Amuse bouché 2.14.07

by Brian Clarey

I get the damndest things in my e-mail box: business propositions from people with unpronounceable last names, links to really stupid video clips, notifications of lottery winnings, dumb-ass quizzes and agenda-driven political dispatches from all corners of the state. Oh, and this: “Nova Scotia Wholesale Live Lobsters.”

Seriously: Shellfish. By mail. Over the internet. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of which, are we still celebrating Valentine’s Day? Really? I heard that love is an illusion and that romance is dead. And I started to believe it when I read about the father in Georgia who spiked his children’s soup with lighter fluid, hot peppers, Prozac and Amitriptyline in an effort to squeeze a settlement check out of the Campbell’s Soup company.

He is so going to jail.

Meanwhile at UNCG, researchers Dr. Arthur Murray and Dr. Lauren Haldeman have formed a program to help ensure that our nation’s children eat as little lighter fluid as possible. Called Recipe for Success, it focuses on the nutritional needs of immigrant children and will produce a series of booklets for low-income families in French and Spanish.

Wait a minute… what were we talking about? Oh yes, Valentine’s Day. What the hell, let’s make with the heart-shaped boxes and cuddly pink bears just one more time, shall we?

If you haven’t made dinner reservations for V-Day by now you are probably, as my grandmother likes to say, SOL. But here’s something you might not know: There is a class of jackass who likes to make multiple dinner reservations on big restaurant nights like this one, and when 7 p.m. approaches they’ll smugly tick off their options and pick just one, leaving more than a few area waiters standing by empty tables with “reserved” signs on them and nothing but their wine tools in their hands.

So here’s what you do: Get on the pretentious little cell phone of yours and dial up all your favorite restaurants this afternoon. You may get lucky and score a small table by the bathroom, but if they’re booked, ask to put your name on the standby list, give them your cell number and say these words: “I can be there in ten minutes.”

I pulled this one a few years ago when I neglected to make reservations for Valentine’s Day and I got the call just as we were approaching the front of the line at the Golden Corral buffet.

Be warned: On Valentine’s Day most restaurants (the ones with real silverware and wine lists, anyway) will have a prix fixe menu, which is French for “you’ll eat it and like it.” All it means is that for a single price, usually about a hundred bucks for two, you will get a great multi-course meal.

The best Valentine’s Day I’ve seen so far comes from the Press Wine Café (336.333.3190) – four courses consisting of soup (Portobello and barley) and salad (mozzarella and tomato); entrée selections of duck, swordfish or vegetarian stuffed peppers; and a mixed chocolate plate for dessert that runs $75 per couple and doesn’t include wine or gratuity.