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Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Arrows

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier
Arrows
Ogunquit, Maine

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

CF: I remember having dinner at an old colonial-style restaurant in Hoi An, Vietnam as one of the most romantic dinners that we ever shared. It was in a former merchant's home, with big terraces and a courtyard garden overlooking the Thu Bon river; the breeze was warm, the mood was languid and exotic…even the charming waiter who constantly mixed French with his English and Vietnamese made us feel like we were in a 1930s movie.

T+L: What's the most romantic way to cook together at home?

CF: We have a little charcoal grill out on our deck at home, and on warm Maine nights we love to barbecue. We'll put on a chicken and maybe some vegetables from Arrows' garden, and listen to the tree peepers while the sun goes down. Looking out over our flower beds, sharing a glass of wine, and just being out in nature is a lovely way to enjoy each other's company.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Repast

Joe Truex and Mihiko Obunai
Repast
Atlanta, Georgia

T+L: What makes a restaurant feel truly romantic?

JT: Candlelight. In our restaurant we have candles everywhere—the tables, the bar, the windowsills. At night the whole dining room just glows. What makes it romantic isn't just that the light is flattering…it's that it needs to be tended to, cared for. It isn't something you just switch on.

T+L: What's the most romantic way to cook together at home?

JT: Slow-braising together is muy sexy. You're basically taking a tough, undesirable piece of meat and transforming it into something luscious and tender that practically falls off the bone. Braising is a marriage of time and temperature—and the longer you cook it, the better it is.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Hawks

Michael Fagnoni and Molly Hawks
Hawks Restaurant
Granite Bay, California

T+L: What makes a restaurant feel truly romantic?

MH: Seating arrangements can have a lot to do with it. When we designed our restaurant, we planned it with a lot of velvet banquettes, big enough for couples to sit side-by-side. It's also great when you can actually share a dish…we try to always have a choice on the menu that's meant for two. Sometimes it's a dessert soufflé, sometimes an entré like roast guinea hen…we've even learned to cook a single steak with one side rare and one side medium-well, so couples with different tastes can still enjoy it together.

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

MF: At Blue Hill in New York…at the Manhattan location, we sat at a corner table and had the tasting menu. It was October, and it felt warm and snug inside. I remember eating steamed foie gras and autumn vegetables…just beautifully prepared, hearty food that was exactly right for the season.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Sfoglia

Ron Suhanosky and Colleen Marnell-Suhanosky
Sfoglia
New York, New York and Nantucket, Massachusetts

T+L: What makes a restaurant feel truly romantic?

CS: The setting and the size of the room can really make a difference. Both of our restaurants are small and sort of rustic—lots of weathered wood and candlelight—and so there's a natural sense of intimacy about them. The tables are set right next to each other, so people sit close and lean in to speak to each other…it's the kind of atmosphere that literally brings people together. And the service should be attentive, but not obviously so. Like, if my water glass is empty, a good server will notice and fill it right away—but without asking or intruding on my conversation. That sort of service is romantic, because it makes you feel cared for—you don't have to ask for something; your needs are already anticipated.

T+L: Is there a dish you like to make at home that's especially romantic?

RC: Well, apart from feeding our kids (aged 6, 3, and 10 months) we don't really cook at home-out of convenience, we have our meals at the restaurant. But it's great at the end of the evening to have a seat at our favorite table, where we can watch people finishing meals with their families and enjoying themselves. I think that's the most romantic and rewarding aspect of what we do: We're not just making good food for people, we're helping to create great memories.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Al Forno

George Germon and Johanne Killeen
Al Forno
Providence, Rhode Island

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

JK: The restaurants at the Hotel Cipriani, in Venice, are some of our favorites in the world. In summer, you can sit at the floating outdoor Cip's Club and look across the canal to the Basilica di San Marco; at night you dine under the stars. In the winter, dining in the Fortuny Restaurant is cozy among the amber glass mirrors and chandeliers…I've even eaten there in my slippers because our room was just upstairs. That's a big component of romance—the closeness of the bedroom and anticipation of the rest of the evening.

T+L: What's the most romantic way to cook together at home?

JK: On days when one of us gets home first and prepares dinner for the other…there's nothing as romantic as opening the front door and smelling something wonderful cooking. Arriving at home tired and beat after a long day's work to find the table set, a bottle of wine (or cocktail) waiting, and dinner just about ready is fantastic. I know if George is the one cooking he's thinking of me during the whole process, making something he knows I'll adore. The same goes for me when I cook for him. There is no one else in this world I'd rather cook for, or with whom I'd rather share a meal.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Tartine

Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Tartine Bakery
San Francisco, California

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

LP: A classic romantic meal we had was at a tiny side-street restaurant in Paris called L'Ami Louis, with lace in the windows, handwritten menus, and worn white tile from close to a century of service. The spring peas were bathed in butter and brought to the table in a copper pot; the white asparagus was the first of the season; and the pigeon came roasted from the wood oven. The only indication that we hadn't stepped back in time was the presence of a few other patrons.

