Dinner for One
My boyfriend left town today. As I type, he and three friends are making their way across the Atlantic on a European adventure that was planned long before we got together. I’m excited for him, but also quickly realizing just how much I will miss him.
It’s funny, isn’t it? How easy it is to get used to being a “we.”
He took me to lunch today to say good-bye. I was working, so he rode the train to Midtown and met me in the lobby of my building—a grand sunny atrium with a three-story waterfall and a perpetual come-and-go of unusually beautiful people. He greeted me with a kiss (wearing that baby blue polo that I like most) and slipped in close behind me as we passed through the revolving doors leading out of the building. I looked up at him then, in the brilliant afternoon sun, and felt my stomach flip a little bit. Flip the way it does when I see him and realize again just how much I love him and just how much I want him and how incredible it is that he feels the same. “I don’t want to go back,” I said as he took my hand and led me around the corner. I felt myself mean it in more ways than one.
Lunch was delicious. I’d suggested Kashkaval, a wonderful little cheese shop with a wine bar and tiny restaurant nearly hidden in the back. Rustic wooden tables, small bud vases, and floor to ceiling shelves packed tight with old cookbooks and glass jars full of spices create a cozy space. The waitress was so pretty. Long brown hair and an easy air that made me wish I could spend the day running a place like this. She was helpful with suggestions. I ordered the turkey meatballs, but they were out so she suggested the chicken kabobs. I agreed and they arrived skewered with yellow peppers and sweet onions, seasoned and grilled to moist perfection. I particularly enjoyed a side of warm mushroom Bulgar that tasted better than any rice dish I’ve ever eaten, and a cool Greek salad full of generous chunks of feta and cucumber. We shared a cheese and meat plate that came sprinkled with almonds and dried cranberries. I made a mental note to repeat the trick at my next cocktail party. And, even though it was noon on a Wednesday and I had to go back to work, I washed it all down with a glass of crisp Orvieto. (Shhhh...)
When we first sat down, my boyfriend pulled his chair next to mine. I looped my arm through his and we stayed this way throughout our meal, my fingertips resting on his bicep, just beneath the cuff of his short-sleeved shirt. We leaned in close and talked about his itinerary, my editors, plans for this weekend. We listened in on a table full of German tourists. And, even though it was noon on a Wednesday and in a tiny restaurant crowded with strangers, we kissed.
I miss him already. I miss him because even though he’s only been gone a few hours, and even though we’ve only been together for a few months, somewhere inside me I’ve realized how much better it is when he’s around.
Tonight I made dinner for one. No heavy cooking. Just a salad. A salad of my favorite things—sweet roasted beets, fresh mixed greens, blueberries, Chevre, and crushed flaxseeds and pepitas. The beets look like little jewels nestled in the greens. The blueberries were a last minute addition--a glorious one! Bursting, juicy, perfect. And, because as good as it might be, I can never think of a salad like that as "enough," I topped it all off with two fluffy poached eggs and a dressing of reduced balsamic whisked with hazelnut oil and a dab of raw honey. Delicious, but I wanted even more. So I brought out the white truffle oil and drizzled it on...generously. The oil made it. Combined with the heat from the eggs, the salad seemed to breathe that sexy scent of lover's breath.
When he’s home, we eat in the library/dining room. We dim the lights. We light candles. We playfully argue over music (I like jazz; he likes, well…not jazz.)
Tonight I ate on the couch, legs crossed with my laptop to my left and Charlie Parker playing loud and tinny on my laptop speakers. I ate slowly, enjoying the blend of sweet and salty, crisp and creamy. I used too much salt (on purpose, the way I like it). I daydreamed. I planned. When I finished, I left the plates on the coffee table while I watched TV, enjoying all the shows he doesn’t really like. Afterward, even though it was already late, I went into the library and rearranged all the books by color in a kind of literary rainbow, just because.
I’m OK with being alone. I like it, actually. But I’ve learned how much nicer it can be with him around. When he gets back, I’ll show him my book rainbow. I’ll tell him stories (like how my brother sprained his ankle today by getting too excited at a Mets game and falling down some stairs). Perhaps I’ll make him my salad. If I do, I won’t use as much salt in the dressing. I’ll probably skip the flax seeds. We’ll eat at the table. He'll hold my hand. We'll go to bed early.
No real recipe tonight; just a salad made from the foods I love. Perhaps your salad is completely different. Is it? No matter, I'm sure you can figure it out. A salad of things you love...to be eaten while waiting for the one you love.