valentine’s day is traditionally a night at home for us. we eschew the crowds and the reservation wars, and cook for each other. this year was especially exciting for a few reasons:
- we tried a new recipe (Coconut & Brown Sugar Brined Pork Tenderloin with Broken Fried Rice & Pickled Baby Bok Choy)
- it was the one-year anniversary of my proposal to elaine
- the universe did as much as it could to make it difficult to achieve our state of domestic bliss
the day started out reasonably well. i had to make one trip to the store to get cinnamon sticks (to put in the brine, which i had already set out the previous night). this constituted my fourth grocery store trip for this v-day venture (drewes meats for the pork tenderloin, 99 ranch for many asian ingredients, local Good Life for other non-asian ingredients, then Good Life part 2 for the cinnamon sticks, which i forgot the first time). on my way, i stopped at the flower store to order flowers for the evening (thinking ahead, i sez to myself). and then i popped home, hopped in my car, and bopped to work, thinking said vehicle would convey me home fast and furious when the time came.
i was wrong on several counts.
- it took me 40 minutes to drive the 5.8 miles from work to home
- the flowers were not ready when i stopped to pick them up (despite 8 hours notice)
- when the florist called me (after coming home) to say the flowers were ready, i went and they were not. as a side note, the store was packed with middle-aged men, each with a somewhat bewildered look, approaching the flower-store register like zombies. they all had a similar story: " yeah….ummmm…i need a bouquet. my wife likes flowers. you know, pretty ones? uhhhh. <cough> yeah. can you help?"
- when carrying the flowers home, the wind kicked up to gale-force proportions, wreaking havoc with the three bouquets i was carrying. tissue paper blew away, flowers broke, hearts broke. it wasn’t pretty.
- when i started cooking, i realized that the stock of vinegar in my cabinet did not include enough white vinegar for the pickled baby bok choy. grocery-store-trip number five, thank you very much. as side note number two, the (straight male) iranian clerk at the store gave me a chocolate heart and said "happy valentine’s day!!" this made me very happy.
other than that, everything went great. elaine loved the meal i cooked (see below) and cried when i gave her a set of home-made valentine’s day gift certificates (you know – one nice massage, one dinner at the slanted door, two falafels at my favorite place in paris, etc.).
and then there was the creme brulee. this was a first for both of us, and elaine had purchased one of those little torches from sur la table to caramelize our tasty dessert treat. suffice it to say that neither of us was exactly a pro when it came to these mini torches. first, we struggled to fill it with butane (it kept overflowing despite not being full). then, when trying to light the flame, nothing really happened. or, rather, nothing happened at first.
elaine was flipping switches and pushing buttons, and high-pressure butane was squirting out the nozzle (unlit) into the sink. after a couple of attempts in a similar vein, with no ignition, the flame finally lit, with one rather dramatic effect: it ignited the vapor cloud of butane that had been collecting over the sink from all of the liquid butane we had been squirting into it. said vaporcloud of flame covered both sinks, burned half the hair off elaine’s right arm, singed her sweater, and nearly gave me a heart attack.
happy valentine’s day. i think we’ll go to mcdonalds next year.
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