What's the most romantic way to cook together at home?

LP: Being in, or near, nature can makes any meal feel romantic—no matter how simple. This isn't exactly an "at home" story, but…one year we vacationed on Martha's Vineyard and pitched a tent in a campground close to the beach. We bought live lobsters and grilled them over a campfire, chilled them, and brought them the following day in a cooler with some Vinho Verde to the beach at Gay Head, at the far end of the island where the lighthouse sits on high bluffs. This stretch of beach also just happens to be the only nude beach on the island…so…let's just say it was very romantic.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Ubuntu

Jeremy and Deanie Fox
Ubuntu
Napa, California

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

JF: The restaurant at Le Meurice hotel, in Paris. We had a three-course lunch there in summer of 2005 that was the highlight of our trip. The décor there is so lush and ornate—elaborate wall murals, crystal chandeliers, gilded molding…it feels right out of a Merchant-Ivory film. And we had what I think was the best table in the house, facing out over the entire dining room. The food, of course, was beautiful (the restaurant has since earned its third Michelin star); I especially remember an impressive tableside service for the Bresse free-range chicken, prepared four different ways with black truffles.

T+L: Is there a dish you like to make at home that's especially romantic?

JF: Meals where we both add something—where we collaborate—are the best. A meal we often make together starts with Deanie's butter-lettuce salad with dijon vinaigrette, radishes, and sweet herbs from our garden...followed by my ribeye with mushrooms and red wine sauce.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Foreign Cinema

Gayle Pirie and John Clark
Foreign Cinema
San Francisco, California

T+L: What makes a restaurant feel truly romantic?

GP: A restaurant that lets you sample from lots of dishes, and share them, is very romantic. We like to graze on several appetizers, then split a couple of main courses, so there are lots of tastes to try. Putting together a meal by your own design is much more relaxed and fun than having to stick to a structured menu.

T+L: What's the most romantic way to cook together at home?

JP: Cooking together can be really romantic when there's lots of room for improvisation and compromise. Shopping together is the probably the best part; we like to hit local farmers' markets, get coffee and a snack, then walk around, and see what inspires us. Then we go home create with it. A simple, delicious meal—like Dungeness crab in season, along with fresh-made aioli, a crisp baguette, and roasted vegetables—is vibrant, delicious, and involves both of us..

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of 112 Eatery

Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre
112 Eatery
Minneapolis, Minnesota

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

IB: A particularly memorable meal was one we had—at a restaurant I can't recall the name of—in Portofino, on Italy's northern coast. It was the first day we arrived in Italy and we wound up having a very stressful afternoon. A lot of the plans we'd made just hadn't worked out-with the hotel, the rental car, the town we were supposed to stay in…it was just one road block after another. This restaurant we ended up at, though, had wonderful views over the Mediterranean; it was our first time having raw shrimp from the very water that we were looking out at. The servers were really accommodating, especially for two weary travelers that didn't speak Italian; they made us feel like the table was ours for the night. The sense of relief and relaxation—along with some wine!—made for a very romantic dinner. It was a great start to our three-week trip through northern Italy.

T+L: Is there a dish you like to make at home that's especially romantic?

IB: When I want to do something special for Nancy I make her Veal Involtini (meat rolls). They're a lot of work so she never asks for them. But I know it's one of her favorite dishes. She opens the wine while I cook.

Chef Couples

<center>Chef Couples' Most Romantic Meals</center>

Courtesy of Payard Patisserie

Philippe Bertineau and Odette Fada
Payard Patisserie & Bistro and San Domenico Restaurant
New York, New York

T+L: Where have the two of you enjoyed a particularly romantic meal out?

PB: We were in the south of Cuba, in the middle of nowhere riding bicycles, when we found a remote hut with a thatched roof right along the beach. It was a small restaurant, where we had freshly caught and grilled langoustines along with cold beer. It was literally the perfect meal.

T+L: What's the most romantic way to cook together at home?

PB: "Soulful" food, like a hearty soup or stew, is the perfect romantic meal to make at home. The romance comes from marrying the ingredients, cooking them slowly and carefully, and sharing tastes as the dish cooks to notice how the flavors change. It's a process that requires time but can have delicious results—not unlike relationships.

Chef Couples

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