, whose arrogant, decisive businessman finds himself enthralled with Hitchcock’s troubled Marnie. I think this role surpasses Sean Connery’s appeal in even the Bond series, since his wit and masculinity are matched by his passion and compassion for his leading lady. Besides, most of us like a man who’s monogamous. And who might actually make it home for dinner.

Appetizer: Roasted Shrimp and Tomatoes

I’ve always loved food, but I only started cooking somewhat recently.  About four years ago, my husband and I moved across the country and rediscovered cable. Ina Garten’s roasted shrimp and tomatoes dish is still one of my favorite appetizers to make…the grape tomatoes get incredibly sweet from roasting in the oven, and the garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper perfectly complement the shrimp. The dish reminds me of watching hours and hours of Food Network all that time ago, and how happy learning to cook has made me.

It would be lovely to share this starter with Teddy Kent, subject of Emily’s friendship and heartbreak in the Emily of New Moon series. I have always been very fond of Anne, of course, but I loved the strong, stubborn Emily. Re-reading them brings me back to those young heady days when you feel passionate and romantic and enthralled by life and all its possibilities. Teddy was Emily’s kindred spirit, an artist, a thinker, and a dreamer—but as often happens in these matters, it’s only after many years of struggle and misunderstanding that the two finally come together. If I had this dish with Teddy, it should be as we're sitting companionably together in a great big open meadow under the night sky, looking for Vega of the Lyre.

Main Course: selection of sushi, including baby tuna with ponzu, red snapper with lime and sea salt, uni, blue crab hand roll, oyster nigiri, octopus, sweet shrimp nigiri

One of our favorite restaurants in Los Angeles is a completely unassuming one. Hiko is located in a strange part of town in a strip mall, there are no cut rolls (just sashimi and nigiri), and dishes are served on melanine plates. We’d heard stories about how the chef was very strict, and how patrons could be shown the door for using their cell phones or any other number of transgressions. But we’ve never had any such issues, since we’re very careful to respect the chef’s rules and to mind our manners (which, frankly, seems more difficult for some than for others).

The reward is a revelatory dining experience. It seems impossible that raw, fresh fish could taste this way…meltingly tender, enhanced with sea salt here, some yuzu there, but always bursting in your mouth with the fresh, clean tang of the sea.  The seafood is cool, and the vinegared rice warm, so the combination of the two is just phenomenal. I think I’d like to share this omakase menu with Jin, the strong, lightning-fast warrior who gradually gains the trust of a rebel from the House of Flying Daggers. It’s impossible to imagine this course without a cup of warm jade Japanese green tea to accompany it as well, which has all the brilliant green hues of the bamboo forest in the film.

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Bailey’s Mousse Cake

If you could fall in love with cake, this is the one that will make you swoon. Our wedding cake was a dark chocolate with Bailey’s Irish cream in the batter, layered with chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate fondant icing. So many of our guests raved about this cake, including some who told us they don’t even eat cake. (Although really, what kind of a person doesn’t like cake?)

The flavors were subtle but deeply enticing, as is Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I see the scene when, after so many months of quiet strength and reserve, he stands at the door of Marianne’s sickbed and for the first time, is finally acknowledged by the woman he cares for. Although I'll admit that if I’m having dessert with Alan Rickman, I might not ever get a bite down for fear of missing a single word uttered by that fabulous voice.

So who and what would be present at your fantasy dinner? The answers I've seen via Twitter and Facebook have been fascinating, and I'm greedy enough to want to taste all of Tara's courses and dine with her leading men, too.

One last note. I'd love to have any one of these scenarios I've envisioned, but I'm hugely lucky to have someone with whom I enjoy sharing all my meals, including all of the courses above. Mark Rutland-Teddy Kent-Jin-Colonel Brandon, you provide very entertaining fantasy dates, but you still don't hold a candle to the reality of Mr. Honeybee.


  1. I have half hour to kill before my husband's picking me up for (a late)lunch, and your post made me sooo hungry! I love the picture of the roasted shrimps and tomatoes. Argg, now I've clicked on the page and seen the recipe: I'm starving!

  2. Hah, I know just how you feel! The recipe is a link to my old learning-to-cook blog. How nice your hubby is taking you to lunch on a weekday.


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