Romancing the Pants: Your Stories

(Photo collage by Deb Rock; photo by Kim O'Donnel)

I could tell you about David, who bought me the proverbial roses, chocolate and wine, and then three weeks later over a Caesar salad, confessed that he had been cheating on me. Then there’s JP, who proudly served up a stew of chicken in a sauce made entirely of ketchup, or Henri, who invited me to lunch, which turned out to be essentially three courses of mayonnaise. (It was not lost on me that his entire apartment was furnished in white.)

But enough about me; I’ve been dying to hear about you and the hilarious (and yes, sweet, or not so sweet) things that happen when two people get together and mix food with romance. You responded to my call for stories, and for that I give you a big Cupid-esque boiing of an arrow. Below, a handful of lovers’ tales that could only happen at the table. Bon appetit, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. Add to the buffet and share the story of your hilarious or wildly romantic Valentine's meal.

Category: You gotta have faith…

Laurie Bledy, Alexandria, Va.
Years ago, my then boyfriend and I were spending our first V-day together, as college freshmen and a new couple (we began dating the December prior to the holiday). I drove up to his school to see him and as Iʼm pulling in the driveway, I see him getting food from a delivery guy. Once I get upstairs to his room, I see that he (well the girls on the floor, he had to work) decorated his room with balloons, flowers, confetti and an Italian picnic on the floor! He got so much food because he didn’t know what I would like! It was very romantic for an 18-year old.

Years later, as V-day was approaching, I was out at Eastern Market with a friend and she asked me what we were doing, to which I made some remark that weʼre not doing anything, he probably forgot, nothing was said, etc. Little did I know that she and her husband were in on his plan to surprise me with a picnic, just like the one we had as college students! Boy, did I feel horrible walking in from saying what a lousy boyfriend he was, only to find flowers, wine, soft music and dinner prepared!

Category: Love conquers all – even kitchen gaffes…

Koren Bowie, Austin, Texas
My husband and I had been married for a little over a year and, unbeknown to me, he decided to make me a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner.

First, a little background - He ALMOST proposed (but chickened out) at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, which in Dallas in the late 1980’s was a big-time deal. (He ended up popping the question in my apartment the next day) I had the best meal of my life, which included a maple pecan-crusted free-range chicken that still makes my mouth water thinking about it.

So, after we get married, hubby takes Valentine’s Day off and decides to “recreate” the meal. He goes to buy the newly published “Mansion on Turtle Creek” cookbook then found the recipe for the chicken and set out to shop for the ingredients. Now, for someone like you who cooks, one MIGHT think to look at the ingredients list and see what they were used for first and decide if some modifications might be in order. One also might look think to read the preparation instructions to see what, exactly, is involved before trying to recreate such a culinary masterpiece. But, then, that wouldn’t be my dear husband. Dear husband proceeded to drive all over the city of Dallas looking for a whole free-range chicken and veal bones. He gets the makings of an orange-cranberry relish and garlic-roasted mashed potatoes. He even bought the wine that the chef recommended in the cookbook. So far, so good, right?

Veal bones, you ask? Why would one need veal bones for a free-range chicken? Well, if one had READ THE RECIPE, one would have learned that the veal bones were needed 48 HOURS AGO to make a demi-glace to coat the bottom of the plate before serving. We tried to improvise with some stock in the pantry but it didn’t even come close. The chicken was supposed to be “seasoned” with a pepper mixture made up of black, white and cayenne pepper. Dear husband “coated” the chicken with this stuff. The potatoes called for eight cloves of garlic, which if you want to keep vampires away, would be a good idea. For Valentine’s Day dinner, not so much.

Dear husband finally made it to the house with all these goodies at about 6:30 p.m. and we proceeded to start cooking. Finally at about 11:30 p.m., we sat down to eat. After the first bite, we both decide the entire meal was inedible. The chicken was so heavily seasoned with pepper that even the dogs wouldn’t eat it. The potatoes were so garlicky and the relish so soupy that we didn’t eat them, either. The wine was good, though! In the process I think we dirtied every bowl, pot and pan in our kitchen and we didn’t have a dishwasher.

