Date Night Is All About The Food
Date night is the best night. It should be every night, but hey… life. Maybe you dropped the kids off at meema’s for the weekend. Maybe this is your second date and you are looking to impress. No matter the situation, you have found a moment to enjoy a romantic evening amidst the chaos of your work and family schedules. Cherish it. Set everything else you got going on aside for these few hours and truly enjoy each other’s company. You can opt to Netflix and chill. No one could blame you. But, if you want to truly make the evening special there is only one place to start… with the food. Here are seven home cooking tips to ensure you have the perfect night in.
Tip One: Clean Up
First things first. You got to clean up. Whether you’ve been married for thirty years, or are a new couple having your first date at home, a clean space is essential. It will help set the tone for the night and remove all distractions so you can focus on each other — and the food, definitely the food. The last thing you want to do is worry about dirty clothes on the floor or bumping into an obelisk of dishes you left on the counter. Do yourself a favor. Clean up before you get started so you can start the night off right.
Tip Two: Prep Before, But Cook A La Minute
It is ok to do some prep work earlier in the day. Do just enough to make sure things run smoothly once things get cooking. You don’t want to be dicing vegetables for an hour after your date has arrived when you could have gotten that out of the way. On the other hand, you don’t want to over prepare by pre-cooking everything and just heating it up in the oven. That is no good. You should leave a little bit of work. Sear a steak, deglaze a sauce, or dice some herbs at the last minute for a dazzling knife display. Of course, if you are new to cooking, a test run a few nights before could be the difference between success and failure (AKA a fire truck outside your house).
Tip Three: Start Small
Apps are awesome. We’re not talking iOS. We are talking table-side guacamole, a mini-fondue set, or some fresh poke. If you still have some cooking to do, your date will definitely appreciate something to munch on while they wait for the main course. Dippables are always a favorite. Think of the sampler plates at chain restaurants but, instead of dunking your potato wedges in blue cheese, go outside the box. You can try mac n’ cheese balls with Sriracha ketchup, spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce, or pita chips with homemade hummus. Always make it fresh. The more options, the better.
Tip Four: Be Adventurous vs. Playing It Safe
The biggest question of the night centers on the main course. It is particularly tricky if this is a first or second date and you aren’t sure about the person’s taste buds. Being adventurous could score some big points, but it could also go badly if they decide to pass on the main course altogether and you are forced to make a pizza run with the look of defeat upon your face. Let’s pretend you get the green light to prepare anything you want. No food allergies to contend with, no childhood traumas involving the smell of shellfish, nothing to hold you back. Then you better swing for the fences and make something truly memorable. Pick a new cuisine, experience a new culture, and research the dish so you can discuss its history like the debonair chef you are (just fake it). For those of you that choose to play it safe… chicken piccata. If you are really in a bind, there are services to help you pick a recipe and deliver your ingredients.
Tip Five: Go Big
This is tied into the previous point, but it doesn’t hurt to emphasize that going big is key. Remember, you aren’t at a lavish restaurant where the ambience is scoring you points. You have to provide all of the pomp and circumstance with your food and presentation. Decorate the table, bust out the good knives, and cook with a fire in your belly. A floral centerpiece is a classic way to go. Candles are also a nice touch, but avoid scented ones as they will compete with the delicious aromas wafting out of the kitchen. For an unexpected touch, make a little “reserved” card for the table.
Tip Six: Booze, Booze, Booze
Booze is pretty self-explanatory. A good wine pairing will win you the day 95% of the time. If your date is more into the hops and spirits, grab a craft brew or prepare a nice cocktail. Simple is classy here. Don’t overdo it with egg-whites and 12 ingredient mixes unless you got the time beforehand. Your focus should be on the plates, not the glasses. There will be plenty of time to drink after the meal is done.
Tip Seven: End On A Sweet Note
DESSERT IS EVERYTHING. This is the part where everything can go awry if not handled properly. Chances are a chocolate souffle is a bit of a stretch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something fun and exciting. One unique approach is to make a microwave brownie and/or cookie. They bake in 1-minute and you can prepare the batter the night before. Top it with ice cream and fresh fruit, and “voila!” — you have magically summoned a homemade brownie sundae with minimal hassle and fuss. Since you saved so much time with the prep and baking, go all out with the toppings and create a little sundae bar. Chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, rainbow sprinkles, caramel fudge, and whipped cream are guaranteed hits. Coconut shavings, gummy bears, and waffle cone bits should also make an appearance.
[P.S. Share your Date Night adventures with us!]