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February 17 2012

Neil Patrick Harris's Legendary Valentine's Day Dinner. NPH tweets his entire Valentine's Day dinner, with drool-worthy pictures.

The moral of this story?
If NPH ever invites you to join him for dinner, you say, "YES." (Not that you wouldn't anyway.)

Most of the food looks a little too "Adventurous" for me, but I've food from the Voltaggio brothers at a special event and they are fantastic.
Ink was just named the best new restaurant in the country. BFF and I have been trying to get reservations but no luck (don't really want to eat at 10pm on a Thursday) so far.
But where was the food?

I've never really understood the whole "extravagant presentation of barely any food" thing. Yes, make it look nice, but put something on the gorram plate!

And...fried tendon? Squid ink? Cheek? As Bill Cosby once said: "Leave them areas alone!"

Although smoked raisins does sound...interesting.
This kind of food is a feast for all the senses and when you are eating 7+ courses you want all the plates to be very small otherwise you can't get past the 2nd course. I haven't tasted fried tendon (yet) but both squid ink and cheek (pig, cow, fish) is fabulous!

These are the kind of places you go for a 2.5 to 3 hour dining experience. It is the dinner and the entertainment. You don't catch a movie or game after.
Conversations like this always remind me of two conversations I once had.

1) A aussie coworker I once had was beaming about the brand new bicycle he had just purchased, for something like $3,000. I was flabergasted at the idea that someone would spend that much money on a bike, when you could get one for $250 at the corner shop. He pointed out that he uses his bike more often than I use my car, which I paid considerably more for. And he paid ~$500 for his car, which he used far less often. What would have been an absurd purchase for me was a quite sensible one for him.

2) My old boss was very fashionable. I couldn't understand how anyone (especially a guy) could justify spending $150 on a pair of pants, and was giving him a hard time about it. Then he pointed to some of the collectibles I had on display in my cube, and asked me how much I had spent on them. I stopped giving him a hard time.

People spend money on what they find value in. We all have different ideas of what is "worth it," based on our own tastes and preferences. I may not ever be able to justify expensive food or wine for myself (since I'd be just as happy, or probably happier) with Sizzler's or a bottle of two buck Chuck.

But I understand why those who do appreciate that kind of thing would want to spend their money on it. We all spend money on the things that make us happy. Geeks, of all people, should be the first to admit that what makes us happy is not necessarily what makes everyone else happy, and vice versa.
As a proud and admitted purveyor of weird eats (I ate my first century egg at 4 years old, and I liked it, a LOT), I'm a little dismayed at the hate-on for non-standard meats like tongue or tendon, both here and on comments for the article. We can't all grow up in places that prefer to reconstitute all those other perfectly good animal parts, and use "meat glues" to turn them into Chicken McNuggets and McRibs sold at 3x the price. Some of us just braise them, or grill them, or deep fry them, and otherwise enjoy wasting not. It is, perhaps, slightly ridiculous to truss it up and selling it for 20x the price, but there's also a level of artistry and expertise being delivered in that experience, so if they enjoy it, who's to say it's any less worthwhile an investment than, oh, an action figure?

I don't consider myself that much of a foodie, but I'd highly suggest the book From Nose To Tail for those interested in learning more about other perspectives on this topic.

And on a whole other side of it, I, like NPH, am grateful to David for putting up with the running commentary, because that was a feast for the eyes that made my tummy rumble!
I really enjoyed seeing the pics. Very beautiful. And then (being me) I had a few thoughts...

1. Foods that I think sound repulsive are all animal - which makes my health-related-mostly-vegetarianism very convenient. :P

2. It's not only high end restaurants that make a big deal out of presentation. The visual aspect of cooking is deemed important in other cultures too. It's an essential part of cooking in a Japanese meal. (Current bedside reading is Food Culture in Japan. Good book!) I've never managed to achieve it in my own cooking (not so far, anyways), but I surely like the idea of it. I feel like: it honors the food and the complex process that took energy from the sun and made it into a form that can become a part of me, it honors all the labor by the people who helped get it to me, and it honors a unique moment in time when I participate in the most elemental of social interactions.

3. Eating that much and becoming that full gets in the way one of Valentine's Day's more celebratory aspects. The bloated belly and nookie is just not a pleasant combination.

...and now I really need to get something to eat!

ETF: grammar

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2012-02-17 22:19 ]
I remember a couple of years ago I was dining at a fine restaurant (not as fine as Ink, though), and I ordered grilled asparagus as a starter. The plate comes, and it's two stalks grilled down to shriveled twigs with thimble-full of sauce zig-zagged over the plate. It was pretty, but I wanted asparagus, not these things. Then I took a bite... it was transcendent. Honestly the best asparagus I've ever had in my life.

Good food can be had in all sorts of places at every price point (so can bad food). Fine dinning is a way of showcasing the artistry of food, and it's easy to mock the portion sizes and unusual ingredients. All I can say is, don't knock it until you try it.

Of late I've become obsessed with trying Alinea. Alas, I'm not rich and the waiting list is months long, but perhaps some day...
I'm stunned how people are focussing on the food and not the fact that we basically got to sit in on a romantic dinner for two that was between NPH and DB and they both seemed to love it, why should our opinions on what they ate even be brought up? I don't care if they were eating broiled Panda asshole in a sauce made of monkey ejaculate, the food isn't even the point here, the point is that Neil and David went out for a romantic dinner, it's adorable so say Aww and move on from the food you weren't going to get to eat either way
noway 234... opinions and interests vary...

Such is the way of the thread.
Dizzy, I hope you get to go to Alinea because it's worth it -- the price tag and its reputation are more than justified. Grant Achatz came out of the kitchen to make our dessert at the table and it was pretty rad.

My sister is a foodie, I live in San Francisco (perhaps the most food-obsessed city in America, after NYC) and I love eating, so I've had a few dinners like this, where you eat course after course of tiny, delicious foods for three straight hours, and the portions are small because there are 10-15 separate courses. Believe me, you are completely stuffed after. At this level, food is art and entertainment and even the service is part an almost elaborate ceremony.
Damn. Guess I'm going to have to learn to keep my mouth (or in this case, my fingers) shut.

I've only had 2 occasions to eat in a "fine" restaurant; both times at Ana Mandara, the Vietnamese-fusion restaurant owned by Don Johnson & Cheech Marin. I had lemongrass chicken served on grilled eggplant. My aunt had basa, which is a Vietnamese fish. Very good food, and very expensive. (San Francisco) For desert we shared a flambed banana.

I know that the tradition of multi-course meals is an ancient one, and "the presentation is part of it" and that's fine. It's not something I'd be interested in, even if I could afford it.

I'm glad Neil and his husband had a romantic dinner together on a romantic holiday. And I'm going to shut up now before I say something else that will ruffle feathers.
Hard to imagine tendon is very digestible unless ground up into a wiener but it sounds reasonable; I know I always used to peel off and eat the mebrane on steak bones, which is probaBly similar. And canned squid often comes in its own ink, although I always rinsed it off before adding it to the "shells with shells" I used to make for my family. Tongue *used* to be a standard meat; I ate it a few times as a kid, both roast whole and smoked and sliced into a lunch meat, haven't seen it lately
Had squid ink pasta in Venice once; it's good, but I admit to preferring traditional sauces. Dunno remember beef cheek -- usually, I'm terrible at remembering the parts of animal I'm eating unless it's very notable.

Tongue is used fairly commonly in Chinese (my cultural heritage) and Mexican cooking. When I go to a taqueria, I usually pick for tongue (or lengua) as my choice of meat, because it's distinctly flavorful and quite tender. I recommend it!
If you can afford it. I can't.
I hope you can someday, cleveland. Dinners like these are wonderful.

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