The following day, I got up and went to the oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth removed. The Valentine’s Day dinner was to have been my last good one for several days. My poor mother ended up washing up all the dishes the next day! To this day, I literally laugh out loud when my husband offers to cook, but I still love him 20 years later

Category: Persistence pays off…

Katie Freeman, Reston, Va.
A couple years ago, a fairly huge ice storm hit the DC area on Valentine's Day, which is also my husband's birthday. Since we had warning of the bad weather, I went to the grocery store the day before and got all the fixin's for the birthday menu he'd requested: steak, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus and gingerbread for dessert.

I was so caught up in trying to de-ice the car, doing laundry in preparation for our vacation a couple days later, wrapping presents and cooking dinner that I didn't bake the gingerbread before the meal as I should have done. So while the cheese melted on the potatoes, I quickly mixed up the gingerbread and stuck it in the oven. When it was done, I put it on the stove to cool--and forgot to turn off the oven. After dinner, I touched the top and it seemed cool, so I put in the candles. All 27 of them. Which promptly melted into the gingerbread, turning it into a gooey, waxy mess.

He got yellow cake for dessert an hour later. I held one lit candle in my hand for him to blow out.

Category: Originality counts…and Fill in the Blanks

Brie Byrne, Portland, Ore. I'm not a big fan of going out to eat on Valentine’s Day because it lacks creativity and you always get the worst food/service at most restaurants. So I staged a special evening for my then-boyfriend in 2002 when I lived in Frederick, Md. I greeted him at the door in lingerie, with a Black and Tan (his favorite). After that, it was sushi served on each other. Not a bad night. Talk about playing with your food!

By Kim ODonnel |  February 13, 2009; 7:00 AM ET Valentine's Day
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My husband proposed to me on Valentine's Day. It was not his original plan - he was going to wait a month until the 5 year anniversary of our first date. We were broke college students, so our original Valentine's Day plans were to get dorm food dinner and curl up in his room with a movie and some popcorn. But even those meager plans were not to be - his internship called him earlier in the afternoon and needed him to come in that evening for some work that really needed to get done. So, he had about an hour between finishing his paid after-class job and leaving for the internship. I ordered some take-out pizza and picked up some chocolate cake from the dorm bakery. Then I took over my dorm's lounge area, set a nice table, and dressed in my best. When he arrived, harried and stressed, he was so wowed that he excused himself, ran back to his room, and got the ring for proposal.

I can't imagine what he might have done if I had a kitchen to whip up something really good!

Posted by: DCCubefarm | February 13, 2009 9:10 AM

A question for the woman in Austin...did you use 8 cloves of ROASTED garlic? I appreciate the comedy of the whole story, but I'm just curious, since 8 cloves of roasted garlic is VERY different from 8 cloves of garlic.

Posted by: lalalu1 | February 13, 2009 2:12 PM

I think we ended up with 8 cloves of unroasted garlic. I now keep roasted garlic in the fridge at all times, having learned that little lesson in a very painful way.

Posted by: truebluetexan | February 13, 2009 4:07 PM

Not a Valentine's Day story per se but on our first "date" at the house that my now-husband was renting, he made roasted tomato and basil soup. He put the soup into his newly purchased blender to puree and before I could say "Don't put so much hot soup into the blender because....!" he turned it on and whooosh! the entire thing exploded! Hot tomatoes were every where, including the ceiling, the cabinets, himself, etc. He was absolutely mortified because he was trying sooooo hard to make a good impression, and I'm dying of laughter, grabbing up towels, etc. to mop up the mess. Luckily, he'd only put about 1/2 the mixture into the blender, so we cleaned up the mess and I finished his soup. It was delicious.

We actually printed the soup recipe on our wedding invitations and it has become my sort of "go to" recipe for a quick meal. And when I make it now, I use the stick blender. The soup isn't as velvety smooth, but it's easier and the chances of catastrophe are much reduced.

Posted by: khachiya1 | February 15, 2009 8:18 PM

I did quite a bit of cooking this weekend, but not having a special someone for Vday, I instead designed a few vday menus for my friends

I think they were quite a success!

Posted by: orchidgirl | February 17, 2009 11:36 AM

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