Except for my column last Sunday when I answered questions about some unpopular personal assistants and the polite way of eating chicken legs and Buffalo wings at cocktail parties, I had been giving hints to gentlemen about how to become a romantic (and successful bachelor). I then moved on to the woman "Single, Separated or Somewhere In Between" giving some suggestions of just what type of men she should stay away from. So to refresh your memory let me briefly run through my description of guys "out there".
Rocco (whom you met a few weeks ago – the Romantic bachelor guy making Chicken Bolognese), could be fairly harmless, a nice guy just wanting to make a great impression. A guy who has the possibilities of making a good husband, sincere and honest. Then the Machiavellian Macho Caribbean Man, Mac. Not an ounce of romance in his soul. He may also be married and just wants a fling on the side. He has no intention of divorcing his wife. Then there is the Perpetual Bachelor Percy… lives at home with Mom. He is comfortable so just leave him there.
You met Cal the Cool, Calculating one; he may have been burnt once or twice before. He may just want a ''trophy'' wife. Then there is Jasper who is not really for you. I then gave the entire single (and otherwise), ladies out there one name and that is, Serena. The last time you met her she had invited one of the above types for dinner at her place (hope she selected the right guy), so let's now talk about how she is fixing up her space. I now quote from my book Manners and Entertaining:
Creating that entertaining space
A woman's home demands a little more whimsy than a man's. Flowers, potted plants, trinkets, framed art — these can be on display all the time and will have half the job done when it's your turn to host that romantic dinner for two. As for setting the mood, follow the guide for a romantic dinner outlined in my column three weeks ago, and don't be afraid to add your feminine touch by way of colour-coding your table settings or going a little wild with some floral arrangements, and remember the music.
Dinner for Two Chez Vous
When fixing up your apartment to host Mr Right (remember you are not sure about him yet), you still have a few things to consider. You can't ride too comfortably on the notion that he won't mind a mess. If the only available bathroom is off your bedroom, ensure that it is spotless, well-lit and devoid of any underwear, stockings or negligees lying around to give him any ideas. Yes, you want to create a relaxed atmosphere, but not that relaxed. He just may think you're sending him a message and decide to act on it. Underwear left out, soft lights and scented candles, the hot throb of Latin music or the whisper of love songs, could make a man think there is challenge here to conquer.
For the date, however, don't be afraid to wear something provocative, but avoid the see-through, the über-short and the exorbitantly low cut. Again, you have to be mindful of the message. One last thing ladies, some unscrupulous men - whom you do not know well - may be keen on checking the contents of a woman's medicine cabinet, so be mindful of what you leave out.
Mixing Up the Menu
When it comes to the menu, you can certainly go to town though, it's best to keep it simple, while avoiding finger food. After all, you want to see how he handles the cutlery! On the other hand, eating certain finger foods can also be very sensual. For instance, oysters and clams usually involve juices running down wrists and chins, and thus may evoke using the mouth to get that last drop! It is also alleged that these shellfish are aphrodisiacs, so be very careful what you offer him.
For the main meal, however, here's another chicken recipe that is easy, hassle-free and unforgettable. It can be done on the night of your date or pre-prepped the day before for even more ease. I call it, Chicken à la Romantique!
1 whole chicken
2 packs Uncle Ben's Original Wild Rice
1 tin Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
4-6 chicken cubes
1 box sour cream
4 pieces of celery
3 or 4 tablespoons of curry powder
3 or 4 glasses of dry sherry
Oregano and Basil and a touch of garlic powder (to taste)
2 dozen mushrooms
Clean chicken in vinegar and put to boil whole in a large pot, with the celery, the chicken cubes, the curry powder, the oregano and basil and the dry sherry. Add a little water, just barely covering the chicken. Boil until tender on a low heat, so that your fork goes straight through and the meat is not pink. While the chicken is boiling, cut one dozen of the mushrooms into smaller pieces. Take the remaining dozen and gently sauté them whole in a small amount of olive oil.
Once the chicken is done, remove and place on a carving board. Toss the celery and place the strained stock immediately in the refrigerator. Remove the skin from the chicken and tear or strip away the flesh in small pieces, ensuring there are no bones. Let sit while you prepare the rice. Put the packs of wild rice with its seasoning packets into a large pot and prepare using the directions on the container. For the health or weight conscious, you can leave out the butter. Do note, however, and this is important, where the directions calls for water — which for this recipe we will use the chicken stock in the fridge — use about 1 cup to 1½ cups less, as you want the rice drier than usual. After the rice has boiled, lower the heat and uncover to dry out. If you did not add any butter, stir consistently with a fork, and be careful not to let it burn. In a bowl, mix the tin of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup, undiluted, and the sour cream.
To bake, place covered casserole in the oven at 350° for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more. Serve with garlic bread and a salad made with spinach leaves, tomatoes, green and red peppers, purple onion and balsamic vinaigrette. Serve with a dry white wine or a robust red and sit back and watch him clean his plate."
Hey, I wonder, how is this night going to end?