The Perfect Meal, The Perfect Man

We all have guilty pleasures. Pedicures, romcoms, tawdry chick-lit novels, overpriced handbags, big beautiful glossy cookbooks that you mean to cook out of but never do, eating entire chubs of Olympic Provisions’ salami in one sitting, ordering one of everything on the Fenouil dessert menu, dressing up like a pumpkin and a tomato and walking up and down SE Belmont Avenue handing out strawberries and shilling for the Buckman Portland Farmers’ Market, etc., etc. (Wait, move that last one from Guilty Pleasures to Memories to Repress.)

I for one enjoy a bit of bad reality television now and then, and last night was the premiere of The Bachelorette, so I invited Michelle, Portland Business Journal’s CFO of the Year, and Mette, designer extraordinaire/principal of the Bureau of Betterment, over and planned a simple menu based on the qualities we felt this season’s Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky should seek in her prospective husband/tabloid foddermate.

cheeseplateWe all agreed that a nice strong meaty cheesy Sense of Humor trumps all else, usurping even Owning a Champagne House, which while desirable, can be hard to find in a man. Thus, we started the evening with a cheese and charcuterie board that represented all sorts of senses of humor–featuring a thinly-sliced chub of Olympic Provisionsspicy Nola salami, and a sharp Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, soft buttery Fougerus brie, and pungent Gorgonzola Dulce from Pastaworks‘ cheese counter.

And since champagne is the drink of Enthusiasm and a Zest For Life, we sipped glasses of Veuve Clicquot and predicted what kind of weird fetishes and sketchy pasts Ali’s suitors were bound to have. Since a dream man is Genuine, we had Miller on hand, the genuine draft.

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Next up, Nice Buns and Must Love Dogs. I headed to the incomparable Otto’s Sausage Kitchen in Woodstock for their Old Fashion Weiners. Since we value a man who is Adventurous and Spicy, I also picked up a bottle of local Beaver Brand Extra Hot Jalapeño Mustard and a few bags of Dirty’s All Natural Potato Chips while I was there. If you’ve had it before from the condiments table next to Otto’s outdoor grill, you know that Beaver mustard is delicious rubbed on Otto’s weiners.

I couldn’t very well buy ordinary hot dog buns, so I called around town looking for Nice Buns. Pearl Bakery, Fleur de Lis, and Little T American Baker recommended their hoagie rolls, but nobody had any on hand. Thankfully, I was able to find a few Pearl Bakery Hoagie Rolls at Pastaworks, in the meat section.

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inthegreensaladNobody here was going to toss a guy out of bed for eating crackers or being In The Green, so we blanched some local asparagus, sliced up an English cucumber and a bunch of scallions, and minced a variety of zesty emerald-green herbs like tarragon, mint, parsley, and chives to make an Asparagus, Green Onion, Cucumber, and Herb Salad. Tossed with a puckery lemon-dijon vinaigrette, it was at once refreshing, summery, and financially solvent. Or something like that.

Picture 2A quality fella has a Heart of Gold, so I went to Alma Chocolate for a few of Sarah Hart’s exquisite anatomically-correct 23 carat gold-kissed chocolate heart icons, but at $15 a pop, these are best reserved for more lavish dinner parties or, when you land your In The Green guy, send him to get you some, he can afford it. I’m but a poor food writer, so I just bought a delicious Thai Peanut Butter Cup at Alma, and then settled for a sweet Dulcinea Pureheart organic seedless baby watermelon. Hey, having a Heart of Watermelon is nothing to sneeze at.

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Despite the relative simplicity of the menu, somehow by now every dish in the kitchen had been used, abused, and filthied and Michelle somebody had spilt minced parsley all over the floor. Mette was neatly arranging sticky red watermelon sections into a heart, Michelle was flicking cucumber seeds at people, and I was texting Chef/Salumist Elias Cairo to ask him if it was within reason to poach the hot dogs in the boiling asparagus water.

Michelle, who had been put in charge of toasting the hoagie rolls gently under the broiler, got distracted pouring more champagne and arguing over whether it is easier to pit a cucumber with a spoon or a melon baller, and the rolls caught on fire. “THE BUNS ARE BURNING, THE BUNS ARE BURNING!” she screamed, dancing around the kitchen and scattering the parsley bits to kingdom come.

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Unprovidentially, my extremely oganized, neat-as-a-pin boyfriend walked into the kitchen at this very moment. I quickly shut the oven door and turned off the gas. Through the oven door, we all watched the leaping orange flames sputter and then subside. We turned and smiled at him and pointed out that a Mild Temper and Restraint are key qualities in a man. Shooting us a look of deep, deep despair, he walked out of the ruined kitchen and was not heard from for quite a while. (Interviewed at a later time about his feelings, he commented, “It was mayhem. Utter mayhem. Dishes and food everywhere, things burning, smoke gushing out of the oven. Mayhem. I just don’t understand how a simple television-watching dinner party deteriorated into THAT.” To which we said, “Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you.”)

ofhotdog2Taking a peek back into the oven, we saw that the flames had subsided into bright blue wisps, so we blew them out and pulled the rolls back from the brink of death. It turns out that a hoagie roll is a lot of bun anyway, so we just sliced the unburnt bottoms off and made open-faced hot dogs with them. It was agreed that Blazing Hot Buns are better than Nice Buns anyway.

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We ate as uneventfully as possible, and after a rather slapdash kitchen cleaning, we settled on the couch to watch The Bachelorette. I think it’s safe to say that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is the iconic frozen dairy choice of single and searching ladies everywhere (see Bridget Jones’ Diary), so I’d gone to their scoop shop on SE Hawthorne for three pints of B & J’s Chubby Hubby ice cream. Because ultimately, Ali should choose a guy who Loves Good Food and Has Long Term Potential, shouldn’t she?

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