Remember that time I told you about the Best Worst Date Ever (or the Worst Best Date Ever, depending on how you want to spin it)? Well, to refresh your memory, one of the things that made the night so memorable was that the dude brought me a gift. On a first date. The gift was a meaningfully marked up copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass because there is a reference to one of Whitman’s poems in my all-time favorite movie, Now, Voyager*** Oh, it’s a long story. Click on the linky thing up there if you want to read about the date in all its gory glory.
But here are my thoughts:
1. It’s weird to bring someone a gift on the first date. Especially if this is the first time you’re meeting the person in real life.
2. It’s super-weird to give a gift that is so specifically personalized. Especially if this is the first time you’re meeting the person in real life.
Well, that gets me to this story, which will then get me to #53.
I met an OKCupid date at a whiskey and bbq joint not far from where I live. In an earlier text conversation, when we were deciding where to meet, I mentioned that it was too bad that there is no good Chinese food in Baltimore (and there is no good Chinese food in Baltimore!) because the day of said date was Chinese (Lunar) New Year; so we really should have been getting our dim sum on, and it’s the year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat and that year is my year! But, as I said, there is no Chinese food in Baltimore, so we settled on the bourbon and barbecue.
When I arrived there was a little plastic sheep on the bar.
Me: What’s with this?
Guy: Well, you said it’s the Year of the Sheep.
True. And so a little plastic sheep watched me imbibe bourbon and nosh on pork.
I thought that the sheep was just some weird thing that happened to already be at that bar. You know how some places just have random tchotchkes and shit? Anyway, when we were leaving,
Me: Where does this little guy belong?
Guy: Oh, that’s yours.
Me: Mine? Cool…….But where the hell did you get a sheep?
He got it at a little shop in Hampden called Bazaar where they sell taxidermied shit and old medical equipment. You know, bizarre.
Me: Dude, that sheep’s kinda rad.
I mean, that is kinda rad. Bringing a plastic sheep was rather charming and not creepy at all. But, let’s recognize a giant truth: you can get away with a hell of a lot more if you’re cute (and I mean the guy, not the sheep).
Although the sheep is kinda cute, too.
I have since named him (the sheep, not the guy) Cletus. And he lives on the windowsill in my kitchen.
So fast forward to this past weekend. I invited the Guy With the Sheep over to help make me 53. Stuffed Breast of Veal (or Lamb). Lamb is baby sheep. See? I totally tied that in there.
Or at least I tried. I actually was able to find veal.
That’s a first.
Not the prettiest of preparations, but it worked.
I used my AllClad skillet because it said on the card that I could make a gravy. And now that I can make a nice gravy (only took me years to learn), I was gonna make one, goddamnit.
I prepped the veal ahead of time, so as soon as that went into the oven, the Guy With the Sheep made his Grandma Kathleen’s stuffed mushrooms in lieu of the sage potatoes. They were supposed to be artichokes, but dude couldn’t find any in Baltimore. Anyone surprised? Show of hands! No? No one?
For the most part these were pretty standard stuffed mushrooms–bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, but here’s what made the difference the cheese had to be a specific brand (which now escapes me) of Pecorino Romano and–what I consider the secret ingredient–lemon zest. That was new to me. And they were fabulous. Perfect with the veal. Thumbs up to Grandma Kathleen in Queens.
Oh, and I forgot how much I liked veal. Like, a lot. I totally want to make veal chops again. I’m gonna keep an eye out for the sales.
Now for dessert!
Well, I had no clue what the hell Babas Au Rhum are and I definitely have never seen them canned. Is that I thing? On 53, it says, “canned varieties are very good and can be found in most fine food stores.” Seriously?
Whatever. In the photo, don’t they look kinda like donuts?
Well, guess what I did.
- 4 glazed donuts
- the remnants of a bottle of dark rum
- 1/4 stick of butter
- powdered sugar
So, in a saucepan I threw together the rum (maybe it was a 1/3 cup???), the butter, and powdered sugar. I just kept throwing it in until it looked sufficiently thick and sweet.
Then, with a toothpick, I poked the donuts and then spooned the rum mixture over the punctured donuts. And then I just let it sit for about 5 or 6 hours.
Imagine if you cross-bred a donut and a rum cake. That’s what it was: FUCKING AMAZEBALLS.
Dinner is Served!
***My real all-time favorite movie is Grease 2. But yinz knew that already.
Because I still want to grow up and be as flawless as Stephanie Zinone.
And Cool Rider is my dream guy.
I mean, look at that!
To quote Uncle Jesse: