Wasabi Potatos and Espresso-Encrusted Filets Lead to Better Steak-Out Sessions

"Steak and potatoes" is a phrase people often use to describe themselves. As in, "Hey, I'm a steak-and-potatoes type of guy." But just because you happen to be "that type of guy" doesn't mean you have to be boring.

Let me back up a minute. I like to surf craigslist.com to read about those plaintive missed connections. ("I was the girl in the white pickup truck and you were walking your dog. If you remember me, please respond.") They are insanely stupid and, most times, good for a laugh. Unfortunately, the hot girl at the coffee place has never asked about the unkempt hairy guy (guess who) who shamelessly flirts with her twice a week.

I also occasionally search match.com looking at women's profiles, hoping to find that someone who will make me pay the $40 or whatever a month just to write her a note. Thankfully, I haven't found that one snippet. I also surf match.com to glean good books from funky chicks — women who don't exercise too regularly, and don't mind a smoke and a drink every now and then (keep in mind most of them are lying). I'm sure they're messy drunks with messy minds. But then again, maybe I'm projecting.

It always makes me laugh to see sophisticated wanna-bes dressed all nice and talking about traveling, illustrated with a picture of them skydiving from a plane. These polished résumés have clearly taken too long to hone, and the orgy of photographs reveals quiet desperation — they're most likely running from themselves or some asshole.

What really miffs me, though, is the food criteria. There are just a few choices, and the most common response is "steak and potatoes."

Look, I get it: "Oh, I'm stitched from good old-fashioned Midwestern morals." God forbid you end up with some liberal hippy on a macrobiotic diet.

"Steak and potatoes" is a safe bet. It's conservative and screams I'm normal. But who the hell wants normal? For God's sake, we're a country that worships a cracked bell. And, according to Leonard Cohen, "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

I'm not saying to skip the steak and potatoes entirely — actually, when inviting a date over, it's a safe bet she won't mind a little meat and starch (unless she's a vegetarian, and that, my friend, is a whole other article). But why go with plain old S&P when you can go crazy? Chances are your date is a little cuckoo as well, at least you hope so.

S&P can be Plain Jane normal, but it doesn't have to be. On two separate occasions, I've had dates that resolved unexpectedly after S&P. One ended up with a girl lying in my bed in my button-down shirt the next morning, and the other I dated for a year and a half.

The first date for whom I cooked steak and potatoes knocked me off my feet. I had been drunk with this gal a few times in social settings, and she was funny and cute. So I asked her over for dinner, and she agreed to bring the potatoes.

I was thinking she'd probably bring some pre-made au gratin dish, or something like a twice-baked potato already made from some expensive grocery store — hell, she drove a fancy car. What I didn't expect was a big hug at the door with a bottle of wine and a small bag from Kroger.

I had some huge, bone-in New York strips ready to go when she broke out the dehydrated instant mashed potatoes and a small tube of green stuff. I was initially turned off by her lack of effort, but she made up for it with her creativity. She gave me a wry smile and announced that she was making spicy wasabi mashed potatoes to go with the killer steaks! She spent maybe five minutes making the instant spuds then threw in the wasabi to create a nice zesty green addition to the feast.

I'm glad I had yellow zucchini on hand, because the plates lit up. After dinner, she was just as quick with the shirt and bra as she was with the potatoes and, believe me, she was creative in other areas, too.

The second S&P date invited me to her place, and I suggested I bring the meat. (Guys, you should always bring the meat.) I showed up to a candlelit table with pre-filled wine glasses and a wonderful aroma in the air. This gal knew what she was doing, and she was ready to get it on. She was impressed when I showed her the two-inch- thick filet mignon steaks, but I sealed the deal when I pulled out a container of fresh ground espresso to add as a rub to the gorgeous cuts. We dined on espresso-encrusted filets with her mom's secret-recipe potato soufflé and a fresh arugula-and-spinach salad.

We realized after the meal — and three bottles of wine — that we were a good fit. That is, until a year or so later when I walked in on her drunk and draped over the lap of some guy (true story). I haven't spoken to her in a few years, but I'm sure she's still cooking it up and shopping at some health food co-op for her new vegetarian lover, the slut.

My advice is that if you're going to play it safe with steak and potatoes — don't. Why fake that you are some normal person? Like my friend Cathy always says, "Crazy loves crazy." So, if you find yourself spending all of your time looking for that "perfect match," then try some espresso-encrusted steak and wasabi potatoes. At least you'll love the meal, and maybe yourself afterwards.

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C.M. Redding
Contact: C.M. Redding