We like to say that Italian is the no-fail date cuisine, whether you’re dining out or eating at home. But sometimes no-fail isn’t exactly what we want; we want excitement, to put things on the line. That’s when slightly more exotic cuisines come into play. Mussels may not be everyone’s first choice for a date, but we think it’s fun to eat with your hands and get a little messy. Teach your date to abandon his fork and use an empty mussel shell to pluck the meat out of the mussels in his bowl. You can serve the Thai Salad as a first course, or go at them side by side, sharing. Coconut pudding is a sweet, simple, make-ahead finale for the date.
Wine Pairings by Caroline
The ingredient list for each dish gave me the following list of flavors: grassy, fresh, spicy, herby, fruity. Although there is beef in the first course, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest a couple of white wines. I can hear the resounding gasps of horror. White wine with beef? Sacrilege! Not quite. Though beef is traditionally paired with red wines, this is nowhere written as a rule. There are white wines out there that have assertive flavors and high acid that interact pleasantly with beef.
To emphasize the more pronounced flavors of each dish here, I think that a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand would be marvelous – known for its herbaceous and even vaguely grassy quality, its also got plenty of fruit and a high acidity that would make that beef salad really sing.
Try: Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $14
Kim Crawford’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $14
Mud House Marlborough White Swan Reserve $17
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $30
Caroline Helper is a 23-year-old wine geek whose love affair with fermented grape juice started in Italy at the age of 18 (it was legal there!). She has since traveled to Napa, Burgundy, and Tuscany to taste and learn. Caroline aims to enlighten, educate, and explore on her blog, Forget Burgundy.