Once You Find The Right Restaurant Nothing Matters.

This, my friends, is what we shall call a fable. A cautionary tale that acts as a mirror to modern dating life. This lil story actually happened several months ago and the whole metaphoric thing has been floating around my head since then. It was back when I still lived in LA for my brief foray into the movie business. I had just moved out there and my dearest chicks had come to visit me.

Something you should understand about me is that I am a planner, especially when it comes to vacations and restaurants  I will plan the restaurants  peruse the online menu and have what I want to order before I’ve even left for the vacation! I am that neurotic about my culinary adventures. So when my dearest gal pals planned a trip…I started to plan the restaurant. I googled, I yelped, I urbanspooned the hell out of my laptop until I found what looked like the perfect place. It was a Cuban restaurant that had reasonably priced fare that was well reviewed and had dancing! How could I go wrong?!

The online version of this place had a dark mahogany bar, with a wooden dance floor and happy, pretty smiling people dancing the night away. The food looked tempting and mouth watering. I called and made a reservation for all of us, congratulating myself on such a wonderful find!

The night arrived and we all primped and lotioned and perfumed ourselves. Stilettos and clutches at the ready we made our way to the heart of LA to dance and dine the night away with the perfect restaurant  Our expectations high. Our enthusiasm started to flag as we pulled into the parking lot….in a strip mall….next to the dilapidated Mexican restaurant and the apparently homeless convention.

We valet parked cautiously and made our way into the Cuban place….that had just opened for the evening.
And we were the only guests. There wasn’t even any music playing.
The menus were old and falling apart. The carpet and tables were dusty.
Talk about awkward!
The last straw for all of us was the fact that prices were double what had been printed online. Talk about misrepresentation!
We blamed our hasty retreat into the night on our friend who had “forgotten” her (imaginary) inhaler.

Once safely ensconced in my car we drove into the night. And drove. And drove. And drove. One would think that finding a place to eat in LA would be fairly easy. But for some reason, we had a devil of a time. No places looked appealing  No place was showing up. We drove and drove and drove. And started to lose hope. Would we ever find the restaurant of our dreams? A place where culinary and atmosphere collided into the night that stories are written about?

Someone finally broke out yelp, even though it had led us astray, we decided to give it another shot.

It was there that our hope was renewed. A small Italian place (within our budget) was just around the corner. We drove, tentatively hopeful, to the place. We parked across a busy street from it. We walked in high heels and cute dresses across the street, braving the traffic. And walked into a fast food Italian place. We immediately realized that we were in the wrong Italian restaurant  And that we were REALLY overdressed. Really really over dressed.  Our feet aching, our stomachs complaining, we lowered our standards and ordered a plate of bruschetta and glass of wine to hold ourselves over. The bruschetta wasn’t bad but it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was run of the mill plain tomatoes and bread. We left the place and looked to our left as we exited.

Within walking distance was some sort of Moroccan style food place. It had belly dancing. It was food. It was late. We were tired of driving and searching. I want you to understand….we had been driving for 2 and half HOURS by this point. We were ready to settle. We didn’t care. We wanted food. It was time to lower our standards. We walked the 100 feet more and walked into the place. It was old. It was dusty. We wondered if every place in LA was old and dusty. We didn’t care. It would have to do. We were ready to give up. We asked for a menu.

It was a set menu for a set price.
No substitutions.
We looked at each other, the four of us in some sort of LA restaurant hell.

My sister said she had a stomach ache and wouldn’t eat anyway. She was done. She would stay here if we wanted.
My friend with the imaginary inhaler said she just wanted a drink. She was done. She would stay here if we wanted.
My food adventuresome friend said she liked the rice. She was done. She would stay here if we wanted.
My feet hurt. My back ached. I was tired of driving. I was done. I would stay here if the group wanted.

We looked at each other one last time. We each wondered if it really was time to settle. If we should give up what we knew we wanted because maybe, just maybe we couldn’t have it.

By silent, mutual, unanimous, agreement …. we rejected settling and walked out…once again into the cool LA air. We would find the restaurant of our dreams damn it! We pulled ourselves and our standards back up where they belonged, walked back up the street, across the street and back into my car.

1.5 miles later… we found “the restaurant”. The one that we had been searching for all night. It must have been waiting for us too because there was a parking sport right up front. We walked in, the owner greeted us…
“Good evening, do you have a reservation?”
We looked scared and replied that no, we did not. Would we be accepted? Or would we be cast out into the night?
“One moment.” he said to us.

Then….he did the most lovely thing….he picked up clean, new menus and led the four of us to a table by the window. A prime table. A table that looked out onto the beautiful LA scene. A table framed by trees. A table that had been waiting for us.

The restaurant played classical music. The lighting was soft and decor made you feel as if you were eating on a terrace in Italy. We fell in love.

They gave us bread. Warm, fluffy, toasty bread and a crusty herb bread.
The owner sent us over a complimentary appetizer. Crispy, fresh, homemade calamari. We ordered drinks and food and finally dessert. The meal was perfect from start to finish. When the bill came we realized that the place was exactly what it claimed to be, delicious and well priced.

