Valentine's Day – bring the wine, nix the goat thong
February 10th, 2012
11:15 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

Ah, Valentine’s Day. If everything goes right, then you have a happy romantic night out with your loved one, and wake the following morning to songbirds chirping, the sun caressing you with buttery light, a suffusion of love in your heart, and no hangover at all. If things go wrong, then you get a night full of misery, anger, disappointment, shame, betrayal, and tears, but what did you expect? That's what dating is all about.

Here’s the deal, though: It didn’t have to be this way. I blame Pope Gelasius I. Back in 496, in a frenzy of popely goody-two-shoes-ness, Gelasius banned the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, when noble youths would run through the city naked, striking people they met with shaggy thongs made of goat-hide, and substituted Valentine’s Day in its place.

Go figure, right? I mean, come on. Which would you rather have, a city full of crazy naked youths running around smacking people with thongs, or a dopey card with a heart on it? Uh-huh. You got that right.

Be that as it may, Lupercalia is gone, Valentine’s Day is here, and no matter what your romantic situation is, you’re undoubtedly going to need a drink. Here are five suggestions to match some possible Valentine’s Day activities.

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Filed under: Bite • Content Partner • Dating • Food and Wine • Holidays • Sip • Valentine's Day • Wine


February 9th, 2012
03:45 PM ET
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If you must waffle on Valentine's Day, don't make it about who you're taking to dinner. The "where" is a lock: Waffle House.

WALB reports that some Waffle Houses across the chain's 15-state span are tossing tablecloths over the formica and chrome, dimming the lights, pouring alcohol-free sparkling drinks and emphasizing menu items like ribeye and eggs, porkchops or T-bones in addition to their perhaps better-known breakfast fare.
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Filed under: Chain • Culture • Dating • Holidays • Restaurants • Valentine's Day • Video • Waffle House


Rules for eating on a first date
October 19th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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What you should order: food you like, that will not make you sick or smelly

What you should not order: food you don't like or food that will make you sick or smelly

See how easy that was? You're a person of dating age and you've likely been eating food in the company of other human beings for a least a couple of years now, right? Ideally without causing the people in your immediate vicinity to vomit, faint, weep or cringe?

Good. You are ready to order food on a date. Go get 'em, tiger!
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In defense of the restaurant dress code
September 21st, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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Gentlemen - dare I say your special lady friend looks just smashing tonight? She went out and got her hair and nails done, tweezed various things, squeezed herself into magical, shape-carving, circulation-repressing undergarments (that she'll discreetly remove before you ever see them), and painted on her date face. She's pretty hot.

But you, sir. Would it truly unman you to put on a tie? Maybe one without a passive-aggressive Looney Toons character or sports logo stitched uponst it? Okay, okay - that was overreaching. Might you consider dress shoes? Perhaps something with a non-rubber sole or without a visible logo? Maybe something that covers the toe area? No?
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Party of one at a table for two
August 18th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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It's bad enough to be all dressed up with nowhere to go, let alone be all dressed up for a date who’s a no-show.

It's a dating downer that has most likely happened to you or someone you know. One party decides just not to show up - more commonly referred to as being "stood up."

It could be the woman in the corner booth whose Lemon Drop tastes more bitter with every glance at her watch. Or perhaps it's the man at the bar who loosens his tie with every check of his iPhone. Either way, not only is this a sticky situation for the person on the receiving end, it’s a potentially stickier situation for the restaurant staff witnessing it firsthand.
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Filed under: Bite • Culture • Dating • Etiquette


Husband quietly captures the kitchen
May 10th, 2011
10:26 AM ET
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One afternoon a few months ago, my husband walked into the house carrying a cookbook and then stood in the kitchen for a long time, turning the pages, reading it. This was interesting. He looked deeply absorbed.

When his cell phone rang, he went out onto the porch for a minute, the cookbook still opened on the counter, and I came over to inspect. He had been interrupted in the midst of "How to Choose a Pork Roast." There was a silhouette of a pig, connected by arrows to detailed line drawings of 13 hefty-looking cuts of raw meat.
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Filed under: Best in Life • Culture • Dating


A very cheesy wedding ritual
April 27th, 2011
03:15 PM ET
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Four and a half years ago, my husband Douglas and I plighted our troth with infinitely less fanfare, but arguably as much ardor as the couple slated to take the royal plunge on Friday.

Little of our ceremony was traditional. I wore 64 yards of red tulle with black flames climbing up it and our Irish Wolfhound escorted me down the aisle. My groom had drawn heavily upon his theater tech and direction background to light, score and choreograph the proceedings - not to mention spending well over a decade converting the deconsecrated Episcopal church itself into our home.

The ceremony was highly reflective of who we are as individuals and as a united force - all the way down to the readings. One dear friend selected a Frank O'Hara poem, my father gave a speech on the importance of ethics in a marriage, a friend and sister shared passages from Jane Eyre and then one of the finest food writers in the country instructed us eat cheese together.
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Filed under: Beer • Culture • Dating • Events • Rituals • Royal Wedding • Sip • Spirits • Weddings


Culinary courtship: how to pinpoint a Sloppy Joe
March 17th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
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Spring is the season for new beginnings and budding romances. There are couples canoodling as they dine alfresco outside restaurants everywhere. You can practically smell the sizzling steaks as you stroll down the street. And you can't walk in the park without stumbling on a romantic picnic.

Spring is all about dining in the great outdoors. It's about love and it's about barbecue sauce.

As someone who has dated any number of men who make Al Bundy look like Mario Batali, I should know. My dyspeptic dating disasters inspired me to conduct a study of the male species via their stomachs. I interviewed more than 200 men and women about the connection between a man's wining and dining style and his mating style. I discovered you can divine a man's essence from his culinary style.

Read the rest of "Pick a man by his winning culinary style" on CNN Living.

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Filed under: Bite • Culture • Dating • Etiquette


February 21st, 2011
11:45 PM ET
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In response to our lunchtime poll about restaurant breakups:

I've broken up with my boyfriend before at Chima, a Brazilian BBQ Buffet. It was really awkward because as I was telling the boy about why we weren't compatible as a couple, the servers kept coming up to us with skewers of meat, breaking my momentum with each interruption.

By the end of the meal, I had offered to pay since I was doing the breaking up, but the guy (with tears in his eyes) said the least he could do was pay for the meal. I think it was really embarrassing for him because we could hear the waiters whispering about us and at this point it was pretty obvious that he was crying.

As we walked outside and waited for a cab, he addressed some of my concerns and agreed to try to work it out instead of abruptly ending our relationship. 3 years later, we're still together but haven't been back to Chima - Julia

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Filed under: Buzz • Dating • From the Comments


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