We looked at each that night and knew….we just knew…. that once you find the right restaurant, nothing else matters. We could have been content with any of the 3 places we had left that night. We could have been ok, not satisfied but ok. We could have given up.

But we never would have known true restaurant bliss if we had.

And that was worth the hunt.

Risotto Man

Ever the optimist I have currently taken stock of my list of criteria on who I will date. I spent a lot of time of it and narrowed it down. Because I love you I’ve included it below so that you may learn from me. This is how it looks….

I kid, I kid. But in truth I do have a list. I actually have some ‘most haves’. Because all the dating gurus want you to have ‘must haves’. And I have all their books so I should probably listen to them. Really it all neatly boils down to the fact that I want a guy who I like to call my ‘Risotto Man’. And just like the ever temperamental and time consuming dish, my guy has been hard to find.

Let me explain how this term came about. I lived in LA for a few years and with roommates. One girl that I lived with was always cooking with her boyfriend. Once they had a ‘Bloody Mary Challenge’, our other roommate and I were the judges. And we took our job seriously! We made them make us several drinks one right after the other, you know, ‘just to be sure’. Then we declared a tie and made them start over. Come to think of it, I forget how that day ended.

One night in spring, I came home and my roommate had made a simple mushroom risotto for her boyfriend. They took the plates of steaming cheesy goodness outside by the pool with glasses of red wine. They lit a single short fat candle and as the light bounced off the water and they softly talked, enjoying the simple pleasure of each others company, I thought …

“That’s what I want, I want a Risotto Man.”

In honor of the promise I made to myself is a delicious and simple Mushroom Risotto Recipe. Here’s hoping.

Mushroom Risotto Recipe67f02-mushroom-risotto

What You Need

4 Tbsp butter
2 cups flavorful mushrooms (I really like oyster mushrooms) cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half inch to inch pieces
2/3 cup dry white wine (but buy a bottle and make sure to drink a glass or two)
3/4 cup heavy cream 7 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup of peeled and minced shallots
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

How You Do It: 

  • Pour yourself a glass of the wine and make sure to drink it as you make this
  • Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes.
  • Add white wine. (Also you should pour yourself another glass of the wine to make sure that’s still good between the time that you opened it and now. You know, just in case)
  • Bring this delicious concoction to a boil, and reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Lower heat to medium, add cream, and simmer 5 minutes
  • Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
  • Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
  • In a deep, heavy, medium sized saucepan, heat oil and remaining butter on medium low.
  • Add shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. (Fuck this smells SO GOOD! More wine)
  • Add rice and stir to coat with butter and oil.
  • Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edges of the pan.
  • Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup.
  • This is the time consuming part and will probably take you about 20 minutes. (This why you have a whole bottle of wine. No, not for the rice. For you!) The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.
  • Stir in the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan cheese.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley

Also – NEVER COOK THIS ON CHOPPED! You don’t have time. For fuck’s sake.

Adapted from the always lovely http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/mushroom_risotto/

*Editors Note: (which is really just me because I don’t have an editor, I’m too damn poor.)  Said roommate and that guy broke up. He was fucking insane. But not to worry she’s happily married now to a guy who is not insane and they have foodie adventures that make me cream in my pants. So the the story still fits.


The New Single

IMG_3218I’m horrible at dating. Its true I really am. I can give fab advice but when it comes to my own life I absolutely lack the social skills to flirt. I used to be good and sometime after high school, I lost my mojo.
Here’s the thing. I’m not the only one. There’s a whole group of uber successful women out there and while we are boss bitches, we have a really hard time dating. And this is the new normal. This is the new single. We have to contend with unsolicited dicks pics (seriously guys??), a minefield of when to call and when to text and did I text too much? How many emojis is too many? Does he pay for the date? Do I pay for the date? Not to mention the massive amount of dating lexicon there is now! Ghosting, Zombie-ing, Stashing, Benching, Bread-Crumbing, Slow Fade, Cuffing Season, Catch and Release…UGH!! There are too many! Just send me flowers, tell me I’m pretty, and don’t send me pictures of your junk.
I have a financial planner and a 401k, can someone please explain to me why I can’t seem to navigate the the dangerous waters of dating??
The nice thing about being really bad at dating is that it makes me really good at cooking. Ok,ok, I’ll be honest. I loved cooking before this whole stunted growth in dating happened. At least it provides me with a great way to stay occupied while I wait patiently for what I lovingly call my ‘Risotto Man’. What exactly is a ‘Risotto Man’ you ask? Its all explained in the next post.
I’m almost a pro at online dating and I’m hoping that it one day it will lift my dating life up out of the primordial soup that its been languishing in.  Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy cooking and eating and YOU are going to enjoy the exploits of my rather interesting dating life. Because while it’s a total failure for me, it does provide endless entertainment for those around me.
As long as I have my wine and my Xanax I should be fine, right?